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Moresby Meanders Observations From an Ongoing Journey

IV's and Cigarettes - Community Clinics in China

CHINA | Sunday, 29 March 2015 | Views [551]

I look up at the shiny metal stand next to my bed as the fifth bottle of intravenous drip slowly empties itself into my blood stream. I had planned to let it run its course before I went to the toilet, but the urge to relieve myself has become unbearable. I shift myself gingerly out of the crisp white sheets of my bed, slip on my shoes and drag my IV stand over to the toilet door. The stand won’t fit through the doorway so I step inside leaving the door hanging open. I piss like a racehorse, it seems to go on for ever. I flush, wash my hands, and walk away still feeling heavily hydrated. I am just about to finish my tenth bottle of IV fluid in two days. I decide not to go back to bed; there has been enough lying down in the last days. I choose to sit up to finish the last of my treatment. It is the second case of food poisoning I have had this week. A nurse helps me to find a seat in one of the big old wooden armchairs by the entrance to the small clinic that I have frequented over the last days. I peer into the small booth where they keep the medical equipment; tubes, syringes, swabs, and bandages. I run a brief mental comparison between the booth and my kitchen at home which I have not had the energy to clean over the past few days; my kitchen is cleaner. A man who has been wandering about the clinic the past hour or so, attending to a family member, strolls back out into the reception area. Today the doctor is an elderly gentleman, presumably in his seventies. He has a kind face and a friendly demeanour, as well as a bedside manner that any doctor could learn from. The man, in his forties, strikes up a conversation with the doctor. He lights a cigarette, pulls up a stool and they shoot the breeze. There is a bit of banter and a few chuckles. The man decides to try his luck at a free consultation. The doctor tells him to take off his jacket. He begins to test his blood pressure and check his heart rate. There is a brief discussion of the results, and they both laugh. As I glance up at my IV, I once again take in the airy, high white ceilings and soft natural light that bathes the room. I have become comfortable with this place. The last of the bottle hanging from my stand empties into the vein in my hand. A nurse quietly appears to unhook me and send me on my way. I thank her and the doctor. They urge me to take care and smile and wave as I head back out into the street.

 

Thinking back over the vomitus ordeal of the last week and comparing my hospital experiences across Asia - with my soft stomach and adventurous tastebuds, I have had a few - I feel glad to have my little local clinic just around the corner. Despite the fact it may not be as clean as the clinics back home, and you can’t go to the toilet while hooked up to a drip without sharing the experience with the whole room, the vibe is local and friendly. You get the sense that the people in there have been coming for years and the doctors have been treating them and their families for a lifetime. While I don’t look forward to my next bout of food poisoning, I feel a bit more comfortable with the knowledge of my local clinic and the sense of community it offers; that feeling that can make a weary foreigner feel a bit more at home.

Tags: china, good poisoning, kunming, local clinic

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