Monthly Archives: October 2014

A return to Normal (Normality? Normalcy?)

(Ed. note: I think it is time to get back to the “regular” blog topics, don’t you? Enough high drama. Except for an irregular update or two on my progress and perhaps some information about my upcoming scheduled appointment to see the surgeon, we will return to where we were before all of this happened).

Despite the above, a couple of health related issues.

  1. We have been asked several times if this means we will cut short our adventure and come home. The simple answer is no. There is no reason to since I can recover just as easily here as there. Additionally, we have talked about the fabulous care I have received here. I have found out that the Jiaxing #1 hospitals has one of the top cardio units in China. Additionally, it is partnered with the top two hospitals in Shanghai and the doctors in the cardio unit regularly circulate between the three. Although it is highly unlikely I will need it again, I am thinking that if I had my choice between Jiaxing #1 and any facility in the Fraser Health Authority right now, I would choose the former – wouldn’t you? I do know Terry and I would have have a far more extensive support network at home but we have made a commitment to Cinec and we will honour it.
  2. What was the other thing? Damn, I don’t remember, but then  – I have just had a heart attack you know. (Ed. note: Terry threatens that that has a very short shelf life.)

Okay, when last we wrote we were winding down in Rome, I believe. Those of you who have visited the eternal city will likely remember it for the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, the Vittorio Emanuelle II Memorial, the shopping, the restaurantes, and so much more. I can now add graffiti to your memories. To be fair, most of what we saw was in San Lorenzo. Where is San Lorenzo? Well it is about a 20 minute walk ESE of the Colosseum. During one of the economic boom cycles, the area was started as a middle to upper class residential area. However just after the boom, comes, as we all know a bust and San Lorenzo was left to fend for itself and people of a lower socio-economic standing moved in. After a period of time students discovered that they could live there cheaply and that the Sapienza Universita da Roma was there. The area looks seedy, but it was totally safe, had a great hotel and some funky restaurants (Pinsa e Buoi is there). (Ed. note: When Terry was getting her hair cut, both the stylist and the receptionist asked us where we were staying. When we said San Lorenzo, the silence was deafening!)  Nevertheless with the students, apparently, came the “artists”.

This is just old fashioned tagging - no real imagination.

This is just old fashioned tagging – no real imagination.

The next three cover most of an underpass – both the walls and the supporting columns display some artistic merit.

#3

#2

#1

This one captured my attention because of its creative location.

#8

Any – and I mean ANY – surface is prone to be utilized.

#10

And just because you have wheels, doesn’t mean you are immune.

A delivery truck

A delivery truck

All three sides of this truck were used to express this artist’s talents.

Ironically, it is a Street Sweeper.

Ironically, it is a Street Sweeper.

Finally, almost every business in Rome has these metal pull down doors to protect it at night from whoever. They also provide canvases.

#6

#7

As Terry said, how disheartening it must be to be come to work everyday and see all of this. The problem is so bad there doesn’t appear to be any kind of solution. When we say that every possible surface has been used (except the street) we mean just that. There is no untouched surface. Although this problem is largely contained in the San Lorenzo area, it seems to me that it is only a matter of time before it either becomes one of Rome’s tourist attractions or grows beyond the neighbourhood border. It was really quite sad to see.

Two signs for you from good old Jiaxing.

This one advertises wooden floors.

This one advertises wooden floors. Warm & love notes?

Apparently Higher Price is a big reason to buy a new condo.

Apparently Higher Price is a big reason to buy a new condo.

The Shoe Blog 

These are the last shoes from Italy. Beautiful - but functional to wander around the vias a Roma during the day? Maybe not so much.

These are the last shoes from Italy. Beautiful – but functional to wander around the vias a Roma during the day? Maybe not so much. On the other hand, and Mal noticed this and pointed it out to me, her matching blue suit was so tight her steps were likely only 12″ – 15″ long.

(Ed. note: It occurs to me that I have now run out of material to write about. As the “Doctor in Residence” has declared that I am limited to 2-3 short walks per day around the complex, it is unlikely that I will be gathering much new information anytime soon. Perhaps a write in campaign to get the “Doctor” to allow me out would work. Thanks for your support. Her email is tdwatt@qq.com)

Thank You

Now that I am on the mend – I can walk around downstairs for a full five minutes before my knees get weak – I want to thank all of you for your words of kindness and support. It means a great deal to me to know what great friends we have – both here and at home. Your support of Terry has been equally important. Thank you.

I cannot begin to express how much Terry has gone through in this. Being the person on the sidelines and watching it must have been hell for her and yet her focus has always been on me. I can never express what you mean to me – but I will do everything you say in this recovery process so that I am always there for you.

 

I love all of you

Geoff

heart

Tales From the Madhouse Volume 2

(Ed. note: Anecdotal and pictorial remnants from Jiaxing Hospital #1)

Lunch at #1 Hospital

At 6:18am, 11:18 am and 4:18pm the meals are delivered to the nurses’ station. The woman serving yells out – and I mean YELLS – out something and all the caregivers come scurrying out of the rooms to get the meals. They have clearly been well trained since they all line up – just like in Canada.

My Team

My Team. Dr. Xu in the middle with Dr. Hu to her right and the rest

Dr. Xu in the middle with Dr. Hu to her right and the rest of the kids

Daily Entertainment

That would be yours truly. We have always the objects of great fascination here in China, but being a white guy in the #1 Hospital has put them over the top. First of all, it is rare that there isn’t someone standing at the (sometimes 2 or 3) just looking at me. I always wave and say Nie Hao – and they sheepishly slink away.

Then of course there is me and my daily “toilet” as they used to say. Mine consists of me brushing my teeth – and even weirder with toothpaste. Every time I do (Ed. note: I can’t get up except to go to the bathroom, so I have to do it in bed) – even if it is 2 or 3 times a day, everyone in the room stops what they are doing and watches for the duration. Ever had a number of people watch you spit into a cup? Classy. I am a fascinating tooth brusher.

Next comes eating. I am not eating whatever it is they sell off the food carts. I have two yoghurt for breakfast and two more for lunch. Terry or Becky and Dani provide dinner. It is the strangest thing. There are hundreds of different kinds of yoghurt in the grocery stores and yet it seems that the people in our room have never heard of it – in fact one of the teachers had to take Mr. Wang down to the store in the hospital lobby to show him what it was so that he could purchase it for me. Anyway, my friends are mesmerized by me pouring some muesli into one of the cups of yoghurt and eating it. They refuse to accept that I can/want to eat cold food.

