Cycling in China: a visit to the hospital

China: an unexpected hospital adventure

by Bicycle Junkies

Sometimes the unexpected happens.., and sometimes it’s a little too much adventure to your liking. While walking around in Xiahe, Elmars knees suddenly swoll and started to hurt real badly. The pain even extended to his wrists and ankles… this story is a summery of what happened on our cycling adventure during a 3-month sabbatical.

Oldest news at the top

Update october 8, 2009: a hill to far
In two days our cycling adventure changed 180 degrees..

On october 4th at 2PM after cycling 69 kilometers we cycle into Xiahe and find ourselves a hotel not too far from the monestary. Elmar rubs his knee, his right knee hurts a bit. The last couple of days have been tough; every day at least 5 to 6 passes to climb, that is hard for the body.

October 5th: we visit the monestary, and a monk is leading us through the different areas. Elmars knee is stiff, but ok, he says. The entire day we walk around, up the stairs, down the stairs. I can see he’s hurting..
“El, you go back to the hotel and have a rest. You’re in pain.” He reluctantly agrees  and drags himself one more time up the stairs to our room. That night his knee is swollen, red and stiff and he is in a lot of pain. Dr. Ellens conclusion: inflammation because of overload. A Chinese doctor comes over, has a look, mumbles something which is supposed to be a diagnoses.. well, I say: rest.

October 6th: Elmar has had a bad night, he’s in so much pain and can’t walk anymore. I bring him to the toilet and the shower and help him into bed. I try Dr. Google. Apart from his knee he also has an inflammation of the eye and his bladder! So, I find a pharmacy and antibiotics.

October 7th: His eyes and bladder look better, knee a bit less swollen. We decide he needs to have a couple of days rest. Xiahe isn’t the best place to be, no hospital and it’s cold, no more than 12 degrees Celsius in our room, too cold. I arrange a taxi to bring us back to Hezuo, to the hotel we stayed before, here’s warm water and a heater in the room.

October 8th: we leave to Hezuo within half an hour, I already carried Elmar down the steps and the bags and bicycles are next. We are on our way to a warm room and a warm shower. We’ll have a couple of days rest in Hezuo and hope he will recover soon…

Update october 14, 2009: throwing in the towel
We can talk for ages, but that doesn’t change anything to the situation. Elmar is in so much pain and bedrest for 10 days didn’t help anything, we have to call it. It’s time to throw in the towel.
Elmar can’t sit, can’t stand up, can’t walk and his butt starts to hurt after such a long time lying in bed. Last night we called our insurance company to help us. This afternoon an English speaking doctor will fly to us from Beijing and he will guide us to a better hospital in Chengdu. We will be evacuated. But before we can fly home, a doctor needs to examine him first..

Without us knowing, october 4th was our last cycling day, almost one month sooner than we had planned. We cried together and we will beat this thing together. It is what it is, here our bicycle adventure in China ends…

Update october 16, 2009: evacuation to Chengdu
A docter flew in from Beijing to our hotel in Hezuo and performed a first examination, he’s thinking of some kind of inflammation. Elmar is having fever and he’s in pain, not just one knee, but both knees, his wrists and ankles. All are swollen. He can’t sit, he can’t stand up and walking is out of the question. I carry him, wherever he needs to go.

On october 15 we leave Hezuo together with our doctor at 5 AM in the morning, a van takes us to Lanzhou Airport. In the van they’ve made a bed for Elmar and all our luggage and bicycles are coming along. The doctor is here to guide us, to evacuate us to Chengdu. The ride in the van takes almost 5,5 hours (!!!) and was no fun for Elmar… In Lanzhou we were supposed to fly business class so Elmar would have more space, since he can’t bend his knees, but unfortunately the plane only had economy class seats, so we had to litteraly squeeze him into the seat, hellish for him and he had to sit like this for about 2 hours…
We were so lucky with our private doctor, he took care of everything and we didn’t have to worry about the bicycles, extra payment, our luggage.. all was taken care of. Finally we arrived in Chengdu and an ambulance was already waiting for us to bring us to the hospital where we arrived at 5 in the afternoon… wow.. we live 10 minutes away from the nearest hospital.. makes you think…

The hospital already had a private room ready for him and I was allowed to stay with him (sleeping on the couch, but I didn’t care!). Immediately they started doing tests and the doctor here started treating him for imflammation, so he’s on antibiotics and some Chinese stuff. They expect him to stay for at least a week.

