Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

My Forty Six Cent Hospital Visit in an Army Hospital in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 28, 2011


I’ve been in China for a while so I’ve been sick from time to time. One of the prices that we dirty barbarians are forced to undergo, for the privilege of living in the center of the universe, are little things like sinus infections and toxic products. As I have had the honor of living here so long and have been nothing less than an ungrateful lout, pangu the god of all that is china has been severe if not quick with his punishment. I have suffered from sinus infections, pink eye, bronchitis and probably a host of other ailments that are lying in wait till the right time and will spring forth rendering me incapable to enjoy a vacation or beautiful trip in the motherland.
Nevertheless I have had my run ins with ‘mr unhealthy’ and my trips to the local health facilities have not been seldom and the local ‘doctors’ now know me by site. Today my foray into the vaunted house of Chinese medical know how was to check that my lungs are still hanging in there, albeit by a thread.
Upon arrival at this Red Army Military Hospital , as is my custom, I forgo any conversation with the registration matron, a surly old woman with an immense head and shallow intellect and march to my place in the emergency room
Slipping through the large metal door a man who I presume to be a doctor was awakened from his snooze by my smiling puss. The ‘doctor’ quickly wiped dried spittle from the corners of his gaping maw and looked around in horror as if the homefront was under siege by those traitorous foreign elements so numerous in China.
Quickly the nimble little sprite to his side recognized me and assured the man that I came in peace, causing him to relax visibly. The she-doctor then framed me in her large spectacles and asked just what was ailing me. between my Chinese and her English it was settled upon that I needed an EKG and possibly the removal of an unnecessary limb and she soon produced a saw to get to work.
Frowning at our lack of ability to communicate, I then proceeded to sketch out my problem and timeline. I explained that after 30 days I still have phlegm ( in Chinese I believe this sounds like tang ) in my lungs and that I was concerned about this. The doctor quickly agreed and understanding my dilemma she then snatched her headphones/stethoscope, licked it for good luck and proceeded to examine every inch of my manly man body. After a protracted presence near my zipper area, she winked and announced that my health was good and asked for my registration papers to that I could be released. I explained that I had not registered but merely walked in. She then shot me a motherly smile and told me to pay up, three rmb.
Three RMB. If you convert communist cash to civilized money that visit only cost me forty six cents….
You may be thinking that the price is cheap but the quality sucked as well, but I would beg to differ. This lady actually seems to be quite capable and has my implicit trust, for what that is worth, after all, its just my health.
At the end of the day I’d like to say that I learned little on this trip into the wild world of Chinese medicine but I can’t. It was an uninspiring event in the annals of your humble author, but you’ve gotta love paying less than a dollar for a full fledged doctor’s visit…

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