While I’ve already started posting about my life here in Beijing, I couldn’t leave out the last month or so, when I traveled to Qinghai, Tibet, Nepal, Hongkong and Guangzhou!
The last few weeks in Beijing were a stressful blur. A few days after my incident with the Baijiu, I came down with awful stomach and intestinal pains. At first it was like normal travel stomach issues, but then it got to the point where I would get intense acute pain in my intestines and stomach whenever I tried to get up and move around. Eventually, I decided to go to the International Medical Clinic in Beijing. There, all of the doctors speak English and have practiced abroad. I met with a Chinese doctor who went to medical school in the US, and currently teaches at UCLA. He told me that whatever I had eaten irritated my intestines and they were now inflamed, causing pain. Antibiotics would not no help, and all he could do was prescribe pain and nausea medication.
The medicine helped for a few days… enough for me to go to a kung fu show with the Alliance Beijing students! The kung fu show was great, and I was especially impressed by the little boys who did back “headsprings”, jumping backwards and using their heads to land into a roll. I can’t even imagine how long and hard these kids must have trained to land on their heads! Lets hope they don’t all have brain damage.
While I was fine for the kung fu show, after a few days I wasn’t getting any better. I forced myself to go to work one day, and it was absolutely awful. I wouldn’t be surprised if my face was green, after teaching crazy, screaming children all morning. I had a 40 minute break before lunch and spent that time sleeping on a random classroom couch.
One thing that I noticed about the ordeal is how accepting Chinese people are of taking time off when you aren’t well. They never tell you to “try and come in” or “see how it goes”. If you aren’t feeling well, stay home- even if you aren’t contagious. On the day I came in, Joseph told me that the Chinese believe that without your health, you have nothing, so it is very important to take time off if you aren’t feeling well. After that day, they told me to go home and to not come back until I was 100% better.
The next day I was still feeling awful, so I went back to the medical center. The doctor gave me an ultrasound on my lower stomach just in case, but it turns out I was having “intestinal spasms”. The intestines were so irritated that they would clench up tightly, causing me acute pain and nausea. Really random, I know. The doctor decided to solve this by giving me a high dose of pain medication in my butt. It was great, it hurt really bad. But, after that day I was cured! The pain medication allowed my intestines to relax and everything was normal after that!
While getting sick in China is a little scary, at least Beijing and Shanghai have well-qualified western doctors who speak English. Healthcare in China is also a LOT less expensive. With two doctors visits to a fancy international clinic, an ultrasound, a butt shot and a ton of medicine, the total was less than $300. While it has been a process to try and get my American insurance to pay for some of it, $300 is peanuts compared to what I would have had to pay in the US.