Friday, November 21, 2014

Sick Day (Baby Edition)

I've racked up a lot of experience in Chinese hospitals, much of it I've managed to chronicle here. I was hoping to avoid taking William to the hospital for anything other than his vaccinations, but with a cold he just couldn't shake, we had to do something.

At the first visit, the doctor recommended Chinese medicines for his cough. Chinese medicine is gentler and more natural than western medicine but is very slow acting. When his cough continued and he got a fever, the stakes were higher so we added ibuprofen and antibiotics to the arsenal of medicines he was taking. I was okay with that, anything to avoid my baby from getting an IV. IVs seem to be the method of choice for treating many illnesses here. Ping just went through a series of IVs for a sinus infection and cold. I avoided one on a technicality (still nursing) when I had food poisoning a couple weeks ago.

But the coughing continued and grew in intensity. The doctor cautioned that pneumonia could be setting in. We were going to have to be much more aggressive in treating him (Chinese medicine was obviously not cutting it). An IV was definitely in order. The doctor recommended either checking him into another hospital which was equip to deal with infant patients or bring him in twice daily for an IV and nebulizer.

I've found it's probably best to avoid a Chinese hospital stay if possible, because at public hospitals it requires so much manpower. You need someone to take care of the patient, whether a child or an adult, 24/7 as nurses don't play as active in a role in watching over patients as they would in the US. You also need someone to bring food and drinks to the patient and those caring for him. Hospitals don't provide meals, in fact, they don't provide much of anything. With that in mind, we decided to keep William at home and take him to the nearby hospital twice a day for his treatments.

Though less challenging than a hospital stay, taking the little guy in for treatments is no easy feat. We must bundle him up in layers of clothes and a thick blanket since outdoor temperatures are now around freezing. Because we live in a 6th floor walkup (we are on the top floor of a building with no elevator) we must carry him, the 22 pounder, rather than take our bulky stroller (which itself requires two people to take downstairs).

William using a nebulizer.
The walk to the hospital is short, but they entire complex is being overhauled, which leaves an obstacle course of construction and rubble. We must zigzag around piles of dirt, supplies, and concrete. Workers sweep dirt in piles, as patients walk past hacking, trying to avoid the dust. Construction workers saw metal, causing sparks to fly in a million directions. Hospital employees carry huge cabinets, setting them in front of the elevators where crowds of people congregate. As with many situations in my daily life, an already stressful situation is made more difficult by a mountain of tiny annoyances.

In the mornings, William goes in for his IV of antibiotics. Since he is an infant, the only way to insert the needle is in a vein in his head. There are few things more depressing than seeing a baby with a needle in his head. Though William has handled it well, better than some of the older kids who kick and scream and howl whenever a nurse approaches with a needle.

In the past week I've had to see many kids poked and prodded since up to ten tiny patients share one hospital room while receiving their treatments. We've gotten to know some of the parents and children since most of them come twice a day and are there for at least an hour each time. In addition to receiving an IV, many kids also take a nebulizer. William also does this twice a day, once after his IV in the morning and again in the afternoon. This part he somewhat enjoys. Maybe it provides some relief to his troubled breathing and cough.

The good news is, William seems to be feeling much better. As much as I loathed the though of him getting an IV, I do think it sped up his recovery and helped us avoid a case of pneumonia. Having a sick child is scary and it's doubly challenging when you're abroad. Sometimes I struggle to understand or trust the doctors. I've had to put a lot of faith in ideas and procedures I've been unsure about. But after this weekend, William's treatments should be over and hopefully life can go back to normal and everyone will stay healthy!

What about you? Have you ever been unsure or mistrustful of doctors?


martalivesinchina said...

I am glad William is getting better!

I can totally understand you not trusting doctors. Many times I get the feeling that they ask you to do more tests than necessary so you pay for each of them. A friend told me that she went for a check up and the doctor said it looked that there was something wrong, better do all these tests, which coincidentally were very expensive. My friend was scared and did all of them, finally she had nothing wrong. But she ended up thinking if the doctor had really seen anything weird in the first place...

I had a bad experience myself last week, I went for my yearly gyn check up and after seeing the ultrasound results the doctor said I had fluid in my pelvic cavity, that it was very dangerous and I needed to buy some medicines. Which medicines?? She didn't tell me and made the next person get in her office. My bf freaked out when I told him and his mum took me to another hospital, where they examined me again and told me it's nothing and I don't need to take any medicines... It seems the hospital I went at the beginning has a bad reputation between Chinese people for prescribing medicines when you don't really need them...

Sarah - Diariesofayangxifu said...

You are very brave, well done for getting you and little William through it.

I totally understand feeling a bit mistrustful of the Chinese hospital system, there are so many stories around and the system is just so different to systems in the West (certainly a far cry from the NHS in the UK). My only personal experience is during this pregnancy and a prior miscarriage. I understand that it is only me who cares about my baby, and the whole environment surrounding reproductions is different, but if one more doctor asks me if I want an abortion......! It drives me crazy every time I'm there!

rosieinbj said...

Sorry for the late reply guys!

@Marta, what you describe seems very common. I am very glad I had a doctor I could trust when I was pregnant as I've heard of women being recommended to take endless tests and ultrasounds. It's hard to know what is necessary and what isn't. Now that we are seeing a pediatrician (and not my former ObGyn), I am more skeptical of everything.

@Sarah, thanks for saying I'm brave. I often don't feel brave, though I try. I can't believe you were asked if you wanted an abortion? Is something get lost in translation? That is terrible!