Uyghurs sit in chairs waiting for the blue doors to open
We had been told my dad's surgery was scheduled in the morning so we had planned to go after he woke up. But at 11am, I got a frantic message from our tour guide, saying we needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible to sign another form.
Hadn't my aunt done that already I asked? The guide, who was there when she signed a bunch of papers -- including one promising not to give hongbao to the doctor -- said apparently there was one more to sign, regarding the anesthetic and the risks because of my dad's age.
My mom and I rushed over there, but were bogged down by security -- we had to go through the routine of showing our passports and having our bags scanned, and then figuring out where the surgery room was. All we knew was that it was on the third floor. We asked some hospital staff but even they weren't sure. How could that be?
The line for the elevator was long, so we decided to take the stairs. Once we got there, we saw a room full of Uyghurs, young and old waiting for their loved ones to come out of the surgery area.
We tried to find a doctor and saw no one, and wondered if we were in the right place and went back upstairs to the seventh floor.
In the doctor's office I recognized the doctor who had asked us questions about my dad's medical history and he told us to go down to the third floor. We said there was no one there, and he took us down and told us to stay here.
We were the only Han Chinese in the room, and it made us wonder what Uyghurs thought of us, thought they might have figured out we were not mainland Chinese.
Finally we heard a shrill voice calling our family name.
We rushed over to a small sliding window where a Han Chinese woman wearing a surgical mask gave us a form to sign. It already had my dad's signature on it (or what he could scrawl), but needed us to confirm we accepted the risks of the anesthetic due to his age.
"We are in surgery now! You can't leave! If there is a complication we may need to talk to you!" How reassuring.
There was no water fountain or toilet in this area, nothing. But the best part of this room was that it had wifi. So I used WeChat to communicate with other tour members and our tour guide to give them the latest updates. Our tour guide showed up and we hugged and I cried a bit. The guide was our rock and we were eternally grateful for the help and support.
Transferring dad back to his own bed
After a while the same woman called for us again -- we didn't hear her at first and a Uyghur man motioned for us to come back to the window. The woman with the surgical mask held out a kidney-shaped steel shallow pan that was full of dark blood.
She said the surgery was over and this was how much blood that was drained from my dad's head. I started taking pictures of it, and she encouraged me to do so; she added there were no complications. We now had to wait for him to wake up before taking him back to his room.
My mom and I were relieved the operation went smoothly and I reported this back to tour members. Being able to communicate on WeChat made me feel like we weren't completely cut off from the rest of the world.
It was another hour or so before dad was finally wheeled out of the surgery room. He was groggy but seemed fine. We got into the special elevator to the seventh floor and wheeled him back to his room.
Now we would have to see how long it would take for him to recover so we could get him back home as soon as possible.