Pain is less now, but still can’t bend his knees, so I’m here to carry him to the toilet and to shower and dress him. His joints are less swollen and we think he’s improving little by little: he started to make jokes and bosses me around! 😉

Hospital is fine, people friendly and our insurance company, the Europeesche, keeps in close contact and are arranging our visum renewal as well. They are the best!

Time will tell what will happen next…

Update october 20, 2009: your temperature is seventy-three degrees Celsius!
..that’s normal! says our nurse. Owkee… I guess she means 37 degrees…
Well, another update. Initially things went better, the pain in his knees was less, but all of a sudden Elmar had a strange, sharp pain in his calf and his wrist is showing no improvement. They’ve tested the vain in his calf and they believe he has a small blood cloth here, not big enough to cause any serious problems, but it means flying is out of the question at this moment. Apart from blood thinners, he’s still on antibiotics because the infection is one nasty bitch. Doctors say he’s improving, but slowly…

The last couple of days he’s out of bed, shambling about our room a bit and he was able to go to the toilet all by himself again. Doctors and nurses are really friendly here, but we’d rather go home. The language is a problem sometimes and the Chinese television just sucks! We constantly have contact with our insurance company and so do the doctors and as soon as he’s without fever for a couple of days, we might be able to come home.

The days are very long…

Update october 28, 2009: Fit to fly
Finally some good news…
About three hours ago our insurance company called to confirm our flight home! Thursday october 29 we’ll fly back to Amsterdam to set foot on Dutch soil that same night. Elmars fever is gone for two days, so Elmar is ‘fit to fly’.
The insurance also arranged for transport from Schiphol airport back to our house and the next day our own doctor will pay us a visit to see how we’ll continue his treatment. He’ll probably needs some physio, since he still can’t move his knees and all his muscle tissue is gone. He now has these very thin legs and shambles like an old man!

We are tired… Elmars ass is hurting because of all the time lying in bed and tomorrow on the plane he will be wearing these sexy socks! But this time we are actually happy to go home…

Update november, 2009: the diagnoses
Elmar was diagnosed with Reiter disease, some kind of rheumatism. But he’s strong and improving by working very hard. He manages to shamble around the block a bit and with physio he slowly can move his knees better. So far, the inflammation is diminishing and his blood shows improvement too, so no need for lifetime medication. He’s strong, he’ll get there! And I will be there to help. We are both confident he will make a full recovery and we’ll be back on the bicycles soon!

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Simon & Leni July 14, 2012 - 09:01

Hoi Kinders,
Ja, dat is allemaal niet leuk dat zoiets je overkomt. Rusten en koel houden is denk ik de enige optie.
Hopen dat ze in het ziekenhuis meer voor El kunnen doen. Dus als jullie weer gaan fietsen, hou het wat rustiger en niet meer helemaal tot het gaatje gaan. Laat even weten hoe het is afgelopen daar!
Sterkte! Liefs, paps en mams xxx

Gaby & Arthur July 14, 2012 - 09:04

Hoi, balen joh! Kijk wel uit of hij geen kleine wondjes heeft, ook al lijkt he tong zo onschuldig (aan voeten, handen, muggenbulten enz.) Goed ontsmetten.
Deze tip kreeg ik ook een keer toen een van de kinderen wat had. Heeft hij nog koorts? Nou ja, jullie weten het zelf ook allemaal wel. In ieder geval, ik hoop dat El weer gauw op de been ehh knie is…
Sterkte en beterschap xxxxxxxx

Pa, Ka en Hugo July 14, 2012 - 09:06

Lieve El & El,
Dat zijn geen leuke berichten.
Hopelijk geneest de knie voorspoedig.

