My Medical Experience in Beijing
No one likes to think about it, but accidents do happen.
Coming from Australia, full of emotions, excitement and the desire to be in a crazy but unfamiliar environment was all part of the attraction for me coming to Beijing.
I was just starting a new internship. I had settled well into my apartment, made a few new friends and most of all, loving every second of just being in the unfamiliar. Life was sky high.
It was my fourth day in Beijing, when I decided it was a good time to go for a late-night jog in Chaoyang Park. The pollution wasn’t too bad, the weather not too cold and I hadn’t run for a week. All the elements pointed to what should’ve been a perfect time for a run.
Anyone who knows me personally, knows I love to push my body to the absolute limits in terms of running, in fact, I was working towards running the Tokyo marathon.
I just love exploring new cities on a run, you get a feel of everyday life, what people are like, the lights around you, the emotion, the smell. It’s like all your senses are exploding in a condominium of ecstasy.
Then, all of a sudden. Bang! Snap! Wallop! I got injured.
I was running at speed, coming down a hill and stepped on an uneven pavement. I lost my balance and rolled my ankle into the rock hard, Chinese pavement.
As I stepped up, attempting to continue with my momentum, I could feel a deep pain in my ankle. I knew something was wrong!
Two emotions clustered my mind at that very moment. The first emotion was pure frustration.
I was frustrated because I knew it was something that could’ve been easily avoided, if I wasn’t so careless. I got injured because I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, plain and simple. My head was ringing like a wild goose telling me how stupid I was.
The next thing that hovered around my mind was, what on earth am I going to do now! Do I call 119? Do I call my mum? Do I call the company I’m doing my internship at? I was in no position to get anywhere by myself, and in a bit of a sticky hole. The park was about to close, the lights had turned off and I was stuck in a massive park waddling around, looking uglier than the ugly duckling.
To sheer luck, a kind Chinese man, saw me.
He instantly knew I was in pain, looked me dead in the eye and asked if I was okay. I responded with an agonizing no.
He helped me out of the park, and then I called my manager to say what had happened. She sent a company employee to salvage me at the nearest exit I found with the help of the kind Chinese man.
About 20 minutes later, I got picked up in the car with my coworker Trent. He took me back to my apartment. I grabbed my passport, and we were off to Beijing- Chaoyang hospital.
Going to Chinese public hospital for the first time was quite the shock. Everything was in Chinese! So, I had absolutely no clue what was going on, and can only hear 40% of what other people were saying.
There were people everywhere, most with their families and friends. Trent helped me check in with the administration, and to my shock, I had to pay 70 RMB upfront. Something unheard of back in Australia.
I got in a wheelchair and saw the orthopedic doctor. It was a bit strange because there were a group of people huddling around him. It was a bit chaotic and somewhat unprofessional. It was like, he was a retail assistant, and others were asking him where to go.
As I got to my turn, Trent acted as an interpreter to me, asking the questions and telling me the answers. The doctor told me I needed to get an x ray so he could further examine the condition of my ankle.
When I took my foot out of my shoe, I saw how ugly it was. My whole ankle was swollen.
To my further surprise, I was told I had to pay for my X rays upfront. Trent wheeled me to the x-ray area, and after lining up, I got my x-ray done and dusted.
After about an hour of waiting, I got my results and Trent wheeled me to the orthopedic doctor I saw earlier.
It wasn’t good news.
I WAS NOT GOING TO WALK FOR 3 MONTHS!
To make it worse, I was told I needed a cast.
I went through the recurring process of paying beforehand and eventually getting a big white cast on my right foot.
Crutches weren’t provided.
Trent had to bargain with an auntie selling crutches in the hospital.She was the monopoly at the hospital and charging premium prices.
Even after notifying the woman that the crutches were available on Taobao for 70RMB, the woman wouldn’t budge. She was on a mission, and would only settle for 150 RMB.
The doctor told me nothing else, and I was on my way home.
That night, I made a stupid mistake. It was the first time I’d been in crutches and I didn’t know I was not meant to keep it dry. The doctor just put it on and told me to be on my way.
At home, I took a shower, and drenched my cast in water. After doing some Bing ‘in, I found out you’re meant to keep it dry. I was annoyed and frustrated again!
So back I went to Chinese Hospital the next day!
This time I decided it was better to go to a private hospital with an international department.
I was off to the Chinese- Japanese Friendship Hospital. Killer name for a hospital right?
Politics aside, this place was SO MUCH BETTER. I spoke to English speaking staff, had professional advice and was given medication to dissolve my agony and pain. It was much more expensive but….
Worth it though.
I was informed of what to do, and what not to do. While I had to pay upfront in the same way at the public hospital, I was given a great deal of more care and help from the nurses.
My cast was better, and I felt better.
Being injured in a foreign country like china is not a pretty experience.
So here are my tips:
- Make sure you have medical insurance. Getting injured is not pretty for the bank. I have paid about 5000 RMB in medical bills thus far
- Go to a private hospital with an English-speaking department. If I didn’t have a Chinese speaker with me, I wouldn’t have survived public hospital in china.
- Make sure you have enough cash with you, all Chinese hospitals require you to pay upfront, that is private or public.
- Stay safe and enjoy your time in china. Regardless of whether you believe your country has better medical coverage, you shouldn’t let it deter you from coming to china.
If you are looking for English speaking Hospitals I recommend these ones:
Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital
Tel: +86-10-6422 2965, +86-10-6422 1122
Fax: +86-10-6421 7749
Add: Ying Hua Dong Lu, He Ping Li
P. R. China
Beijing United Family Hospital
Tel: +86-10-6433 3960/1/2/4/5
Fax: +86-10-6433 3963
Emergency Hotline: +86-10-6433 2345
Add: No2 Jiang Tai Lu, Chao Yang District
P. R. China