Sunday, June 15, 2008

SOS in China: The Saga of the Giant Chin

Dear Everyone,

Remember when Eric turned into Quasimodo? Well, apparently God decided it was my turn. I'm not sure when or how an unassuming pimple turns into a scourge that swells up one's face like an overripe melon, but I'm sure stressing out over the following isn't helping anything:

This week, must pack up entire apartment into four suitcases filled to maximum capacity of 50 pounds each.
Next Wednesday, Enjoy luxurious 20 hour flight from China to LA.
Thursday, endure ten hour layover because only two flights go from LA to Omaha in one day.
Layover made infinitely more pleasant by meeting up with Susan who will show us around her neighborhood and hustle back to the airport.
Get on the flight to Omaha and arrived jet lagged and exhausted in the middle of the night.
Did I mention the 200 pounds of luggage already? (Which doesn't include our carry ons?)
Friday means a day of flower arranging mania with an army of Maggie's crafty friends and the rehearsal dinner and hanging out with the Nelson clan who will also be in town.
Saturday is all day wedding mania.
Sunday is the long drive back to Minneapolis with our massive assembly of luggage. Upon arrival we can at last collapse into a heap and sleep it all off.
That's a lot of adrenaline my body is going to have to produce.

But my body had plans of her own. In preparation for all this, she decided to create a massive pimple to become the physical embodiment of all the stress in my life and lay me out flat with an ice pack smothering my face. Its not pretty people.

When it became apparent the damn thing was infected, we decided to go to the Chinese hospital. We'd heard from a friend that their VIP floor was actually quite good and for $100 quai ($13 US Dollars)you could see a doctor with a minimal wait. I made the mistake of asking to see the dermatologist.

"Oh, sorry." They said "She no here today."
"Well, this is an emergency. I want to see a doctor. A general doctor."
"Don't have. You go first floor."

A little crash course in Chinese culture is valuable here. No one likes to tell you "no" outright. Instead, they say they don't have something or it isn't available now and hope that you'll go away and stop bothering them. Since this lady has now established that the doctor I asked for is unavailable and that I must report to the first floor, she will lose face if I get in to see someone there on the sixth floor. I'm sure there is some technique for getting what you want within this system, but I'm in pain, the pain left me unable to sleep the last two nights and all I want is to see a doctor. NOW. I don't feel like engaging in a game of cultural wrangling.

I should add that because of Eric's experience and a thorough round of googling, we were pretty sure that all I needed were antibiotics. We just needed the doctor to tell us which sort of antibiotics to buy. Even a doctor specializing in toenail fungai could tell us that.

I held my ground, insisting that I see a doctor, generally causing a scene and embarrassing everyone, especially my shy husband.
"This is a hospital!" I shouted, "You have lots of doctors here and I want to see one!" She was unmoved. "You go first floor."

We had come in on the first floor and it was definitely not conducive to Westerners looking for emergency medical treatment. The first floor is the general section where anyone can come first thing in the morning with a general complaint. You pay 7 quai (about 1 US dollar) take a number and wait until someone gets around to seeing you. Old ladies had brought picnic lunches and groups of people were playing cards. Everybody seemed content to spend the day waiting. Except the now wrathful Miss B.

The other half of the massive crowd were piled into lines beneath signs that probably made perfectly good sense in Chinese but in English read as follows:

Fever Diseases
AIDS and Sex Diseases
Surgical and Muscular services
Meningitis Outbreak

Not helpful. And I'm already furious, my giant chin is throbbing and I"m afraid the infection is going to seep into my brain at any moment and rob me of my vision. Not really in the mood to spend the next three hours trying to figure out which line to stand in to get a number to wait for a doctor who probably won't speak English and will try to treat me for the meningitis I'm pretty sure I don't have. I. JUST. WANT. SOME. ANTIBIOTICS!

Gaped at the scenario of the first floor for a few minutes and then went home and burst into tears. Eric found an ex-pat mini hospital online (aptly called S.O.S), made an appointment, took a long taxi ride to the ex-pat enclave of Shekou, paid a hefty sum, got a ten minute exam, yep, skin infection, here's some cream, some antibiotics and some tylenol. Go home and for God's sake don't poke at it.

So here I am lying in bed, blogging and praying to the Lord God above that my face doesn't look like this for the upcoming marathon wedding weekend and that my body is able to repair itself in time. Periodically sending Eric out for milkshakes at the McDonald's down the way so that I don't have to chew anything. Send me healthy thoughts and renewed cultural sensitivity.



Amy said...

Ouch! You poor thing. I am sending you super healing vibes for a quick recovery before the wedding.

tangata said...

Bless Eric because I'm sure he's getting a workout playing nurse, but he is looking mighty smug here..payback is sweet ain't it?
Dear beloved b, slow down, breathe, look up at the sun and stars. Remember you are just a little one in the universe and she is big enough to take up the slack if need be.
Sending you much love and good karma,

Jake said...

Excellent picture. Eric looks positively radiant!

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