Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is there a Witch Doctor in the house?

Hello everyone! I know it has been a while since my last blog, but as I am racking my brain about 3 hours each days writing workouts and planning, you can understand that the last thing I want to do at the end of each day is write! But as I have most of tomorrow off, here goes...

So let's talk about doctors, shall we? I'm not talking about those people who decided to attend school after college for a few more years in order to have a few letters in front of their name. I am talking about those who engulf their heart and souls in the medical profession, and who help many of us live a healthier and longer life. We look at doctors as gifted, intelligent, and wise beyond their years regarding medicine and practices. And then there are Chinese doctors...

Now as an athletic coach, I certainly am NO doctor. But for years I have been to quite a few both as an athlete and coach, and I must say I am pretty savvy with the lingo, protocols, and remedies. I knew I was in for a ride when I encountered my first doctor here in China. My first week here, I went to the "health" center here to get a physical for my work visa. I went from nurse to nurse, doctor to doctor getting a checkup depending on the area of medicine. Each process took maybe 30 seconds, and my results privy to everyone in the clinic as people actually sat next to you as you got tested or talked to a doctor. I REALLY knew I was in trouble when I went to get my eye test, and the doctor covered my eye with a paddle, and asked "Can you read the chart?" When I responded "Yes" and before I could read it, he said "ok, you are fine...next!"

But this is just informative info, as the reason for the topic is that over the last few weeks my swimmers have more and more lined up each day before workout and have pleaded their case for some ailment. "I have runny stomach" my translator tells me after talking to the boy standing in front of me. "Excuse me? Is this like runny nose? I don't understand..." After a repeat of the phrase, I tell Scotty that I give up, I have no clue what he is talking about. "He has diarrhea" Scotty tells me. OOOHHHH, ok. I tell them to take some Pepto Bismol, and then get in the pool. "Pepto? What is this strange word you utter?" HAD to have been what my swimmer is thinking as he is staring at me like a dog trying to understand their master speaking to them. "You know, Pepto! Tums, Rolaids, stuff that will help your 'runny stomach' ". Well, wouldn't you know it, the Chinese don't use such things. This would go against the traditional "Chinese Medicine" that has been used for thousands of years. "So what do we do?" I ask, now getting frustrated about the whole situation. "He must go to hospital" is the answer. "Are you kidding me? A hospital visit for the runs?!" So the swimmer goes off to the hospital. The next day the swimmer comes back, and I say "ok, what did the doctor say?" "He say the swimmer has runny stomach." I waited on the punchline and a drum rimshot, but only silence. Well, my friends, I had to shake my head and laugh at this point, as I knew it would only get worse from here. "So what was the remedy" I asked. "To take 3 days off". My laughter turned into growling as this simply wasn't going to cut it with me. This is from someone who himself swam for coaches that said "I'll tell you when you are in pain, keep going!" So afterwards, more and more swimmers started to come to me every day, for things ranging from headache and diarrhea to menstruation and high blood pressure. In each case, there was no medicine prescribed, only the cure of "take a few days off". It's really hard, cause the American in me wants to say "well, WE have things like Advil, Pepto, and Alka Seltzer. Why don't you get these things??!" But I know that would come off as arrogant, and defy the ancient Chinese method of traditional medicine (which is usually a few herbs, or perhaps the root of some vegetable out of the ground). Now I am sure there are a few educated and bright doctors in China, I just haven't met any yet. Maybe one day I will...

Life in Nanjing, however, is good! I am adjusting nicely, and have made a number of friends here! I WILL be glad to get home for a little home cooking though. I have been here for 2 months now, and have lost 20 pounds, woohoo!

On a different note, a few more observations:

1) Movie theaters show the movies in English here, with Chinese subtitles. The cost is actually the same as the States, however a bucket of popcorn and a coke are only $2...
2) I found out it DOES snow here a few times each winter. But as there are NO snowplows here, when it drops under freezing, the city shuts down, and the city officials spray WATER all over the streets in order to melt the snow....UMM, hello?
3) If you are unmarried at ANY age, you are considered a child.
4) Hospitals here are closed for lunch, and close again at 5pm. You can ONLY have someone see you if it's an absolute emergency (like an axe is embedded in your head).

That's it for now, have a great week!

1 comment: