Discussion » Health & Fitness » Medical Horrror Stories

  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Here's a question that I don't think we've hit upon in this community:

    What is the sickest that you have ever been?

    For me, it's now (liver ma fan) and throughout the Winter '06, when I had a kidney infection (I think) combined with the flu (definitely) in provincial China and almost passed out in an unheated restaurant packed with impish little children and good ol' folk laughing at me.

    I had food poisoning once, too, but that wasn't that bad. Just lots of puking of internal organs and such.

    Your turn!
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Do injuries count? I've never really been sick before. Come to think of it, I've never really been injured before either. Never mind. Just wanted to contribute :(
  • Hariwan Zebari
    Two week coma after a car accident ... doctors said i should have died.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Wow, you really are a grandpa!
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:
    The only time I was hospitalized was when I got a hernia. I had a bad cough and I was carrying a friend's TV set. Actually, the worst part was after the operation. The painkillers made me constipated, and it hurt like hell to force out a BM when my stitches were still tender.

    I got a pretty cool scar a few inches above my wang, though.
  • Erik Aleksander Aas
    Fell 4 floors from my university dorm drunk as a skunk while playing tag by "spiderman-ing" from one window to the other back when i was studying in South Africa. Lost most of my teeth (have implants), severed my chin and my knee was the size of a football. An asbestos roof adjacent to the first floor luckily broke my fall!
  • Simen Wangberg
    I'm Unbreakable.

    No really, I actually haven't been substantially sick/injured...ever, really. Had the flu once for three days, kicked it with hot showers and Vernors. Broke my collarbone once, that mended up real quick too. My teeth are a little jacked up, but not much more so than the average person (genetically inherited soft enamel, thanks Mom!)

    Still have yet to experience sickness of any kind in China, other than the alcohol-induced variety.

    Maybe you can shed some light on this Pete, in light of your recent medical emergency: what do you guys think of the hospitals/medical care in China?

    I've had my teeth worked on a few times here (Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital), and they've generally done a good job. They worked quickly and relatively painlessly, and the whole thing was pretty cheap to boot.

    However - a friend of mine recently had to have his appendix removed, as it was, well, bursting. When he got to the hospital (the afore-mentioned Sino-Japan, actually), they told him he had to pay before they could operate on him.
    He walked 15 minutes back to his flat, got his money, and came back. They told him he didn't bring enough money...he had to walk back again and get more money before they would operate.

    His appendix was bursting. He could've died while walking to/from this hospital. I heard a similar story from one of my colleagues yesterday. Does this seem just a little bit messed up to anyone else other than me?

    My friend was lucky to have 10,000 RMB on hand to pay for the operation up front - if it was me, I would be dead. Deceased. No more. This is terrifying.

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Hahaha ... battle scars huh?

    Being the unhealthy non-sporty ones ("matchstick"), when I was about 7 years old, I had broken both knee caps at the same time ... not sure how it happened, but it was oozing green/yellow from underneath the bandages ... now badly disfigured ...

    9 years old ... traffic accident ... left collar bone out of place, and also torn one legiment, was mummified for about a month, and being March/April, Hong Kong was was hot and humid and it was dreadful not allowed to have shower ... the doctor inserted two 3-inch stainless steel needles to keep the the structure in place, and it was quite disturbing to see them being pulled out ... the operation left me with a permanent scorpion shape scar on left shoulder ...

    35 years old ... blood clot (it might have been a cockroach) in the right hemisphere, causing coordination issue on the left side of the body, especially left arm ... the profile photo was taken in May 2007, showing the "scar" from the operation ...

  • Da Fan
    Da Fan wrote:
    No serious injuries or sickness previously, but I did contribute something in others' stories, like I broke the scapula of a guy when play football. Yeah, scapula...
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Ouch, guys. Except for Jon. No ouch for you. Now go get on your motorbike and break something.

    In response to Mike's question about treatment here in China, it's fine. Well, things are fine after you're admitted and after you've gone through the necessarily bureaucratic hurdles.

    Prior to diagnosis, you're left dashing from one window to the next, from one specialist to another with stamped bits of paper searching for answers and receiving care based on incremental payments.

    And yes, similar to your friend, treatment was only an option after payment.

    It didn't really bother me for some reason: live, not live... suffer for a lack of funds. I've found that when I'm faced with an acute emergency, things take on a dull gleam of indifference.

