One Foot Forward, Two Feet Back

Sigh. I lost the battle. Today – in a room full of a motley assortment of sickly folk and 30-odd blue plastic chairs welded to a steel bar for the juice to hang – I was pricked.

I made the concerted decision with Maggie to ostentate a bit and visit the “best hospital in Suzhou”. Nine Dragons Hospital (aka Kowloon Hospital – teaching me my first word in Cantonese, neato), is located at the far, FAR end of SIP and was told to me to be the place to go for medical care in Suzhou should you fit either or both of the following: (a) rich, (b) foreign. Hell, they’ve got a Web site.

The trip there I was apprehensive. Nothing about a trip to the hospital is good, in any country, period. See, like shopping, there’s very little on offer for those of us that don’t fit in the “I’m really poor” or “I’m really rich” status-sections of China. I was a bit worried that even with more than 1,000 RMB in my pocket, I might be a bit light for a simple foot diagnosis… boy was I wrong.

jiulongyiyuan1.jpgWell, ok, first I should mention, VIP service was on offer at 200 RMB for the consultation. I decided I wasn’t “very” anything but swollen, so opted for the standard service. Maggie, in an uncharacteristic sway of or stoic thriftiness, splurged and got me a doctor with a PhD to do my consultation.

I explained to her that “doctor” by definition means “has PhD”, and we chocked up another one to slight translation variations between our native tongues.

The cost of a non-PhD “doctor”? 6 RMB. The cost of the real macoy? 9 RMB.

Yep, I got me a full-on doctor for the difference of $0.24. I mean, who are the people paying for the guys that only figured being a doctor was worth four years of schooling?

Anyway, this clearly illustrates the major problem in the Chinese medical industry – the money comes only from the amount of drugs the doctor can prescribe to you. As the success or demise of the business… er… hospital is dependent on the sale of pharmaceuticals, and not a greater concern for care… it puts the doctors in a tough spot to over medicate, and do so while not really paying attention to what’s ailing you.

This was made even more evident to me when my doctor (the PhD) laughed at what the previous doctor prescribed to me. The new doctor (whom I trust, if only a slight bit more) said that there’s no way simple antibiotics could have cleared up the infection, and the alcohol the other doctor gave me to swap the small wound with was a joke.

The result. I’m now armed with five (six, minus the one I intravenously sucked back this afternoon) bottles of high-quality vein juice and some topical cream that clearly states (in English) its for bacterial skin infections. The downside, of course, is that I’m now required to make my way to a local clinic twice a day for the next three days and get stuck.

I have also been instructed that I am to remain horizontal the rest of the time, with my leg at a 45° angle to reduce the swelling. I’m breaking rules to post this while Maggie’s at work, but, as many must when they’re pricked for the first time, I feel dirty, violated and loathed that I must repeat the process again and again… and I just needed to share that.

12 Responses

  1. Aye, another one of us has fallen and received the prick. Be wary of the prick, avoid the prick as best you can, the prick is evil, the prick will twist and corrupt everyone it comes in contact with. It must be destroyed in the fires of Mt. Topical cream.
    But if you had no choice be glad its a “clean” needle prick in the arm not some dudes prick up your arse.
    Gotta atleast look on the bright side of that!

  2. I think you owe Maggie an apology.

    You don’t need a PhD to be a medical doctor. Not in the UK anyway. You simply need to complete a five year undergraduate course, and two years of postgraduate on-the-job training. Actually.

  3. @Kevin: I don’t attract the same sex quite like you do, so, I’m unconcerned 😉

    @Steven: Cheers man.

    @Roger: Granted, we generally call anyone licensed to practice medicine (of varying degrees) a “doctor”, but I’m pretty sure that the technical definition of “doctor” would be one who has achieved a doctorate degree, the highest level of education on a subject.

    Point made though. Perhaps my presumptions of what sort of education is required to practice medicine is not in sync with the standards common in most countries?

    Still, glad I paid the extra $0.24.

  4. @Fred: Mostly just “Western” medicine in the hospitals – though you might get prescribed some Chinese medicine for some ailments.

  5. “This was made even more evident to me when my doctor (the PhD) laughed at what the previous doctor prescribed to me.”

    They’re all in it together and now they’ve got you trapped in their web of deceit. Appoint a sequestrator immediately.

  6. I hear you. A couple of years ago I had a rugby mishap and needed medical attention. I thought about going local but chickened out and went to the SOS Clinic here in Beijing. It cost a pretty penny but at the time I didn’t know the Chinese for important medical terms like “Hold still, we need to rebreak your nose.”

  7. @ryan – i still don’t agree with you, but i think i’ve already way over-stepped my “being a pedantic twat” allowance for the month with my last comment. Nice blog anyway.

  8. Ask your doctor if he did his dissertation on Hegel. If so, stay the fuck away! Goddamn Hegelians have no business offering diagnoses on anything other than ear,nose and throat problems.

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