Beirut: Surgery for Safety at Sea / Stop Drinking ?

I’ve had the chance to discover the Lebanese health care system (the private part) from the inside.  Thursday, early in the morning, I was admitted to the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC).  The goal:  removing two hernias that had been developing over the last couple of years.  Nothing serious, I could have waited longer.  Before departing DC though, I saw my doctor for a general check-up and he suggested having surgey as soon as I can.  “You are still young and therefore the risk of this type of surgery is low.”  He explained that, in my case, waiting could be risky.  Hernias can become “incarcerated” and require emergency surgery.  If this happened during a sailing passage, I would be in trouble.  So, I decided to have the surgey right away.

Things went well.  The facilities of the AUBMC are pretty much at the same level as in other hospitals I know such as Sibleys and Georgetown in DC, where my daughters were born. Most doctors seem to have gotten their specializations abroad.  Nurses and support staff were professional and cordial.  Language is the only issue.  Not everybody is fluent in English and this can generate misunderstandings (e.g., in terms of food choices),  or cause delays (when they decide to leave the room to bring somebody else who can understand what is needed).  Nothing serious.

Natalia came with me.  After a short stay in a waiting room where a TV was streaming an Egyptian Telenovela, they scorted us to the “preparation” room.  There, they took my clothes and valuables (wedding ring and chain), put me on a wheeled stretcher, and inserted an AV.  From there I was taken to the operating room where I met the anasteciologist.  “How many sugeries per day?” I asked.  “On average 35, but I have done over 60.” This must be the third time I have general anasthesia and it is always the same.  I remember the begining of a conversation and then nothing…

The next thing I remember is seeing Natalia by my side in the “recovery” room, along with Roland, the doctor who lives a couple of floors down from us and works at AUBMC. He is the one who recommended the doctor who performed the surgery.  I was high on morphin and thefore not very coherent.  I don’t recall the conversation we were having. But we didn’t stay there for long.  Soon they took me to a shared-room where I would spend the night.

The doctor suggested that I try to get up and walk.  I did so a couple of times though with considerable effort and pain.  Most of the time I was in bed.  I started, and today I finished, Dan Brown’s Origin.  It is a good book to read after surgery in a hospital, I might write a review.

I m back at home, still in pain, not very mobile, and unable to drink alcohol.  It is my fourth day.  Before going to the hospital I read an article about a study published in the Lancet (one of the best medicine journals) showing that any amount of alcohol that we consume is bad for us and reduces our life-expectancy.  This might be the right time to stop…

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