Since 1 week after arriving in China we have had a cough. Many people around us have had colds so we assumed that it was just a common cold and we would be fine. We tried home remedies, Robert went to the clinic to get some medicine and then on February 19th mine got worse so I also went to the clinic.
Clinic Expectation Management
When you go to a clinic here expect there to be many others waiting or being seen all in the same small room. Those who need IV’s are given them right there in the chairs or if space is too small then a wooden frame will be set outside to hold the medicine and the patient will sit in a chair with the IV in next to it. They will give many many pills that reminded us of skittles (we were given 14 pills to take 3 times per day…yes that’s right 42 pills per day!) all wrapped in paper for each dose. They will give enough for about 3 days if you are not better after 3 days they will tell you to come back or if it gets worse you will be told to go to the hospital, which is what happened to us.
The following day I still had a fever and could not eat anything in addition to the cough & sore throat, so we went to a private hospital next to the clinic in Yangshuo. There they did x-rays & blood tests after which they said we had pneumonia(same as the clinic said) and gave us an IV and a pill for me to take if my fever came back again that night. We were then sent home with instructions on when to return if we did not feel better. That night I again had a fever and the following morning we both had 101.5 degree fevers. Our bodies were having difficulty fighting it off and so we then decided to pack a bag for a few days and take a taxi to Guilin where we had been told had a better hospital.
Off to Guilin
We did not know where to go or even how to get to Guilin, so we asked the academy to arrange a taxi to take us to the hospital there. Our taxi driver was very kind to look after us and first took us to a hospital that he said was very good, but when we arrived there they did not speak any English and we had no way of understanding or continuing translations of what was wrong or what needed to be done. This hospital was cold and not so friendly, the doctor was stern, and even the bathrooms smelled horribly of smoke & were filthy. The taxi driver who was kind enough to stay with us until we were checked in called the academy for assistance. After some discussion we were taken to Guilin People’s Hospital instead, which services foreigners and spoke enough English to be of great assistance.
Guilin People’s Hospital
We were checked in & the taxi driver went on his way. They offered, for a fee, to have an English translator available for any information, tests, ect that we needed but it turned out that through the nurses broken English, our broken Chinese, & phone translators we only used that service once or twice the first day. The hospital began with the same various tests that you would expect from hospitals at home (ct scans, blood work, ect) & then gave us IV’s like the hospital had done the day prior. Originally they estimated 7-10 days for treatment & up to 20,000yuan (at the time of this writing that was approximately $3,076USD). Turns out I was released in 4 or 5 days & Robert stayed 9 days as his was a bit worse than mine and total cost ended up being approximately 13,000yuan ($2,000USD) probably due to our self-sufficiency as you’ll read below. Once our fevers were down we were able to go out to buy basic necessities which we did not know we needed to bring and to access wifi to make an attempt at contacting our insurance. They will want you to pay every day if they do not have a partnership with your insurance. When all was complete the hospital did a very good job, were very friendly, & if we were to get sick again during our stay here we would make the effort to go back to this hospital.
WHAT TO EXPECT & OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
- Pack extra clothing! No horrible hospital gowns here, you will be wearing your own clothes & if you only pack a few days like we did you will soon find yourself uncomfortable in dirty clothes or handwashing clothes in the bathroom sink.)
- TOILETRIES!!!! Pack all toiletries you may need! Even the hospitals here do not provide soap, shampoo, towels, or even toilet paper & there are no hospital shops to buy them in. If you do not pack them you will either stay dirty or hope you are well enough for them to allow you to leave to go buy some things.
- No WiFi
- Food. They will try to make you comfortable and by that I mean they think we all like KFC. They brought us take out KFC menus to order delivery but were relieved when we asked for Chinese food. Even if you’re very new to China go with the Chinese food! It tastes better, it’s cheaper, & the “western” food doesn’t taste like you think it will anyways. We had no choice but to order a KFC chicken sandwich on the first morning because it was too late to order from their cafeteria & we received a chicken leg on a bun with 1/2″ of mayo.
- Be self-sufficient! You will want/need hot water to drink, make tea, take medicine ect. You will be responsible for going out and filling up the kettle yourself for that water. You will also be responsible to remember to take any pills or teas they give you for medicine at the correct times per day. The nurses will only deliver IV’s, check temps, ect they will not baby over you like ours do.
- Expect lots of needles. They do not use catheters like we do at home & so they will have to re-stick you each time they give you an IV. For us they gave us 2 IV’s per day so that meant needles at least 2 times per day.
- Do not expect anything to be electronic or digital. They still use mercury thermometers to take you temperature under your armpit & until you’re temperature is stable they will wake you every 3 hours or more to have you take your temperature. They will also wake you very early in the morning to manually take your blood pressure since there are no machines in the room to do it.
I hope you never have to go to a hospital during your travels, but if you do I hope these tips will be helpful in guiding your stay there especially if it happens to be in China. They assisted us very well and we’re healthy & back on our feet in Yangshuo.
For more pictures & stories you can follow me on FB, Twitter, Instagram, my website at http://www.oehlerphotography.com. Up next will begin our stories of our excursions throughout Guilin & the surrounding area.