Ovens are few and far between in China so everything you eat is inevitable fried in horrendous amounts of oil and drenched in soy sauce to add ‘flavour’. In a sad attempt to counteract the less than desirable effects all this fried food is having on my skin and waistline I decided, for the first time in my life, to join a gym. It was all going so well, I was pounding out the Ks on the treadmill, gradually increasing time and intensity with every visit. These hard sessions were interspersed with yoga classes with a teacher that kept trying to push me further into the box-splits every week. I felt like I would be able to rival Rocky’s fitness in just a matter of days. Then I decided to branch out and take on the cross-trainer – a big mistake that ended with a dodgy knee and body parts in transparent bags.
After 2 weeks of hobbling I decided to see a doctor. The concept of a GP’s surgery is non-existent here so everyone’s first port of call is the hospital. Before I realised this, I always just assumed my contact teacher was a hypochondriac when she used to suggest a hospital visit for a simple migraine. Thankfully I did not have to attempt to visit a hospital on my own as a Chinese friend offered to take me over the weekend.
I met her early on Saturday and as we set out for the hospital she chose this moment to inform me that she had changed her mind about the course of treatment. Deciding the queue would be too long at the ‘normal’ hospital she thought it better that we went to a Chinese Medicine hospital. My face literally hit the pavement. She assured me that they had western medicine too as we approached the hospital doors.
We were met by a very pungent smell, the smell of the various natural ingredients that go into Chinese medicine. It was a cross between woodland, rusks, and the fish section of Pets at Home. Despite expecting the worst, I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the hospital especially since I was in, medicated and out in a grand total of 30 minutes. The hospital is organised in the manner of one large conveyor belt which aids it’s efficiency; you pay upon entry at reception, visit a doctor on the 7th floor, back down to reception to pay for your medicine, then back up to the 2nd floor to collect said medicine and you’re done! I guess with a population this large I should have expected China to have got such a system down by now. On our way to collect my medication, I spotted an obscure looking item in a bag of murky liquid on a table in the waiting area. I stopped and turned to my Chinese friend and asked,
Me: Hey, what’s that?
Chinese Friend: That?
(she moves in for closer inspection, nose is now centimetres from the bag)
Chinese Friends: Oh, it’s an organ. What is the name again of the organ that holds the baby?
Me: You mean that’s a uterus in a bag?!?!?!?
Chinese Friend: *triumphant smile on face* Yes that’s it, a uterus.
Me:*fighting gag reflex* Why is it just on a table in….. Never mind.
The doctor prescribed me some regular pills and a funky looking tube of brown paste with instructions to massage it into my knee for ten minutes and then proceed to kick my leg violently and repeatedly at a right-angle karate-style for a further minute! The packaging has a picture of a fierce looking dragon on the front. After what I saw, I thought it best not to inquire as to what it contained. Here goes nothing!