This past weekend I experienced a very scary health ordeal that put me in the hospital for over five hours and had half a dozen tests done including ultrasounds, EKG, X-ray and enzyme analysis. I was sitting in one of my favorite cafes eating a Korean lunch on the phone with family when my stomach started churning and a pain in my shoulder and chest overtook me. The few days before, I had experienced some odd sensations in my stomach but nothing that I was concerned about as they came and went fast. I took a cab home, shoved some personal items into a bag and took a cab straight to the hospital. I knew something was seriously wrong and had tears pouring down my face as I tried to breathe. Being sick in a foreign country is really scary! Plus, the level of pain I was experiencing was like nothing I had ever felt and I had to focus on taking slow and deep breathes in and out.
I arrived at the hospital where I was directed to the international wing and started the intake process. This hospital didn’t have an emergency department, but they took care of me very fast and I was ushered to see the doctor who was a very stoic but kind older Chinese woman. After listening to all my symptoms and asking questions, she said that she wanted to run several tests as she was most concerned that it could have something to do with my heart and chest. At this point I could barely lie down on my back because it put so much pressure on my shoulder and chest.
She instructed the nurses to not let me walk and they pushed me around to various wings of the hospital getting all the tests done. The one nurse who was with me most of the time was so sweet and kind and it felt really lovely to have someone with me the whole time. They wouldn’t let me eat or drink anything so for the majority of the time at the hospital I was in pretty horrible pain. I am so thankful for my sweet friends and coworkers who messaged me during the whole ordeal and offered to come be with me! I felt really comfortable, safe and well taken care of but it’s nice to know that if I really needed anyone they would be there in a heartbeat!
Drink that Chinese tea all up!
The doctor informed me that my stomach had a lot of inflammation, unusually high levels of protein enzymes and she wasn’t sure what was going on with my shoulder. The good news was that it had nothing to do with my heart, liver or pancreas. The shoulder pain that was pressing into my chest could be from a pinched nerve or tweaked from exercising, but likely not related to my stomach. I was given several medications for my stomach to help clear it up and some pain patches for my shoulder.
Four days later I am doing much better! My stomach was in knots and it was uncomfortable to eat but everyday it gets better and I feel pretty much back to normal! As for my shoulder, it has gotten better as well. It is very common to have stomach issues when expats move to China as you are getting used to a whole new set of bacteria and overall lifestyle.
I am so grateful for the wonderful staff at the hospital who took such good care of me, my friends, my coworkers and boss who were really concerned and checked in with me and the rice porridge of China. One of my Chinese staff told me that rice porridge cures most things.
What a little adventure I had!
Here is to our health,