Posts Tagged With: health

Our Latest Adventure -Medical Care in China

Don’t take your health for granted… it can change so quickly. This is something you hear often, but until you experience it I don’t think you will really understand. I know I didn’t. Over the last few months I have had colds, viruses and aches and pains. They were all easily explained away. Symptoms were confused with various aliments and even though doctors today know more than ever, it can still be a guessing game as they try to match symptoms. Trying to put into words how you are feeling is hard and are you really doing yourself justice? Searching out things on the internet to try to explain symptoms may only confuse the issue.

Let me take a step back. I have been feeling poorly as I said for months. Thinking it was busy work, a cold, and a tummy bug. Each time though I felt like I never fully recovered. Eventually the pain, that was always a discomfort, became worse. Finally it got pretty bad and kept me awake. Now I was listening to my body and made an appointment to see a doctor. After an ultra sound and tests they discovered a kidney stone. Painful and fit the symptoms I had. After a month the stone hadn’t moved and I sometimes had a fever, but blood work wasn’t showing infection. Sometimes I had such bad pain and was rushed to the doctor, which happened on two occasions. Pain killers didn’t help and symptoms would roller coaster from constant to extreme levels of pain.

My room for 8 days

My room for 8 days

The doctors I had never gave up, explained it away or thought I was ‘silly’. Instead there was some wait and see and more tests to keep searching. Finally when my doctor wasn’t available a different doctor decided to send me for another CT scan. Where I described the pain wasn’t where the kidney stone was, so he thought we should look into it. Maybe there was another? After this scan something else was discovered… a cyst. Now my blood work showed high levels of infection, so I was given 3 antibiotic treatments over 2 days. I felt better. I could walk without a limp and some of my energy came back. It was short-lived. Sunday night the pain returned… Monday another trip to the doctor. My fever was now high and the doctor was concerned for me to stay at home in case of incident. I had 45 minutes to go home, pack a bag and call my parents. They would pick me up in a car and drive me to hospital. The doctor came with us to get it all sorted along with one of the ladies from the office. I was admitted into a nice large private room with a bed for John.

View out of my hospital room

View out of my hospital room

Two more days of antibiotic treatment and no improvement this time. Finally the pain got worse and the last resort had to be done… surgery. Within 30 minutes I was prepped and being wheeled through the hospital. I was scared. I never had an overnight stay in hospital before never mind surgery. John came with me and kissed me at the door where he was directed to a waiting area. The hospital didn’t look so fancy, but the operating room was pretty high-tech. I thought I was inside a space ship! The head doctor was there and she held my hand and told me not to worry. Seconds after that I was out and woke as things were finished; hours later. I was told everything went well and I was OK. A few minutes later I was wheeled back to my room. We always joke the Chinese are bad drivers and the same goes for wheel chairs and beds. Every bump and nick along the wall sent me moaning in pain. Getting back into bed was excruciating.


Nurse’s station… getting ready for Christmas even though it was a Chinese hospital.


The next few days are a blur of sleep, pain, emotions and more IV medicine. I had at least 7 in one vein alone… so many total we lost count. I later learned that it was in fact was not a cyst, but a 4cm tumour that had adhered to 5 different things/organs and became infected. The pain and difficultly to walk was now explained. The pain was now gone, but 6 small incisions still hurt. Soon I was up walking around. First only short trips to the bathroom and then around the room. Next I had enough energy to walk the halls.

All this took place over my birthday. Many people say what a terrible way to spend it, but I think I really got a great gift. My health.

Worst thing about any hospital stay -the food! It all smelled funny and no fish apparently doesn't include shrimp! After the operation smells made me nauseous. The food did not help my situation.

Worst thing about any hospital stay -the food! It all smelled funny and no fish apparently doesn’t include shrimp! After the operation smells made me nauseous. The food did not help my situation.


People from work, the doctors, the nurses, ladies from the doctor’s office and especially John made it special. I felt so blessed from the texts, visits and emails. People brought us treats, flowers and offered anything we needed. It really made this entire experience so much easier having such great support, care and love around. I cannot express how much I appreciated all the help. I dedicate this post to them. I will be forever grateful.

After nearly 5 years in China I think this will be the most memorable adventure and the hardest to forget.

As I get back on my feet and slowly return to work I will be back to write more on a regular schedule. Thanks for being patient already… and as always for staying tuned 🙂


Categories: Chinese Adventures | Tags: , , , , ,

You Get What You Pay For -medical in Shanghai

We all wish we never see the inside of a hospital. It means terrible things in most instances. That of course is even truer when traveling or working abroad; a scarier thought. As you know recently I have been sick. I have seen the inside of the hospital numerous times over the last few weeks. In Canada our insurance is covered. Doctor and hospital visits are free, something that our high taxes affords us. In China my work luckily pays for my insurance and I never had to use it for much more than a small cold or sinus infection. This year ultra sounds, CT scans and blood tests have become part of the norm. Each time I pay a small fee for the tests, but wait times are minutes, hours or days at max. At home long wait lists can stretch time lines into weeks or months. Results are just as fast within the hour at times.


My hospital bed

My hospital bed

Recent tests and another CT scan discovered a small cyst or tumor that is the result of my pain and poor health. The kidney stone was the obvious diagnosis, but the fever and other side effects it prompted them to keep searching. Quick reactions almost lead me to a hospital stay and operation on Monday. I wasn’t prepared for that and wanted my western doctor to review everything to make an informed decision, so we somehow got them to release me. I however turned into a pin cushion with 6 needles in 24 hours. A strong antibiotic was administered through IV. The pain has reduced so hopefully this will lead to recovery and not an operation.


