|Juliana climbs on the chairs in the Pharmacy Hall waiting area. (Unfortunately the little camera phone lens was dirty so the pictures are really bad.)|
This morning I took Juliana to the doctor about her persistent cough. Whenever I have to go to the doctor in China, I think with fondness on doctors' offices in America. The quiet pediatrician's office with the clean waiting room and private exam rooms. Maybe half a dozen other people around.
In China most doctors don't have private offices, so you go to the hospital for everything. It is usually crowded, a little (or maybe a lot) dirty, and has an old, dark smell. Our local hospital isn't bad, but it's definitely not a cheery place either. Something like a cross between a old jail and a state-run nursing home. My tutor accompanied Juliana and I to help with translation (since our textbooks teach words like “amphibious” and “reptile house” but not medical terms). As we pushed our way into the crowd waiting to register/pay, Juliana was already getting antsy in my arms, saying, “Down! Down!” I put her down and she immediately took off for the door (smart kid), nearly running over a dog and nearly being run over by a massive stretcher.
After paying about a dollar to see the doctor (okay, China doctors have their benefits), we went down to the pediatric area. It was pretty easy to spot because of all the crying babies buried under layers of quilts. Today was a particularly busy day at the hospital as it was Friday and just before a holiday. One good aspect of the crowdedness though – it meant the good doctor was in! If no one is waiting to see the doctor, it probably means they aren't worth seeing.
Juliana spent the waiting time climbing up and down on the metal chairs, watching the other kids, and trying to dart off down the hallways. She has gotten really fast! Finally her name was called and we went in to see the doctor. This was actually a unique experience because the only ones in the examining room were us, a doctor and a nurse; the rest of the crowds peered through the open door trying to find out what was wrong with the foreign baby. Most of my hospital experiences have involved 12-15 people crowded into an exam room, even sitting next to me on the exam table while the doctor asks all kinds of questions about bodily functions and announces your ailment to the room.
Since Juliana obviously wasn't going to cough with a doctor around, I managed to record her cough beforehand so the doctor could hear it. She pronounced it bronchitis, and even knew how to say bronchitis in English, which was good because my tutor had no idea. She wrote out a prescription and we headed over to the pharmacy room. Don't think Walgreens. Think...old shabby bus station? I can't really think of a good American-analogy.
The pharmacy room was crowded with well over a hundred people waiting to buy medicine. First you stand in line to pay for the medicine (you pay for almost everything at a hospital upfront). Fortunately my tutor stood in line while Juliana ran around the waiting area, amusing nurses and patients. This medicine was some of the most expensive we've gotten in China – almost $10. After paying, we waited at another counter to get the medicine (which turned out to be a useful, non-banned antibiotic, and actually what we needed). Juliana had just about had it with the hospital by this point, and I don't really blame her. She struggled and cried until we finally got outside and then she fussed most of the way home. She must have been pretty tired because in the afternoon she took a two hour nap, which is about twice as long as normal. Meanwhile, I went and learned about confusing Chinese grammar until I my brain turned inside-out.
The good news is, hopefully Juliana's cough will finally get better! The other good news is that it's finally the weekend, and next week we have a three day holiday! Woo-hoo! And after the holiday – we have a new ayi! Things are looking up.