Friday, March 16, 2012

To Visit a Doctor in The Peoples Republic of China: Part III

Ok, I went back to the hospital on Tuesday, March 13th to pick up the MRI and see the doctor. First, sorry the update is a little slow in coming but, after the doc, I needed to go to the grocery store to get pizza ingredients for the Tuesday-Wednesday pizza parties, and then the bible study on Thursday evening, along with classes, just had me a bit tired. So, on with the story.

On this visit, I had two of my current students, Zhu Zhu, and Xu Han go with me. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. and picked up the films. Then went back to the registration window and repeated the process of registering for a doctor. We went back up on the second floor, but this time to a different department ( I assume that these docs were a different sort of specialist), gave the receptionist our registration paper, and she confirmed our number to be called and the doctors office where I would have my consultation.

After about 15 minutes, my number was called, and back we went. Again, there was  someone still in the office with the doctor, but Zhu Zhu went in and confirmed we were at the right office. So, he came back out, closed the door and we just stood by the door. As, we were waiting a man came up, and I could sense that he would try to get in ahead of us, so I sort of moved over and blocked his way. He understood my subtle message and kind of backed off a bit, but I could tell that given the opportunity, he would try to slip by me, so I kept an eye on him.  About a minute later, a well dressed woman came up, and stood by me and knocked on the door. I gave way a little, and when no one answered,  she reached in and opened the door. I did not attempt to block her out. Later, I was glad I had not, because as it turns out, her mother was back in one of the examining rooms.

After about 5 minutes, the man who was being seen ahead of me opened the door and came out and in we went. The doctor appeared to be on the younger side (age is hard to tell with Chinese people, but he was definitely the youngest doc I'd seen yet). He pulled the images out of the bag, and even though they had one of those wall lights to view the image, he just held them up one by one to the ceiling light and looked at them that way. He asked me a few questions about whether I was having any pain or not, and when I told him not lately, that I had been trying to watch what I eat, he nodded his head. I should tell you, that again, this is all taking place through the interpretation of my students. I do suspect the doc could speak some English, but chose not too. However, when I said that I was trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, he was nodding his head in affirmation before my student translated and told my student that was good. After a few more questions, he confirmed the suspected cause of my pains: Gallstones and Cholecystitis, or inflammation of the Gall Bladder. His recommendation was to have the surgery, but first he wanted me to see another doctor down the hall and have him look at the films. He saw something else and wanted a second opinion. On the plus side, the gallstones are smallish.

So, we went down the hall and saw the other doc and he looked at the films and my medical book. He then told me they wanted to have another test, a CT scan done. What they saw in addition to the gallstones were some spots on the adrenal glands and wanted a better picture. Up to this point, my medical history has not been discussed much so, I thought that I should volunteer that I had testicular cancer in 1994. He asked me about the treatment and the follow up. I let him know that after about a year and half of follow up, I was released from coming back for more check ups. However, he did want to give me a quick examination, so we went around the corner to a more "private" examining room. (Yes, in both doctor's offices, people were milling in and out, and that is where  I saw the well dressed woman with hem mom, who had also received consultation by the doc I was now seeing). He gave me an exam, and asked a few questions and we were done, and there was no audience, ha ha, except for one of my student translators.

Consultation done, we needed to go schedule the CT. I thought I had the procedure down, so I led my students to a registration window on the second floor where the lines were shorter. However, we found out that we had to go arrange the CT first, so they would know how much to charge us. Apparently, there are different levels of CT's and the lab has to read the docs instructions and then give us a slip of paper detailing the type of CT to be billed.  Downstairs we go.

Back in the radiology department, we take our place in the line.  They have those line makers, like the ones in the banks, but they only had it pulled out for a short line. So, as we stood there, another guy did try to slip up ahead, but I aligned my students to stand 3 abreast of each other, effectively blocking a rear attempt at line hopping. Ha ha, you have to be on your guard. As we moved up to be second in line, a lady appeared to our right. She did stay on the other side of the rope, but was trying to lean in to get the attention of the clerk.  Before she did, we moved up to take our turn. The clerk was still typing is some information from the last patient, and as she was, the lady was now kind of leaning up against my student and trying to get her papers in front of the clerk. I leaned forward and help my papers out in an attempt to block her efforts, but she was faster and better! The second the clerk stopped typing, the lady gave her papers a little toss and they landed right on the clerk's keyboard! Ha ha, gotta hand it to her, she came, she saw, and she conquered.  The clerk took up her papers and began to process her. ( Chinese people are kind of use to this, and even though most of them don't like it when it happens, they usually will not begin a confrontation.) I just let it go. It did not take long for the clerk to process her and she soon was processing us.

Type of test in hand, Zhu Zhu, and I headed back up to the registration window. I turned around and saw that Xu Han had gotten back in line. Because, the paper we had was just for billing purposes, we would have to come back with the paid receipt to schedule the actual appointment so, Xu Han, was "holding" a place in line for us. I started to say something, but Zhu Zhu told me it was alright, that Chinese people do that all the time. I don't know if I had mentioned this, but on my first visit, Tuo had wanted us to stand in two separate lines in case one was faster than the other. I have also seen this in the grocery store, where a husband and wife will stand in separate lines, and then when once  reaches the cashier the other will come over. I had picked a line once on the basis that the person in front of me seemed to have very little groceries, but then when it was his turn, his wife comes over with a full cart of groceries. I tried to block them out, but the husband just reached over and his wife handed him stuff from her cart. Realizing that I had lost, I relented and pulled my cart back a bit to let her get her cart to speed up the process. I wonder how all that plays into line theory management courses. Ha ha.

CT scan paid for, WOW!, much more expensive than the MRI, 2700rmb ($427 USD)! Again, I am fortunate that I am paid rather well. For a person employed as a street cleaner that is 3 times their monthly salary. For many English teachers, that would be 90% of their monthly salary, and for recent college graduates from a non-famous school, that would be almost, and in some cases, equal to their monthly salary. I am not sure how many people are actually covered by some type of insurance plan. But, if not covered, these charges would be a real burden on them and their families.

So, the CT is scheduled for this Sunday at 8:15 a.m., and again two students will go with me. I invited anyone who wanted to come, but that is rather early for students to get up on a Sunday morning.

To wrap up a few things, I did go back to the first doc I saw that day, and we asked about getting some medication that, in about 15% of the patients, will dissolve the gallstones, and he said sure we could try that first as long as I was not in too much pain. And I have been emailing my sister back home who is a nurse and has some connections with some really good doctors and she has been talking with them a bit. From the information relayed so far, they seem to be in agreement in the course of action. Lastly, it is possible that the spots on the adrenal glands could be scar tissue from my cancer treatments and the massive operation I underwent.

So, there you have it. Whichever way it goes, it is in God's hands and I trust him. Of course, I would rather this be a simple case of gallstones and scaring, but as Jesus prayed "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36)and so it shall be.  You can pray for wisdom for the docs, continues respite from the pains (avoiding certain foods has all but eliminated the most severest of pain) a little more energy and rest for me, and most of all that I would allow this to be a practical demonstration of Romans 8:28 " And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Thanks for reading, as always, feel free to ask questions.  May you experience all the blessings God has for you. Until the next time...

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