Scarred For Life

The insertion point for the probe.

The insertion point for the probe. A lifetime disfiguring scar.

Politeness in Chinese Society

Remember back to when you were 5 or 6 and you slurped your soup or milk and cereal and smacked your lips or ate with your mouth open? Remember your Mom telling you to stop that? It was rude and not done at home or in public? Well it seems that in China it is rude NOT to do it. We have commented on this before, but imagine, if you will, a standard sized hospital room with anywhere from 5 – 12 people all having dinner together. They are all being polite Chinese diners.

My Watchers

Two of my attending watchers having a wee rest.

Two of my attending watchers having a wee rest.

I Am The King of the Ward

Despite, or perhaps because of all these little anecdotes, I am The King of the Ward. How do I know? I present the top 10 reasons I know I am The King of the Ward:

10. One night I got up to go to the bathroom and my caregiver was sound, sound asleep. Before I had taken two steps, the wife of the patient next to me was yelling at him to wake up and help me. If he’s not around either they will help me or not let me get out of bed.

9. Everyone who comes in looks to me for leadership – or at least as an object of curiosity.

8. When I cast a quick, but dirty eyeball at the noisy, rambunctious, undisciplined 5 year old grandchild of the new guy in the room, I hear a “Blah blah blah blah Janada (Canada)” and he is whisked out of the room and earshot by the parents and Grandma immediately, returning an hour and a half later for a 10 second good-bye to Grandpa.

7. Nurses regularly bring in 3 or 4 of their colleagues to stand at the foot of my bed, look at me and talk about me.

6. A group of nurses came in to take a photo of them “communicating” with the foreigner. It will likely be used in some kind of promotion. Sadly, no royalties are likely to flow to the King.

5. When a king has a temper tantrum, he gets rewarded. On my last night, after the lights were turned out, the new guy in the next bed (Ed. note: See #8 – undisciplined grandchild) made so much noise – knocking over a water bottle and then laughing and talking about it with his wife, answering the phone and talking for 5 minutes in the normal loud voice, talking with his wife after that, that I left (Ed. note: Ok – stormed out) dragging a chair with me into the hall (Ed. note: Probably a no no for a recent heart attack victim), taking my phone and glasses with me. After about 10 minutes Mr. Wang found Dr. Xu, Director of the Cardio Ward and they found me a bed in a classroom, where it would be quiet and I could have the best sleep of my stay. Now, I know that many of you think that a true king would have just had the guy executed, but since the heart attack I have become more a benevolent “you’ll get yours one day” kind of king.

4. The Minister of Education brought me flowers and chocolates.

3. The “leader” of the company that provides the nurses aides has been in twice to have her picture taken with me – the second time she took off her jacket and sat/cuddled up on the bed for the photo. Some might think she was hitting on me.

2. The nurses feel badly when they stick two needles a day into my belly. I won’t share the photos – apparently they are disgusting, but I have a bruise 2 inches in diameter on either side of my navel.

 

And the number 1 reason I know that I am The King of The Ward

 

  1. Everyone laughs at my jokes.

 

The Shoe Blog

We return to the outside world with a pair of pretty cool shoes which are adorning Terry’s feet.

These babies are shiny

These babies are shiny

Tales From the Madhouse

(Ed. note: FYI Since writing the last blog, Terry and I had some interesting news. George was at the first hospital we went to on Saturday last night for another reason and talked to one of the nurses who had been there. From what she told George it was far worse than we have thought even up to now. Apparently the blockage was in an artery which is at the back of the heart and much more difficult to get at. She agreed that we had made the right decision not to go to Shanghai since I wouldn’t have made it. Every time I think that this couldn’t be any more surreal, it gets more surreal.)

Well, the serious stuff has come and gone (Ed. note: With the minor exception of that 40% blockage still in the other artery) so lets have some merriment and joy – at the expense of the people who I have nothing but gratitude for. None of the following are in any particular order – just random memories and observations from the last 4 days.

The Blockage

According to Dr. Hu (see below), this is my heart. When I suggested that it was really a plastic model of a heart, she looked at me as if I had three heads. I do hope it IS a model, otherwise somewhere in my body there is a large piece of duct tape floating around inside me.

According to Dr. Hu (see below), this is my heart. When I suggested that it was really a plastic model of a heart, she looked at me as if I had three heads. I do hope it IS a model, otherwise there is a large piece of duct tape holding part of me together. My blockage was in the blue circle which is at the back of the heart.

Ultrasound

Now I know China is a busy and populated place but the scene at the ultrasound lab was something. First I am taken down in a wheelchair for my 8:00 appointment and roll into a room of 20-25 Jiaxingers waiting to get theirs done. I am pushed past all of them and stop at room 2 (of 10 which do them) where there are 6 people waiting. As the door opens I can see the patient – an older woman in her underwear, just coming out of the machine. Doesn’t bother the man in front of me – he marches in before she is even off the machine. Then it is my turn, but I waited until he was off.

Christmas Party and The Twins

I know that Terry has written about the noise in the hospital but the other night around 9pm (Ed. note: There are no official visiting hours – just drop in and bring your friends) there was a “Christmas party” going on – think of 45 – 50 of your closest friends and the noise they made in that one bedroom apartment you started out in. Now add in your favourite Uncle Joe who thinks it is fun to chase one of the squealing three year old twins around and around while the other twin screams because someone took her only toy. That was the decibel level. (Ed. note: And when it finally quietens down inside, you can always count on 2-3 car alarms an hour going off in the parking lot below our window.)

Ms Wong’s Night from Hell

Monday evening we are all sitting around looking at each other, waiting for the night shift teacher to come in when I hear the “click, click, click, click” of heels coming down the hall and in strolls this very attractive woman in heels and skintight jeans – Ms Wong. Apparently, she is 38ish, but she doesn’t look it. Terry’s thought was “You’re sleeping in THOSE?” Turns out she wasn’t. Ms Wong spent most of the night sitting on a 12” x 18” wooden stool out in the hall reading her phone. Why did she leave? Perhaps it was the snoring patients and family members (and servants), perhaps it was the hawking in the bathroom, perhaps it was the 90º heat in the room, perhaps it was loud and “fragrant” room-piercing belching from one of the Chinese patients – or perhaps it was the same patient getting up in his briefs to wander off to the bathroom. Who knows. I do know that she came into the room around 3:30 and slept all the way until 5 when Nurse Efficiency came barreling in to do Blood Pressure. I also know that she looked pretty much the same at 5:15am as she had at 7pm, so perhaps she doesn’t deserve too much sympathy.

