There's nothing like experiencing a Chinese hospital as a foreigner.
Last Monday I did just that.
After a delicious breakfast I rushed out the door to ride my bike to my language class. In my apartment complex I rode by my sweet friend who works at a nearby grocery store. In a spur of the moment decision I decided I wanted to stop and try talking with her in Chinese. Somehow I squeezed my front break too hard, which lifted my back tire up off of the ground and caused me to fall into a metal railing. I scraped my shin on my bike petals and tried to stop my fall with my hands. It happened so quickly that my adrenaline was pumping and I was in shock. My sweet friend and a nearby old man came over to help me and asked repeatedly if I was okay and if I wanted to see a doctor. I convinced them I was okay (which I truly thought I was), but when they left I could feel the pain building in my shin and left arm. I figured I was okay and could still go to class, but decided to call Brett anyway and he quickly came down to check on me.
As I relayed to him what happened, my arm started to ache more and more and soon enough I was almost positive it was broken. It hurt to move even the slightest bit and I couldn't find a position that felt good. Brett called my language teacher and asked her if she could go with us to the hospital to help translate. She quickly agreed and soon enough my arm was propped up in a scarf and we were catching a taxi to the hospital.
When we first arrived at the hospital I felt like I was at a train station. Tons of people were sitting on the outside front steps and just inside the doors people were lined up outside a barred window, which we later learned was the pharmacy. Many more people were sitting in chairs waiting for their turn to be seen or keeping family and friends company. My teacher had me sit down while her and Brett went and paid for my appointment (which is how the hospitals in China work...pay first, then be seen) and I had some time to soak in the sights while I waited. One of the first images I remember was tiny baby with an needle stuck in her head and the tubes tapped to her short, fuzzy hair to keep them from moving. People were smoking and spitting in trashcans and if there wasn't a trashcan nearby, they would drop their spit down the side of their chair.
Oh, sanitation. Where art thou?!
Soon enough I was in line to get an X-ray. By this time my arm only felt okay when it was at a 90 degree angle against my stomach. Any other movement would send a sharp pain through my elbow and upper forearm. When my turn came for my X-ray, I entered a large, bare room and sat down in a chair besides an X-ray table. Then, before I could protest in my limited Chinese, the X-ray doctor yanked my arm away from my body and straightened it down on the table. I yelled out of pain and couldn't hold back the tears. I kept my arm as still as I could so that the doctor could get the X-ray. Then, to my disappointment, the doctor showed me with his own arm how he wanted me to place my arm for a second X-ray. I don't know how to describe it, but it felt as if my arm/elbow was locked in place. I couldn't straighten my arm or twist it so that my forearm was facing upwards, but that's exactly what he wanted me to do. So, with the help of my friend and Brett, and with tears dripping down my face, I awkwardly laid sideways on the table and managed to get my forearm facing upwards. Eventually, my horrible X-ray experience was over and my blonde hair and puffy red eyes made quite the scene exiting the X-ray room.
It took a while for the pain to subside, so we waited outside until my X-ray was ready for pick-up. We saw a lot of painful, grotesque sights while we sat outside. Numerous people were rolled by on gurneys with pins in their legs or covered in thick blankets. Lots of long-term patients were walking around with their IVs and one man hobbled by with a knee that was 5x the size it should be. When we received my X-ray and were walking it up to a doctor for a diagnosis, we walked by rooms that were so crowded with gurneys and patients that the narrow hallways were lined with overflow gurneys, some of which had two people resting on them. It was quite an experience.
Now, to make a long story short, the X-ray came back negative so the doctor said I should get a CT scan. After a long wait, another painful x-ray experience, and 7 hours total at the hospital, I left with no diagnosis and an arm that was in more pain than when I first arrived.
As the days following my hospital experience went on, my arm gained slightly more movement, but my elbow was still swollen, I couldn't hold anything, and I still couldn't fully straighten or bend my arm. We ended up finding out that an American who was a nurse in America for a number of years lived close by and he willingly came and took a look at my arm. What we think happened is that my radius became dislocated at my elbow and that the X-ray doctor snapped it back into place when he yanked my arm away from me. I have soft tissue damage, but everything should heal eventually and there shouldn't be any long lasting damage. Praises!
I gotta admit that it's a scary feeling to be in a lot of pain, far away from your home country, in a place where you can't communicate clearly with others, without answers, and working with a healthcare system that is much different than America's. I'm just so thankful to be feeling better and better as the days go on.
And there you have it...a glimpse into the workings of a Chinese hospital. I'm so thankful to have local friends who are so willing to help Brett and me without any notice. I'm also so thankful for Brett who has been doing all the dishes, prepping food, cleaning, and getting me all the things I need and can't get myself. And while I'm super disappointed that I wasn't able to run in my half-marathon this past Sunday, I'm very glad that nothing worse happened and that I'm already feeling improvement in my arm. Things are looking up!
On another happy note, these lil' crunchy bites of sweetness will jazz up any sweet meal or dessert you add them to. Buckwheat groats are such amazing nuggets of goodness. They're gluten-free, low in fat, and have 6 grams of protein per ¼ cup serving! They're a great alternative to oatmeal and you can even eat them raw after soaking them for a few hours. But today, I'm going to show you one of my favorite ways to enjoy buckwheat groats...by caramelizing them!
These Caramelized Buckwheat Groats are super simple to make. Just soak a cup of buckwheat groats overnight, drain and rinse them the next morning, coat them in a little coconut oil and coconut sugar, and bake them until crispy. I've been loving them on my oatmeal, pancakes and fall desserts.
I hope you can give this recipe a try! I'd love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment or take a picture and tag #theconscientiouseater on Instagram!
Caramelized Buckwheat Groats
- Soak 1 cup of raw buckwheat groats overnight until soft and plump.
- Preheat your oven to 390 °F.
- Drain and thoroughly rinse your buckwheat groats, making sure to get ride of the slimy texture that occurs while soaking.
- Pour the rinsed groats into a sauce pan and sauté on low until most of the soaking moisture evaporates, about 5 minutes.
- Allow them to cool completely before breaking the clusters apart and storing in an airtight container