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.

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