Up all night and still looks good.

Ms Wong – Up all night and still looks good.

Cost

You may be wondering at the cost of all of this. Well, in their effort to get you well in a hurry the hospital provides you with a daily bill, with amount to date owing and what you spent the day before. There’s motivation to get the hell out of here. Our insurance company owes (as of Wednesday night) 34802RMB o4 $6389.64 with two days of drugs to go. (Ed. note: Final total is 37375rmb or $6855.00)

Hygenic has a Different Meaning

Today one of my roommates left. They had thought he had a blockage similar to mine, but after a week of being in here they discovered that no, it was a spot on his lung so he was sent off to a hospital in Hangzhou. Awhile after he left the cleaning crew came in. The first woman had a little whisk broom that she used to move around the dust that had accumulated between the 3 inch mattress and the bed frame. 10 minutes later it was time to strip the bed and put on a clean sheet, coverlet and pillow. Three hours later it was time for my nurses’ aide/servant to roll down the cover and have a nap in his street clothes. But hey, he took his shoes off. (Ed. note: Since no patient came in last night, that became Mr. Wang’s bed for the night – why not.)

Mr. Wang - He puts on the long coat so that he looks like a doctor. Very loyal to his charge though.

Mr. Wang – He puts on the long coat so that he looks like a doctor. Very loyal to his charge though.

Today was also a big day for my bed. The director of the cardio unit me came in and asked how I slept. I replied not well since the bed had a bad squeak and everytime I moved it made a lot of noise waking up the patients (Ed. note: But not the care givers strangely enough). Ten minutes after that I had a new, quieter, larger bed – complete with clean bedding – my first since arriving on Saturday at 11. (Remember, it is now Wednesday).

Dr. Hu (Who)

My cardiologist is a delightful woman. She struggles with English, but makes a diligent effort to be sure I understand what she is talking about. It is difficult however. Today for example I asked when I should start exercising and she said not for 2 months and then very very gradually. My next question was if I could get out of bed today and sit in a chair for a few minutes. She said that would be fine and then added that when I was standing by the bed I could do some exercise. ?? It is also a little difficult to get an answer as to when I can go home. On Sunday it was 7 – 10 days, Monday maybe 5 days, Tuesday it was next Monday and today – well today, if everything works out with the monitor I have to wear tomorrow for 24 hours, I will be home on Friday. It is now time for Terry to shave 30% of the hair on my chest off (Ed. note: This equates to 100% of a normal white male and 3000% of a Chinese male) in anticipation of Dr. Hu’s machine being attached to my body in the morning. Finally, I present Dr. Hu – really.

Dr. Hu runs 90% of the places she goes - but then maybe that is why she "looks" so young

Dr. Hu runs 90% of the places she goes – but then maybe that is why she “looks” so young

The Shoe Blog

So here are the shoes. Choose one of the two reasons why these make the cut:

1. Like I was out and about with a multitude of opportunities  or

2. Like there could be anything other than nurses’ shoes.

Director Xu's Shoes (Pronounced as Director Shoes' Shoes)

Director Xu’s Shoes
(Pronounced as Director Shoes’ Shoes)

I Return Home – From the Hospital and the Dead

(Ed. note: Here’s my problem. When one has a near death experience, which, according to Terry and the doctor I did, do I become irreverent and glib about it or do I take a long look about how I write these blogs.)

As you know by now, Saturday October 18 wasn’t exactly how I had planned it. Let me tell you about the morning from my perspective.

I didn’t sleep all night – for about the third night in a row, In the last few months I have become quite proficient at perspiring all night and Friday was no different. I got up about 6:30 and showered, thinking that might stop some of it. No dice. By about 7:15 I was experiencing huge pain in my chest and I took a Zantac, thinking it would stop the indigestion. After lying down with Terry on the bed and realizing that the pain had spread down both arms I began to think that this might be a little more serious. Terry has accurately described the events over the next little while from her perspective so I will just give you my “highlights.”

When they got me into the ambulance and we left our apartment I immediately felt an incredibly cold and strong wind and wondered why the EMTs had left the back doors open. Apparently, this was not the case. The doors were closed and the ambulance was warm. Go figure.

When we got to the first hospital I could hear the frustration in Terry’s voice as she wanted something to be done, but I didn’t have the strength to say anything myself. I was aware of what was happening but didn’t really feel part of it – but no, I didn’t float away and look down on the assembled group. The entire time we were there, my sense was that there was a 3 inch long, 8 sided piece of onyx in the middle of my chest and this was what was preventing me from speaking or breathing. Finally, aware of a discussion about either Shanghai or #1 Hospital in Jiaxing was best. I worked up all the energy I could to scream (I think) that I wanted to go to #1 Hospital. This wasn’t because I had any kind of sense of doom, although Terry is probably right – I wouldn’t have made it. I just wanted the damn pain stopped.

So off we went. Rick asked Terry is I saw a white light. Honestly I don’t know. The entire time in the two ambulances and the first hospital, I know that here was a panel of white light about four feet by four feet above my head – but those could just have been panel lights. According to Terry, it was during the second ride when I flatlined, but I have no recollection of it. I remember two things –a) Terry constantly telling me to keep my eyes open and b) watching the paramedic and Terry change places. It was as if I was watching on TV with the camera filming from behind my head and the top of my head just in the bottom of the picture. I watched him compressing my chest and then all of a sudden we were at the hospital.

The rest is kind of a blur with odd flashes of memory – the faces of the people from Nanhu, Mr. Zhou and Mr. Chen running through the hall pulling the gurney I was on, being manhandled onto the operating table, frequently being ill while the surgeon was inserting the stent and he and the nurse imploring me to stay still; the pain continuing despite having morphine injected and finally the surgeon saying “OK – you don’t have any more pain” which I guess was when the stent took effect and the blood started to flow again – and after about 10 seconds he was right the pain was all gone. Then it was up to the room at 11:00 – just 4 hours after it all started.

So what great life lessons have I learned? These sound trite when I reread them, but they are spoken from my heart. Don’t each so much fat, get more exercise and appreciate every day I have with Terry because if it hadn’t been for her I would have closed my eyes.

