Tuesday, January 22, 2013

OD Checks In; Robyn Checks Out -- or -- The Exclamation Point (Part 5)

Today was moving day. After staying up much too late to watch the U.S. presidential inauguration last night – President Obama was sworn in at midnight Thai time – we found ourselves turning off the lights at nearly 1am. With the alarm set for 7:30am, we woke up on our own at 7:00. Can you blame us for such a short night's sleep? We knew this would be just the first of many big days to come, and the excitement is again overpowering.
At PIAC Reception with Traces of Yesterday's Sunburn

We ate a quick breakfast and then returned to our room to collect OD's suitcase. The phone rang just before 9:30am. It was Saroj, a taxi driver and sometime tour operator who has been with Dr. Kunaporn and the Phuket International Aesthetic Institute (PIAC) for twenty years. He delivered us in comfort to the Phuket International Hospital some thirty minutes later. Both OD and I filled out admission papers at the reception desk, although in fact it is only OD who was being admitted. Today is her check-in day. I will follow her tomorrow.

From the reception desk we were taken to the office of PIAC itself, where OD signed more papers and received the hospital bracelet that she will wear for the duration of her stay. A chest X-ray followed, and then it was on to OD's room. Although we had eaten only four hours earlier, we found ourselves eating lunch just after noon. Surprisingly, we were both hungry. For OD, this will be the last solid meal for some time.

If there has been any problem today, it has been in communicating with the nurse assistants. Although I had been warned by others who have come to Thailand, it was still an eye-opener to realize that staff at this level has only a theoretical knowledge of English. After a short time, however, we came to recognize that the senior and registered nurses wear a different uniform and a nurse's cap. Their English is good, and we now know to refer all questions to them, reserving smiles and gestures for the junior staff.

Once we understood with whom we can and with whom we cannot communicate, I asked the most important question of the afternoon. That question was, simply, would I be able to spend the night with OD? The answer was "of course!" and so I phoned Saroj, who picked me up at 3pm, taking me back to our hotel so that I could check out and retrieve my own suitcases.

By 5pm I was back in the room with OD. By then she had been given a laxative followed by two one-liter bottles of water. OD says that in quick order she lost everything she has eaten since our departure from Bucharest. Her dinner at 6pm was little more than soup broth. From midnight onward, she will not drink or eat anything at all.

The day is not over. At 7pm OD will have her consultation with Dr. Kunaporn, who will give her a physical exam and set the schedule for her surgery tomorrow. A Thai psychiatrist will also visit OD to give his blessing. Both in the US and Thailand, two letters of recommendation are required for surgery in accordance with the standards of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, In Thailand, however, one of the two recommendations must come from a Thai psychiatrist.

That has been our day so far. Robyn has checked out, and OD has checked in. The preliminaries have begun for OD, and Robyn will follow suit tomorrow.

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Follow these links for more of The Exclamation Point:
Previous entry -- Our Day at the Beach
Following entry -- Fates that Intertwine

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