Dealing with Food Poison and the Hospital…

Well guys… unfortunately, I was unable to go to the bar the other night because I was in the hospital.  Yep… for the first time in four years of living in China … I actually got so sick, I had to go to the local Chinese hospital.

English: very open source. its mine to be exac...
English: very open source. its mine to be exact. not my needle though :P. no copyright. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See .. what had happened was …. I went with a couple of girls to a local teahouse that I have been to several times and rather like.  I am also friends with the owner.. and I had never had a problem there before.. but this night I decided to eat a few skewers of mutton.  I had not eaten all day because I was just not feeling Chinese food …. (sometimes I get like that) … anyway I decided to snack on some fruit… and only I ate the mutton.   I was okay afterward and we walked around the river and talked to some friends…. and headed home.

After I got home, I started to have a little cramping in my stomach… I figured it was gas and would go away… but at around 2 am in the morning I had to run to the bathroom and started vomiting.  This continued pretty regularly for the rest of the night.   My hubby is out-of-town getting his driver’s license taken care(about 2 hours by plane) of so I couldn’t contact him.   I was feeling pretty horrible come 7 am… but I figured I needed to call someone to help me.. because this didn’t feel right at all.

Luckily, one of my long time students, Sally, only lives a few buildings away from me in the same apartment complex.    I called her praying I wasn’t waking her up and she answered on the first ring… I told her… I needed her help and that I was throwing up everywhere and I needed some kind of medicine.   She, an angel, came over directly and with some medicine… she gave me some traditional medicine to try to settle my stomach and then rubbed my back with Rose oil and put a hot pad on my stomach.   Although, the back rub was wonderful and the hot pad felt good…. it didn’t stop my vomiting… I threw up both kinds of meds she gave me… and I was having so much pain in my stomach I thought the monster from the movie Alien was coming out of me.

She told me that I must go to the hospital.  (I am not a big fan of Chinese hospitals, but I was in so much pain I just wanted it to stop so I went)....

Chinese hospitals are not set up like Western hospitals… no one greets you with a wheel chair when you can’t walk.. you need to walk your sick arse everywhere by yourself.    We started at the cashier, who charged us to see a doctor… then we went up two flights of stairs looking for the doctor.  When we found him he was surrounded by other sick people so we had to wait. There are not any private rooms to see the doctor in, it is a free-for-all  (I was just praying that the vomiting wouldn’t start again) When we finally go near him … with others surrounding us and poking at me. (I guess seeing a sick foreigner in the hospital is means to take photos and poke her) ... This doctor told us we needed to go to the emergency room because I was a foreigner; which is on the other side of the hospital. Great! He couldn’t see I was stuggling here?

So the walking continues, I had to stop once outside to vomit in the bushes.  When we got to the emergency room, there seemed to be other people who were also vomiting.  I don’t know about you but when I hear others vomit it makes me want to vomit and I was trying very badly to hold back.   The doctor saw me pretty quickly this time, yes with others pointing and taking photos of me.   He laid me on a table and poked around on my already painful stomach.  He then sent me to get some blood work done.   Yep, up another couple of flights of stairs and then to the nurse in the window.   I told her ahead that she has to pull blood from my hand because my veins are too small in my arms; but of course they never believe me.  So she poked me about ten times until she decided to listen to me and use the small butterfly needle and use my hand.   (Why don’t they ever listen?)   I had to wait an hour for the blood work to show up in the computer so we could print it out and take it back down to the doctor.

I couldn’t read the chinese but I could see the arrows that said something was too high and something was too low.  There were a lot of too high arrows…. Not good.