 

Things You Won’t See in Canada

I have written about characteristics of Chinese culture that can be a little hard to live with at times, but today I want to extol some Chinese virtues. True, patients have to provide a lot of services that we take for granted in hospitals but consider the following:

  1. From the moment George heard our predicament, he came to our aid and alerted Principal Xu, who in turn alerted Nanhu International and our BC owner, Harvey Su. As you know, they all came to the hospital and made sure that everything possible was done for us. I am not sure how many board office staff or members of local government would show up to lend a hand. (I do believe most principals and vice-principals would be there, though).
  1. The school insisted that they provide 24-hour care at the hospital for translation purposes. Teachers, imagine your principal asking you to work a 12-hour shift, which entails either sleeping overnight or spending an entire day in the hospital, looking out for a man you might not have met. Not one of these teachers have complained and they all express happiness that they could be of some service. I shared a cab home with one of them yesterday morning and gave her money to pay the fare when I was dropped off first. She didn’t want to take it but I insisted. Later that evening, George came to visit and gave me the money back. She insisted. Pretty awesome. Beyond care, they have lifted Geoff’s spirits by succumbing to his teasing and giving it right back to him. They have made him smile.
  1. On the first night, George and the school driver arrived at the hospital with two deluxe camp cots for both the teachers and me. They were quite comfortable, far more so than Geoff’s bed, which I tried one night but could only last 5 minutes, it was so hard. When I told George I wasn’t going to stay at the hospital at night after Sunday, he offered the cot to the servant to use. Pretty terrific.
  1. The school staff continues to offer support to me. On the first day, Principal Xu gave me a red envelope filled with coupons for the noodle house downstairs so I wouldn’t be hungry. On the second, he arrived with a huge bouquet of flowers. George has taken me back and forth to the hospital many times, bringing flowers also. The education minister visited on Sunday and has promised to return on Thursday. Her English is good and she is fun to be around.

In short, the Chinese administration team has gone beyond the call of duty in making sure we are well taken care of. They have helped make this scary event less frightening for us and done everything to make us as comfortable as possible. We will not forget their kindness.

Additionally, Becky and Dani, my vice-principal and staff members, made dinners for both of us the first two days and brought them to the hospital, along with a care package of teas and snacks. I am so thankful to have these lovely women on staff!

Today is Tuesday. Geoff had some tests this morning and everything seems to be okay. We are not sure when he can come home but he is now willing to stay for as long as they say is necessary—a good sign. We are reminded how thin is the distance between life and death and are glad that we have done our best to live lives to the fullest. Thanks to everyone here and at home for sending their good wishes and prayers. They make a big difference to the patient and No. 1 care-giver.

Morning Has Broken

Remember those Disney cartoons where lovely lilting notes with birdies chirping play just before all hell breaks lose?

BAM! The ward door bursts open and Florence Nightingale marches over to the farthest bed, blood pressure monitor in hand. WT…? I tear one eye open from the cozy confines of my camp cot to check the time. It’s 5:00am! Time for the day to begin? Mercifully, no. I drift off to sleep, then…

BAM! The same nurse barges into the room and approaches the first bed to take her blood pressure. The room’s residents nearest the window take this as the cue to start the day and fling open the curtains to reveal dawn softly breaking. The patient’s wife who has been sleeping on a hospital-issue hard green folding chair (that’s the padded one) immediately begins to fold it up, with a great screeching scratching carry-on. Above my head, a loud conversation breaks out. What time is it? 5: 40. I peel one eye open again to eyeball the servant and teacher from our school engaged in a fun and lively conversation, which immediately stops at the sight of me. Oh for a private room! But perhaps I am just spoiled. I wouldn’t argue the point.

Before long, the parade to the washroom begins, followed by the arrival of the food wagon, announced by someone bellowing from the nurses’ station. People line up with their bowls to get congee and pickles. Why not? It certainly satisfies the required hospital bland. (pics to follow, once Geoff is home)

We wait until 7:30 for the store to open on the first floor so I can buy yogurt for Geoff. I know this regime can’t last very long and I’ve started to worry that he isn’t eating enough. We’ve worked out a bit of a plan that should be do-able, now that I won’t be staying overnight. I wish he could come home but know he has to stay; he is prepared to do so. A round of tests is scheduled for Thursday so perhaps he can leave after that. Then he can begin to rest properly. After he eats, I head home to shower and go to the school for awhile before I come back. He has made me promise to be home by 7:00pm each night, which will allow me to bring him some dinner, then leave him to rest.

A group of kids from the school visited Geoff today, which was nice. Unfortunately, they brought copious quantities of potato chips with them, a strict no-no on a low salt diet. I may be forced to eat them or pass them along (Tim?).   Fruit, Perrier, muesii, milk and a Starbuck’s latte were also included. They thought of everything! Sadly, Geoff couldn’t drink the latte so passed it over to the teacher who was on day shift. Too bad I wasn’t there, she told us honestly that she didn’t enjoy it.

It’s closing in on 4:00pm and the numbers of people arriving is growing. I thought 20 was the maximum these elevators would hold but I guess I was wrong. I really wish I could tape this scene–the noises are unbelievable. I guess it is rather cavernous in here and sounds carry but people are SO loud! I could reach out and touch the guy sitting next to me whose wife just came up in full volume, talking so loudly I inadvertently hushed her. Why the need to yell at the person right next to you? Don’t even ask about the people on cell phones. I could use a recorder right now. Sigh. TIC.

Another comment on China’s culture: They do adhere to scientific research in some areas. For example, in every classroom, water dispensers are available to kids for hot or cold drinks because some science suggests that lots of water helps brain function. They also hold to the understanding of SADS syndrome and make sure virtually every new apartment block is build narrowly, so that the maximum sunlight enters each apartment.   I can look down onto the lower hospital buildings and see that they are built with open areas in the middle to allow natural light in.  They also have green roofs.  No hot water, soap or paper towels but green roofs.  Go figure.

But I digress. Time to check on the patient. (Ed. note: And about bloody time too!)

Nothing Says Adventure…

…like navigating an emergency situation in a foreign country. On Saturday, we set an alarm to Skype a number of friends and planned to head out to Metro to pick up some great beef for a BBQ. Geoff woke my up at 7:30. Five minutes later, he was back in the room, obviously disoriented and in pain. Our Saturday plans took a dramatic turn.

As I tried to figure out was happening, Geoff went from room to room, rambling, not really sure what was happening. “Does your arm hurt? How about your heart?” Yes and yes. Okay, we need to get an ambulance. I soon discovered that when I brought my phone from Canada in the summer, I failed to transfer any emergency contact numbers to it. I had trouble with Geoff’s cell phone then discovered he had no numbers either. What now? “Next door!” he yelled at me. I banged on Tina and Klose’ door at 7:30am. That in itself must have been startling for them as they rarely stir before 9:00, even on a work day. Kloss’ mother answered the door, nodded, smiled, then began to close the door on me. “NO! Tina! Help! We need help! Call an ambulance. I think Geoff is having a heart attack.”

