Michelle’s Favorite China Moments (#2- Of Kidney Stones and Gate Crashing)

This month I am doing a series on my favorite China moments over the past decade.  These are in no particular order.

Of Kidney Stones and Gate Crashing.  On New Year’s Eve during my second year of small town China I began experiencing pain I had never experienced before.  Usually hospitals are the very last resort for me, so the fact that I even agreed to let my team leader take me to the local hospital means it was bad.  We got a dear student friend to go with us to do translation (which is a ton better than trying to play a game of charades with doctors).

It was quite late at night when the ER doctor saw me.  The poor student was embarrassed by some of the things she had to translate when the doctor was asking me questions.  I yelped as he pounded on my back, doing this karate chop to my kidneys. (Seriously!?!  Yes, that is the universal translation of “OW!”). I remember having to pee in a cup, but the bathroom was down an eerily silent narrow hallway.  The light was broken so I had to maneuver in the pitch black and try not to fall in the squatty toilet at the same time.  Yeah, you try that sometime.

Convinced it was a kidney stone, the doctor did to me what they do to everybody, no matter the ailment or diagnosis- they hooked me up to an IV.  Drip, drip, drip.  I felt woozy, but the pain was no longer so acute.  I would have felt relief if I didn’t feel so cold because in south China there is no heat indoors.  Even on a cold rainy New Years Eve.  My team leader and the student that came along to translate were trying to stay warm waiting ever so patiently for the IV to do its work.

Since it was approaching 2 AM by this point, we really wanted to go home and there was still another bottle of magic liquid stuff to go through.  So, when the nurse wasn’t looking my team leader turned the knob to increase the speed of the flow from the IV.  🙂 Let’s just say I had a bit of a bump on my head afterwards.  Who needs alcohol when you can have magic liquid stuff  speeding through your veins?  Auld Lang Syne- What a way to ring in the New Year!

Oh, but the story continues… The doctor told us to return first thing the next morning for an ultrasound, so we made the trek back to campus to get some shut-eye.  However, when we returned to the school at 3 AM the school gate was locked.  No guards were anywhere in sight, despite our attempts to call out and wake the rest of the neighborhood up.

So one of us (I really can’t remember who) came up with the brilliant idea of climbing the gate, never mind the spiky things at the top.  The fact that I had been drugged for three hours and still had a gigantic bump on my head didn’t seem to cross my mind. In the attempt to avoid impaling my back on the spiky thing I catapulted and landed on the other side on a wobbly rock and BAM my feet went out from under me.  Ooh, pretty stars!  My body was basically one gigantic bruise as I licked my wounds until daybreak would arrive so that I could begin the hospital adventure again.

Back at the hospital first thing the next morning I bumbled my way through all the check-in stations and ended up in the ultrasound room.  As China’s understanding of “privacy” is quite different from ours I remember about 6 random people (the Uncle Wangs and Granny Zhangs in addition to nurses and doctors) peeking into the room to check out the silly foreigner’s ultrasound as if we have some kind of different anatomy.

To make a long story short, I was sent home with a nice bag of Chinese herbal medicine.  Although a bit skeptical of herbal medicine at first I have to admit that it did the trick.  While I’m still not convinced to this day that it was, in fact, a kidney stone, it certainly makes for a dramatic telling. 🙂

But, one thing I am convinced of– I’m pretty sure I haven’t been back to a hospital as a patient since.  🙂


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