I Should Have Gotten the Extended Warranty

Things seem to be falling apart around here–well, actually, that would just be me or anything that I touch.

First problem: frozen shoulder. If they ever need extras in “Night of the Living Dead,” I’ve got ’em covered. Can’t raise my left arm above my shoulder so I do a great impression of a zombie. Can’t rotate it out to the side either, so you will not see me on the tennis circuit this year as my back hand stinks.

Solution: Going to Hong Kong on Monday to have my arm yanked, or in more polite medical terms I’m having “manipulation under anesthesia” which means they’re putting me under and yanking my arm until it moves again. Then I get to do tons and tons and tons of physical therapy to keep it from freezing up again. I get a nerve block as well on Monday, so hopefully with that and the yanking and breaking up the adhesions I’ll also get some relief from the pain that I’ve been in the past few months too. Bonus!

Second problem: posterior vitreous detachment. Sounds kind of scary doesn’t it? This just happened on Wednesday as I was sitting in a chair, paying bills. Solid proof that paying bills is hazardous to your health!

Anyway, suddenly, this bug flew across my field of view making me jump. I swatted at it and then it came back again. Wait, I thought, it’s dead and all crumpled up, it must be under my contact lens, but my eye doesn’t hurt. Wow, it’s really black and distinct and my contacts seem kind of smudgy. And then I realized that I had brand new unusual floaters and THINGS MIGHT NOT BE RIGHT.

But I didn’t have any flashing lights to indicate my retina was detaching so I decided to wait until the next day to see how things were. Thursday morning, bugville was no better so I called International SOS, the organization that arranges things for us when we have a medical problem, and told them my symptoms and they agreed that I needed to see someone. Within an hour I had an appointment for that afternoon.

The clinic was on the 4th floor of a building that also contained the JW Marriott and a very fancy restaurant. Other than the name on the outside and the fact I’d been told my appointment was on the 4th floor, there was no indication where the clinic might be in this rather tall building. Upon entering the grand lobby, a pair of elevators presented themselves. After wandering around a bit and finding nothing but the bathroom, I decided to take them and then the next ones up to the second floor. At that point I was stymied in my ascent. During my search for the 3rd escalator, I did however, get a great tour of the restaurant. Very nice place. Private room after private room, impeccably decorated. This place must cost a fortune. Anyway, someone noticed me looking lost and bewildered and made the hand signal for 4, to which I nodded and she had someone else escort me through several corridors to the elevator. I’m thinking this has happened before. I didn’t understand their Chinese, but it was probably something along the lines of “Stupid foreigner can’t find the way to that clinic again. Why don’t they put up some signs, already?”

So, the doctor dilated my eye and numbed it and spent about 5 minutes looking into my eye with a huge lens pressed against my eyeball. Yes, it was as gross as it sounds. And he said the vitreous or goopy stuff in the eye had separated from the back of the eye, which is relatively common in people of a certain age, but mine has also separated at the front too near the retina. And I have a very thin retina. And I have scar tissue as if I have had laser surgery. He kept asking if I’d had it, at one point saying “you don’t remember having laser surgery do you?” and I thought, “hmm, I kind of think that’s something I’d remember.”

He didn’t think I had a retinal tear, but he wanted to do an ultrasound on my eye to be sure, so they sent me off in a taxi to a Chinese hospital that has an eye clinic. Mind you, I’ve just had my eye dilated and this numbing stuff and I can’t see a thing out of my right eye and not a lot of my left because he’d just dilated that one too when they called to say they had an appointment available.

I get out of the taxi and all I know is I’m supposed to go to the 12th floor of some building. Luckly, they’d given me a card which I shoved in the face of a guard standing on the sidewalk and he looked at it, pointed to his eye and pointed up to the tallest building on the block. Yeah! Off I went.

However, the tall part of the building is in the back of a shorter building, and the front of that building has no entrance and all the signs are in Chinese, but so what, I’m half blind anyway! I do, however, keep seeing a sign in Chinese with an arrow, so I decide to follow that and that leads to an entrance that I suspect goes to where I want to be. I find 6 elevators, but not all go to the 12th floor. It depends on the time of day. I find the right one and wait in line and then squeeze on. Wow, this is tighter than the subway! I have to fight my way off at my floor.

The young ultrasound technician takes me in immediately for the ultrasound–no need to drink gallons of water for this kind! However she does ask me if I can cross my eyes. I try to do that and she seems satisfied and readies her equipment. Again she asks me to cross my eyes. I try again, but she doesn’t like it this time. I try again and then tell her I don’t think I can cross my eyes, that I don’t know how to do it. And then she says, “I want you to ‘close’ your eyes.”


Ultrasounds on your eyes are just like ultrasounds on your stomach, except you don’t get to find out if it’s a boy or a girl.

The good news is my retina isn’t detached. The bad news is I have to be really careful for the next 4 to 6 weeks to be sure that it doesn’t. So: no shouting! Have to control that wicked temper of mine. No vicious nose blowing, no heavy lifting, no aerobics, no running, no shaken baby syndrome.

International SOS wants me to see another doctor in Hong Kong about my eye next week. Luckily I’ll be there already–a two-fer!

Problem three: My computer croaked on Wednesday. I got the grey screen of death from which there is no recovery. Well, there sort of is, because this Mac actually had a Windows side which is still kind of limping along so I’m veeeery sloooowly grabbing my pictures off of it, keeping all of my fingers and toes crossed that I can get them all before the grey screen of death hits on this side too. Some, but not all of my latest pictures seem to be on the iphoto stream on the cloud, which we just started using, but not all of them. We haven’t quite figured out how that works yet.

So, if I have any luck getting pictures of our trip to the Great Wall or Old Shanghai transferred before I leave for Hong Kong on Sunday, I’ll try to write another post. If not, maybe next week or possibly the next. Not sure what the schedule will be next week other than I check into the hospital on Sunday night and have the procedure on Monday morning and then check out on Tuesday. Then I do physical therapy the rest of the week and come home on Friday or Saturday. They certainly do things differently here–I’m guessing this would be an out-patient procedure in the States.  I haven’t been in the hospital this long since I had children!

I’m looking forward to the warmer weather of Hong Kong though–it’s supposed to be 70 next week! Shanghai is currently the same temperature as Corning!

Happy New Year to you all and thanks to everyone who sent us cards and letters over the holidays. We loved getting them and appreciated them all very, very much.

Your reward for reading through all my verbiage


About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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2 Responses to I Should Have Gotten the Extended Warranty

  1. Sue says:

    Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Your courage is remarkable. Your humor brilliant! If humor is good medicine, you’ll be OK. Hope and pray all will go smoothly and you’ll soon be writing to us about your recovery.

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