Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rocketman - A Happy Ending!

It's been so hectic since we returned from Korea that I haven't been very good at finishing the story of what happened to Rocketman in Korea.  Part of it was exhaustion from the ordeal and I think, now looking back, that part of it I wasn't ready to relive. But now that he is healthy and whole I can finish the ordeal without tears streaming down my face.  If you are new to the blog, you can catch up by reading these posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and now the final chapter. It looks like this has turned into a novel.

Where we left off was with Rocketman still rocking a pretty high fever. He spent a lot of time walking the hallways along with other patients. I had never seen so many patients in hallways.  Sometimes they hung out on the benches across from the elevators and, especially annoying, they liked to sit on a couple of empty hospital beds outside of Rocketman's room and talk on their cellphones under the "NO CELLPHONES" sign. I don't know why ajummas (older Korean women) seem to talk so loudly, especially when on a phone, but it got really annoying when it was right outside of your room.

On Saturday night, Rocketman's fever fluctuated between 100 and 101 so we made a plan to get him discharged. Rocketman was really hoping to leave on Sunday but we found out that no one is ever discharged on Sunday because there are no doctors. They also told us it takes most of the day on Mondays to get discharged because of the backups. We were determined to have this happen. So when Dr. Ahn's number one Intern came in Sunday to remove the cathedar, we also asked him if Rocketman's IV could be removed to which he responded he had to ask Dr. Ahn. It was removed later that day to Rocketman's joy.

Our friends Hannah and Jennifer came down from Seoul to hang out with us and it was so great to spend time with them especially with Rocketman feeling better. They came down as much as they could just like you would do if a family member was in the hospital and I really don't know what I would have done without them.

Monday came and Rocketman knew it would probably be 3 or 4 before the nurses would get the orders to let him be released. It was after lunch and we were watching television when a frazzled nurse came in and said to me, "Man! Man!" and beckoned me to follow her into the hallway. We had no idea what was going on and when I went into the hallway, there was my yoga buddy, Mr. Choi, being gently detained by a couple of nurses.

I was so happy to see him and told the nurses that it was fine to let Choi go. He spent the afternoon with us while we waited to be released. He was leaving the next morning for a trip to Japan with his retired government buddies. It wasn't his idea to go to Japan for a vacation since he has a very deep rooted hatred of Japan but he was going nonetheless. He had had many family members killed during the Japanese occupation.

The blessed paperwork came around 3 pm. along with Sunny, our hospital translator, and off we went to pay the bill. The total was just under $14,000.00. It was unbelievable how inexpensive medical care is in South Korea. Choi made sure we were safely in the taxi and told the driver where to take us and off we were to the Dormy.

Rocketman was exhausted and we stayed close to the hotel until Wednesday when our flight left. His first meal out of the hospital was Pizza Hut. He still wasn't ready for spicy Korean food that he loves so much. An interesting story about our Pizza Hut dinner. We were finishing up our pizza when six high school students, three girls and three boys, came in and sat right across from us. They proceeded to take out a store-bought birthday cake and the birthday girl put on a birthday hat as the group sang happy birthday to her. She was so happy and you could just see that they were all very good friends.

They really debated about what to order and we could tell that money was tight. They ordered the salad bar, one small plate which all six ate off of and a pizza. Rocketman and I looked at each other with the same idea, let's pay for their meal. So as soon as we were finished, we walked over to their table and I asked the birthday girl if today was her birthday. She told us "yes." I grabbed their bill and told her that we would be paying for their dinner as a birthday present.

You should have seen the look of shock on their faces and we made our way to the front of the restaurant to pay. Rocketman explained to the checkout girl that we were paying both meals. All of a sudden, the girls all came up to us, trying to get us to stop - to no avail. They were truly in shock and with tears in their eyes kept thanking us. The checkout girl realizing what we were doing gave us two thumbs up. They continued to try to get the bill back to no avail and I told them that I know how very hard they work and that it was something we wanted to do.

They finally realized that the bill had been paid and as we left, two, including the birthday girl, were still crying and bowing to us saying "thank you." It was one of the best things we have spent money on in years and Rocketman and I will never forget their looks of shock and then gratitude.

Rocketman's fever broke Sunday night but he was so lightheaded that when walked anywhere near the hotel he held onto my shoulder. Our last meal was galbi and it was the delicious! On Wednesday morning we made the 24 hour (from door to door) trip back home. Luckily, we had used Rocketman's last frequent flyer miles to fly Business Class.

We hit the ground running as soon as we returned. That Thursday morning we were at our primary doctor's getting a referral for a urologist and by Friday, Rocketman was being seen by the urologist. There was no time for jetlag and the urologist didn't want to see any of the images or paperwork from Dr. Ahn. He was visibly shocked at how things were handled at a University Hospital. He said he wanted to do surgery immediately. He would remove the Korean stent and put in his own. He would find the fragments that Dr. Ahn had left inside Rocketman and he would see if there was any other damage.

Rocketman needed a pre-surgery exam and the blood test came back that he was anemic due to all the blood loss from the catheter. But that wasn't going to stop the surgery and he went under the knife less than a week after returning from Korea. To say I was scared to death is putting it mildly, I was terrified at what the U.S. urologist would find. He came out only an hour later with a huge smile on his face saying everything went great. He had found two fragments and removed them and put in a new stent. He was very, very pleased.

It will be some time before Rocketman's anemia is gone but he is getting better every day. He lost 20 pounds from this ordeal too. We are not sure why that happened but it's definitely NOT the way you want to lose weight. We are just so thankful that he is recovering and though at first he could not think about ever visiting Korea again, he now talks about things we will do the next time we go.

The urologist told us that Rocketman will need a x-ray every year for the rest of his life to see if he develops any kidney stones. Since he will never be able to pass a stone, I wonder if this means he will need surgery. We'll cross that road when we come to it.

Rocketman and I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this crisis. We appreciate it so very much.


  1. I am so glad that Rocketman is doing so much better! I bet you were never so glad to be back home!

  2. Oh Becky! Hugs and lots of love to you and RM! You are two of the kindest, most generous people I know! I hope he mends quickly!


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