My hospital room looked more like a hotel. The treatment that I received was of great care. With the tests I had Friday the hospital had limited English and they sent one of the girls to come with us to translate. She asked if I had a way to the hospital 45 minutes to 1 hour from home and when I told her I would take the metro she arranged to have a car and driver pick us up. He waited to take me home, but when they thought I may be admitted they sent him home. She has sat with me to keep me company and talk with me when I was alone, as my husband was in Canada when I first started this process. She puts in long hours and is always available through texts and calls. The doctor stopped in on his way home to check on me and make sure everything was going well. I also have their personal mobile numbers and have been encouraged to call if needed. Being so far away from home I have been very lucky to have such support and care. It certainly has made this process so much easier.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shanghai Sillies

After nearly 5 years in Shanghai not much surprises us anymore. I think we have seen it all. The only thing that has changed is my bravery 😉 I used to do double takes and stare in disbelief at odd occurrences. Stories were shared about sites we have seen and I am sure a few people thought I was making things up. Well since it is our last year I decided to go for it -there are some things where a picture is worth it. They after all are not shy about snapping our photo even when you clearly say no in English or Chinese, so why not join in the snap happy fun? They are just asking for it with these Shanghai Sillies.

Saturday we went to Old Navy near Jing’an Temple for some great sales. After I was leaving the clearly marked change area we saw a shirtless man trying on sweaters (jumpers) in the main area of the store right in front of the change rooms. Why waste time going into a little room with mirrors when you can try them on while you shop?

I walked away, but decided I HAD to get a photo of this. Really I am not hiding behind this rack, but it was the best vantage point without being too obvious. Christmas season is sneaking up on us and sometimes tempers flare with the stress of getting the last ‘must have’ item on the shelf. Have you seen any crazy shopping sillies? Share them in the comments below, or maybe it is worth a picture and a post.

Is this my colour?

Is this my colour?

Personal Update – you may have noticed lately I haven’t been blogging regularly, virtual visiting or even responding to comments in my usual quick fashion. Some of you know I had not been feeling well and was down with a virus in the summer, then the start up of work was busy and then a tummy bug wore me down. This all hit one after the other. Well it seems it has been more than all that. I had to be rushed off to hospital a few weeks ago with severe pain. The first thought was my appendix, but turns out it is kidney stones. The pain is pretty incredible at times and goes from uncomfortable to so intense you think you may pass out. I am also suffering from fatigue. I can go to bed as early as 7PM. Sometimes I sleep through til morning where other times I am up with pain in the middle of the night. I am still being monitored by a doctor because they want to be sure there is not another underlying medical condition. Whenever I have free time I no longer blog due to the tiredness or discomfort of sitting. My free time is now spent napping. I blog when I can and most posts are quick and easy. Once I am back to myself and full of energy I hope my words and ideas will begin to flow easily again. I miss the blogging world and being active in it, but it is not forgotten. -CTB Nov. 16/14

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, everyday occurances, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , ,

What is it? Luo Han Guo

The Chinese are known for their traditional medicines and natural remedies. Sometimes we are lucky or brave enough to try them. In January right around parent teacher interviews I had a case of laryngitis brought on from a combination of a sinus infection, dry air from the heating, pollution and not drinking enough water. After a few days rest and antibiotics I started to get better, but my voice was not coming back. I have some lovely parents and they brought me throat lozenges from many places around the world. They lovingly gave them to me to try. They helped my throat feel better, but my voice was still scratchy. One parent suggested I try this tea and promised to send it the next day. Instead she ran off to the shops and returned with the product straight away.


Opening the fruit which was wrapped in a styrofoam mesh, like the expensive fruit at the grocery store, I was surprised to find a hollow sounding greenish brown fruit. The only way to open it was to bang it with something hard and it cracked like an eggshell. Inside a hollow centre held some seed looking things in the shape of corn kernels, but larger. The instructions said to place a small bit in boiling water and drink. It is supposed to sooth the throat. I was willing to try anything as long as it didn’t taste or smell bad. Neither… it was actually quite sweet with an indescribable flavour. Almost immediately my throat felt better and my voice started to return. It is like a miracle cure! I had tried the honey and lemon, numerous kinds of cough candy, gargles and other natural remedies, but nothing ever worked so well and so fast. For someone who has lost her voice a lot this was a true gem!


So what is this miracle? Well it is called Luo Han Guo (pronounced Lou hang gwah). It is native to China and parts of Thailand. I have learned it is a sweet fruit and it spoils quickly, so it is usually dried. It is used mainly in teas and some companies and traditional medicines use it as a sweetener. If you would like to read more than check out this article I found here. It starts out very medical/scientific, but skip past that for more details.

I left one of these at my brother’s when I was home last and he thought it was a ball and threw it in the kid’s toy box! They are light and hollow feeling, but what they hold inside is very interesting and some say funny looking. I have had some odd looks to “What is that???”, but hey sometimes nature knows best.

This week I have been suffering from another sinus cold and sore throat and I have found not only Luo Han Guo fruit, but medicine in a more concentrated form. They work wonders. I was feeling better, but it has settled back in, (the pollution is bad and seems to trigger this) so off I go to cuddle on the sofa to watch some TV and drink my funny looking tea.

So what is your home remedy or must have when you are sick? Share below in the comment section.

Stay tuned…. or check out my previous posts this weekend. I did 2 photo challenges on Peaceful (Peaceful and Peaceful #2) and another on Fleeting.

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, post a week, strange adventures, teaching overseas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,