How Not to Spend Your Day

As I write this I am waiting in line at a hospital. I have been to Chinese hospitals more time in the last few days than I ever want to again in my life (ok I’m being dramatic but going twice..no once is good enough to scare people away). It all started because of a stupid fall that Avi took in our dorm’s hallway. It too embarrassing to explain the process of this fall (need to save Avi’s face), but needless to say he got a fat lip from it, and as of two days ago reinjured his back. Two days ago, we were supposed to meet some friends of our teacher, they take us out to eat every so often, and we teach their daughter simple English words here and there, it’s a nice deal for us because they are rich and eat well! But that’s beside the point. Earlier that day his back started hurting again and it was difficult for him to sit down and walk, but he went down to tell them about his situation and to get out of going to dinner. Unfortunately for him, he underestimated the politeness of Chinese people, when they know you they will do anything for you. So he was almost immediately thrown into one of their cars, and we were taken to their Chinese medicine doctor friend’s house. They found the source of his pain, on his lower spine, and started aggressively massaging, I even saw one of them do hilarious tai chi on it (they were both in awkward positions that were picture worthy). After a while, he tried to get up and found that he couldn’t do it and that it hurt even worse. He decided to take a nap there since he couldn’t get up and we (assuming that with a bit more time he would feel better) went out to eat and brought him back dumplings. When we got back he was rolled over but still unable to get up, and he would still frequently get shots of pain. He tried to get up to go to the bathroom, Avi’s over six feet tall and over two hundred pounds, so it took about four men to help him up, but when he was standing he fainted and so we set him on the ground and realized that it was time to call the ambulance. I became hopeful; ambulances in America take care of everything and I feel happy to hand over the responsibility, but it became apparent right when they came in that in China that is not the case. They slid him on to the ghetto-ist stretcher I’ve ever seen, and because it is a spinal problem every jolt hurts Avi. We asked them to give him pain pills/an injection first but they were like, “We don’t have any of that”. Ridiculous. So we got in the ambulance and there were no machines attached to him, no questions asked about his condition… it was basically like riding in an expensive van (the trip cost 240 RMB). When we got to the emergency room the ambulance moved him from the stretcher (very badly, we all had to help), then left. I haven’t gone with a person in stretcher to the emergency room before, but I watch enough TV, I know there are supposed to be a flock of professionals running away with him saying things like, “Is he stable? What are the stats?”…but nothing. We had to roll him ourselves to different areas of the hospital, and you have to go back to the front to pay for every little thing first before they let you anywhere. So it was a lot of back and forth. Not to mention, to get Avi’s X-Ray and then CT Scan we had to lift him onto the tables ourselves and then back on to the stretcher. It was horrendous. At the end, the doctor said his spine wasn’t fractured and there was nothing wrong, but Avi still couldn’t move without immense pain so I wasn’t satisfied. There was nothing I could do about it though so we had to ambulance it back to the school (Avi can’t sit in a car, or really be moved from his prone position). Due to his larger frame, we had to call 6 male friends and have them help carry the stretcher to his bed on the 4th floor…we do not have an elevator, haha.

So I spent yesterday going back and forth from his room to mine all day yesterday, a lot of people came to visit him which was sweet, but I got to do the fun stuff, like empty his pee bucket…..literally. This morning it was still hurting him (he can kind of roll now with great effort but we needed a second opinion). We got there at 10:45 but didn’t get to see a doctor until almost 3pm…the final diagnosis….same as before. It’s crazy but he wouldn’t even let Avi stay in the hospital for actual “professional” care (I use quotation marks because there’s almost nothing professional about Chinese hospitals), he can’t even do number 2 since he can’t walk or be moved to the toilet. The costs have been piling up, most of which I footed the bill for…Avi looks down upon teaching English while here, but he’s lucky I did or we would have been SOL. He has no money and his parents are going to wire him enough to pay us back and get by until the reimbursement comes in (they aren’t sure much they can reimburse yet but we shall see). After these last few days I am 1,400 RMB down the hole, so I am hoping he will pay me back at the same time he pays the others back, I don’t want to pressure him since he’s injured, but that’s a huge chunk of change…just because we are friends doesn’t mean I don’t need to survive lmao. All in all, Chinese hospitals are hectic, crowded, and REALLY confusing. It’s A LOT of going back and forth to pay for things and go to different sections of the hospital for different things. It’s all very casual as well; it’s not uncommon to see a person bleeding out and being treated right beside you. It reminded me of a World War II hospital scene from a movie…I saw a car accident victim and a guy who fell from the 4th floor being treated right next to me. I love China, but really the health care system needs a makeover!

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