I’ve packed my bag.  Toothbrush, underwear, a few T-shirts, the laptop, a book about the Victorian fascination with classical Greece, another book about why European art has so many pictures of naked people and Chinese art has none.  I don’t know what mood I’ll be in after I wake up, but it’s good to be prepared.

We are leaving at 9.  Today is for tests and tomorrow is the operation.  My friend Zhiben is helping to set me up, and Diane is staying with me all the way through.  Our two oldest daughters are off with Cindy, a good friend from work, and the two youngest are with Lou laoshi, a lovely teacher at their kindergarten.

If everything goes well — and it will — I’ll be back in a week. There is no wifi in the hospital, but maybe Diane can sneak off and post some updates.

I explain to the children about the operation, about anaesthesia, about the doctor who will take out the cancer in my neck.  “Mamma and pappa won’t come home tonight, but be good girls, OK.”  They all nod very gravely and promise to behave.  Our daughters are often hysterical on regular days, but when something serious happens they are both patient and brave.

“I know Anastasia will work,” says Yrsa after a while.  “That’s such a terribly boring movie.  It always puts me to sleep.”


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