2004.05.11 Urumchi, China

Manchurian (Sibo)
Language Sign, Chapchal

The condition of my injured hand is improving. The swelling has gone down considerably, allowing my fingers limited mobility. It's still fairly useless for performing any tasks--I'm currently composing with my left hand--but much improved since my previous entry.

I've received medical advice and support from so many people dear to me. Loved ones have rung from Europe, India, and the US. I didn't mean to alarm folks with the nature of the last update. Like all other entries it's written reflecting my current state, and I have admittedly been frazzled of late. Thank you to all who have contacted me in recent days.

In terms of medical information, the majority of what I've heard has been heartening. It was the right decision to have the operation performed in Ghulja. Beyond a couple hours after such an accident, not much more can be done. The daily anti-biotic IV drips are likely a good thing as well.

An old friend who is now a practicing doctor, Nathaniel, had sage advice: First, eat a burrito. Back in high-school Nathaniel was thrown from a freight train which he, Michael, and I were attempting to ride. He broke both of his arms. Despite his condition, his mother insisted upon preparing burritos and offering us melon to eat before taking him to the hospital.

The rest of Nat's feedback reflected much of what I've been hearing: you'll likely make significant recovery. Even knowing complete details, of course no doctor could tell me with certainty what will happen. Few people have uttered the words full recovery, but having any use of the hand would be more than I dared hope possible just a few days ago.

Reading Nat's quip, as well as other humorous messages people have sent has gotten me laughing again. The concern demonstrated by everybody in all forms has touched me. A previously unknown lurker who has been reading the website from Hong Kong came out of the closet, offering specific advice on treatment options there should I choose to seek better care. The folks in Chapchal--some of them mere passers-by--spent hours helping a bloody stranger. Above all, the support of people back in Urumchi has impressed me: I knew nobody when I arrived two months ago. Since the injury I've had people escort me to various hospitals, serve as translators, arrange air tickets, treat me to tapioca-milk tea--even tie my shoes for me.

I've received recommendations for specific specialists in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Beijing. Despite that further surgery doesn't seem like a possibility now, I've decided to go to Beijing to consult a hand specialist. Even if the doctor tells me to continue exactly what I've been doing, it will be worth it for the peace of mind. I leave on a flight at 3:30 today.