Monday, January 28, 2013

What To Do In Case of an Emergency in Beijing?


Photo by marshallsegal  via Flickr
After my 18 Hours in the ER the other day I got to thinking about what to do if you have a medical emergency while living in Beijing.  I think the scariest thing for me was what would I have done if I had gone unconscious or if there would have been bad traffic, and it took even longer than 40 minutes to get the clinic. Luckily, I had a driver who got me to the ER. You can't just call 9-1-1 like you can in the America.

Here are the emergency codes in Mainland China:

110, for Police
119, for Fire
120, for Ambulance
122, for Traffic Accident
999, for ambulance in Beijing, but it is privately operated.

The emergency numbers here in China would get you a recording, or a person who only speaks Chinese and from talking to expats that have been here longer than me it doesn't sound like the service is reliable or an ambulance, if it showed up within a short period of time, would take you to the international hospital, you'd end up somewhere local.

The short answer, you pretty much have to rely on yourself.

Photo by Tricia Wang via Flickr

My Game Plan

So my game plan, in case of emergency, would be to call the 24 emergency number for one of the international clinics and then allow them to direct me to the best plan of action.  

There are the 3 places I saved in my phone:

I plan on visiting both the hospitals I haven't seen to see where they are located, make sure I register because they don't just start taking care of you, you need to fill out paperwork, and then depending on the emergency (God forbid) pick which one I think will handle the situation best.

Do you have a game plan in China, in case of emergency? If so, I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

18 Hours in the ER

Thursday afternoon my lungs just couldn't handle the cough I'd been dealing with since Monday and I started having a bad asthma attack.  Hubby called our driver (yes we have a driver, but that's a whole other post) who drove to get me kiddo from school and he took me into the international SOS clinic to the ER/urgent care.

I was hyperventilating when I got there, among other things, my memory is fuzzy.  They got me stabilized, did a chest x-ray, EKG, took arterial blood to check my gases, did some other blood work, and added an IV.

Beijing Hospitals

When you think hospital in China, you probably aren't thinking good things, but believe it or not the international hospitals in Beijing, China come with expat doctors, or at least doctors that went to Western medical schools, speak English and generally have better service than a hospital in the U.S. I was seen immediately, and was pretty much the only patient, except for 2 people who came and left in an hour, the entire 18 hours I stayed, with 2 nurses, an attending and a supervising doctor.  Not bad.

After stabilizing me, they wouldn't let me go home because my electrolytes were really low and my heart rate and respiratory rates were too high.  So after multiple breathing treatments and lots of steroids, fluids and potassium I got to spend the night in the ER.  It could have been worse.  The following day they wanted to move me to a full blown hospital for a couple days, but gave me the option to come home on bed rest and just come back for a check up each day, so I took the latter.  I needed sleep and it sure isn't easy to sleep in a hospital, ironic don't you think?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What is This?

Name this fruit, I found it at my compound's farmer's market this afternoon:

I don't know and all I got when I tried to ask was Chinese.  It has a sweeter taste than I expected, you peel it like an orange and it has a big seed in the middle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Year of the Dinosaur!

The Chinese New Year is coming up here in a few weeks. We were talking with kiddo in anticipation of going to buy decorations to put around the house this weekend and trying to explain to her what Chinese New Year really means to China.

According to Wikipedia:

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is known as 'Spring Festival', the literal translation of the Chinese name 春節 (Pinyin: Chūnjié), since the spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year. 

red envelopes
Some of the festivities include lots and lots of fireworks, family gatherings, lion dances, decorating with China's favorite color, red and a close second the color gold, and giving red envelopes.

I think the red envelope tradition is one of the most interesting.  Elders and married couples give red envelopes to younger unmarried people, often children.  The red envelope most often contains money and it is thought to "keep away bad luck."

chinese new yearThe upcoming year, 2013 is the year of the snake, and we are leaving 2012, the year of the dragon.  Kiddo wanted to know what next year was, and then decided 2014 was going to be the year of the dinosaur. We weren't really sure what the animal was for 2014, so we let her go with it.  I just hope she doesn't tell her Chinese teacher it is the year of the dinosaur. :)

chinese new year
Here are the true animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Testing My Resolve - First trip to the doctors

Exactly 2 weeks in and we made our first trip to the SOS clinic with kiddo.

Since kiddo was small she has had a lot of ear, nose, throat and respiratory issues including 3 bouts with pneumonia over a 2 year period and 4 surgeries.  We've been struggling in the US to keep her healthy and off steroids for her lung issues.

So after last weekend's record setting air pollution numbers (Holy Smog Batman) it only figures that we'd end up with an episode of coughing.  I took her in on Thursday and she sounded "tight" which got us a round of steroids in addition to the daily medication and Albuterol that she was taking. We went back on Saturday and got to add an antibiotic to the mix because of a "wet" sound in her lungs.  Luckily, she seems to be a bit better today (Sunday) so it looks like we are going to skip round 3, which included an x-ray.

