More than an adventure!

In spite of the fact that we had to have complete medical check-ups before we could apply for our Chinese working visas, we had to repeat the process this week. The visas got us into the country but now that we’re here, we have to apply for resident’s permits. That requires another medical.

I wasn’t too concerned. After all, we’d just been declared healthy. This would just be another adventure and an opportunity to see an aspect of Chinese life that we might not otherwise see. Little did I know!

Early Wednesday morning we met Teresa (one of the school’s delightful Chinese employees) who had arranged for the school driver to take the three of us to the health centre. I didn’t have any classes that morning and another teacher would cover Richard’s. The health centre was a spacious and modern looking facility with the specific purpose of providing health checks and documents to foreigners as well as locals applying to go overseas. It ran very efficiently. We went from cubicle to cubicle giving urine at the first one, blood at the second one, having a chest x-ray done at the third, and so on. The only test that didn’t duplicate what had been done in Canada before our departure was an ultrasound and that’s when the excitement began!

The technician had hardly started moving the wand over my abdomen when she erupted in a flow of rapid questions and comments directed at Teresa who did her best to translate for me. Did I know that I had growths on my liver? Why hadn’t this been detected in Canada?

Needless to say, I was shocked! What in the world was going on and what would it mean? Of course, the worst case scenarios are the ones that immediately come to mind. Would we be on the next plane back to Canada? Did I have cancer?

Apparently there were two spots. One was immediately declared non-threatening but the other one was considered suspicious. Pictures were printed and we were told that I would have to go to the hospital for a CT scan. Only then would we know whether or not I could remain in the country. The final procedure before we left the facility was a blood pressure test. I can only imagine that mine was sky high at that moment but nothing was said!

The drive back to the school was a blur as I sat in the back seat and contemplated the future. Ridiculous thoughts bounced around in my mind. Surely I hadn’t come all the way to China only to leave again without even seeing the Great Wall!

Over the next day and a half, I ended up making not one but three trips to the main university hospital in downtown Dalian! Thank goodness, Teresa was with me every moment of the way. She is very young and had never dealt with anything like this before but she was both efficient and reassuring. After coming home for lunch on Wednesday, I again met her at the school and we set off for the hospital by bus. On the way out of the apartment, the magnetic cross on the fridge beside the door caught my eye. Given to us as a gift just before we left for Japan in 2008, it reads "Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10" That verse became my mantra over the next couple of days and gave me great peace.

At the hospital, we sat in an overcrowded and noisy waiting room for about an hour until my name was called. We saw a lady doctor who looked at the ultrasound photos and immediately concurred with the initial conclusion. One spot was nothing to worry about but the other one would require a closer look. She also explained that a regular CT scan wouldn’t show anything more than the ultrasound had. I would need to be injected with something before the scan was done.

Both Teresa and the doctor, who spoke no English, were worried about whether or not Teresa’s ability to translate all of this was adequate. Since they wanted to ensure that I understood what was being suggested, we were sent to see a younger doctor who spoke reasonably good English. We were able to get in to see him almost immediately and he repeated exactly what Teresa had already told me. He also told us that Richard would have to return to the hospital with us to give written permission for me to have the procedure done! We have since learned that this is common practice here. Regardless of gender or age, no one can have a medical procedure done without the signed permission of a family member. Teresa and our other Chinese colleagues were very surprised to learn that in Canada I would be able to sign my own consent!

Early Thursday morning, the driver took us back to the hospital. We met briefly with the same English speaking doctor, signed the consent forms, purchased the medication that I would be injected with and made arrangements to have the procedure done at 2:30 that afternoon! Again, Richard would have to be there with me. We discovered that one of the reasons that the hospital was so terribly crowded was that everyone, inpatient or outpatient, had to have at least one family member there to help take care of them. We even saw one elderly man, obviously too weak to walk, being carried down the corridor on the back of a younger man, presumably his son.

After returning to school to teach our morning classes we went back to the hospital for the scan, this time by taxi. When it was done, Teresa was given a form to bring back the following afternoon at which time she would be able to pick up the results. No privacy of information rules here to slow things down!

Yesterday dawned bright and clear. I didn’t have a class until 4 o’clock in the afternoon but I planned to go a few minutes early to find out the test results. As I did my morning devotions, I came across Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." As I read that, I was filled with peace. I knew that regardless of what the scan showed, I was in his hands and I would be okay.

Fortunately, the news was good! The spot is one of two things and neither one is threatening. Teresa didn’t know the medical terms in English and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care what they are. They probably wouldn’t mean much to me anyway. All I needed to hear was that I had nothing to worry about!

Teresa will take the results of the CT scan back to the health facility on Monday and fully expects that the necessary documents will be issued so that we can apply for our resident’s permits.

An adventure? Yes, but much more than I bargained for! One thing we’re totally amazed by though is the speed at which all this took place. The process from ultrasound to final diagnosis, which would have taken weeks or months in Canada, took about 55 hours!

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5 thoughts on “More than an adventure!

  1. Always interesting Elaine 🙂 Glad to hear everything is fine. Today was a beautiful +2 day. However there is snow again in the forecast. Canadian winter is a long way from ending! Take care.

    • Yes, I’m very thankful that things moved as quickly as they did and I could get back to focusing on both my teaching job and experiencing the culture.

  2. Pingback: A new journey… | Following Augustine

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