Saturday, April 04, 2009

Good bye tonsils!

Last week Adam had his tonsils and adenoids removed at the suggestion of our ENT here. Phil noted that I would have never agreed to move to Hong Kong if I would have been told hospital stays for children would be part of the deal. And he is right. But now, with a couple years in Hong Kong under our belts, I feel very comfortable with the medical care here. In fact, when we were at the hospital with Adam I recognized and greeted a couple doctors there that had treated us on past occasions. We also knew a couple of the other patients. Hong Kong is a small community, particularly when you are going to one of the two hospitals recommended for expats.

Adam had his surgery at one of the recommended hospitals, Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, which is in Happy Valley on the way up the mountain to the Peak. Outside Adam’s window was a classic view of Central Hong Kong, all urban and gritty and exciting. And in true Hong Kong form, Adam’s hospital is under construction so lots of noise and reshuffling of patients through various elevators. The hallways are narrow and many times, we had to squeeze back to the wall to let a patient hooked up to oxygen go past.

Adam was very excited to go to the hospital, particularly as Royce had already had her own hospital stay. Adam bounced around the room pre-surgery and maintained this excitement until just prior to going into the operating room. Everything went fine but Adam came back to his hospital room a much subdued little boy. While a tonsillectomy is typically an out-patient procedure in the states, in Hong Kong one night hospital stay is required. Adam was also hooked up to an IV for fluids for the first afternoon.

The girls and friends visited Adam that evening and dramatically lightened the mood. We ordered food from the cafeteria and noticed that the menu was vegetarian and caffeine free (though something called vegetarian chicken nuggets was on the menu as well as vegetarian meat sauce). It was only then that we realized Adventist hospital was owned by the 7th Day Adventist Church, a Christian denomination that recognizes Saturday as the Sabbath and promotes a strict, apparently vegetarian, diet.

Adam’s recovery continued apace with plenty of ice cream and many thoughtful cards, calls and gifts. Adam’s class all wrote him cards with great sentiments like “feel 100 times better!” and “I hope your tonsils don’t grow back!” and “don’t worry too much!” At home, Adam is working on writing about small moments, just as his class is doing. (He missed one week of school). When Adam wrote about the tonsils, he wrote many pages on the lead up to the surgery and then just one page on the surgery. “It hurt. It is over.” Thank goodness!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Malaysia: Love Me, Orangutan Me!

While we were in Malaysia for a long weekend, Royce saw a tee shirt that said “Love Me, Adopt Me” with an orangutan pictured inside a large heart. Reading a little quickly, she said “Love Me, Orangutan Me” and the phrase just stuck. We loved Malaysia. We loved the orangutans we saw there. We loved the sunny yet breezy weather. We loved seeing the kids running around on the grass. We loved it all, except maybe the huge monitor lizards.

Hong Kong is close to many things, including many great beach destinations. (I just read somewhere that Hong Kong is also within a 5 hour flight of half of the world’s population but that is another story line). Taking advantage of the proximity, we recently visited Kota Kinabalu, a 2.5 hour direct flight away. Malaysia borders on Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore and has two main land masses, the Pennisular Malaysia with the capital Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian Borneo with Kota Kinabalu, which are separated by the South China Sea. Malaysia consists of a number of British colonies and separate kingdoms that united in 1963 (and expelled Singapore in 1965). Malaysia has been in the news here lately with their new Prime Minister sworn in this week.

Kota Kinabalu definitely lived up to its Borneo billing. Our hotel was surrounded by lush vegetation and rolling green mountains and many interesting creatures. Our hotel had signs warning of the huge but harmless Malay Water Monitor Lizards. The kids were hopefully that we would see at least one and they were rewarded many times over. Many of these 3-4 foot lizards were out wandering the bike paths as we went for our evening ride. We also had the chance to see orphaned orangutans in a nature preserve. We hiked up to a feeding platform and watched the wild orangutans swing in for food. I found this fascinating but extreme heat and humidity had the kids wilting and we immediately left the rainforest for our preferred habitat, the pool.

Our activity filled weekend slowed down slightly to participate in Earth Hour, the worldwide dimming of the lights. Our hotel had planned a beach bonfire but torrential rain forced everyone to relocate to the hotel lobby. The lobby was a big area without walls in the front and back and we watched native Malay dancers and the rain. Dancers asked the girls if they wanted to join in the dance. Royce wisely hid from the warrior dancers but Tori jumped in. Without any cultural or linguistic understanding (or rhythm!), she did a great job and danced us to the close of Earth Hour. She looked adorable, a little blonde girl with beaded hair dancing like a maniac, excited about doing her part to save the Earth. And thrilled to be up hours past her bed time.