Geoff, in the meantime, had moved to the floor of the bathroom after a round of heaves. He was hyperventilating so I managed to even out his breathing and calm him down a bit by getting him to breathe into a paper bag. Tina and Kloss came in, fully clothed and ready for action, then the ambulance workers arrived They took one look at Geoff and another at their stretcher and realized he would not fit. After some discussion, they grabbed a chair from the dining room, strapped Geoff into it and managed (just barely) to carry him to the elevator. At the bottom floor, another 20 steps or so got them outside (needless to say, the second of the two entrance doors would not open, which would have allowed a gurney to come in). We boarded the ambulance, with Tina and Kloss following as our translators.

The scene at the hospital was crazy. This was the same hospital that I blogged about before, the one with the exposed brick in the bathroom where one was to go to provide a sample. Its only redeeming feature apparently is that it is close to our house! We were there in no time and directed into a large room with few beds and low-tech machines. I explained the symptoms, then out came the suction cup ECG machine. “It won’t work, he’s too hairy,” I said but Tina couldn’t translate that one. Eventually the worker produced a razor and they shaved his chest. He was in so much pain, he was begging for relief. A few nurses (I think) tried for awhile to put in an IV line but couldn’t get it in, then resorted to pills.

Even I knew pills were a waste of time. When your whole body is in spasm, they are not going to stay down, and I was right. About this time, a doctor (I think) had written ‘acute cardio syndrome’ on a piece of paper and managed to tell me, “I think this is what he has.” Me, too! Now let’s do something!!!!!! Mostly they just seemed to watch the monitor as his heart rate dropped. Tina whispered that we should get him to Shanghai. Ideal, I thought, but he won’t make it. Maybe when he stabilizes. Then the same doctor returned to me and said, “It IS acute cardiac syndrome!”

Soon George–our emergency contact, neighbour, friend and co-worker–arrived and I asked about Shanghai so he made the enquiry. Yes, they could provide an ambulance and 2 doctors would go, and it will cost money BUT first we must go to Hospital No. 1. Okay, let’s go! So out we go again, into the ambulance, passing by several complete strangers who were gawking at us from the doorway. Principal Xu had also arrived by this time and stood by looking concerned as we left.

The second ambulance trip was right up there with toad’s wild ride. We were jostled to and fro in the back while the drivers did their best to get there in record time. My job was to keep Geoff awake, breathing and alive. The monitor dropped precariously low and at one point, flat-lined. The doctor traded places with me and pumped his heart with his hands. Thankfully, Geoff came around and did his best to stay with me. When we arrived, we discovered that they actually had a cardiology department and a team waiting for us as the first hospital called and teed them up.

The first stage of emergency protocol seems to be getting all the appropriate information, although they almost immediately got a morphine drip going. I had remembered to grab Geoff’s passport and handed it to Mrs. Chen, the head of Nanhu International, the business group that owns our BC school. As well, the local Minister of Education, whose daughter went to our school, also lent her support, as did the second in command from Nanhu, Mr. Shen. I am sure they pulled some strings because they seemed to take over the sign-in identification process and then told me that the Dean of Cardiology would be performing whatever procedure was necessary and he was not in the least interested in anything less than complete recovery. Okay! Great, now let’s do something!

The doctors told George that the first four hours after a heart attack are the most important to prevent serious repercussions and we were getting perilously close. If I was still considering Shanghai, Geoff had already decided he wasn’t going for another ride.  First, I had to sign numerous pages, all written in Chinese, to say I understood (“write ‘I understand’ here”) and I agree (write ‘agree’ here) to what ever was going to happen. Then they wheeled him away and I sat down to wait.

Hospitals operate quite differently in China; I know you will be surprised to hear it. Before long, I spot George and the head of Nanhu Intl pushing a gurney up to the operating room. Geoff would be moved to this bed at the end of the procedure. “What’s with the bed, George? You move it yourself?” Of course.

Meanwhile, the doctors had been looking at Geoff’s heart and soon invited me in to a room adjacent to the operating room to look at live pictures and explain what would happen. I could clearly see the blockage, which seemed massive to me. He explained that they would put in a stent to create a passageway for the blood to flow again. Fortunately, I knew about stents from our friend Scott who has been through this before. I relaxed a wee bit when I knew it was a relatively easy fix. But let’s get going, please!

From there, things moved very quickly and soon George and Mr. Shen collected the gurney to take him to the ward for recovery.  Some observations follow.

The omnipresent features of China, particularly glaring in a hospital:

  1. crowds of curious people—a white person, never mind a large hairy white person, is indeed an oddity in a hospital in Jiaxing. Adults and children alike gaped at us every step of the way.
  1. Crowds pushing to the front of the line—always the same, whether boarding a bus, the subway, train or elevator. We turned into the “Medical Personnel Only” hallway and moved Geoff on a gurney onto a lift: another 8 non-medical personnel crowded in around us, all of them gaping at the white people. (I’ve taken to climbing the 13 flights of stairs rather than wait for long periods of time for slow elevators that are going to be crammed with people who may or may not feel the need to have a loud extended conversation on the phone or with someone in the elevator).
  1. Chinglish—I smiled as I passed a bulletin board with the heading, “Propogate the Official Notice Fence.” Gotta love it, don’t you?
  1. Utter lack of privacy—In Canada, medical issues and procedures are discussed and performed with a doctor behind closed doors. In China, most discussions are in the open. Anyone who wants to listen can. Geoff was moved to a room with three beds, with him in the middle. A curtain closed off the first bed and another closed off Geoff’s bed on one side but not on the other. On the open side, a man reclined on the bed and his wife sat in a chair, watching us. It was better than TV for them. I felt like ordering popcorn. They never took their eyes off the proceedings, fascinated by everything.

Another aspect of this feature of Chinese culture is that people, especially elders, feel completely free to visit perfect strangers in their rooms, hang out indefinitely and discuss in detail the nature of their ailments. Miss Dai explained this to me the first night when I was getting creeped-out by a man who just wouldn’t go. Apparently he comes from the same village as the old woman in Bed 1 but wouldn’t dream of talking to her in their village. Why? Because they are strangers. The hospital breaks down all barriers. Plus, most of them never have a chance to get this close to foreigners and so are making the best of it. I give them no encouragement whatsoever. On the other hand, the patient in Bed 2 has done his best to be amusing and friendly, hence the crowd of on-lookers.

