Happy Thanksgiving

A week after knee surgery in Hong Kong, here are some specific things I’m thankful for…..

  •  A skilled and attentive surgeon
  • Great care at Matilda Hospital
  • A smooth trip back to Beijing (wheelchair service at both airports, on-time flight, and an empty seat next to me)
  • A warm apartment in Beijing
  • A fantastic set of crutches
  • Friends who are keeping me company and keeping my fridge filled with food
  • That I was able to give myself injections….and that I don’t have to do that anymore!
  • Good physical therapy at the Beijing SOS Clinic
  • Minimal pain, although I found out today that one reason is because I’ve been doing an exercise wrongly!  “No pain, no gain” is NOT just a silly saying.
  • That each day The Great Physician gives me what I need for that day. Not more, not less.

A friend brought turkey / mashed potatoes over tonight from a dinner I was invited to, but unable to attend. Here’s hoping yours is / was a Happy Thanksgiving.

And a couple of photos……

2 crazy friends from New Mexico “happened” to be in Hong Kong the day of surgery, so they helped turn my hospital check-in into a party.

A couple hours before surgery, the doctor came in and produced this piece of art to help him make sure to operate on the right (correct) knee.


My "precuperation" regimen of laying low on Wednesday to shake the cold worked so we were able to go ahead with the surgery on Thursday afternoon.  What to say?  According to the doctor, it went very smoothly and I get to take home some souvenirs from Hong Kong–3 screws in my leg.

My recuperation procedures have consisted of taking lots of little pills, doing leg exercises in bed, and learning how to walk with crutches.  Yesterday morning already the PT had me walk up and down a flight of stairs!

I can't say that having surgery is a pleasant experience, but everything about this hospital is more than pleasant — the super friendly and helpful staff, the exceptional care, and the gorgeous view from my room of ships coming and going.

Our return to Beijing was originally scheduled for Saturday, but since surgery ended up being later in the day on Thursday than planned, we've pushed it back to Sunday. I'll be honest and say it's hard to imagine maneuvering the HK airport tomorrow, but I know the strength will be given when it's needed.

Thanks for your prayers.


I'm in Hong Kong now, getting ready for my knee surgery tomorrow (November 19). Or, in good Chinese fashion I should say "perhaps" it will be tomorrow.  There are 52 weeks in a year, but this is the week that I get smacked with a cold! Yesterday I coughed my way down here on the flight from Beijing.  By this morning I had images of me lying on the operating table, with the surgeon poised with his scalpel to begin work…I suddenly cough, and he accidentally cuts my leg off.  It wasn't a pretty sight!  I called his nurse to tell her what was up (that I was coughing, not that I was afraid the doctor would cut off my leg), and she said "get thee to a GP to make sure it's not the flu and call me back."

The hotel recommended a nice clinic down the street.  I showed up, saw a doctor, was told I just have a cold, given some meds, paid some money, and was on my way.  After that I had a long conversation with the anestheseologist, the gist of which is that when I check into the hospital tomorrow he'll make the determination as to whether I'm well enough to proceed.  He told me to drink lots of fluids and stay in bed all day.  So I made up a word:  PRECUPERATING!! 

So now, having to deal with the uncertainty of what post-op is going to be like, I now have the added the uncertainty of not even knowing if I'll be able to have the surgery tomorrow! 

Prayers are much appreciated!

Knee Surgery This Week

In July I wrote about the problems I've been having with my knees and a recommended surgical procedure that a knee specialist in Hong Kong was suggesting.  After much prayer and many conversations with doctors and physical therapists, I've decided to go ahead with the surgery…this week.

I and a friend will fly to Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, and the current plan is for us to fly back to Beijing on Saturday afternoon.  I know it sounds crazy, but that's what the doctor said I could do. My friend is going along so I don't have to be in the hospital alone and to help me make the trip back to Beijing.  I'm guessing that may involve pushing a wheelchair!

