Trains VS. Hospitals

img_11361This week, we learned about two important Chinese institutions: the train and the hospital. At the beginning of the week, we rode the high-speed train to Shangqiu to visit one of Jeremy’s KU classmates. Asher said we flew on the train which is true because the high-speed train runs on magnets, not wheels. Therefore, the high-speed train is suspended about an inch above the track. The train won our hearts, and Jeremy said he never wanted to fly on a plane again after the joy of train travel.
The train station was easy to navigate, and we did not have to take out our liquids or remove our shoes to get through security. The train itself was roomy and the seats were comfortable. Plus, passengers could get up and walk around at any time. We got the added bonus of seeing some of China’s countryside from the windows.
In Shangqiu we had an amazing visit with Jeremy’s classmate. She took us out for hotpot, to a temple where people were celebrating the new year, and back to her parents’ house for homemade dumplings. The next day we visited the Shang Dynasty city wall and the South Lake. We also got to peer in the windows of the Catholic Church. After a huge meal back at the parents’ house, we rode the train again.
We thought we might try the train again later in the week, but the tickets were sold out when we tried to buy them. This was a blessing in disguise because one of our friends went into the hospital with unexplainable pain. We have spent the rest of the week visiting him, and trying to cheer him up.
On the first visit to the hospital, seven of our friend’s countrymen from Burundi were there trying to help him. Our friend told us he had pain from his back to the top of his head. Plus he could not eat, nor could he feel his feet. It did not seem that the hospital had done anything but put him in a bed. He had no IV and no medicine. The doctor came into the room to check on our friend’s roommate, but was going to leave without talking to our friend. Another friend flagged the doctor down, but it was hard to communicate with him.
We returned the next day to find that our friend’s cellphone had been stolen in the hospital. No one seemed to be doing anything about it. His pain persisted, but at least he was trying some medicine and he had an IV. A nurse came in and told him they would do more tests the next day.
The next day, we asked one of our Chinese coworkers to go to the hospital with us. He was able to translate between the doctor and our friend. He was also able to read the medical chart. It turns out that our friend has an ulcer and he was supposed to be on a special diet. He also had problems with the discs in his back. So at least that is something.
In the Chinese hospital there is a total lack of privacy. In addition, the family members of patients crowd the elevators at meal times because the hospital does not provide food. We took the stairs three different times because of elevator crowding (and our friend is on the 17th floor). Of course, the lack of security is disconcerting. However, the fact that two nurses came into my friend’s room and giggled while they bullied him for more money was probably the worst part.
So this week, we learned about two Chinese institutions. The hospital is a scary place, and I hope that I don’t have to be a patient there. On the other hand, the high-speed train is better than flying. I hope to ride it again and again.

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