It has been a hard week since she started coughing with the guilt of bringing her over here to a place with such bad air.  Even harder, has been trying to keep her calm, especially when she can't really go outside, and we're still without most of our stuff, living in a mostly vacant house.  I had my first real break down on Wednesday with a good cry.  I just hope this becomes a one time thing and not the norm.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Funny Chinese Translation Picture!

One of my favorite parts of going out and about is seeing all the funny translations from Chinese to English. I'm sure anyone that has traveled anywhere with another language can attest to seeing a funny sign or notice.

This was my favorite at the grocery store yesterday:

It says "Pregnant Woman Salt."  I was trying to find bread crumbs of all things, and passed this with the salt and other seasonings. The gal I was with thought maybe it was a reduced sodium salt?  Either way it is pretty funny!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Holy Smog Batman!

If you hadn't heard by now, the smog in Beijing is supposed to be one of the worst in the world. As expats, we knew coming over that we were going to have to buy expensive air purification systems to put in our home and watch the air quality level.  When it is bad they don't let the kids go outside at school.

It looks like we came in just in time to see record setting smog:
Bad Even For Beijing: Smog Hits Extreme Levels

I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but now I'm not sure.  To be fair, it has been crazy in the past two days but it is still amazing. Yesterday, we didn't even go out in the evening as it got worse.

I have an app on my phone that monitors the air quality.  500 is off the charts, 755 is the worst anyone I've talked to here has seen.  It is like a bad fog, only it isn't fog, it is smog.

Here is a snapshot of the US Embassy numbers yesterday:

Here is a picture of the highway yesterday, you can't really tell how bad it is because you can't see the close up smog. It is probably x4 worse than it looks in this picture. This was at 4pm in the afternoon.

Today I went out and bought charcoal filter masks so that if we are absolutely forced to go out in the air we aren't breathing the pure smog into our lungs. Believe it or not, when you blow your nose after being in Beijing for a while, little pieces of black dust particles come out, it grosses me out.  When everyone was complaining about fog Saturday morning, we were enveloped in smog.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Removing the Smell of Cumin?

One of the cabinets in my new kitchen (I only have two nice ones for glasses and such) has the strongest smell of cumin I have ever smelled in it except for the Starbucks at Crosswoods that sits next to an Indian restaurant and makes me gag every time I go in, but that is a whole other story.

I have tried

  • 50/50 white vinegar/water solution
  • sitting a cup of vinegar in the cabinet with the doors shut over night
  • bleach spray
photo by mapleeye on Flickr

It is horrible guys and I have no idea what to do, it is like it has permeated the cabinets. We can't even put anything in the cabinet because it comes out smelling so bad. Any ideas?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nǐ hǎo! We Made it Here!

Your first Chinese word:
Nǐ hǎo, which means hello.

I am so sorry for keeping everyone wondering about how we are doing. Unfortunately, when we left January 1st, we lost over a day just because of the time difference. We got here on January 3rd at 12:15am, took a 3 hour nap and went straight to our new house. As we feared, it was nowhere near ready for us to move in and we were about to become homeless.

First was the lack of heat, it took almost a week to get the floor heating to work in the house, at the most it was 15 degrees Celsius which translates into 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Floor heating uses hot water under the floors and while it is supposed to be awesome when working, boy does it seems to take a while to warm up and I guess it breaks down a lot when it gets cold. It took over 7 days to get the house warm.

One thing about Beijing is that it gets very cold, not just because of the temperatures but because of an almost complete lack of humidity. In Ohio, in the winter I think the humidity averages between 65-85%, here in Beijing it is around 10-20% and when it is cold it feels even colder. It has been -13.5C to 3C to far and the smog has been really bad.

So back to my story, it was freezing, the house was freezing, it was a total mess and nothing that was supposed to be done, per the contract, was done. Even better was that because of the New Year holiday, hubby had to work Saturday and Sunday, so I was on my own. Luckily we had hubby's downtown apartment for a few days, but come Monday the 7th we were homeless and got to spend a few days in a hotel. That first week, I got to spend all day here at the house trying to make sure things got done, and poor kiddo had to start school. It has been a bit stressful.

We also just got our internet hooked up a couple days ago and are still dealing with organizing and a laundry list of things that need to be done to the house. Right now, hubby is down with one of the property management workers, who speaks no English, looking at our boiler (hot water tank) that is supposed to be brand new, but leaking water into our mechanical room. I sure hope it is an easy fix because it keeps the house warm and gives us hot water.

I hope once things get settled to be better at keeping everyone in the loop!