Last Sunday was one of the worst days of my life, as the title might imply.
It made me realize how tentative everything is, and how control of your life, or simply your schedule is such an illusion. So much happened that day, that even now, recalling it I cannot believe it all happened within 24 hours.
So I’ll start from the beginning. It was Sunday morning. I had just moved in to my new apartment, which wasn’t (and still isn’t) completely organized and equipped. I was supposed to go teach an English class at three. I was supposed to have my first day of classes on Monday, and go to Shanghai on Tuesday for a little conference and to see a close friend.
All that pretty much changed.
All of Sunday was spent dealing with a flooding in my apartment, with the kind help of the landlords “assistant” and a Chinese plumber. Having my apartment flooded, sweeping the water put with a broom and spending the day listening to the plumber going through the drains with a 50 meter long metal rode seemed like adventure enough, so I cancelled work and went to do some shopping, came back late, washed the floor twice and at 10PM sat down to start preparing for my class next morning.
At around 11PM I went to do the dishes, and to spare you the gory details, accidently cut the index finger of my left hand with a badass Chinese cleaver. It happened while I was drying the knife with a towel, something I WILL NEVER AGAIN DO IN MY LIFE.
Recalling the scene makes me almost burst into tears. I was alone, at night, panicking and indeed bleeding all over the place. I knew something bad happened. I was so scared and lonely. So scared that I’d done something terrible to myself, and how easy it was to harm myself so badly. I called a fellow Israeli, who rushed over, and we decided to go to the ER after I saw something white coming out of my finger. It seemed unnatural.
So we went to the ER. The doctor looked and said there might be nerve damage and that I should go to another hospital, so we did. It was almost empty, and one of the most surreal nights of my life. First I had an attending Dr. look at it and determine “surgery” was necessary.
Now a little break for language corner: in both hospitals, the Dr. asked if it felt ma 麻 – which to the best of my knowledge means “numb”. The sensation was “pins and needles”, Which I thought was different from numb, numb being lack of sensation. But apparently ma 麻is also that pins and needles-y feeling
When the attendant said I needed a shou shu 手术 , “surgery”, I was freaked out. I thought it’d be a few stitches and that’s it, but now, at around 2AM the night was heading towards “surgery”. Did I mention I was freaked out?
Standard procedure in China says that any surgery requires getting a blood test before. So I had to do that. Well, comparing to finger surgery getting a tiny needle in me didn’t hurt too much – im glad to say im on my way to conquering my fear of blood tests (not my general queasiness and hysteria in regards to anything medical, though). After that we waited for 20 minutes for lab results, in which time my friend went to get out some money for drugs and to pay for the procedure. We thought 800RMB would be enough.
After the results came back, we went to the third floor and handed our “note” to the nurse in the entrance to the operation rooms. “ok, now go downstairs and pay 4000 RMB, here are your surgery cloths”. Well first of all, if I had come alone and had to go back and forth to the ATM (who has 4000 RMB cash on them?) and to the different counters, I probably would’ve fainted. Or lost my finger. Luckily, my friend went again to the ATM where he took out everything I had and we paid for the procedure.
In the OR, which I had to go into alone, I was laid on a bed and a curtain put up so I won’t be able to see anything. I’ll spare you the gory details, and just say the nurse was wonderful, talked to me and distracted me and said it’s ok to cry. It was over after 15 min. or so.
Bandaged, with a bag full of medicine, I was released and taken home. The worst was behind me. After that it didn’t hurt that much anymore. I would have to get my bandages changed every 3 days – yey! More Chinese hospitals – and the stitches will come out in another week, I hope.
The worst thing is being unable to do most things, namely writing (or typing, which is harder with one hand…and the less able one at that). Things like putting a shirt or bra on are challenging and sometimes painful, washing dishes or cooking impossible, zipping up my coat is just funny.
Now that most of the traumatic part is over, I see it as a kind of experience. I’ve gotten to intimately get acquainted with the Chinese public health system. But this has put me so far behind in everything – research, school work, life! I mean, shopping one handed-ly is tough! – that it’s the kind of “experience” I’d rather not have had. I can still remember the sensation, the pain. I hope I can forget it. Writing this now is the last time I will ever try to consciously recall the pain and complete horror that took over me. I got rid of the knife and now im getting rid of this memory, too.
I hope the next post will be more about the experience I had at the different hospitals, hopefully more informative and funny.