Doctor Pays a Home Call
|A Quantum Leap for Western Healthcare.....
Visit by the Doctor - 2nd January 2011
New Years Day had gone well, with another visit to Siu
Ying’s parental village for whatever. This turned out
to be the village celebration of the western New Year.
Whilst this is not inherently a Chinese festival, it
is a Public Holiday throughout China; if mainly because
it is a good excuse to have a day or two away from work.
Otherwise, Chinese Holiday’s stretch into a void, beginning
with National Golden Week at the start of October, until
Chinese New Year, which is probably around the beginning
of February (Lunar Date). Traditionally they would celebrate
the shortest day, or Winter Solstice; but as in the
west, this festival is largely ignored in modern times;
on both sides of the world.
Therefore, a day’s public holiday for New Years Day
fits very well with the Chinese government, and lets
the populace enjoy a holiday that is not structured
according to governmental or Taoist principles = it
is simply a day off!
The night before Siu Ying had taken me ‘shopping’, something
she knows I hate intensely. We went walking and she
took me into a shop that miraculously had a pair of
size 44, 23, or 11 (Whichever is your preference) men’s
shoes for sale. Whilst not really my personal design
favourite, they fitted perfectly and the cost was very
reasonable. My wife told me that I looked, ‘very sexy
and casual’ wearing them, so who am I to argue? Yessir!
She then lulled me into a couple of hours of ‘Girls
shopping’, where Nonni fell in love with a bright yellow
rocking horse – which I ended up buying for her + her
milk powder (Imported from Hong Kong), and another large
bag of disposable nappies (Because they are on serious
offer these days). We also take in the local carousel
(Pictured right) which Nonni loves greatly, before finding
the Toisan version of ‘Computer City’.
My personal rodent has been quite unwell for a long
time, with the cursor moving under its own design, and
apart from being hard to navigate with, the wheel had
also worn out. I had looked for replacements local to
our home, but they only had the very minimal designs,
meaning 2 buttons and a wheel, and that was it! My last
has 14 functions, which is a considerable difference!
Toisan Computer City occupies the second floor of somewhere
quite near “Fu’t c’llam muen”, and perhaps has 20 dedicated
computer booths all told. This is a far cry from Foshan
with its 2, 000, but maybe fine for my present needs.
We hit the first likely one, as I am in no mood to visit
them all today. I explain what I want in mime and Bah’t
Wah = local Cantonese, not Toisanwah. The guy gets’
it immediately and heads off to another shop, returning
a minute later with a mouse. It is basic, but has 4
buttons, plus a clickable wheel. Maybe ok? I try some
cordless versions which are mainly for show and far
too expensive, before returning to the one from the
other shop. The ergo dynamics will take some adjustment,
but it is fine and has a hard wired connection with
both round and USB connections. My past experiences
with wireless rodents have always left me despondent
and wishing they worked properly, all the time! The
price is Y60, and I take it as an interim device, and
will buy a proper and fully functioning one next time
I am in Foshan. By the way: it may not have all the
functionality I desire; but what it does do, it does
Purchase concluded we are headed for MacDonald’s, and
end up in KFC instead. Asi es la vida!
This reminds me of one of the funniest jokes I know,
but perhaps a very few can understand it at all:
Question? “Why is a mouse when it spins?”… Answer: …
“Because one leg is shorter than each other”.
Quantum Physics + a little alcohol for research purposes
only, will explain that perfectly. It will spin clockwise
in the southern hemisphere by the way : -)
However, quickly moving-on…
Today [2nd January 2001] finds me bonding with my brand
new Mouse. She is a fine beast and works extremely well.
I put her through her paces and ask my wife is she want’s
a go, which she refuses - giving me a curious look as
she departs my office with Nonni.
I proceed to get into my work, noticing slowly that
my left foot hurts a little bit. This is nothing, and
is probably related to me wearing my new shoes in the
house, because it is so darned cold here right now.
However, I do not think this is the cause, as they are
size 11 in Chinese, meaning there is a lot of room inside.
However, with writing my book foremost in my subconscious,
I spent the day doing site-wide link checks, and find
quite a few errors! 98% are technical, and related to
me using a local computer vs being live on-line. But
it also shows I got it wrong sometimes, so this fills
my day. I also remake a new link to Beyond HK Concert
2005 site wide, as YouKu have changed the new link again
Meanwhile my left foot hurts so much that I don’t fancy
cooking anything much; so I raid the fridge and make:
pork meat sandwiches with cheese slices and Dijon mustard
with small berries in it, ‘Miracle Whip’ [No Hellman’s
left], some streaks of puke-green and totally virulent
I actually plan to write an aside soon as a guide to
making Wasabi, as only the Japanese could ever have
invented something so mind-bogglingly horrendous and
addictive – Cummon ‘Banzai’, ‘Endurance’ holds nothing
on this stuff, once you are addicted!