    Just like your friend with the appendix problem, the administrative staff basically implied that I'd go untreated without payment, if even for a few hours. Which I did, actually -- for I don't know, twelve hours -- and that obviously didn't expedite recovery.

    It's a bit unnerving when a doctor is asking you about your bank account. Administrative staff, bureaucrats, secretaries, sure. But you'd think that a Gastroenterologist armed with a clipboard is a bit too much.

    But who knows: this is the system that is currently in place and I'm sure that many doctors would prefer that it be reformed and modernized.

    I don't really have any complaints about treatment, probably because I'm inured to the cultural differences that would probably upset one who just arrived here in China (more indirect ways of describing problems, vague explanations, etc.)

    Stay healthy, everyone!
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Sorry Mike ... since we had both submitted our posts at roughtly the same time, I did not actually see what you wrote before I left this thread ...

    What you have described, as Pete pointed out, is (sadly) how the system works ... we can assume that this might not be how it worked many decades ago, but for whatever reasons (we can guess), the system needed to evolve to protect itself (from being bankrupt) ... in fact, other industries related to the medical industry had also evolved to work around the system ...

    Anyway, for the situation you had described, unless you go to any of the foreign-funded private hospitals (e.g. Sino-Jap, United Family), it is advisable to always go with a friend, because "queuing" in Beijing is a pain, even when it is a life-or-death emergency ...
  • Simen Wangberg
    "I don't really have any complaints about treatment, probably because I'm inured to the cultural differences that would probably upset one who just arrived here in China (more indirect ways of describing problems, vague explanations, etc.) "

    Yeah, I mean...I'm pretty used to not really being specifically told anything about...well, anything. My dentist gave a very vague explanation of what was wrong with my tooth (root canal), and I just nodded along and she fixed it and all was well.

    It's just scary to think that I could die because I don't have enough money on my person to pay for my care right away. I'm fortunate in that I have enough friends here by now that I know I could rely on them to help me out in such an emergency, but...it seems like it's only a matter of time until someone dies as a result of this system.

    Maybe I'm being melodramatic? I don't know. It's not necessarily any better elsewhere either, we've all heard various horror stories about people dying in waiting rooms, whether it's an insurance issue in the States or a long line in Canada.

    Worth noting: when I did go in for my dental work, they didn't make me pay until after the procedure was completed. I didn't remember that until now. Hmmmm.
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Nah, you don't sound melodramatic. While it's frightening to think that one could die as a result of not having enough money upfront to obtain the immediate care necessary for stabilization and survival, that's just how life is.

    Health care is not an inalienable right.

    While we can debate in perpetuity about the disadvantages and advantages of the application of universal health care in civil society -- as well as debate the essence of life itself and if we have the right to keep ourselves alive on someone else's dime -- from a pro-business, for-profit point of view, it doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense to perform procedures on patients that have no guarantee of paying for them -- particularly when the ailments are self-induced and are the products of negligible and irresponsible lifestyle choices.

    I say this as both a free market, business-oriented person and as someone who did not initially have the funds to be immediately admitted as an inpatient to receive the stabilizing treatment necessary for, well, the continuation of this mortal coil.

    It's a complex issue, even more so when you inject emotions and morals into the equation, which I've tried to leave out in this discussion.

    However, as disconnected and disingenuous as it sounds, I didn't see a problem with the doctors in my case insinuating, "Put up some cash or get out."

    It just makes sense to do it that way.

    As 叮噹叔叔 pointed out above, hospitals and health care providers do need to insure themselves against operating at a loss and to avoid bankruptcy; making care pay-to-play is a good way to insure that financial stability.

    Life is cheap.

    Yeah, the system should be reformed in the future. A healthy public is a strong and productive public and is an asset to the country's national interests in the long run, but it shouldn't come for free.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    On the note of "Put up some cash or get out", most US tv drama (ER, House etc) often talked about "insurance", and it seems that if a patient does not have insurance, he/she cannot stay in the hospital (or something like that) ... is that correct? How does that work? And if that is indeed the case, then by definition, it is really not much different from what we have here in Beijing ...

    Slightly off topic ... the current insurance regulation in China states that the total amount of life insurance for anyone under 18 cannot be more than 100k rmb, the reason being that there were some very sick and greedy people who would buy expensive life insurance for infants, set up an accident that would get them killed and then collect large amount of insurance ...

    ... so if people were capable of doing that, it is not that difficult to imagine people disappearing from hospital (during or after treatment) in order to "escape" from the bill ...

