Not the way to spend a day off.

Our first trip to a hospital. Rumi has a problem with her foot. I don’t know what the problem is, but she can’t put it flat on the ground. One foot is flat, the other is on her toes. It could be a hip problem or one leg is a bit longer than the other. It doesn’t hurt her or impede her from doing things. She is still growing and it could correct itself, but I need an x-ray to know anything.

Here is the problem with Chinese medical help. You need to pay first, so you need to estimate how much it may cost. Also, you go to the hospital for everything. There are no clinics or doctor’s offices. Since I was so broke for so long, I had to put this off for a while, because no one could even give me an estimate of how much I might need.

Finally, I felt I had over 1000RMB, and that should cover at least an x-ray and visit. I called my friend Mayne to see if she would help me. Her husband is a bone doctor and he basically told me everything I said in the beginning, but he can’t be sure of anything without an x-ray, but he also said his hospital is horrible, so we shouldn’t go there. Mayne offered to take me to People’s Hospital #1 on a Tuesday, which we both had off. Her instructions were that we had to meet her at the hospital at 7:30 am (and it was just a few stops on bus 5). We never ever wake up that early, but ok. We were at the hospital by 7:30, she was stuck in traffic. She made it about 20 minutes later.

We sat in the ER waiting, but that is not where we needed to be. She said I needed a credit card. I said I have two, but no money on them. This was shocking to her. So we had to wait in line to register first. The line was longer than a line for a roller coaster at Cedar Point. She told me that if you come later than 8am you may not even get to see a doctor before they leave at 5pm. These were people waiting in line to see any doctor that day.

When we finally got to the register, I paid $2 (12RMB) to get Rumi a hospital card. Mayne had to find out what doctor we needed to see, by reading a bunch of portfolios on the wall. And registering specifically for him. Then we had to go to the 3rd floor and wait in another room with about 100 other people. It was like a horrible DMV; waiting for your number to be called. When it is called you feel like you won the lottery.

Then we went to the appropriate office, and there was a line of about seven people outside the office. The door was open. Someone was sitting on the bed and about six people were surrounding a doctor at a desk. All of them are yelling and screaming different things. “This is what your husband does, everyday?” I asked Mayne. I think she was surprised too. I would HATE to be a doctor here. This is why so many don’t stay. We finally make it up to his desk, and Mayne tells Rumi to wait outside because it’s so crowded in the small office. How crazy is that? She’s the patient!

Mayne explains the problem as best as she can. And the doctor just shakes his head and writes something in Chinese on a small piece of paper. Mayne is visibly shocked and says so right there in English. He said they don’t do children at this hospital and we would have to go to Pudong which is more than 2 hours away. It’s the only children’s hospital in the city.

It’s now 1pm, and we have accomplished nothing. I took the girls for milkshakes and then we had a nap. I think it might be easier to go to Thailand, and get it done there.


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