My Baobei Is Broken

Today, quite possibly, was the longest day I've ever had to endure in my life. Ok, there were probably a few heavily-hangovered, full-days-of-work back in my younger-years that compete on an endurance level, but on an emotional level – this one wins hands down.

I've often complained about my fears of the Chinese medical system and the fact that should I be in-country long enough I'm likely to get sucked into it – today was that day. Except it isn't me getting the endless IVs, it's Maggie.

Sometime shortly before bed last night she started to complain of abdominal cramping and opted to hangout in the living room until they went away. This, what with my predilection to consuming undercooked goodies, was something I could relate to and I just left her to it. At about 6 a.m. she woke me up and said she couldn't take it any more and wanted to go to the hospital.

The girl sat there all night in pain, rather than wake me and have me sleepy the next day. That's a crazy kind of love.

Anyway, so we rushed over to the nearest government hospital (the nearest hospital is a private hospital 100m from my house that advertises plastic surgery and cures to the common cold… a little too MAACO for my liking). After navigating the endless, decrepit maze that is the Suzhou Fu Er Hospital, and waiting until she was full-up enough with water to need the potty (sadistic ultrasound-taking bastards) – we headed to the proper ward and hoped for the best.

By this time I had to jet in hopes of reaching my 10 a.m. class. With promises that she'd call me if there was anything urgent (it was a whole lot of wait at this point) and that I'd be back right after class, I headed home for a shower and a coffee. Shower complete and coffee half-way there, Maggie called with obvious anxiety in her voice saying "they need to operate right away, and if I walk around I might die."

The coffee and class were quickly washed down the drain and I was back at the hospital to meet a much calmer fiancee than her phone call let on. Apparently a new doctor told her that there was quite a good chance that surgery would not be necessary and that it might all be cured by medicine. Medicine administered via IV, a few times a day over three days. Three days!

If, after three days, Maggie shows no sign of exploding into a massive pool of blood, she's good to go. Otherwise, she goes under the knife.

Alright, just in case the tone of this post is lost in the black and white… I'm shitting myself. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I've been so scared. It's not that adrenaline empowering scared you get on a paintball field or after you've just egged a car… but rather a dull fear that chills pretty much every part of you. I hate hospitals, I HATE Chinese hospitals and I loath the fact that the most beautiful and amazing thing in my life is stuck in one, hoping they won't need to cut her open.

Now, obviously, the person that is worse off than me in all this is Maggie and as such I'm doing my best to play the strong, "everything is going to be ok" character I've seen in all those movies that feature hospitals predominantly. The truth is though, I've no fucking clue what's going on. Other than a few vague, heavily blurred by translation, explanations – I don't even know what's wrong with her. I can't trust the doctor to make honest calls, based on the fact that he knows I'm a foreigner and may just be looking to suck in a few extra kuai while he's got the opportunity. One of the day's nurses put it directly when Maggie asked how much the operation would cost and she said, "why do you care, your boyfriend is a laowai."

Well, tomorrow promises to bring with it a whole lot more hospital, taxi, school, taxi, hospital, taxi, home, school, taxi, hospital chains – so I best get some rest. Thankfully the stresses of the day have left me exhausted and that may (and that's a big "may") help conceal from me the fact that the better half of my bed is empty.

13 Responses

  1. Hope Maggie and you will be well! Did she get acute appendicitis? Don’t be too worry about the surgery, it seemed like a small one, if it was not nesserary. Good Luck!

  2. Best of luck man, and give maggie our best. Enlist the help of your best and most stubborn Chinese friend down there (aside from maggie) if possible. Sometimes the best way to counter Chinese Hospital fuckery is by bringing in a local, who’s well versed in said fuckery.

  3. The above isn’t bad advice. Don’t let that hospital eff you around with any of their illogical Chinese bullshit. I’m sending Magster all my get well quick wishes. Keep us informed. Hang in there, buddy.

  4. Hang in there! I’d also like to echo the advice above — you should definitely try to enlist the help of a rough-and-tumble Chinese negotiator to help you deal with the administrative crap. I know a great lady in Shanghai, who’s English is excellent. I’m sure she’d be willing to help you — at least by talking with them on the phone and acting as translator/intermediary.

  5. Give Maggie all our best, years of yoga training should knock that pesky problem into touch. Currently wishing I was hooked up to an IV though…hungover as hell…

  6. Damn, I’m sorry to hear that Ryan. Hope everything works out for the best. Good choice on a government hospital, the others will take you for as much money as they can (I know, been there, done that). Good luck on trying to figure out what is truly wrong and getting them to do the right thing, if that is possible.

    When my girlfriend and I had massive foodsickness, I had to explain to the doctor that it was the cause of meat gone bad, versus some bogus ‘spices’ or cooking style. Ridiculous. 21st century and they don’t even know the main cause of food poisining.

  7. You must be feeling oddly low.
    Its good that you have more than enough concerned friends to lighten
    up the load. I dont really know you or Maggie.
    Just an avid follower of your journal. But i have a feeling she is a tough cookie, just like you.
    Just hang in there, and take care of each other.

  8. Hey guys, thank you all for the well wishes. It really does mean a lot. I just got back from the hospital and am doing up an update.. nothing extremely exciting, but my mind is a bit more at easy.

    Thanks for the offer Chris, but I don’t think I need to pull out the big guns just yet. 🙂

    @China Expat: Dodgy cooking styles? Perhaps they get a lot of pseudo-sushi chefs? (try saying that five times fast… c’mon… I dare ya).

    Again guys, thanks a load and I’ll be keeping everyone posted.

  9. Pingback: Standing In Doorways | Lost Laowai Blog

  10. Maaaate,

    After visiting the farmyard that is a. laughingly called the People’s Number 1 Hospital (ugh), b. Number 2 Hospital VIP section and finally c. the Kowloon Hospital, I refuse to go anywhere else but option c. Pricey, but worth it !


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