  1. DIY—In a BC hospital, nurses provide around-the-clock care. They wash and toilet patients, monitor food and medications, etc. One price includes all (most of the tine). In China, you get your bed, bedding and the required attention and meds. After that, you are on your own. Daisy showed up with an armload of things we (WE!) would need: a washbasin, two small towels, a bedpan and a pee-pot, for lack of a better word, toilet tissue, water. Hmmm. It looked like a clue so I asked, “In China, do the nurses provide around-the-clock care? Will they use this equipment to care for Geoff?” No, that’s the responsibility of family and friends, ie, me. Yikes! We asked if we could hire a nurse. Maybe, said George, but it would be expensive. Do we care? No, especially Terry, she doesn’t care. What about food? You buy your own, either in the hospital noodle house or order from the food service, or bring it in from home. I could see an interesting week ahead of me.

After some thought, George said we might be able to hire a ‘servant.’ What might that be? About an hour later, he arrived with the leader of a company who hires people to be ‘servants.’ Think nurses’ aid. I did, because it stopped me from thinking ‘slave’ or channeling Downton Abbey.

Shortly thereafter, a 60-year-old man arrived to be the servant. He has been absolutely delightful! He checks on Geoff regularly, makes sure his equipment is attached and does all the tasks listed above.   Besides that, he is charming and happy and even takes care of me, offers me hot water to wash and even tucked me in to my cot in the morning. Guess what he gets paid: a staggering 140 RMB per 24 hours.   That’s about $26. He sleeps and eats in the room and does it all. Amazing! I am going to buy some coupons for him from Walmart because I know he will never take cash. Mr. Wang Shi-fa deserves more!

  1. Nasty habits—the same nasty things happen in the hospital as in the rest of China. No need to elaborate on the smoking, dropping of butts in windowsills, the hawking, talking in full volume, kids running and screaming, etc ( both Geoff and I were sure there was a ping pong game in the hallway of his ward last evening). I can’t even talk about the morning rituals.
  1. The absolute lack of personal space—in Canada, as a rule, we concern ourselves with others to the degree that we refrain from loud conversations or arguments in a crowd. When sharing a ward with someone, we would, of course, speak in hushed tones and do our best not to disturb others. It is a hospital, after all. Not so in China. So what if one person is sleeping? The others will talk loudly and animatedly across his bed. Sigh. TIC.

I wander around the hospital a bit to keep from going mad and to write blogs while recharging the technology. I came across a ‘Laundry and Boiling Water Room.’ This is where one or one’s servant can collect the boiling hot water to make tea or for washing, and also use the sinks and drying area to wash and hang clothes and towels. Who knew? We’re only in day two. Who knows what else we will discover? I no sooner write this sentence than the dinner service arrives, a whole group of them pushing food carts onto the elevator.  The pics are on Geoff’s phone so he post them once he is home.

How To Make A BAD Day Go Better

Well here it is Wednesday afternoon and I have taken the old poster “When Life Gives You Lemons make Lemonade” to heart. Got up this morning after popping 4 tylenol through the night to get rid of a very BAD headache – no there was no liquor involved at all – all in how I slept. Terry told me to stay in bed and sleep, but I had to be at the market first thing to get a fresh chicken for dinner.

Now, before I go any further, let me give you a little background on the first issue. When we came back to China from Italy (Ed. note: Oh the life…), we stayed at the Ramada Pudong Airport since it was midnight. The next morning she couldn’t find a favourite pair of earrings despite looking everywhere. She surmised that she had lost them on the airplane. Nevertheless, being the attentive, dutiful husband, when we got home I sent the hotel an email asking if the had been found.

My email:

Hello. I hope you can assist me or forward this email on to the appropriate department.

My wife and I stayed at the Ramada Pudong Airport last night (October 11), checking out this morning. We were in Room 708. My wife is quite sure that she left her silver earrings in the room – most likely on the surface near the bath tub, next to the shower. They could have fallen on the floor. The were silver, elongated loops for pierced ears.

Could you please check with your cleaning staff and see if that is where she left them.

Thank you for your help.

Their response:

Dear , 

Thank you for choosing Ramada Pudong Airport Shanghai.

The reservation 1297263 for Papachristidis Basil has been cancelled.

Best Regards,

Talk about something being lost in translation. I hope Basil can find a room when he gets to town!

The next morning began an exchange of 9 emails, with the first saying that the earrings and her pandora bracelet had been found. They are now back in her possession, but only after two phone calls to me in Chinese – when I told them not to phone me but to to phone Daisy our Chinese liaison because I DON’T SPEAK CHINESE! (Ed. note: I could go on about this, but for the sake of brevity, I will leave it there.)

After delivering the chicken home, I go off to Starbucks – only to find that their internet is down. You don’t have any idea how upsetting that is to someone whose only addiction is the internet.

Then it is off to RT Mart to get the necessary stuff for dinner – only to get home to realize I forgot 4 things!

Now – how do you make lemonade out of lemons? YOU WRITE A BLOG!

  1. On the way back from RT Mart, I heard a bus honking at the car in front of him. Picture this – the car is travelling at a normal speed on an average city street. They are within 75 yards of the intersection. The bus isn’t honking to get him to go faster, he is warning him that he is about to pass him – which he does about 20 yards from the intersection. Then cuts him off and he hits the brakes because he has to stop at a bus stop 20 yards past the intersection, which allows the car to pass HIM. TIC
  2. You go through your photos from your trip and you remember.

First, a couple from England

How can you not feel better when you realize you are related to an English pub!

How can you not feel better when you realize you are related to an English pub –

 

and that Liz and Bill have their own canal boat? On the other hand, they never offered to let us use it...

and that Liz and Bill have their own canal boat? On the other hand, they never offered to let us use it…

Then on to Venice

When we were leaving Venice, we came across the Regal Princess. Terry-Ann and I were on its inaugural sailing. A nice memory.

When we were leaving Venice, we came across the Regal Princess. Terry-Ann and I were on its inaugural sailing 23 years ago. A nice memory.

Followed by Florence

This woman was making beef tartare by hand - hand some for lunch with a glass of red wine - on a food floor of all places.

This woman was making beef tartare by hand – hand some for lunch – it was fantastic – with a glass of red wine – on a food floor of all places.

 

Baguette has a different meaning in Italy than it does in France.

Baguette has a different meaning in Italy than it does in France.

 

Street Art in Florence is quite unique

Street Art in Florence is quite unique…

 

And so is Wall Art

…as is Wall Art

 

Picking up the garbage has a different meaning in Florence.

