Fear &Loathing in Shenzhen’s Sun Yat-sen Cardiovascular Hospital

Last year I noticed my ‘ticker’ seemed off.
& after a US doctor made it sound like, life or death, she wrote a referral for an EKG.
To which a lady in a clinic said, ‘you think you can just walk in off the street and demand an EKG? No, you need to establish a relationship with a doctor first.’ With less than two months before returning to China…I realized in China, I can do that.

I had two days off, David and I embarked.

At first glance, Sun Yat-sen Cardiovascular Hospital looked like a train station. Huge lines, windows open, and people waiting for their number to be called. I assumed we’d be here all day.

First I had to pay money to see a doctor, .16 cents.
Then I had to pay for a medical record booklet, .16 cents.
Then I had to go to a little room, plaster peeling, coming off, and wait in line to ‘talk to the doctor.’

She scribbled some things in my book, stamped here stamped there, asked me what the problem was, and sent us for an EKG.
First I had to pay .16 cents, insurance covered the rest of the $4.00, get a stamp and then have an EKG.
We walked clear across the hospital, found a nurse, and asked her to administer EKG.

EKG took less than a moment to complete.
We walked clear across the hospital to go talk to the doctor once again.
‘Arrhythmia,’ she said in beautiful English.
Now you need a 24/hour heart monitor.
Doctor wrote down her findings, stamped here, there, patted our bum and off we went.
First, I had to pay $10.00 for the 24 hour heart monitor, insurance covered the other $60.00.
Upstairs– to a room where black mold was claiming every wall.
‘Come back tomorrow.’

Tomorrow I was going to Hong Kong.

24 Hours with a heart monitor.

I received the heart monitor the following day at 9AM. The most uncomfortable sticky octopus ever. I would have to keep this on until 9AM the following day. So I had all these wires strapped to my torso and a little purse to carry the device. David called this a child’s ‘candy bag.’

With wires coming out of my shirt.. and going through customs to get into Hong Kong, I was worried.
For the entire day nobody noticed! I had no problems going through customs either.
Not sure how comfortable that makes me..

The following day I removed the octopus.
I had to wait three days for results.

Three days later,
‘Arrhythmia,’ The nurse said again, in perfect English and then spoke Chinese with David, barely acknowledging my presence until I said, ‘well problem arrhythmia, or no problem!?’
Chuckling and irritated the nurse replied, ‘YES PROBLEM! You need a thyroid function test and a cardiac ultrasound.’

The following week, David and I came back to the hospital. Paid our .16 cents to see the doctor, requested we have the tests after showing a different woman doctor all my records. She stamped here, there, patted our bum and sent us to the cashier. Insurance picked up $100.00, I paid $9.00.

Cardiac Ultrasound

We entered into a waiting room for the ultrasound. We could hear other peoples’ heart’s thumping on monitors, behind closed curtains. An old Chinese woman hobbled in, took a seat and began retching, coughing up guts and eventually spat on the floor. David and I could barely contain our laughter it was too ridiculous for words. We decided to go get my blood test taken care of. As I clutched David for dear life and looked where the needle was being placed, just above my tattoo, ‘the horror,’ I realized, David gave me tattoos with needles, why am I being squeamish? ‘Come back for the results in two hours,’ harked the nurse.

Meanwhile back at the ultrasound waiting place, we were taken into our own curtained room. ‘Is it convenient,’ the male practitioner asked David, as he lifted my shirt. As if to say, is it okay I lift your girlfriend’s shirt? The ultrasound was a little difficult to watch, I could see my heart struggling. My heart looked like an ant being stuck –something having tremendous difficulty. It was strange, I didn’t feel myself. Ultrasound was over as soon as it felt odd.

David and I took the results to the woman doctor. She said everything seems normal.
Afterward we went wandering for two hours awaiting thyroid results.

5:30PM, We returned, my results were waiting with the guard. The same guard who watches people come in and out of the hospital, was holding my results. They gave it to him because everyone was going home, the workday was over. He didn’t have my results though. Our phlebotomist forgot to send my blood to the lab. ‘Come back tomorrow.’

Today, David called me. Your blood is fine.

I told Sarah,
‘This is my ‘get out of jail free card.’

About heidaway

Living-Breathing-China Dragon
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