Archive for the ‘Life in China’ Category

Ok so that may be a bit over the top a warning considering one only has so much power against getting sick anywhere in the world and then you have China with the pollution, second hand smoke, the ever mutating H7N9 (or whatever the scientists are calling it now) and all other usual risk factors, there’s only so much you can do unless you can afford the luxury of living in a bubble or walking around with your own oxygen tank.

This is part three of my China experience series..

I, thank God, never got seriously ill while there except for the common cold and I have my own natural treatments straight-from-my-mama, God bless her soul so I can avoid hospitals. I literally do not step into a hospital unless I truly feel like I’m dying and even then my sister or BFF has to literally beg me to (BFF Duties 101). This was a sentiment my roommate then and I shared. You can imagine the panic when one day I walk into our room and find her writhing in extreme abdominal pain. I was just from a short trip so I was exhausted and just planned to curl up in my bed and call it a night but fate had other plans. Another friend was with her at the time trying to figure out what to do next. There was a Chinese dude too who really helped actually…he just got on the floor where my roomie was and started poking and prodding, next thing you know my roomie (let’s call her Amani for the sake of this story) is up and rushing to the bathroom to puke. Later he explained it was some form of acupuncture and honestly it was a huge help as it de-congested Amani’s tummy. Chinese peeps with their magic hands ey.

So we got a shifu (taxi-guy), that we had met previously and made friends with and now I thank heaven we did. He lived very close to our school. I would actually advice every foreigner to have one of these if you don’t have a car of your own that is. I called the guy up, he arrived in 5 minutes and off we went to the nearest hospital, because that’s what you do when someone falls seriously sick right?; first aid then dash to the nearest hospital? We got to the hospital; picture four ladies; one in so much pain she could barely walk, two trying to help her walk and me armed with only one year of Chinese language, never having experienced a real rush-a-friend-to-a-Chinese-hospital saga. So you can imagine my panic when the doctor said she could not be treated there and that we should take her to another hospital that is bigger and has more specialized doctors. I thought all doctors are specialized in MEDICINE!?!?!?!So the guy explains that because of language barriers there is risk of misdiagnosis or something like that; note, I could only get the general meaning of what he was saying. They don’t teach you doctor-speak in your first year. Have you ever regretted showing off that you could order chicken without chilli in a foreign language and then a real emergency comes up and everyone looks to you because you are the  self-declared ‘language expert’.  But I knew there was no way we were leaving that hospital without treatment. So on the brink of tears I begged the good doctor to look at how much pain Amani was in and have mercy on us. Finally he agreed but reluctantly. Aren’t we all lucky that I am an emotional blob and my tears live at the edge of my eyelashes?

At first we all thought it was food poisoning but after we did the regular blood and stool tests, they couldn’t find anything aside from a few deficiencies in the blood so he referred us to another doctor after ordering an ultrasound. Oh and you have to pay at every step so I have no idea how many trips I had to make to the doctor’s office then the cashier and then the treatment rooms and all the way back again. Amani was all the while complaining I was being too slow and almost punching the doctor demanding to be prescribed morphine! Amani, if you are reading this please don’t kill me. Seriously though, one time she had her hand on the doctor’s thigh and I could have sworn I saw a scared look on the poor guy’s face like she was going to grab his balls and squeeze till they popped if he didn’t do something.  I kept reminding myself to ‘Keep Calm, She’s in pain’, and the many prayers I made that night was the only thing that kept me sane. There were a few moments that tempers flared. We were all scared and exhausted; Amani was still in tremendous pain and no one knew what it was. It was understandable.

They finally discovered she had gallstones. We had to spend the night in hospital as she got medication intravenously; I have never seen drips go that slow. Felt like one drop in 5 minutes. The first doctor came to check on us a few times that night, he still had a panicked look in his eyes as if he was willing Amani to not die; not on his watch anyway. He kept suggesting we go to a bigger hospital with English speaking doctors; I kept ignoring that bit of our conversations. My friend was getting treatment; I couldn’t care less what hospital we were in.

I’ve never spent that much time in an emergency room aside from watching ER, Grey’s anatomy and Hawthorne on T.V from the comfort of my couch. I love medical dramas I just never thought I would live one.  I saw one guy coding and being revived by our doctor (suffice to say my confidence in him shot up after I watched him save a life). The outpatient ward was a choir of snoring through the night. I saw drunks who had had too much and were sleeping it off.  Sweet old couples taking care of their sick partners, busted heads, other people in unexplainable pain, seemingly overexerted doctors mobbed by patients and patients’ relatives yet still managing to keep calm. The nurses were really nice and helpful. As the shifts changed in the morning for the nurses and doctors we heard weeping and wailing from a room close to us. I said a little prayer for the lost soul. A very rude woman sleeping in the bed next to Amani’s kept saying in Chinese; “What’s with all the crying? If the guy is dead, he’s dead, that’s it”. I was too exhausted to give her a dirty look.

Thankfully Amani was pain free by around 10am, we went back to see the doctor, he suggested she come back later for another round of treatment and that we may need to consider surgery in the very near future. I could finally breathe easy. Once my head hit the pillow that afternoon, I was gone, passed out till we had to go back to the hospital in the evening.

Amani had to go on this crazy ‘gall-stone diet’ for some time but there was no more pain, just discomfort and exhaustion at the beginning. I never want to go through that again though. I already carry my heart on my sleeve and that day it moved to my fingertips. I was freaked out but at the same time I had someone depending on me so I couldn’t afford to freak out. I kept second guessing myself because of language barriers, wondering if maybe there was something life-threatening/saving that I didn’t understand and that if anything happened to Amani I’d always wonder if it was partly my fault. Sheesh, talk about being between a rock and an even bigger rock!

 

P.S: China for me was a ‘you live and you learn’ experience. I had loads of amazing adventures; most of which were non-life-threatening I promise. Haha! All worthwhile though. Have you been there? I’d love to hear your story. Look out for more posts on my experience in China!

Advertisements