Today I went to a local Sichuan hospital with Tingting. Well, to be fair, this hospital was more like the infirmary at the public high school that I went to. This particular hospital branch is seated between convenience stores, maybe highlighting the convenience of a quick stop at the hospital. Step inside onto the dirty tile floor and you can see most of the facilities without taking another step – three rooms to the left, a concierge to the right, and a larger room in the back behing a closed door. In the room to the far left there’s a dentists chair; my worst nightmare in any third world country.

Tingting has a cold and was told by a doctor, citing a high white blood cell count, to get on an IV drip for 6 hours over the next three days. I’ve seen Chinese people go on a drip for having a sore throat many times before, so I wasn’t as shocked by it this time, but this time I was given somewhat of an explanation. She said that people here must go on a drip because of the higher vulnerability to bacteria that people have here. I still don’t understand how oral ingestion of pills doesn’t do the job when a straight line to the blood does. Either way, she waited for a while and I kept her company.

If I’m really sick I’ll consult a local physician and even take myself to a hospital, but certainly not for something like a cold. I’ve only really fallen victim to illness once in the year that I’ve been overseas, and even that didn’t result in a trip to the hospital. Even less appealing to me is the dentists office. You see them on the side of the street; a Chinese person strapped into the chair with a lab coat-wearing dentist lumbering over the patient while people by the hundreds walk by and take note of someone getting a filling 5 feet from them in clear view.