The doctor agreed with me and said I had a bad infection from the germs in the meat I ate.  (DUH) and then told me I need to have an IV… one because I was dehydrated, two because the vomiting made it impossible for me to take meds by mouth, and three it was faster.   I just said do whatever just make the shit stop.   He asked me if I was allergic to penicillin (which actually sounds the same in Chinese as it does in English) I said no but they didn’t believe me and made me do a skin test.  (put a small shot of the drug under my skin to see my reaction; I guess better safe than sorry) … I was okay then they made me walk to the cashier again pay for his service, the blood work and the medication.   Then you need to walk to pick up the medication in another office on another floor.   (Bless Sally, she went and did all the leg work and told me to just sit down in a chair and wait for her… she also paid for everything)

After we got all the medicines we had to walk to the IV room; this is really a large room filled with about 50 or more people with IVs.  The room had babies screaming people, moaning and yes, more vomiting.   We walked up to the counter and they directed us to the nurse who was to put in the IV.   I told her to use the butterfly needle and my hand… and thank god this girl listened to me and only had to poke me once.  (it just happened to be in the same spot the other lady poked me so that didn’t feel good).   Sally was looking out for me and got me a bed to lay in instead of the chairs the others were using.   It wasn’t very clean but I could lay down which helped a lot.

I think I drifted off to sleep because when I opened my eyes there were some Chinese people staring at my face and were very surprised when my eyes opened, because they all jumped back.   (I am sure they thought I was dead or something) Sally came back in the room at that time and said something to them about bothering me, and told me she had went to the bathroom.   I noticed it was 6 pm and figured she was hungry and told her to go get something to eat.  She said each bag takes 2 hours, so she would have the nurse change this bag since it was about empty and then she would run home and eat something and then come back.  I said okay.

In the Chinese hospital someone has to stay with you and take care of you because the nurses don’t check on you regularly, they are too busy I guess.   I fell back asleep for a while, until I heard Sally tell the nurse to change the bag again.   Another 4 hours and I was released from the hospital and Sally brought me home.

Then she went way beyond student and friend ..and  into the family zone when she started cleaning my apartment and making me some rice soup (which is nasty by the way but I didnt have the heart to tell her I didn’t like it.) … she also took out my trash and bought me some bread to eat.  She gave me another rose oil rub down and told me to go to bed early.   ( I was already half asleep so that wasn’t a problem) So, I called my husband, whom had been texting me all day to see if I was okay, and told him I was home and that Sally was taking care of me.  He was very grateful and called Sally to thank her.

This morning I am feeling better, no vomiting and no pain.   I was actually able to eat a little of the bread that Sally left for me.  I am so Thankful to have had her with me through my ordeal and I want to thank the little Chinese doctor that made a good call on the meds.

Usually they don’t know how to treat foreigners when they come in the hospital but I guess food poisoning is common in China.   You never know what you may digest here, I was just lucky that tainted meat only kept me out of commission for a day and after a hot shower and some hot water I am starting to feel like myself again.


until next time…

14 thoughts on “Dealing with Food Poison and the Hospital…

  1. Ugh, food poisoning is the worst! I got it from a Korean BBQ style joint while I was living in Japan. I’d say this is where knowing the language really helps because I was able to explain what was wrong with me.

    Glad to hear your doing okay!

  2. Gary

    Unfortunately food poisoning occurs to the best of us from time to time. Glad to hear you survived the dreaded experience. Stay healthy and enjoy your life in Zhongguo.

  3. Summer

    Joe, Soory to hear that you were sick and glad to hear that you are feeling better!! Getting sick while Livinig overseas is a big fear. Last year my roomate got sick, but luckily our Egyptians friends were very helpful and we have 2 international hospitals here in Cairo.

  4. xl

    Literally the same exact thing happened to me when I went to China! no joke. A lot of my family/fam friends were treating me to banquets and after a whole week of this, my body couldn’t take it anymore. I woke one morning just projecting vomiting everywhere. Luckily my aunt is a doctor and I went to her hospital where I was able to avoid the wait since she had her nurse take my blood. Then came the long IV drip that lasted for god-knows-how-long. I think my aunt gave me something that knocked me out bc one min I’m sitting on a dirty plastic chair in the hallway and the next thing I know, it’s the next day and I’m back in the guest bedrm at auntie’s house. But yeah, Chinese hospitals redefine the concept of minimalism. Even if you go in healthy, just the pungent smells of human sickness and general dinginess will be enough to make you ill.

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