The next day I cannot walk properly, and it gets a lot
worse as the day progresses.
I have to admit to myself that I have a problem I do
not understand right now, and which doesn’t make any
sense at all. The slightest hint of pressure on anything
concerning my left foot brings waves of pain, which
sometimes reduce me to tears. I caution with the knowledge
that all things come to pass, as I research stupid things
like: Sceptic arthritis, Gaot, and other maladies on
the internet – none of which are remotely related to
the pain I am now so conscious of, and I have to stop
I go to bed, but the pressure of bedclothes makes any
form of sleep impossible. Were it summer I would be
fine, but it is very cold here nowadays; as the icy
fingers of Jack Frost invade every nook and cranny.
Tears form in my eyes as I try to find any place or
position in this bed that is at least uncomfortable,
but nothing is forthcoming. Sleep of course is totally
Siu Ying comes to my rescue, having made a bowl of freshly
chopped and crushed ginger root, into which she has
tipped a gallon of boiling water. It has to rest for
a while, as I hobble out to the living room, and the
pain is excruciating. She bends to massage my foot,
to which I immediately react, as the very slightest
pressure makes things worse. My foot is red and she
says the red is not leaving as it should do. I soak
for 15 minutes in the fluid, and then she applies some
unction to my foot; neither of which I think did anything
constructive. Thank you My Wife for at least trying
The problem is that the joints of my metatarsals nearest
the ankle are inflamed, and my foot has swollen to twice
its normal size as a result. It feels like there is
a golf ball inside my foot which is growing! That night
sees the supposed infection spread into the ankle joint
of my left foot, and I simply cannot walk any more.
I take to sitting on the floor and ‘rowing’ my body
across to where I need to be. Again I try sleeping,
as I am dog-tired; but give up after a few hours of
intense pain. This is becoming a serious problem!
I crawl to the computer and discover it is Monday =
the easy jig-saw and not much else to do. I can’t concentrate
properly, so doing any real work is totally out of the
question. What to do? I play stupid cards and pass the
time, knowing with time something will change, as it
Around 5 am I have not used my foot for maybe 6 hours,
and it is numb. This is good. I try standing with putting
a little weight upon it, and soon discover my mistake.
Back to the cards and online newspapers, and I am drifting
asleep at my desk sometimes.
Finally the numbness in my foot appears to have overwhelmed
the pain, so I row myself to bed with the injured appendage
cushioned in my right ankle. I do manage to sleep this
time, but have my left foot out side the bed and in
a very precise position. It is freezing cold outside
the covers, so I erect a wind break and comfort zone
for it also using a spare quilt and a large food cover.
The next day arrives all too soon, and I am first awake
of course. However, I have managed 6 hours of fitful
sleep this time, so it is a great improvement – that
is until I try and get out of bed. The searing pain
returns as soon as the slightest pressure is applied
to my foot in any way, so I scoot across to a chair
left by the Landlady. It is a replica of a normal 5-wheeled
office chair found in any office, except it doesn’t
do anything and is far to low, probably designed with
dwarves in mind. When sat upon, the wheels won’t go
round properly due to a technical hitch which occurs
when any weight is placed upon the wheel supports =
they bend and become stuck underneath the carrier housing.
However, I can manually adjust them so that some of
the wheels can turn in approximately the right direction
This turns out to be the best way I have of getting
around, apart from asking for a pair of crutches to
be delivered; and they should not be necessary in truth
either. So it is time to sort the trouble.
There is one small problem, in that it has finally dawned
on me that to get rid of this malady I will have to
go to a hospital. That stated, I cannot even walk the
ten yards of so to reach the toilet as required in my
current state, so this cannot happen. Siu Ying is busy
this day, on the mobile and then out to visit friends.
I am not stupid and we know each other very well, therefore
it is no surprise when she returns home at 11.30 (morning)
and informs me her friend’s husband has the same problem,
and all I need is an injection. Then she sees that I
literally cannot even stand properly, so goes into ‘Phase
two’ and leaves immediately.
She bounces in 40 minutes later and says the Doctor
is coming and she may need some money from the bank.
