Pirate face, my recent surgery, and healthcare in Singapore

Sorry I haven’t been around the past few months! It has been a bit of a strange period of time, but I’ll explain later.

I’ve had the pleasure of experience healthcare in Singapore, now on 2 occasions. I fractured a few bones in my right hand last year, and a few weeks ago I suffered a collision during an ultimate tournament that resulted in facial fractures.

My face is broken

It’s called a zygomaticomaxillary complex fracture. Basically, there were some fractures in the parts of my skull supporting my eye and the tissue around my eye. The tissue under my eye was shifting or falling downwards because the bone there (orbital rim) had some slight displacement. Some of the bones to the side of my eye were fractured, and then there were some fractures in the lower part of my cheek (at the level of the bottom of my nose).

Blood spots in my eye from bruising around the eye

After a week of painkillers, I got to see a surgeon in the head and neck center at the National University Hospital (NUH). He recommended that I get a CT scan, which I did, and then he referred me to a surgeon in the eye surgery center. This doctor recommended surgery to at least fix the part of the bone underneath the eye because tissues had shifted down where the bone had been displaced, and if I could manage it to also fix the fractures lower in my cheek and at the outside of my eye.

Long story short, I went through with the full surgery and now have 3 titanium plates in my face! These are unmagnetized, so I should be ok for MRIs and metal detectors, etc. I stayed in the hospital for 3 nights. For my first time staying in a hospital, this was really nice. The lady that organized the logistic of my operation had requested the best room, a single room in ward 7B in the Kent Ridge Wing. It had an attached bathroom, TV, and fridge. It was very close to being in a hotel room, only with nurses that come in to check your blood pressure and give you medicine.

First time being hooked to an IV


I was a bit out of it after the surgery, and for most of the next day. A nurse came to help me bathe the morning after, and this was the first time I’ve been bathed by someone other than a parent! It was a little embarrassing, but not too bad. The following days I was strong enough to do it on my own.

After the surgery

The good

I didn’t realize how much I liked my face the way it was until I had to go through half of my face being swollen…twice! Once from the original injury, and then a second time after the surgery.

Physically, the recovery was pretty easy. I felt pretty strong and energetic again a week after the surgery, and now I’m just waiting for the wound to heal and vision to return to normal.

The bad

I still have double vision. It is still quite bad that it is dizzying to walk around, and I’ve made myself an eyepatch. I’m able to read and do some work with the eyepatch, but I’m starting worry that my recovery has stalled. I’m going again to see the doctors on Thursday, so I’ll ask about it.

[Edit: I forgot to mention part of my face is still numb. It was numb immediately on impact, meaning damage to a nerve. At first it was just mostly part of my cheek and the right half of my upper lip, and after the surgery now part of my nose on the right side is numb.]

My homemade eyepatch

Healthcare in Singapore

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my experience. Healthcare is pretty good in Singapore, and the doctors are great. My student insurance covered most of the costs, which is great because the surgery and hospital bill was over $14,000 Singapore dollars! If you add to that the approximately $600 I spent on consultations and the CT scan before the surgery, the total is nearly $15,000. In the end, I may only have to pay $100-200 depending on what the insurance company decides.

All of the doctors were excellent and knew what they were doing. I was checked on by doctors from both surgery teams, at least once each day that I was in the ward. The nurses were really nice and did their jobs very well. Overall, I have nothing to complain about, but also I had a pretty simple recovery. The food was not great, but you could choose from an extensive menu.

The health insurance agent I spoke to was also very nice and helpful. I had to pay upfront for the pre-surgery consultations and tests, but I put those all together as a claim and they are currently processing it to reimburse me. I can claim for consultations and other costs 90 days before the hospitalization/surgery, and 90 days afterwards.

What’s next?

I’m leaving in a week for the ultimate tournament in Italy. I’m trying my best to heal quick enough to be able to play there, and as long as my vision clears up by then I should be ok. I’m trying not to think about if it doesn’t get well enough by then…

I’m very behind on my research. I’ve had basically 3 and a half weeks now where I haven’t been able to do much work. Although I still have some cushion, I’m going to have to work really hard especially when I get back from Italy.

But in all of this, I’m still very hopeful and positive, though the double vision is slightly worrying. I’ve been able to get more work done after the one week post-surgery mark, since I’ve been less tired. Meditation has been a nice way to relax and get perspective on things. Accepting things as they are and being mindful has helped me calm down a lot and not freak out. More on that another time!

  • Your cousin.

    OMG! I love you. I wish I were there to cook for you. Oxoxooxoxo please just cheer in Italy. Don’t play this time. Please.

    • Chewy

      Thanks! I wish you were here to cook for me too! I hope to make enough progress to be able to play safely in Italy, but I don’t know yet if that is going to happen. I promise to not play if I’m really not healed by then. Love you too! I miss you guys, and hope to visit sometime soon!