Picking up the garbage has a different meaning in Florence.

 

These large containers are under smaller ones which are at street level. The truck comes along, picks up the whole thing and then opens the bottom when it is over the truck. It was an incredibly creative solution to the problem of garbage in the city.

These large garbage containers are underground under smaller ones which are at street level. The truck comes along, picks up the whole thing and then opens the bottom when it is over the truck. It was an incredibly creative solution to the problem of garbage in the city. (Think Canada Post Mailbox with a huge container underneath)

Off to Perugia and Todi

Who knew you could get Heineken Shanghai beer in a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Italy?

Who knew you could get Heineken Shanghai beer in a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Italy?

 

I have no idea

I have no idea

 

A postie at work getting the mail from her delivery van.

A postie at work getting the mail from her delivery van.

 

Who crochet's a bicycle?

Who crochet’s a bicycle? Especially in Todi where it can rain REALLY REALLY hard.

Positano was next

mal didn't care if she drops the food crossing the road from the restaurant to the table, but be careful with the beer

Mal didn’t care if she dropped the bread crossing the road from the restaurant to the table, but be careful with the beer

And finally ROMA!

Within an hour of our arrival in Rome, we saw this old guy. He was so drunk he could not even get on to the bike. We saw him about 3 hours later totally passed out on the sidewalk about 10 feet from here. The bike was nowhere to be seen.

Within an hour of our arrival in Rome, we saw this old guy. He was so drunk he could not even get on to the bike. We saw him about 3 hours later totally passed out on the sidewalk about 10 feet from here. The bike was nowhere to be seen.

 

Street Art in Rome is different too. More on this in a future blog

Street Art in Rome is different too. More on this in a future blog

 

This beautiful bride was having her photos taken just outside the Colosseum - very cool.

This beautiful bride was having her photos taken just outside the Colosseum – very cool.

 

The "official" photographer told her to smile and wave to the "tourista".

The “official” photographer told her to smile and wave to the “tourista”.

 

And then there was this young lady. She was plenty peeved at something that was going on.

And then there was this young lady. She was plenty peeved at something that was going on.

 

Parking in Rome. There are many ways to do this. 1. Angle Parking  2. Perpendicular Parking  3. Parallel Parking and 4. Double Parking

Parking in Rome. There are many ways to do this. 1. Angle Parking 2. Perpendicular Parking 3. Parallel Parking and 4. Double Parking (Ed. note: There are actually 2 photos here – #4 is separate, but it very well could have been one.)

 

Oh yes, there is also the "I own a BMW so I will park here and block access to the lane and the crosswalk and make the pedestrians walk behind me into the traffic" parking.

Oh yes, there is also the “I own a BMW so I will park here and block access to the lane and the crosswalk and make the pedestrians walk behind me into the traffic” parking.

 

This guy was cute as a bug and a real throwback - and parked nicely, to boot.

This guy was cute as a bug and a real throwback – and parked nicely, to boot. (Ed. note: Sell the beemer, buddy)

 

This reminded me of my Dad who drove a 1968 Dodge Coronet up until we took his license away in 1994. How? He use mactac to hold it together - and at least it was brown and worked.

This reminded me of my Dad who drove a 1968 Dodge Coronet up until we took his license away in 1994. (Ed. note: That is 26 years and over 225,000 miles.) How? He used mactac to hold it together – and at least it was brown and worked.

 

Terry and Geoff go "Segwaying" through the Borghese Gardens

Terry and Geoff go “Segwaying” through the Borghese Gardens

 

Mao and friends in a very trendy shop in a very trendy part of Rome - What would he think?

Mao and friends in a very trendy shop in a very trendy part of Rome – what would he think?

 

Hey Calgary, what are you complaining about? Your big blue circle art thingy at least doubles as a lamp standard

Hey Calgary, what are you complaining about? Your big blue circle art thingy at least doubles as a lamp standard

 

All the National Museum of Modern Art in Rome (Ed. note: Art  Capital of the World?) gets is a rusty metal thingy - and no lights

All the National Museum of Modern Art in Rome (Ed. note: Art Capital of the World?) gets is a rusty metal round thingy – and no lights

 

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" - in September on a day that was about 28º

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” – in September on a day that was about 28º. Many sales, fella?

 

Just how they hell do they do that?

Just how they hell do they do that?

 

When next you all see me...

When next you all see Geoff…

 

Wine comes in many sizes in Italy

Wine comes in many sizes in Italy

 

Warning – Adult Content Ahead

Before you look at the next photo, please be aware that I am solely responsible for its inclusion in today’s blog. Terry, Mal and Karen (Ed note: All prudes, I might add) thought that IF I include it I should so some photoshopping to make it less, uh, accurate. I have chosen, in the name of Art and Free Speech and the 1st Amendment and lots of other good reasons, to let you view the original. If you feel you might be offended by imagery, please skip the photo and go directly to The Shoe Blog (Ed. note: which I think only offends Ken, sometimes)

And now something you will never see on wine bottles in the good old BCLB.

These were on display at Pinsa e Buoi - one of the best restaurants we have eaten at. If you ever are in Rome GO. It is in San Lorenzo - a safe, but sketchy looking neighbourhood and is fantastic and fantastically well-priced.

These five were on display (there were even more) at Pinsa e Buoi – one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at. If you ever are in Rome GO. It is in San Lorenzo – a safe, but sketchy looking neighbourhood and is fantastic and fantastically well-priced.

The Shoe Blog

Aaahh yes Rome, home of two thousand year old streets, some of which are paved with asphalt, some with concrete but mostly just 4″ cobblestones which leave HUGE gaps. This woman was a disaster waiting to happen – and almost did. She caught her right heel and came out of the shoe. Rather than take the left one off, she hopped around on it trying to get back into the right one and then fought with it trying to get it loose – all the time on her cellphone. I see a hospital visit in her future one day.

Lovely shoes though

Lovely shoes though

Hey – thanks for listening – I feel WAAAYYY better!

Be a ‘Rockstar’ in Moscow

Welcome to the new VIP Lounge in Moscow Sheremsomething Airport, invitingly called “The Rockstar.” Great! Will it be posh leather chairs and sofas, with soft throw pillows to rest our weary heads? A buffet of Russian caviar and smoked fish? Smiling, helpful people to wait on our every need? Think again.

