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August 12th, 2011 | Asia

When Three became Six…!!

Not too shabby... All things considered...!!

After only a few hours of sleep after our early morning return from Java, we were up again, packing our overnight bags and preparing for a short stay in a hospital in Denpasar…

I was amazed to discover that Patti had never spent a day in hospital before and had little or no idea what she would need for her “visit”…

I on the other hand had spent enough time among the ghouls that work in these institutions to know exactly what was needed, and helped her get her kit together…

I hired a car and drove us down to the Bali Royal Hospital for Patricia’s date with the surgeon…

We were told that she needed to check in on Tuesday, have the operation on Wednesday morning, and “all things being equal”, might well be home on Thursday evening…

Well, as I have come to realize now, in Bali, “all things are usually not equal”…

Patti’s initial blood test the week before, had revealed that her haemoglobin count was far too low, but the doctor had hoped that it was a temporary state of affairs, and advised that if necessary, a blood transfusion would be needed before she could be operated on…

I can’t speak for Patti, but that was the point at which I broke out into a sweat… When the doctor casually asked which blood group I belonged to and I explained that I was an O+, he beamed widely and said,

“Oh very good…!! You are a universal donor…!! You can donate blood for your wife, yes…??”

“Of course…!!” I had said loudly, feeling my insides turn to jelly… I wondered if medical science had taken a giant leap forward in recent times which meant that one no longer required a needle with which to draw blood…

Perhaps a small bucket and a quick slash with a butcher’s knife would suffice…?? Or even a rubber mallet and sharp-nosed funnel would have been perfectly acceptable…?? Anything but a needle…!!

Ordering from the extensive menu... The nurses soon got used to their patient's demand for "extra vegetables"...!!

I had planned to find a hotel near the hospital so that I could be close to Patti, and was pleasantly surprised when we were informed that there was a sleeper couch next to her bed which I could use for the duration of her stay in hospital…!!

The Bali Royal was akin to a hotel more than a hospital…!!

At mealtimes, a nurse would come around with an extensive menu from which Patti could order her meals from…!! I couldn’t imagine this in a South African hospital…!! There you get whatever slop is flung your way, and if you complained enough, you might well find yourself taking part in an unplanned and prolonged bout of “fasting”…!!

Long story short, Patricia required four separate blood transfusions over the next few days, and late Thursday afternoon, when we had expected to be driving back to Ubud, we were finally told that her blood count was at an acceptable level, allowing for surgery to be scheduled the following day…

I had made two trips to the local blood-bank to donate blood, and each time after being prepped by the nurse, another orderly had rushed in and breathlessly advised that they had found another few units of A+, Patti’s own blood type…

“Where the hell are they hiding this stuff…??” I asked in exasperation… “Can’t you see what this is doing to my nerves…!!”

Needless to say, these two visits had my heart rate up so high, that all that would have been required was a pin-prick and a bucket placed a few yards away to gather all the blood they needed from me…!!

There was always time for a sing-a-long...

...and an occasional visit into the sunlight in between transfusions...

In what can only be classed as a comedy of errors, on my second trip to the blood-bank, and having found two units of A+ blood just as my arm was being cleaned (and my legs were turning to jelly and my eyes were about to roll into the back of my head…!!) the ambulance driver sheepishly admitted that he had forgotten to bring the “cooler box” in which to transport the blood…!!

We rushed back to the hospital, more than twenty minutes drive away, and he then hopped on a scooter and went back to the blood-bank with the cooler box strapped to the pillion seat…!!

It took three days to get through the process of blood transfusions, and I spent much of the time interfering with the staff as much as was possible… There is always huge scope for mischief in any hospital…!!

Despite her nervousness, Patti remained cool, calm and collected throughout the wait for her surgery… We had both our laptops set up (WiFi was freely available throughout the hospital…!!) and our I-pods working overtime…!! We laughed and joked in between reassuring each other that all was well and we were in the most capable of hands at the Bali Royal… Ambulance drivers excluded…!!

After signing the official waiver before surgery could take place, I would have hoped that the surgeon had more to do with the process...!!

Even so, things did not quite go according to plan…!!

First, all surgery was running late on Friday, and Patricia was taken in at 12.30am instead of 11.00am…

Then her surgery itself took four hours instead of the hour and a half I had been told it would take…!!

Needless to say, by the time I was allowed into the post-op recovery room, I had counted every tile in the long corridor outside…many times, to check that some had not been removed while I was down at the far end…!!

