Tuesday, 26 May 2009

TB in the afternoon

As I lay awake on Sunday night hacking up a lung, I realised that I was in need of a prescription of antibiotics. The combination of asthma and an immune system that struggles to fight off infections means that I normally get about two chest infections a year so the symptoms are a familiar, if unwelcome, friend.


When I've been ill previously a quick visit to the school doctor, accompanied by someone from the foreign affairs office, has had me sorted out in no time. But not on this occasion.


For some reason, the doctor refused to believe that the problem was my chest. She wouldn't even listen to it, but instead insisted on peering down my throat. After nearly blinding me by making me sit in front of a 5000 watt light to facilitate said peering, she declared that I had a throat problem, but she wasn't going to treat it and I should go to another doctor.


I really didn't fancy a trek to another medical clinic when all I needed was a cheap prescription of antibiotics, so I said I'd just go a local pharmacy and buy it myself. Someone wrote down my symptoms for me, and I toddled off to the chemist.


As I stepped through the door of the pharmacy I was assailed by a heady, woody smell, which came from sacks of dried barks, fungi and other unidentifiable substances that were piled on the floor. My lightning powers of deduction suggested that the pharmacist provided Chinese and well as Western remedies. In one corner of the room stood what can only be described as cauldron, filled with an almost black sludge.


The pharmacist dutifully listened to my chest, and whilst she was doing so her assistant lit up a cigarette. I then had to sit there with a thermometer under my armpit for five minutes, which I struggled to keep in place during a coughing fit, eliciting a 'good lord can this laowai not even manage to keep a thermometer in place for five minutes' pitying type of look.


I came away with three lots of pills and some instructions in Chinese, which I needed to be translated, so I headed back to the foreign affairs office. It turned out that the chest infection that had been called non-existent half an hour earlier was now being described as potential tuberculosis.


I think there was concern that I'd also gone mad, as I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my chair, before hastily assuring the very worried looking foreign affairs assistants that I had been inoculated against TB and that this episode of chesty mankiness was nothing out of the ordinary for me.


Note: Ms Toastburner, I can't comment on your blog, so I wanted to let you know that your book has arrived safely and to thank you for sending it. I know exactly which student I'm going to give it to! 



  1. Oh cool, you got the book! I hope the student enjoys it. :-)

    And Jane, get well soon, eh?

  2. What a misadventure! The doctor you saw sounds a bit quacky to me. Hope the drugs you got accidentally turn out to be useful.

  3. Hope they'll get you all sorted out quickly, being ill in a foreign country is not necessarily amusing. Best wishes...

    PS, did you finally find a toaster ?

  4. Good grief J, you poor thing. Hope it won't be long before you are feeling much, much better. If you weren't feeling so sick the whole experience might have been fascinating. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and I doubly appreciate it knowing how ill you have been. People don't like to feed raccoons as cute as they are because they can be pretty destructive. Also there is a very real fear of rabies amongst the raccoon population. My little visitor was of course back again last night. He tipped over my bird feeder which landed on the deck with a big cathunk announcing his arrival! I am sad to say my egg rolling may be over with for a while :( Feel better soon.

  5. I hope whatever you received in the form of medicine works on your chest and that you are breathing free very soon!