When you first enter The Rockstar you are face to face with a woman who was a former guard at Lubyanka Prison, during the heyday of the KGB. Maybe they mean Rockstar as in “working on the rock”? One possible reason to call this place Rockstar might be the “Jetsons” shaped leather chairs (all four of them) in the eating area.

George's pilot chair?

George’s pilot chair?

It certainly cannot be the entirely uncomfortable hard sofas around the room. They are okay for short sleeps but terrible for sitting. 

If it looks hard and uncomfortable, that's only because it is.

If it looks hard and uncomfortable, that’s only because it is.

The two giant fish tanks with bottom feeders and ugly long fish (2 per tank) aren’t rockstar material, or are they? Not being a rockstar, maybe I’m wrong.

The fish actually look friendlier than the people!

The fish actually look friendlier than the people!

I’ll study the people. No, there is a dearth of smiling people here. What’s up with that? Oh, wait, we’re in Moscow!

While Terry was in the shower, this woman sat down on the couch she had been using. After glaring at me for having the gall to use the electrical outlet, I didn't have the nerve to say anything to her.

While Terry was in the shower, this woman sat down on the couch she had been using. After glaring at me for having the gall to use the electrical outlet, I didn’t have the nerve to say anything to her.

We have been in lay-over for 3 hours and I’ve planned to have a shower to make the second and longer part of the flight more enjoyable. I go up and ask for the key. “Are there towels in there?” Towels? “Yes, like in fat fluffy soft white ones like rockstars use—you know.” No, no towels. Miss Unsmiling makes a show of opening up a couple of drawers of her filing cabinet to show me she has no towels there, then goes to the back room and returns with a brand new package of paper towels! To be fair, they are a fairly soft variety for paper towels, the kind that stack in dispensers. The good news is that they are kind of tacked together so that when you choose one, about 20 roll out which is just about enough for one leg and one arm. Quite disappointing since the shower itself was beautiful, the biggest we’ve seen since leaving China with a brand new rainforest shower-head! (Ed. note: One could turn around in it without worrying about bumping the tap and either turning it off or to scalding.) What the heck, I think, this will be great! I’ll have a long, hot shower and get the blood moving again. Again, disappointingly not a rockstar experience. Warm is okay though and I did feel better afterwards although time was lost in drying.

Just because it looks a little splashy, doesn't mean a thing. Food was awful, furniture uncomfortable etc. etc.

Just because it looks a little splashy, doesn’t mean a thing. Food was awful, furniture uncomfortable etc. etc.

You could, however, take a monster bottle of water with you to the plane.

You could, however, take a monster bottle of water with you to the plane.

Geoff has just gone to ask for the key to the shower. I wonder how many towels he needed.

Hmm… I guess Terry had a different experience. It was obvious the blond at the front desk wanted to come in and dry me off – she kept making little comments to her co-worker who kept looking up at me and smiling at what the blond said. Terry also used most of the warm water. And have you ever tried to dry your back with paper towels?

Now, our pal Ken raves about all the fabulous lounges in airports he visits around the world. Well, he hasn’t visited the Jazz Lounge in Terminal D in Moscow as we did on our way out. I always thought that you could make up for the cost of business class tickets with a little, gourmet snack and a glass of wine before taking off. Well the liquor is no problem at Jazz – lots of variety of possible libations. The snack, well yes it would be light, since it is just barely edible. Lots of small pastry type things with suspect ingredients. And who wants any drink you want at 7am anyway? Then again, the furniture is so uncomfortable that you don’t want to linger anyway.

He also hasn’t visited the Alitalia Lounge in Terminal 3 at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome either. After going up and down several flights of stairs, we finally descended into what felt like the bowels of the terminal. Now I figured that it being the home of Alitalia, they would pull out all the stops. Hah! Italy – cheese heaven. Rome Airport – where cheese goes to die. Terry firmly believes that the cubes of ham were Spam. The mini sandwiches were dry – on the outside. The drinks were free though – all you had to do was put up with the surly staff who resented having to serve you.

Finally, he clearly he hasn’t visited the Rockstar at Terminal F in Moscow with all its failings, as Terry has so well documented. (Ed. note: Perhaps we should have had a hint when we went to the “Classic Lounge” and the two handles on the door were taped shut with packing tape.) To be fair, however, we did arrive at about 5 am so food wasn’t an important consideration for the Russians. As they arrived over the next few hours they consistently went straight to the bar. Two couples were travelling together – not unlike the MacPhails and the Watts. Unlike the latter foursome, however, between 7am when they arrived and 7:30am when they left, they each consumed 4 glasses of white wine. When the bartender started this morning at 8 am, I saw him uncork a case – yes 12 – bottles of red. You don’t want to keep these Russians waiting! (Ed. note: Before he got there everything was just out on the counter for self serve. I wonder how many times the guard/receptionist had to put bottles out through the night?) I have never seen so many people drinking so heavily at 8:00 in the morning – or any other time before, say, 7pm.

One of the other benefits of flying business class is that they let you know in the lounge when you can go down to the gate and board “at your leisure”. Again, Hah. All of the announcements in Rockstar were in Russian – no English or Italian or French for them. When we figured it was about time to go, Terry asked at the desk. Oh yes, they are already boarding we are told. Off we go.

By the time we get there they are still not loading - they have a man in a wheelchair to load first. Then it is every person for themself. Notice anything here? Look at the space between the silver wall on the left and the glass wall on the right. That is the gate! People are crammed in coming from both directions.

By the time we get there they are still not loading – they have a man in a wheelchair to load first. Then it is every person for themself. Notice anything here? Look at the space between the silver wall on the left and the glass wall on the right. That is the gate- between the silver column just ahead of Terry and the next column. People are crammed in coming from both directions. Planning was apparently not the architect’s strength.

If you come from this side, you have to go BEHIND the agent  to get to the door.

If you come from this side, you have to go BETWEEN THE AGENTS AND THE GLASS WALL to get to the door.

Once we got on the plane, however, it was a different story. Our best flight ever! Go Aeroflot!

(Ed. note: Go Aeroflot! despite this on the menu:

I hope that is not a typographical error!

I hope that is not a typographical error!)

The Shoe Blog

These belonged to a young Russian woman lined up at the gate. She was about 25, dressed and “working it” as Terry described. In fact Terry even even went so far as to spell out “a s – l $ – t” to describe her. Strangely she was with a normal, good looking young man of about 30. Not one would have thought of as a match, but then…

In line at the gate.

In line at the gate.

We will get back to Rome later, but for now we are off to bed at the Ramada Pudong Airport -we have been up since 4pm Friday China time  and it is now 12:49am Sunday morning.