Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Survival of the Sickest...

My apologies to those who have been faithfully reading my blog, but with a house full of sicklings I've felt less than energized the past 3 weeks. Thankfully, the women in the house are now much better and the male is on the mend.

I thought I'd share my doctor experience with you. It was my first hospital trip in China. Honestly, I'd be fine if it was also my last.

When my 3 year old woke up with a 102 fever after being sick for over a week, I knew it was time to do that which I had been dreading - figure out how in the world to go to the doctor. There is a small clinic in our city where they speak English, but it's almost an hour away by taxi and I didn't want to have my little ones out in the cold and feeling miserable. So, I called my Chinese friend who has good English, has children, and lives just around the corner. She said she would gladly take us to the hospital she takes her kids to and that it was very near.

I got us ready to go, and tried to psych myself up for what was about to happen, but nothing I was putting in my diaper bag could have classified me as prepared.

In the taxi on the way, my friend called one of her Chinese friends and asked if foreigners can take Chinese medicine. I started to wonder myself. Could there be some physiological difference I was unaware of? Maybe Chinese antibiotics only worked on Chinese people!

My nerves are on high alert when my kids are sick, and both my 3 year old and my 3 month old were not feeling well. Needless to say, when we arrived at the hospital and I saw there was a mob formed around the check-in window, I felt that piece of me that screams for a single file line well up within me. Luckily, my friend is pretty pushy - apparently you have to be to survive in this country. I handed her some cash to pay and retreated to some seats against the wall, ready to wait until they called our name...

There was no name calling. My friend waved for me to follow her down the hall that was only big enough to fit one and a half persons across, and we were meant to go into exam room 1, where there were currently twenty plus people, standing room only. There were two doctors behind a table, and from my estimation, they examined whoever was the pushiest, or whoever coughed the most on everyone else in the room.

I backed out into the hallway for some air, only to look into the room across the hall where there were 20 more children all with IV's. I had heard that China was IV happy, and now I know it firsthand.

My 3 year old whimpered she wanted to go home. I choked back my own whimpers and tried to sound encouraging, but I was ready to break the door down and set off a lysol bomb.

My friend shoved her way forward and sat down in one of the chairs in front of the doctor. She motioned for us to come. We sat and the doctor did the quickest exam I had ever beheld. There was no chit-chat. No reassuring bed-side manners. It was get in, get out. She asked her symptoms, listened to heart, looked at throat, checked for fever, and whisked us out of the chair with a rip of her prescription pad. Back to mob window to pick up the prescribed drugs, and we were on our way.

My little girl was more of a trooper than I was. All in all, we were in the hospital for about thirty minutes. One time in the states, my daughter was sick with the flu and we were in the doctor's office for four hours. Yet something in me feels like it wants that one at a time, take-your-time-diagnosing-me method over the expedient, over-crowded and slightly more disturbing method. I find I crave the familiar, no matter how inefficient, costly, or inconvenient, especially when faced with uncontrollable circumstances. But I'm learning to loosen my grip.

Once home, (and once my friend finished translating all the directions for taking the Chinese medicines into English), my daughter beamed with pride, "I was brave, wasn't I Mama?" I smiled and kissed her and said she was. And my husband smiled and kissed me and said we both were.

Today I am thankful for really fast check-ups, for health, and for friends who will brave mobs of sick people to take me and my kids to the doctor.

Oh, and turns out foreigners can take Chinese medicines just fine.

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