On our second day in Nanning, the second day Emmie was with us, we had an unexpected turn of events- I got to experience Chinese healthcare up close and personal!
That Tuesday around noon I began having some discomfort when I went to the bathroom (number 1). By the evening, there was blood in my urine, and I knew that I needed to seek medical treatment. Because it was evening time and most doctor offices were closed, our guide suggested that we go to the emergency room. Emmie was already asleep, so I left Zack with her, and I and the other adoptive mother from our travel group went with our guide to the hospital. It was only about a ten minute taxi ride to the hospital. When we walked into the hospital, it was like nothing else I had seen before. There were people everywhere, children crying and screaming. Basically chaos! There also many different stations and I would have had no idea where to go first! The first station we went to was registration. The registration consisted of me giving them my name, birthdate and age. That is it. No medical history, no allergic reactions, nothing! After they got my name and birthdate, they gave me a little booklet with my info in it, and a card, similar to a credit card. The guide then explained to me that my name would be up on the computer screen in a few minutes and would tell us what room we would go into to see the doctor. In the mean time I went over to the “nurses station” where they took my temperature and bloodpressure. We then stood and waited.
In a few minutes I saw “R. Caldwell” come up on the board, in the midst of all the Chinese names- it was pretty funny. Our guide showed us the room that we needed to go in and we waited in line outside the door. We went into the room which was a dimly lit room, and consisted of only a few cabinets and a desk with a computer. The walls were dirty, there was no sink or examination table. The doctor was sitting by a computer, and the guide told him my symptoms. He wrote something down in my book, and then typed some things into the computer. The guide said I would need to do a urine test. We had to walk to the other side of the hospital through what they call the “infusion ward”. This was a huge room with people sitting in chairs, side by side, with IV bags hanging. No privacy! Right beside this room was a long table with nurses on one side and patients on the other- the nurses were putting in IV’s as fast as they could. Again, no privacy! I thought to myself, “Glad I won’t be here!” Little did I know!!!
We had to stand in line to get a urine sample cup. The cup was about as big as the cups we use at home to measure the boys medicine. I went to the restroom, which to my dismay was very dirty, smelly, and consisted only of squatty potties. I filled the cup up, and it did not look good- almost totally red in color. I was thankful we had chosen to come to the hospital that night instead of waiting until the morning.
I carried the sample outside the bathroom to the sink and was shocked to see NO SOAP! In a hospital! Then get this- We had to carry the sample outside the hospital, into another building, up to the third story- it was a crazy long way to carry a urine sample! We then waited for thirty minutes on the results. The card they gave us is what we used to check the results. There were computer terminals in the hospital where you swipe the card. We swiped the card and a small report printed out- of course I had no idea what is said, because it was in Chinese. We took the report back outside and into the hospital to the doctor we I saw previously. The doctor then said (through our guide, who was interpreting) I would need oral antibiotics and 3 injections. I thought that "injections" meant a shot, so I was okay with that, though I asked if I could just do the oral meds. The doctor said no. So, I agreed. Didn’t have much of a choice! I then learned that “injections” in China mean IV’s in America!
Before heading to the transfusion ward, we had to visit the pharmacy to get the oral medication and the medicine they would put in the IV- again, very different from the US. Also, we had to pay for everything before anything would be done- registration, doctor visit, urine test, IV, etc. and show the receipt to whomever we visited.
The "infusion ward" was extremely busy, with crying children and adults sitting and standing everywhere. Our guide took care of standing in line for me, as the procedure is to wait in line, give the nurse the medicine, then they mix it and call you back up. We waited about twenty minutes, and I was called back up. I admit, I was nervous. Our guide had told us that no one in the hospital spoke any English, but as I sat down for my IV, the nurse asked me what my name was. She did a very good job of putting in the IV. I told her that she was very good- I barely felt anything, and she replied “Thank you”. The IV bag took about 40 minutes to completely infuse. After it was empty, you push a button on your chair, and a nurse comes over and takes out the IV- no gloves! Oh well. We left as soon as they took it out. We got back to the motel after midnight! To say that I was ready for bed that night would be an understatement. Thankfully Emmie had slept the entire time, and would sleep all night through! A huge blessing.
The next two days I visited the hospital again for my other IV's. It was a much simpler process as each time I only had to stand in line to have the medication mixed, have the IV put in, and then wait in the infusion ward. Below are some pictures of my experience. What memories! Though there are many issues and problems with our healthcare system in the USA, this experience made me thankful for many things about our healthcare. At the same time, it was very cheap for me to have medical care in China- only about $80 for everything- a doctor visit, 3 IV's and oral antibiotics. Hard to beat that, I guess. Even if you have to carry your urine quite a distance and there is no soap in the bathrooms :)