I also thought of my mother, whose birthday it was that very same day, and wondered how she and my father were getting on… It had been a long time since I had seen them, and the thought of this together with wondering why Patricia’s surgery was taking so long, had a huge emotional effect on me…!!

When a nurse found me pacing up and down and muttering to myself, and then advised that the doctor needed to see me urgently in the “Counceling Room”, my heart skipped a few beats…!! What exactly was a “Counceling Room”…?? Surely she meant the “Waiting Room”…!!

The Recovery room... After four hours of surgery, my relief at seeing Patti again made me forget all about my phobia of being anywhere near such a place...!!

On our way back to the ward... I made sure the nurses had valid drivers licenses for the gurney before allowing them to proceed...

I eventually got to speak to the doctor who with a huge smile on his face informed me that the operation had been a complete success but it had taken much longer than he expected “due to a few minor complications”, which he then explained in detail far too graphic for me to repeat here without fainting…!!

He then asked me to don one of the red gowns hanging on a hook nearby and allowed me to go into the recovery room where Patti lay mumbling to herself…

My relief at seeing her smile was enormous…!! It felt as though I had been holding my breathe for the last four hours…!!

I knew that Patricia would be OK, when in her aneasthetic-induced stupor, she turned to the medical technician who was helping me arrange her pillows and an extra blanket, and innocently asked him if he was a cat…!!

I smiled sheepishly at him and tried to tell him that there was no reason to concern himself with her mental condition, as this was a question she usually asked most people when first meeting them…

After almost two hours in the recovery room, we wheeled our patient back to “our” ward, where she promptly fell asleep, only to wake an hour later asking for a menu…!! There was no holding her back after that…!!

We were told the following morning that there was no chance of us going home later that same day, which annoyed the patient no end…!! Further blood tests revealed that Patricia’s haemoglobin count had plummeted back to its former low levels and the doctor wanted to ensure that she was not bleeding internally…

And that is how three became six…!!

I had planned to leave Bali a week after Patricia was released from hospital, not only to ensure that all was well with her, but also to prevent her from going back to work too soon, something she seemed too keen to do for my liking…!!

Safe and sound... Funny bone still intact...!!

We had communicated with Patricia’s family in the States throughout her stay in hospital using either email or Skype and they were kept up to date with her progress, which must have been a huge relief for them, being so far away from their precious “little sister”…!! For my part I was more than happy to have been here for Patti, and enjoyed the long days we were able to spend together without the constant interruptions from her ringing phone…!!

We arrived back in Ubud on Sunday afternoon, and spent a quiet afternoon getting settled back into the house… But for a few hours the previous Tuesday, we had been away for the better part of eight days since leaving for Java… Sadie had been looked after by Agung while we were away and loudly voiced her pleasure at seeing us again…!!

While Patti rested, I got down to reorganizing my trip across the remainder of Indonesia…

I had made arrangements to ship the Big Fella from East Timor to Darwin on the vessel leaving Dili on the 26th of August, and believed I would have plenty of time to get there from Bali after Patti’s bout of forced recuperation at home, but the extra few days we spent in Bali Royal Hospital had made “plenty of time” now a “touch and go” situation…

I emailed James at Toll Marine Logistics in East Timor to advise him that I needed a new shipping schedule and then re-booked the bike on the vessel sailing the 1st of September… That would give me ten days to get to Dili, and a few days to have the bike scrubbed down to please the stringent demands made by Australian Customs…

I changed my original routing to match the time I now believed I had available to ride in Australia, cutting the mileage back from the original 20-odd thousand kilometres to a more “manageable” 17 000 kilometres and hoped that the nine weeks I had would be enough to cover the distance and take in all the sights that I planned to see…

Australia - This is it...!! Definitely maybe my final route...!!

Once all my plans had been put to rest, I could concentrate on making my “patient” as comfortable as possible, and enjoy our last few days in Bali together…

©GBWT 2011

5 comments to When Three became Six…!!

  • Tibor

    Hi Pat,
    we wish you a quick recovery!
    Panni, Tibi

  • Mark Behr

    Hope all is now well with the lovely lady. Enjoy the recovery time together.

  • Trev

    Good job Ronnie, hope Patricia is making a quick recovery and we are excited for the Big Fella that he gets to head into the wind again!
    trev and chenty

  • Donna Ames

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ronnie….for being there and for your tender, funny, heartfelt account of your “wild and wacky” visit to hospital with Patty…..
    Cool runnings on the continuation of your journey……..see you in November

  • No need to thank me Donna…!! It was the easiest and most natural thing for me to do…. I was more than glad to be there for Patricia, and trust that I will always be… R.

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