  • Sasha 莎莎 Wang
    Buhhh I've pretty much broken everything, i think the worst was my toe LOL.

    Also I was on a nebulizer for most of my childhood for fucked up lungs, haha it sucked.
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    DD, in the US everyone gets treatment for emergency, life-threatening situations, regardless of whether or not they can pay for the (ridiculously expensive) treatment. Not surprisingly, a good number of people, most likely 99.98% of those without private insurance, then don't pay for it, since they couldn't possibly afford it, and that's why the US pays twice as much for medical care as all civilized countries.

    The non-life threatening issues that don't require immediate treatment, or those that need some diagnostic experimentation to figure out the problem, those are only options for the highly insured or very wealthy.

    At least, I think that's how it works. Fuck if I could ever afford to go see a doctor in the states and tell you for sure.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    @Pete: "Ouch, guys. Except for Jon. No ouch for you. Now go get on your motorbike and break something."

    I've tried, I've tried. 17 motorcycle crashes, several of them over 100mph and most of them over 60mph. Not a single broken bone, the worse I got was a severely bruised hip that left me in bed for 2 weeks because it hurt too much to walk.

    If we're talking about injuries that I inflicted on others though... that same crash, the dude that I crashed into got fucked up hard. He already broke both ankles in winter falling off an ATV mid-jump and then I go smashing into him. The bike lands on his leg and shatters several bones in his leg and he was in and out of surgery 12 or 13 times I believe before it was finally repaired.

    All caught on camera too. It looks like I got it worse because I was thrown 2 meters in the air but landed squarely flat on my back (protected by a rubbery type honey-comb force dissipating protector and a lot of foam) and was just fine.

    As far as being sick... I guess the worst that happened to me was when I was really young. I had a bad fever and my parents got the bright idea (from TCM thinking of course) that they should sweat me out under a blanket. My body temp shot up to over 40 degrees and I almost passed out until they took me out into the cool air to bring me to the hospital. After 10 minutes of cool weather I was fine... although I might be sterile now. hahaha I really should check that out someday...
  • Peter Baird
    Peter Baird wrote:
    I got botulism when I was 19. It was the leftover potato salad from my Dad's wedding. I was house sitting for his wife's brother and had a fridge full of wedding leftovers. I was told to throw it out when it went bad, but nobody told me botulism is odourless. I was eating that stuff for days after it went off, but it still tasted fine. Days later I feltlike John Hurt in "Alien" just before that thing pops out of his belly. Botulism is bad shit.

    Sickest I 've been in China is probably from sucking back 500 mils of tap water that was being sold as bottled water. Three days of serious biological unpleasentness unfolded as a result of that.However, I did learn to check the seals on water bottles and now probably have a pretty strong immunity to tap water.

    Neither cases required hospitalization, though. I probably should have been hospitalized for the botulism, but the town I was in didn't have a hospital.
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    Peter, way to go, you've successfully convinced me to be racist against traveling to West Africa.
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    What the hell is a nebulizer? Sounds gruesome.

    I'd Google it, but I think it'd be more fun -- and skin-crawling -- if you explained everything in graphic detail.
  • Sasha 莎莎 Wang
    uuum, it's a breathing machine that gets strapped onto your face and you breathe in medicine for about an hour at a time, mostly used for people with asthma. ugh being on those things is the worst thing ever hah. >_<
  • Simen Wangberg
    Hahaha. Nebulizer...sounds like something Marvin the Martian would use in a futile attempt to blow up the Earth. Also sounds like it wasn't a picnic to wear one.

    RE: the dangers of getting seriously ill in China...well, yeah. I guess it isn't altogether different from anywhere else, where you might just end up dying cos you can't afford to pay for treatment.
    I suppose it comes down to a choice between having relatively cheap basic care + having to pay in advance for emergency treatment, or having expensive basic care + "free" emergency room admittance. Would be nice if we could strike a balance between the two, no?

    As Pete said: Stay healthy, everyone.
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    I'm going to form a punk band and call it "Something Something & the Nebulizers."
  • Shane
    Shane wrote:
    didn't happen to me: But I saw my best friend flip a golf-cart on her ankle. The entire carriage rolled its weight with her ankle as the pivot point. She was in such shock, she stood up, walked three steps, realized everyone was looking at her in horror, and looked down at her foot to realize it was at a 90 degree angle to her leg.

    The whole thing reminded me of Terminator 2 when the T-2000 gets frozen in liquid nitrogen.

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