Veel sterkte toegewenst.
Liefs, Hukapa

Douwe & Blanche July 14, 2012 - 09:08

Ik las net je mail waarin je zei dat jullie vast zaten terwijl ik nog niet wist waarom. Snel naar jullie website en dan lees ik dit. SHIIIITT!!! Dit is enorm balen. Gelukkig wordt er goed gezorgd voor Elmar. Probeer niet te veel te balen. Ik duim voor jullie dat jullie nog even kunnen fietsen.
Kusje voor de knie van Elmar en we duimen voor jullie!!

Chantal July 14, 2012 - 09:10

Sterkte met de knie! Ik heb ook in Alaska pijn in de knie gehad, maar met rust allemaal goed gekomen. Je zadel zal toch niet ‘af’gezakt zijn na al die kilometers en zorgen voor een andere belasting?

Zuster Ellen, goed verzorgen en kroelen helpt zeer goed! En ze hebben natuurlijk genoeg Chinese smeersels/kruiden om herstel te bevorderen! 😉


Elmar & Ellen July 14, 2012 - 09:12

Hoi allemaal,

Dankjulliewel voor de lieve woorden. Helaas gaat het herstel maar heel langzaam. We kijken het nog even aan, maar we vrezen het ergste..
Erg jammer… duim maar voor ons dat er een klein wondertje in Elmar zijn knie plaats gaat vinden!

El & El

Marco July 14, 2012 - 09:13

Heb ooit zoiets gehad tijdens onze 2 jaar naar Nieuw Zeeland (weet natuurlijk niet zeker of het hetzelfde is, maar goed:)). Ik heb het volgende gedaan: heel goed gegeten, antibiotica, drukverband, 3 flinke dagen rust en daarna wel gefietst maar hele kleine afstanden met licht verzet en zo min mogelijk klimmen. Lange tijd leek het alsof er geen enkel vooruitgang geboekt werd maar toen ineens van de een op de andere dag werd de pijn minder. Geen flauw idee of je hier wat aan hebt. Ik wens Elmar is ieder geval heel veel sterkte.
In de tussentijd zijn wij bezig ons huisje te verkopen. Kijk eens op Wel spannend. Het is voor ons toch altijd het huis geweest wat we met hart en ziel hebben opgebouwd en dan is het wel gek als het weg gaat. Als jullie terug zijn in NL moeten we hier voor het laatst nog maar eens een biertje/koffie/glas wijn pakken.


Simon & Leni July 14, 2012 - 09:32

Hallo Kinders
Wat een vervelende toestanden he wij hebben heel erg met jullie te doen zeker met Elmar.
We hopen uit de grond van ons hart dat El mar snel naar Nederland kan komen.
En dat de diagnose ook snel gesteld zal worden.
Inderdaad gezondheid is het allerbelangrijkste de rest is bijzaak hoe vervelend het ook is.
Pa en ik wensen jullie uit de grond van ons hart heel veel sterkte toe.
En kijken uit naar de uitslagen die komen gaan.
Dikke knuffel voor jullie hou je haaks Pa en Ma xxx

Anoniem July 14, 2012 - 09:33

Beste junks,

Dit is toch ook wat, hoop dat er snel een oplossing komt.
Heel spijtig dat de reis een maand korter is geworden maar ja.
Het allerbelangrijk ste is dat Elmar er gauw boven op komt.
We hopen snel goed nieuws te horen van jullie.
En in de tussentijd veel sterkte !!

Martijn & Kirsten July 14, 2012 - 09:33

Ahhh, damn.
Ik dacht bij de vorige mail het zal wel goed komen, maar dit is zeer ernstig.
Ik baal met jullie mee, maar eerst weten wat Elmar heeft.

Heel veel succes en sterkte voor jullie beide.

Groet Martijn en Kirsten

Pa, Ka en Hugo July 14, 2012 - 09:34

Lieve El & El,

Met grote spanning volgen we de gebeurtenissen en zien uit naar een spoedige en goede diagnose en hopen dat er dan snel wat kan gebeuren.

Weet in ieder geval dat wij heel veel aan jullie denken.

Heel veel liefs,

Karen, pa en Hugo.


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