Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First Experience With A Chinese Doctor

Now, I'm acutally writing this the day after I first went to the health clinic, as I was so traumatised yesterday from the whole ordeal that I just couldn't blog about it. As previously stated, I have been sick since I got here, and yesterday when I woke up, I had no voice. I asked the girls at work if there were any English speaking doctors around that I could go see. I specifically requested English speakers, because I thought they would probably have a better understanding of western medicine, as well as traditional. The girls talk about it, and decide that one of them (who's name is Jelly) will take me and show me where it is, so off we trot... to a governement-run Chinese health clinic, where they don't speak English...

I pay 1RMB, for the priveledge of first being allowed to find the doctors office (which is no mean feat - even with a Chinese guide), find the doctor, and sit down for an examination. She listens to my chest, and sends me off to another room to have a blood test. The lady takes my blood, then we wait for about ten minutes while she examines it under the microscope. She writes her findings, then sends me back to the original doctor. The doctor checks it, then sends me up two flights of stairs to a different doctor (pictured above), who checks my throat, and decides I need special medicine. We go back downstairs to pay for the medicine, and return to his office. This is where it gets scary...

It turns out that the medicine is a mixture of liquid from 4 different vials, and two different powders, that he mixes in a syringe. He then puts a tip on the syringe which is extremely long, with a kink in the end, which he is apparently going to shove down my throat, and squirt in. At this point I'm not happy. I think my exact words were 'Are you sure I can't just have an injection?' So he gives me a piece of gauze to hold my tongue with, while he proceeds to squirt this stuff down my gullet. Of course having someone stick something like that down your throat (particularly when you are already sick) activates your gag reflex, and you start coughing and dry-retching. I look up to find that actually he has only squirted in 2mls of this stuff, and there is still 6mls to go. Oh... did I also mention it tastes like stomach bile? It takes four goes to get this stuff down, and coat my throat, and then I'm told not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes. So I am now walking around with the taste of bile in my throat for 30 minutes.

We then get given a script for some other medicine and go off to the pharmacy for it. It turns out to be pills and some special cough syrup. We go back the school, and Jelly takes a look at the box and tells me when to take what. The conversation goes something like this (small language warning):

Jelly: 'You have to have lunch, so you can take the pills. You take them once a day, at the same time of day, and the cough syrup three times a day.'
Me: 'Ok, I have to go shopping, then I will have lunch, then I will take the pills and the syrup.'
Jelly: 'Ok, but don't take too long. We have to be back at the clinic at about 3.'
Me: 'What?'
Jelly: 'The doctor has to give you some more of that medicine, twice a day for the next four days'
Me: 'Fuck That! I'm not going back there!'
Jelly: 'Yes you are. You are sick, the medicine is good for your health, and you are going.'
Me: '...'
Jelly: 'Go have your lunch so you can be back here to take your pills, because you can't drink for half an hour before you go to the doctor either.'
Me: '...'

So, off I go to attempt to buy a vapouriser, which don't exist in China, and then return to the school only to be pounced on:

Jelly: 'Did you have lunch?'
Me: 'Yes'
Jelly: 'Good, take these pills (she pops them into my hand), and swallow this (she produces the most humungous table spoon I've even seen, fills it with syrup and forces it at me).
Me: (take the pills, drink the syrup) 'That is the most disgusting cough syrup I have ever tasted.'
Jelly: 'But it's good for your health'
Me: '...'
Jelly: 'Ok, I will come and find you at about three or four.'
Me: '...'

Sure enough, 4pm on the dot, I get a tap on the shoulder, she grabs my hand and marches me down the street to the clinic again, not letting go of me the entire time. And we go though the whole process again.

This morning I get a text from her, saying she won't be at work today, but she has arranged to have one of the other consultants take me down instead. I walk through the door and the first thing they say is 'Ok, so it's time for you to go to the clinic'. I then politely explain that I can't, because I have a class. Sure enough, none of my students show, and I'm marched back down to the clinic for my next treatment. This time I'm also offered an IV drip, but that takes nearly and hour, for which I don't have time. I also asked if something can be done about my cough, given that is the root cause of my problem, to which I'm told 'No, that has to heal itself and it may take a while'.

I didn't go to my treatment this afternoon, because I was in classes all day, but I'm sure that's going to come back to haunt me. I have however been taking my other medicine, no matter how bad it tastes, I will let you all know if and when it works.

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