I have always been very close to my family – and until I moved to Hong Kong, that also included being physically very close-by too.
My worst torture, without a doubt, is to be far from my family when crisis strikes at home. So when I moved, I worried now and again about that nightmare happening, and how I might make my way back from 8,000 miles and 13 hours time difference.
June has been the most trying month for me during my time in Hong Kong yet. My grandmother was feeling very unwell, and was eventually hospitalized. I really had no way of truly gauging what was going on, even with many of my family members being doctors.
Nothing appeared terribly critical at the time, and I was already in the midst of planning a trip to Seattle for a wedding, in which I tacked on a week to NY – as per my usual practice of always visiting NY if I were to be anywhere remotely close to home. But then things at home started to get shaky.
It turned out my granny had (or may have had) a perforation in her gastro-intestinal tract – an incredibly dangerous condition, especially for someone in her condition and at her age. Surgery to repair the hole was not an option, and it was up to my old granny to find a way to recovery on her own – with no food intake! During this time, she suffered two seizures, and possibly some other assaults to her brain. Her blood pressure, which was always an issue, also suffered a terrible episode.
I worried more given these intensely dangerous episodes. At times I was told she was stable, at others, just told it was stable but unpredictable (is that possible?), with exposure to very dangerous episodes. I had no idea how to cope with my pre-paid airline tickets, whether to cancel my plans to attend this wedding, whether to come home right away.
I was in a kind of limbo, being tortured with lack of information or worse, vague information. One morning while in the middle of a meeting, I received a message “Call now” with no explanation. I kept trying to get more information, but my sister would not answer. It was a frightening message to receive. I hardly could focus, wondering what was happening.
When I finally got to my sister after the meeting ended, she just explained my granny was awake and I could speak to her. In this state that is not how you explain such a thing! Advice for anyone else in a situation where communications need to be made to a loved one far away — BE SPECIFIC! Don’t say vague things that can mean anything! Just spend those few more seconds to type out something like “Call now if you can” vs ” Call now” !
(to be continued)