China’s Changing Healthcare (Warning: Graphic Images)

Four years ago I got a root canal . . . kind of.  Did you know that your tooth can have more than one canal and consequently more than one root and consequently still hurt like a booger even after a root canal?  Long story short my $36 root canal consisted of yanking a raw nerve from my mouth hole with zero effective novocaine and then strategically placing a filling on top of two other raw nerves in the same tooth.  For four years, I haven’t eaten on the right side of my mouth, nor have I been in the same room as a dentist without curling into a fetal position.  Until now.

So what did my new Chinese dentist have to say about the other Chinese dentist when she saw the x-ray of my botched, four year old dental work?  “It was not done well.”

This Christmas Eve my wife sliced her hand on an open can of mushrooms (I know, gross right?).  In medical terms it was flat out nasty.  We made a quick trip to the ER so the doctor could, in the stitching process, put a needle through her tendon and cinch up a previously undisturbed nerve with zero effective anesthetic.  We wouldn’t know this, however, until a second surgeon would reopen the wound, release the nerve and tendon and sew together another nerve that had been 80% severed by the mushroom can lid in a state of the art, absolutely cutting edge (no pun intended) surgery.  Before that all she knew was it hurt . . . like a booger.

So what did the second Chinese surgeon have to say about the first Chinese surgeon when she saw the stitches?  “Oh my God!” (Her words, not mine).

BEFORE:  LaWanda’s hand following the first set of stitches
that also pulled a nerve and tendon together.  6 stitches
“cha bu duo” (give or take).
AFTER:  Following sugery.  20 some stitches.

Health care, like everything, is changing rapidly in China.  The empty half of the glass hurts (very much like a booger).  It is overcrowded, substandard hospitals with less than hygienic surroundings, oversized smoking areas and potentially under-qualified medical staff, often driven by saving face instead of patient care.  However, I think it is safe to say that ten years ago we would have been hard pressed to find a doctor or a dentist to fix our earlier mishaps and we have ten good (or at least non-eventful) medical stories for every one horror story.  So keep it up China.  You’re moving in the right direction in more ways than one.

Anyone else got an interesting, international medical story?   

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