Don’t be appalled but last night I suspected I had a urinary tract infection, something every woman knows is a minor but significantly uncomfortable infection. I didn’t want to travel to Shanghai just to get the antibiotics I know are the cure, so I asked Daisy if she could go with me to No. 1 Hospital where I know they have English-speaking doctors. She came back a little later and asked if the hospital near the new Hilton would do. On a clear day, we can see the insignia from our apartment. No problem for me, as long as they have a doc who can understand me. Daisy escorts me all the way, which is just as well.
We arrive at the desk and are helped by an English-speaking attendant. First, I have to be checked in but my medical card is no good in little Jiaxing, so Daisy uses her card. For 1 yuan (16 cents) I am given a booklet to keep for my medical records. Daisy’s name is on the front but my details inside. Shouldn’t be a problem, should it? Then, we are escorted upstairs a floor where almost immediately I am taken to a (very) young doctor who speaks no English. After they chat for a while, the nurse asks me if I have any discomfort in my lower back. Okay, maybe I haven’t made myself clear but before I can say anything, the doctor gets up and hammers my back in a few places, through my winter coat. I don’t wince so he concludes all is well. He and the nurse talk some more and then she asks where does it hurt? Hmmm. “You will need to have a urine test.” Ah!
Eventually, I am taken to another department where I confirm I am to pee in a cup. They give me one, plus a test tube and send me to “the washroom.” This is a hospital, remember. When I enter the washroom, what is notable is a large garbage bin on wheels, full to the brim with all kinds of garbage including food wrappers; no lid. It is parked next to a maintenance sink with several grey-looking mops standing in it. Into the stall I go — no lock, no toilet paper and two gaping spaces in the tile-work where pipes and raw cement edges are exposed, collecting all manner of dust, grime and disease. Me without my camera! Or paper towels for my hands after I wash them in the maintenance sink, that being the only option.
Out I come and deliver my test-tube to the nurse and am told to wait a moment. After no more than 10 minutes, she arrives with my test results (showing high counts of white corpuscles) and we return to the doctor. I am hoping for some antibiotics, but instead I get traditional Chinese medicine. I have to take 12 pills of one kind and 4 of another a day for a week. As long as it works, I am happy. Total cost, including the 1 yuan: 153 yuan. Sadly, my company health card is not usable here in the ‘small’ city (pop 3.5 milliion), but I think I can afford the $25.00. No worries, I feel better already.