A quick background for those of you new to this blog—my knees (especially the right one) have been getting steadily worse.  The underlying problem is a wandering kneecap which the surgeon intends to move and then screw into place (well, he won't actually screw the kneecap….the tendon or whatever its called that it sits in).  I really try not to think about it…doing so makes me feel faint!

Once I return to Beijing I'm not quite sure what to expect.  I do anticipate a couple of weeks on crutches, and 3 months of physical therapy, but how much mobility I'll have initially is hard to say.  I'm grateful for friends and colleagues who have promised to look after me next week, which primarily means keeping me fed, I think. 

My goal is to ski next winter!!

Thanks in advance for your prayers.

Winter Wall

Last month’s unusually warm fall weather has given way to this month’s unusually cold winter.  With the three snowfalls and frigid temperatures it feels more like January than November.  Some friends and I decided to take the tourist train to Badaling this afternoon to see the Great Wall in the snow.  Although we nearly froze our….well everything….off, this scene was worth the trip.

After spending about 15 minutes on the wall, we fled to the Starbucks to await our train back to the city. A good time was had by all.

Make Some Noise Already!

One day last week I decided to eat lunch at my desk in the office. Restaurants in the shopping mall nearby are so crowded and noisy at lunchtime, and I just wanted to eat something quick and keep working.  I popped down to the mall basement to get a "take-away" bowl of mixian (rice noodles with beef in a spicy soup). It's the ultimate cold weather lunch. The restaurant put it in a nice plastic bowl with a lid and off I went.

I sat back down at my desk and dove in.  A few minutes later a Chinese colleague who sits at a nearby desk came over and asked me if I wasn't enjoying the noodles. The conversation went something like this:

Her:  Don't you like those noodles?

Me:  I love them. They're my absolute favorite.  Why do you ask?

Her:  Well, you're not making any noise.  You're not slurping, so I thought maybe you didn't like them. You know we're taught that it's good to make noise while eating noodles.  It's a sign that you are enjoying them."

Me:  And we're taught that slurping and making noise while eating them is not polite. 

It was those pesky ancestors again.  She has several thousand years of ancestors whispering in her ear "slurp the noodles, slurp the noodles." I have several hundred years of ancestors whispering in my ear "don't slurp the noodles, don't slurp the noodles."

Next time I'm having a bowl of noodles I will make sure everyone in the room can hear me!

The Smog! The Smog!

Besides the snow and the heat coming on early, the other big story in town this week is the smog.  I realize that I say this about every six months or so, but I think yesterday was as bad as I’ve even seen it in Beijing. Within minutes of stepping outside my eyes were burning and I had a headache and felt sick to my stomach.

Yesterday a NASA satellite took an amazing photo of north China showing the extent of the smog.

I’m posting it here in case you think I’m exaggerating.

Now excuse me while I figure out a way to strap my air purifier onto my face.

Let There Be Snow

Earlier this week I wrote about the unusual heavy snowfall that we had here in Beijing on November 1. One report I saw said it was the heaviest snowfall in 22 years.

On Tuesday the Weather Modification Office (now there's a scary govt. bureaucracy for you!) proudly announced that they were responsible for the snow. Apparently they shot lots of chemicals into the clouds to induce the snowfall.  And the Weather Modification Office said "Let there be snow, and there was snow." The WMO bureaucrats saw what they had done and said "this is good, because it will help relieve the drought."

But The People had other ideas….

Following the announcement by the WMO, Beijing citizens responded with outrage and went online to castigate to the WMO bureaucrats for causing massive chaos in the city, and disrupting air travel and rail travel all over the country. Even the official newspapers ran editorials taking the WMO to task. 

Another thing that made people angry is that this huge snowfall came 2 weeks before another set of bureaucrats turns on the heat for the city, never mind the fact that snow is a result of cold not the other way around.

At any rate the Public Heating bureaucrats have taken pity on the The People and turned the heat on already.

And that, my friends, is a wonderfully happy ending to this story!