I reluctantly hand over my ATM card, doubting I will
ever see any of the cash, but who’s to argue under current
circumstances? However, I do direct her to use the most
reliable local bank, which coincidentally only issues
Y1, 000 per time (I leave out the repeatedly bit). She
leaves in order to extract extra funds from my UK Banker’s,
as we have absolutely no idea how much this will cost,
and are still used to Foshan charges.
15 minutes later I hear her arrive back home and in
conversation with a ‘Gentleman’.
The Doctor has arrived already and is straight into
his diagnosis! He is professionally dressed in western
attire, and is carrying with him: a blood monitor in
leather case, a stethoscope, a Doctor’s case, and a
carrier bag full of assorted medicines. He is a native
Toisanwah speaker who qualified in Mandarin, and speaks
excellent Cantonese. I never expected him to speak English,
but he remembers a few phrases from his long-distant
college days. I like him immediately.
First looks at my foot and then checks my blood pressure
by wrapping the thingymagig around my right arm (Western
Doctor’s always use the left arm, or hadn’t you noticed?),
and then inserts the stethoscope near my elbow joint.
He places three fingers on my wrist pulse points and
counts, whilst carrying on a conversation with my wife
at the same time. My grasp of counting in Toisanwah
is still a little basic, but I think I have 138 over
He then asks a few questions, including if I have had
any head problems = dizziness, light-headedness, etc.
I reply ‘No’ three times, as he keeps coming back to
this point. A couple of other questions are asked once
only, and then he administers an injection to my lower
back, which should really be regarded as the higher
rump of my left buttock. This is done by simply pulling
my jeans down a bit, and not removing them. He then
gets out of the carrier bag three lots of pills. I follow
enough to know: 1 each time, 3 each time, and four each
time; but I miss the daily frequency bit. He then opens
them and administers the first dosage to me, whilst
Siu Ying rushes for a glass of water (Something I do
not need, but take anyway to appear normal)..
And that is it. He spends 10 minutes with us, and charges
us a total of Y100 RMB = £10. Fantastic! This includes
a Y40 call-out fee, and Y60 for his diagnosis and medicines.
When I compare this to modern UK medical services, I
have to wonder? This is totally excellent!
Two hours later I can walk around in discomfort, but
sleep properly for the first time in days. The next
morning I am fully recovered and left wondering what
it was all about? Well, I have a blood problem for sure,
which I think is partly due to a small cold that settled
in my lungs, and simply did not go away for about a
Over the next few days and a few tries (Discussions
with my wife), I have worked out that my red blood cell
count is too high, but I am a smoker so this is to be
expected. His advice is that I need to exercise a little
more, and that is basically it. I also feel he is correct,
and have altered my lifestyle accordingly.
In Foshan this service may have cost twice as much,
and in Guangzhou, Beijing or Shanghai even more. But
the sole purpose of this missive is to tell Expat’s
living in China about what is readily available, if
they know it exists and how to ask.
However, my ulterior point is to query why these same
services I grew up with in the Staffordshire and Irish
countryside of my youth are no longer available, at
least to those who do not have the wealth to afford
a resident personal Doctor of their own?
If it is of the slightest interest to anyone, then I
would probably now choose Chinese healthcare in preference
to that now administered in UK, but that would be the
personal opinion and experiences of somebody who is
not a rich person of course.
In general, modern Chinese medical practices combine
both Western and Traditional Chinese techniques as the
norm in modern Canton, and the result is something that
works for ordinary people, efficiently, instantly, and
So I wonder; when is your next appointment with a Western
Healthcare provider scheduled for, in order to get an
appointment for a consultation?
Mine took a mere 25 minutes from initial request to
discharge, as a house call; and I was administered an
injection … and given the required medicines also. That
is excellent service in any part of this world. Thankyou
‘Yee San’, the local name for any qualified Doctor.
So I am left with the consideration that as modern UK
considers overhauling the National Health Service (Or
whatever they call it nowadays), and the USA tries to
bring in something founded on private commercialism;
could they even envisage offering the highest standards
of the service I received in China today?
I wish a Happy and Healthy New Year to you all;
Because if you are not healthy then you will not be
happy either, and undoubtedly suffer the consequences
of inept medical care service providers (Even if you
I’ll leave you with the reminder of 25 minutes from
first telephone call, through home treatment, to discharge…..
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is Copyright of Jonno Morris (Unless stated otherwise),
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Some artistic licence has been used arbitrarily in some
of these Letters, and whilst most facts are in essence
correct, some personal and literary interpretation may
have been employed to greater or lesser degrees.
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