About two weeks ago I got really sick and had a 103 degree fever for about a week. I was feeling pretty feverish that Thursday night and when I woke up in the morning I could barely get out of bed to make a phone call to cancel my classes for that day. When I did, the first thing that the English teacher Cindy said to me was ‘you have to go to the hospital as soon as possible to get injections’. I was thinking…hmm..injections for a fever? I figured I’d wait it out to see if it was just a 24 hour thing, but the next morning I felt extra awful and decided to go get some medicine. The doctor at a little clinic said ‘Oh gosh, you’re gonna need an injection’, only after looking at my temperature, so I agreed, feeling all feverish and wanting to get better. I went down to the medicine shop with a long list of things I was supposed to get and bring back with me, and got a bunch of these bags of clear liquid and some little glass vials and a bunch of pills. The nurse sat me down in a big chair and strung up all the clear bags which she routed into a vein in my hand and told me to sit for about two hours while the stuff dripped into me. All the while there were some pretty crazy cases coming in and out of the injection room, like a guy that had both hands bandaged and his face was covered in a thick white cream. But then there were people that looked fine coming in and out too, getting quick injections or long injections of brown liquid or clear liquid. A guy even came in and just sat down at the nurses station and started saying who knows what to the nurses, which made them all giggle and smile coyly.
When my injection was all done, I was told that my fever should be completely down, but if it came back that night I should come back for more injections the next day. Well, when I left I still felt feverish, so I decided to go in the next day. I was supposed to eat the pills they gave me and drink some thick brown liquid too, in the meantime. That night my fever got way up to 104, so the next day I went back again to finish the injections. When I left, I still felt the same, so the doctor gave me more medicine and told me to take that until my fever went down. It went down a little that night, so I figured I could go to work the next day, Monday.
I woke up on Monday morning and I still had a high fever and opted to stay in bed and not get more injections, but the next day I still had a fever so the school told me that I must go back to the hospital. I went to another hospital in Liuyang, which is the ‘People’s Hospital of Liuyang’, and was told it was the best hospital around, which gave me some confidence. I walked in and it was all concrete and freezing inside, jam-packed full of sick-looking people. The injection room had one wall covered in a thick coat of black mold, with a fan right next to it blowing warm air (and mold particles, i presume) into the freezing room. The chairs were metal and lined up in rows, with metal hooks hanging from the ceiling to hang your injection bag on. I went to the hospital bathroom and I swear there must have been four inches of poo in every stall. Luckily there was a non-squat toilet that no one seemed to use, which was very nearly poo-free…
The doctor must have prescribed some other kind of medicine because it was brown stuff this time, though I was very doubtful any of this would work since I had been twice already with no success. I tried to get the English teacher that was with me to just let me go home and sleep off the fever, but she insisted I stay and come back three more times after this.
I got jammed with a needle to test if the medicine would work, and a little bump appeared on my hand, which I guess told the nurse it would work, so they set me up in one of the metal chairs and let the brown stuff drain into me. After that I came back five hours later to do it again, and I was actually starting to feel a lot better.
The next day I was told to come in two more times, and was given some really really really rancid brown liquid to drink that night as well. The next morning my temperature was below 100 but the school insisted I go back again, which was probably a good idea, even though it was freezing and moldy in the hospital. I went back twice that day and by the time I was done, I felt 100% better and that Thursday I got to go back to work.
This past week I have had a few funny experiences with motorcycle taxi and taxi drivers. One of the times I was riding in a cab and having the typical conversation of where I’m from and why I speak Chinese, and the cab driver said to me “There is a black man who teaches English at the number one school who can speak the local dialect” and I said, oh thats great, where is he from? The cab driver responded “he is a black man, so he must be from africa.” and I told him, well, there are black people everywhere, maybe he is American or England or somewhere, since he is teaching English!” and he looked at me like I was crazy and said “Western people have blue eyes and golden hair”. I told him that in America there are black americans and even asian americans. He gave me a skeptical look, saying “Hmmm…”, and changed the topic to “So how much do you make?”…
Another motorcycle taxi driver the other day asked me if I return home to America often. I told him I don’t because plane tickets can be almost 7000RMB from Shanghai to New York. He exclaimed, “So much money for only a two and a half hour flight!!!” We almost fell off the motorcycle when I told him that it was actually an 18 hour flight home….
I figure that this level of knowledge of the outside world is about the same as it would be in small town America, if everyone in America was blonde-haired and blue-eyed. China is huge and powerful, and like a lot of small town Americans, no one really finds the need to care at all about anything outside of their day-to-day surroundings, especially if there is no one around that looks radically different to remind you of the outside world. I guess its kind of like before I moved to Canada, I think I had thought of it maybe two times in my whole life, and had no idea it was only 6 hours away…
Also, I have developed yet another strategy for getting kids to pay attention. I have a plastic bag that I call ‘The Toy Bag’, which I bring to every class, and by the time I leave, it is full of everything that was being played with in class, whatever it is. I currently have a complete arsenal of ping-pong balls and paddles, along with Slinky’s, Pokemon cards, erasers, cross-stitch, and a probably the entire collection of ‘Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf’ comic books….
The semester is pretty much over, I just have one more day of teaching this Saturday, then Sunday all the kids take exams and go home for Spring Festival for the entire month of February. I’m taking a train to Guangzhou on Sunday night where I’ll fly out of to Bangkok on Tuesday night. I’ll be meeting some friends from Changsha in Guangzhou, as well as the members of the ol’ 7-11 club on Shamian Island again. I’ll be in Bangkok for a few days alone, until my friend Bo from Montreal’s Dutch friend Peter will arrive, then Bo and another friend from Montreal, Shana, will arrive a few days after him! It’ll be so good to see familiar faces, and I’ll be updating my blog a few times during the month, so “see” you all next in Bangkok!!!