Today, quite possibly, was the longest day I've ever had to endure in my life. Ok, there were probably a few heavily-hangovered, full-days-of-work back in my younger-years that compete on an endurance level, but on an emotional level – this one wins hands down.
I've often complained about my fears of the Chinese medical system and the fact that should I be in-country long enough I'm likely to get sucked into it – today was that day. Except it isn't me getting the endless IVs, it's Maggie.
Sometime shortly before bed last night she started to complain of abdominal cramping and opted to hangout in the living room until they went away. This, what with my predilection to consuming undercooked goodies, was something I could relate to and I just left her to it. At about 6 a.m. she woke me up and said she couldn't take it any more and wanted to go to the hospital.
The girl sat there all night in pain, rather than wake me and have me sleepy the next day. That's a crazy kind of love.
Anyway, so we rushed over to the nearest government hospital (the nearest hospital is a private hospital 100m from my house that advertises plastic surgery and cures to the common cold… a little too MAACO for my liking). After navigating the endless, decrepit maze that is the Suzhou Fu Er Hospital, and waiting until she was full-up enough with water to need the potty (sadistic ultrasound-taking bastards) – we headed to the proper ward and hoped for the best.
By this time I had to jet in hopes of reaching my 10 a.m. class. With promises that she'd call me if there was anything urgent (it was a whole lot of wait at this point) and that I'd be back right after class, I headed home for a shower and a coffee. Shower complete and coffee half-way there, Maggie called with obvious anxiety in her voice saying "they need to operate right away, and if I walk around I might die."
The coffee and class were quickly washed down the drain and I was back at the hospital to meet a much calmer fiancee than her phone call let on. Apparently a new doctor told her that there was quite a good chance that surgery would not be necessary and that it might all be cured by medicine. Medicine administered via IV, a few times a day over three days. Three days!
If, after three days, Maggie shows no sign of exploding into a massive pool of blood, she's good to go. Otherwise, she goes under the knife.
Alright, just in case the tone of this post is lost in the black and white… I'm shitting myself. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I've been so scared. It's not that adrenaline empowering scared you get on a paintball field or after you've just egged a car… but rather a dull fear that chills pretty much every part of you. I hate hospitals, I HATE Chinese hospitals and I loath the fact that the most beautiful and amazing thing in my life is stuck in one, hoping they won't need to cut her open.
Now, obviously, the person that is worse off than me in all this is Maggie and as such I'm doing my best to play the strong, "everything is going to be ok" character I've seen in all those movies that feature hospitals predominantly. The truth is though, I've no fucking clue what's going on. Other than a few vague, heavily blurred by translation, explanations – I don't even know what's wrong with her. I can't trust the doctor to make honest calls, based on the fact that he knows I'm a foreigner and may just be looking to suck in a few extra kuai while he's got the opportunity. One of the day's nurses put it directly when Maggie asked how much the operation would cost and she said, "why do you care, your boyfriend is a laowai."
Well, tomorrow promises to bring with it a whole lot more hospital, taxi, school, taxi, hospital, taxi, home, school, taxi, hospital chains – so I best get some rest. Thankfully the stresses of the day have left me exhausted and that may (and that's a big "may") help conceal from me the fact that the better half of my bed is empty.