An Appendix Lost (not mine) and a bit of perspective gained

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December 4th 2010
Published: December 4th 2010
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Tuesday afternoon I was sitting on my ass feeling a bit lost. I felt lazy, for one. For the last couple of days I had been sitting in my room, meaning to be productive, watching Sex in the City instead. I realized that I am in China, and my Chinese did not seem to be getting any better, I wasn't out in China. I wasn't even studying. Bleh!

Around one or so, I skyped my mom, which was good.

At five I was getting antsy. The four of us had plans for dinner, to go to mian man, but I had not heard anything from anybody. So I got ready and went upstairs to rally the troops. I ran into Maria who was on her way down to find me.

"Do you know what happened to Clare?" asked Maria.

"No, I haven't heard from her. Have you?"

"I heard she went to the hospital."


We ran upstairs and got what we could out of Emily, Clare and Audrey's across the hall neighbor. Apparently Clare and Audrey had left for Global Doctor around one or so, when I was skyping my mom, and Audrey had missed her Religion final. Apparently Andrea said that Clare had not looked good when she left.

So, I called Audrey. She said that they were at the hospital. They were not quite sure what was wrong with Clare yet. Maybe appendicitis, maybe a bacterial infection... we asked if we could do anything. Audrey said no, she would call us with more information later.

Well, earlier in the semester Joanna had gone to the hospital with stomach pains as well. They thought she had appendicitis, but it turned out just to be dehydration, so we didn't think it was a big deal. We took a taxi to mian man, ate then got two bowls of noodles to go. We figured our friends would be back that evening, and would appreciate some dinner when they got back. We stopped at the hostel for a bit as well. I traded a couple of books. Audrey called again, said it was a bacterial infection. They were just giving her some antibiotics. Adam was there as well.

We went back and went to bed. But at one thirty I got a text from Audrey. Clare was going in for surgery. She did have appendicitis. So, with that news, and the loud cat sex that has been happening in the dorm recently (why do we have to have a sluttish dorm cat?) I didn't sleep all that much.

The next morning we woke up. Maria and I went to class. Audrey went to the hospital to take some things to Clare. I could not pay attention in class, so I wrote a note to Clare instead (in Chinese!). As soon as class ended, Maria and I caught a taxi to the hospital, which is on another Sichuan University campus not very far away. We found Clare on the sixth floor of the second inpatient building. She was in bed number 84, which was in a hallway, behind a screen. We found a very tired Adam, who had not slept all night, in the waiting area. Audrey was next to Clare's bed. Clare was on morphine, so not doing too badly, but not doing wonderfully either. They had her in a pair of pajamas with blue vertical stripes. She looked a bit like an inmate. We got more of the story-- lots of needles, blood work, pain, and gurney journeys.

A little later, Adam went to find food. This is when the doctor came and decided to move Clare. Audrey carried the IV pole. Maria and I manned either side of the gurney, and the doctor pushed. We descended by elevator, and left the building. We went outside. People stared, as always. A little kid ran over and tagged Clare on the foot. His father grabbed him and apologized. We swung into the lobby of the Fourth Inpatient Building. But they wouldn't take us to a room. First they needed a deposit. They motioned me, by myself, to a back room, speaking all Chinese. I don't know if they thought I was a translator, a teacher, her mother... Who knows? But they wanted 两万 from me. 20,000 yuan. That is almost 3000 US dollars. That was not happening. I escaped and we called Adam to come quickly.

He rushed over and took care of the paperwork. Then we ascended to the fourth floor, room 407. The room is NICE! Nicer than any American hospital room. Maria compared it to a pregnancy suite, but I have never been in one of those. It has a bathroom with a western toilet and a shower with a bench. A fridge, a microwave, a flat screen television, fake flowers. Not bad at all, except it is in a hospital, not a hotel. Two doctors and Adam moved Clare to the nicer gurney. Then a gaggle of interns moved and engulfed her. About five female nurses shooed the male nurses away and changed her into a more faded pair of pajamas.

We stayed with her for a while. Then a middle-aged, white couple rushed in. Clare's parents. They were in Beijing sightseeing, planning to move on to Xi'an before coming to Chengdu, but when Clare went into surgery they got the first flight they could here. Them arriving definitely made me miss my own parents.

After some updating and discussions about insurance and stuff with Adam... (by the way, hospital visits in China cost a lot less than they do in America. 100 dollars for the surgery, for instance. 30 for a CAT scan. You get the picture.) Maria and I went with Peter (Clare's dad) and Adam to find a hotel near the hospital. Two didn't have space, two didn't accept foreigners. The fifth worked out. Adam peaced to sleep before class that evening, and we made our way back to the hotel. Audrey, Maria and I left Clare and her parents together, and went to find lunch.

We ended up back at noodle man, by metro. Mian man was actually not there. His mom made us our lunch. Then, we stopped at the hostel to get take out for Clare's parents. Two take out containers of Indonesian fried rice, a hot chocolate for Maria and a mocha for myself, and the hostels two new kittens meowing for more whipped cream later, we went back to the hospital to deliver the fried rice. Then back to the dorm, still feeling stressed. Poor Clare!

We didn't have time to go back on Thursday, but went back and visited for about five hours on Friday. And today we went again, with Snow White and Jimmy in tow. She seems a lot better, but won't be going to Shanghai with us. We are sad about that. It won't be the same without her.

Anyway, I don't feel bad about sitting in my room all day Monday and Tuesday anymore, or bad about my Chinese speaking level either. I may not have improved my Chinese as well as I would have liked too, but I sure can make my way around the city: walking, metro, bus, taxi. I feel more comfortable in Chengdu than I do in Portland, or Seattle, or any other city I have ever lived near.

And at least I have not had an adventure like Clare's.

I also may be stressed out about the upcoming finals week: two tests, four writing assignments. However, I have realized that this finals week is nothing compared to finals' weeks at Lewis and Clark. Not even close.

My study abroad semester-- most likely the only one I will have during my college experience-- is almost over! I am going to study, but I am also going to have some fun.


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