Yesterday morning a man on a scooter decided to go the wrong way down a curved road. His scooter hit Gretchen’s motorcycle head on, causing a chain of events that would leave Gretchen with a broken hand and unpolished toenails.

Gretchen and Nicola, Gretchen’s passenger, were in the emergency room for several hours. Between x-rays, police reports, breathalyzers, wound cleaning and lots of translating between doctors, nurses and friends, the girls were a bit of a circus. Nicola, who we feared had injured her back, was thankfully only banged up and was able to walk out of the hospital later in the afternoon. Gretchen, patient soul that she is, was forced to stay.

Two metacarpals on her left hand were broken, requiring surgery. Since no rooms were available and the surgery couldn’t be scheduled until today, she made like Mary and tried to find room at the inn. Finally, six hours after the accident, Gretchen was wheeled to her stable, where her roommate gurgled, wretched and exploded from every orifice for the majority of the evening and night.

The first time we heard her roommate, Gretchen stared at me, wide-eyed. “I can’t do this,” she said, panicked. I immediately shoved her headphones into her ears, she turned up the volume on her computer, and I headed to the nurses’ station to ask about a private room, one in which she would not be subjected to projectiles. Like Mary, no such luck. Instead, I begged for sleeping medication to knock her out.

Several friends stopped by the hospital, many called or texted, and lots of stories were shared over Facebook. In fact, since the hospital has free wireless, I’m writing this entry now while she’s in surgery. The internet is better here than in our apartment.

Juan stayed overnight in the stable while I went to the apartment and prepared it for a limping, groggy, half-handed Gretchen to return on Friday. When I arrived this morning they were asleep, him leaning on her bed and her tucked under her blanket. Surgery was scheduled for 10am, two hours earlier than we’d expected.

Two nurses came in to remove Gretchen’s toenail polish, which was necessary so that the anesthesia can be administered. She was displeased, to say the least. Meanwhile, I was quite impressed that the nurses were able to de-polish her broken big toe without causing Gretchen any pain.

So here I sit, straining to understand every time the noisy loudspeaker cackles. Her surgery should be over in less than a half hour from now, and I have to listen for them to call out, in Chinese, her room number, which would mean I could move from the Operating Room waiting area to the Recovery Room waiting area. Juan will be back soon; he went to shower and brush his teeth after his long night in the stable. We’re hoping that we can return to her room and that her roommate will have nothing more in her body to expel. After her first surgery ever, Gretchen needs to begin recovering in peace.