Well, well, well, the time had finally come for me to pay a visit to a Chinese hospital (what we call clinic). Nothing serious, just the start of a cold, that knowing my own body as well as I do, would undoubtedly develop into a chest infection if not nipped in the bud with antibiotics.
A week ago, I had 2 little cute kids not-so-cutely sneeze on me. Yes, I had to wipe snot off my arm. Ewww! The next day, my body felt like it belonged to an alien. Two days later, I was croaking like a frog, and my manager sent me to the nearest Chinese hospital in the care of one of the Chinese staff members. The visit was an amusing experience, to say the least. First, I had to have my temperature taken while registering. So there I was, filling out a form, with a thermometer stuck under my tongue, which had been handled by both the nurse and my helpful companion, with their bare hands. (Hey! You don’t survive in Asia if you are squeamish about sharing germs!) Once it had been established that I didn’t have a fever, I could go to the Teller to pay my registration fee of 11,5o Yuan (R11.50). Next we went upstairs to wait till my number and name popped up on the gigantic electronic screen. About 30 minutes later, I was sent to a room, in which 2 doctors sat at desks, while patients stood in line to be ‘examined’. My Chinese companion had to translate my symptoms and the doctor’s questions. The doctor looked at my throat, and did a cursory examination of my chest. after entering the info into his computer, I was sent back downstairs to pay for a blood test (20 Yuan). Back upstairs to have my finger pricked, and then another 30 minute wait for the results. Back downstairs to see a different doctor in the Emergency section, since by this time, the other section had closed. According to the blood test results, my White Blood Cell Count was normal, it was determined that I had a cold, and I was prescribed some traditional Chinese medicine, which consisted of sachets of granulated herbs/tea/elephant dung or whatever the ingredients are, which I had to drink twice daily. Back to the Teller to pay for my medicine (15 Yuan), and finally, after 3 hours, I was free to leave. So for 46,50 Yuan (R46,50), that was my visit to the local Chinese hospital.
On Sunday morning, I couldn’t speak, and I had Parent-Teacher meetings scheduled for that entire afternoon, so had no choice but to go in to work and slog my way through. After 2 hours of elephant dung/bat wing/octopus eyes tea drinking, I could finally speak.
Come Monday morning, and I could hardly breathe. So off I went to an international hospital, called Guan Ci Memorial Hospital, where there were patients from France, the USA, as well as Chinese, etc, etc. Finally, after a ‘normal’ Western medical consultation, another blood test, and 1000,00 Yuan (R1000,00) I finally had my desired confirmation of a high White Blood Cell count, a chest infection, and loads of medicine, including those wonderful-yet-bad-for-you antibiotics! Happy patient! (Until the following week, when it was then Kevin’s turn to be an unhappy patient!)
Conclusion? I wouldn’t waste my time again with a local Chinese hospital. As a matter of fact, even my Chinese students don’t waste their time going to Chinese hospitals for traditional Chinese medicine. They say it’s ‘inconvenient’ since it takes too long to recover, and treatment for almost everything is to be put on a drip. Even tiny tots walk around with drips. It was quite something to see…. They actually have ‘drip’ cubicles, like tiny office cubicles, for patients to sit while their medicine drips away into their veins. Whereas, treatment at the international hospital is ‘Western’, despite all the medical staff being Chinese. They have either studied and/or lived in Western countries, so one can actually communicate the same as one would ‘back home’. One thing they do, though, which I appreciate, and wish they would do back home, is to check your blood readings first before prescribing medicine. I think our Western doctors are too quick to prescribe antibiotics, whereas here they will only do so, if your blood indicates an absolute necessity to do so. So, we can still learn some things from the Chinese!