Tag Archives: Hospital

1,339,000,000… +1

Recently overheard in the Heath household:

“Honey? I need you to get me some envelopes.”

“And why do you need envelopes my dear?”

“To hold the money for bribing the doctors and nurses at the hospital…”

Yay China!

Before we can begin to discuss the always fascinating, occasionally shocking adventure that is becoming a mother in China, we must understand a bit of the larger picture.

Maxims of Modern China:

  • China does not want any more citizens. Achieving 0% population growth would be a historic, transcendental achievement.
  • China desperately wants to become a super power. The Human Development Index – particularly quality of medical services, and especially infant mortality – is a key measure of a nation’s development.
  • Construction is a spectacularly corrupt sector of the Chinese economy, and hospitals are much more troublesome to build (and harder to abandon) than roads, railroads, stadiums, and apartment blocks.
  • Medical care remains strikingly inexpensive (for the most part) due to the simple fact that the vast majority of the population has no real insurance and little savings. Doctors and nurses have relatively low incomes, at least on paper.

Now throw those four maxims in a hot pot and simmer. The result?

China doesn’t want you to have a baby, but if you are foolish enough to get pregnant they’re (grudgingly) gonna see that you get the minimum amount of no-frills care necessary to deliver successfully.

Despite the low birthrate, the hospitals are perpetually overflowing with expectant mothers because the government receives yachtloads of illicit income building pretty much everything except hospitals.

Want your own hospital suite post-delivery? Buy a plane ticket to America, honey! But if your envelope has enough “padding” I can arrange for a “private room” with only 2 or 3 other women in it. Oh, and if you deliver naturally you’re going to get an episiotomy because it speeds up the process. Oh? Don’t want one? Well then let’s book you for a C-section. It’s much more convenient for our staff and we can bill you 4 or 5 times the normal rate – a nice plus!

Is it always like this?


In Shanghai and Beijing there are foreign doctors happy to deliver your child for a foreign price. But these are exceptions. One would never offer NYC or L.A. as indicative of “regular America”, thus we must not gaze too longingly towards Beijing and Shanghai.

Is it usually like this?


The system here – Capitalism with Chinese Refinements – is wonderfully simple: everything, absolutely everything, is for sale. It’s simply a matter of a) can you afford it? and b) can you get the cash into the right hand(s)?

The hospital at which my darling wife will deliver our child is the very best in Shenyang, and yet it has no post-childbirth beds. The hospital is full.

And yet, as a nurse kindly pointed out during my wife’s Tuesday check-up, for $100 to $350 per night we might be able to find you space in one of our suites!


Always “might”, as it leaves room for covering one’s ass should some ugliness come to light, or a deal fall through.

The child is due on May 7th, and so we prepare.

The baby clothes are neatly folded…

The infant car seat is ready and waiting…

The apartment is spotless…

The crib stands vacant…

The hospital travel bag is packed…

…and our envelopes are stuffed with cash.

My Gebo Zhou Guzhe le!

(I broke my elbow.)

Yes, it’s true. In a moment of extreme uncoordination, at a stop I began to keel over on my road bike and failed to get out of my toe clips in time to catch myself. Instead, I bravely attempted to cushion my landing with my left arm – aka “the T-Rex arm.”

What I'm saying is I've never been known for my upper body strength...
What I’m saying is I’ve never been known for my upper body strength…

Rather than break my fall though, it broke itself, leading to the intensely pleasurable saying “Wode gebo zhou guzhe le!” Say it out loud yourself. Go on, try it. Great fun!

Continue reading My Gebo Zhou Guzhe le!

Home at Last…

And so it ends, I have finally concluded my hospital residency, almost 5 weeks to the day after it began. Things will be a little ragged here for the next few days, there’s a lot of housekeeping to be done on DJ so bear with me, but we should be running smooth again in no time flat…

I was officially discharged from the hospital at 11:30am Thursday morning the 11th. I slowly walked back into my apartment and unburdened my load just before 2pm, and boy oh boy did that feel good!

Continue reading Home at Last…

Hospital – Headed Home

This evening marks the close of my final meaningful day here at Oita University Hospital. Tomorrow I will be released around 10 AM, with a new knee and all the promise of the coming year to go with it.

I’ve been here for five weeks, almost to the day, and the farewells began early. Masako-san, my infinitely compassionate and able nurse, stopped in just after breakfast. She had just finished the night shift and would be off tomorrow when I departed.

She brought me a small gift and a card, and I scrambled to present her with the one Ma Li had so carefully selected. I managed to remember about half of what I wanted to say to her in parting, stumbled over the rest, and then we stood there in an awkward silence for a long moment.

Continue reading Hospital – Headed Home

Hospital – Weaklings…

Another day, another step closer to discharge. Today’s highlight was 30 rockin’ minutes on the stationary bike pedaling 15 imaginary kilometers. Starting tomorrow I’m on the bike twice a day busting my balls in an effort to build my legs back up. My flexibility is now excellent, nearly at the magic 130 degree mark, but my right leg is the very definition of “atrophied.”

Gandhi could beat me in a squatting contest right now, seriously, my poor leg is that thin. My doctors have set a tentative discharge date of next Thursday provided I make some gains in the quadriceps department.

And in the meantime I’m studying and reading until my eyes glaze over…

Hospital – Hello Nurse

Well, I’m back in the hospital again. I was due back at 4 and came 3-legging it down the hall at 4:15 so they didn’t give me too much grief. Two of the other three guys in my room were discharged in my absence, unfortunately the only guy left is a decrepit old fellow who can’t hear a damn thing so essentially I’m alone in here now – talking with him is impossible.

It feels very nice to be back in my cozy warm bed though – my apartment in Beppu doesn’t have heat and Ma Li and I spent the entire weekend wearing sweaters and jackets inside… That’s not much fun!

I’m back to my usual grind as well – twice a day bending and rehab at 2pm. No word yet on how long I’ll have to stay this time, but I’ll keep you posted!

Hospital – New Years x2

Monday morning, the 1st, Ma Li and I headed to Oita through freezing rain to go to a kickass department store / mall on the southern outskirts of town. There had been some preliminary discussion amongst us as to whether anything would actually be *open* on New Year’s Day, but Ma Li was determined to lay her hands on a totally awesome “fukubukuro” so we had gone ahead and hopped a train on over.

Continue reading Hospital – New Years x2

Hospital – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Had a major breakdown in communications with my temporary Drew’s Journal assistant, spare heir Steven. So, 11 days after the last post, I’m writing and posting this one myself… and baby, it’s a doozy!


Ok, not forever, but in Japan celebrating the New Year’s holiday, known as Shougatsu, is pretty much the biggest event of the year and all ambulatory and semi-ambulatory patients are encouraged to leave the hospital for New Year’s weekend and spend time with their families. Only a skeleton crew of nurses man the wards, and only the most infirm patients remain.

Continue reading Hospital – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Hospital – Out of the Woods

I’m back. Please excuse me taking those 4 days off. The truth of the matter was that I didn’t really feel a need to chronicle excruciating pain in every detail – who wants to read about that?

I’ve made it through the worst part now, and from here on out I should be feeling better and better every day.

My last IV, an epidural drip, comes out today and then I will officially be free of tubes and hoses – very nice.

The surgery was a success; the only complication was a rather low blood oxygen level on my part.

Continue reading Hospital – Out of the Woods