So, first of all, you think Beijing, you probably think air pollution. Luckily, the air pollution levels when we were there never reached high enough levels for an Unhealthy warning alert - according to @BeijingAir on twitter, the best provider for hourly updates and pollution levels. It's incredibly useful and apparently trustworthy (run by the embassy, not by Chinese government, which has doctored the reports before, apparently). But even in the just ‘Moderate’ and ‘Unsafe for Sensitive Groups’ ranges, we were still uneasy about breathing in so much dangerous particulate matter. I mean, we were outside the whole time, walking around the super busy streets. So we did some research and found a shop in one of the business districts that sells masks. Not surgical masks, which do absolutely nothing, but legitimate face masks that actually filter out many of the dangerous particles. Doctor’s masks and scarves do zilch, p.s. Doctor's masks, the ones they wear in surgery or at the dentist, and the most prevalent type you will see on people in China and other polluted countries, are only for protecting others (i.e. a patient) from any germs in the doctor's mucus. They don't do anything in the other direction, when the wearer is inhaling. It's just a waste. Scarves, I imagine, are just as useless if not more so.
They were a bit expensive at about $30 USD, but that’s super worth it for something that is helping you not get asthma and lung cancer and all kinds of shit. I do feel like I can't catch my breath sometimes here, so I will have to see a doctor when we get back about whether China-induced asthma is a thing, but overall it's okay. Hooray for us looking like fools but acting like smarties! I like being healthy!
So, about that...
After we left Mongolia (hip hip hoorayyy!), I had some abdominal discomfort, like, in and around the kidneys. I was peeing a helluva lot more than usual, which by now you know is a lot anyway, and it wasn’t because of drinking much more fluid, so I was concerned. We decided to go to an international health clinic we had on our emergency list (we have a list of all the hospitals and clinics where we are going where mostly expats go, so they speak English), called Parkway Health. They made a same-day appointment for me and were so nice and professional and I love them.
It was a hilarious experience, if you forget the part about me not feeling great. With my symptoms, they pretty much just needed to do a urine test. So one of the many nice nurses led me to the bathroom upstairs, but it was locked. She got another nurse, and they both tried lots of random keys to unlock it, but nothing worked. I was just standing around for like 20 minutes. Finally one of them said, “Can you just hold it?” I did my best to communicate, “Um, I don’t just need to pee, you need to test my urine, like that’s the whole point of why I’m here??” Finally they got it open and took my sample off to the lab. Meanwhile, I met the doctor. She was a lady doctor so in your face, riddles. Her English was slightly less wonderful than all the main nurses’, but still good and I felt comfortable with her. She asked if we had been traveling hard for a while, and I explained that yes, we don’t sleep we just take trains to random places for like months now. I said I had just gotten to China from Mongolia AND SHE SHUDDERED. She gets it. I said how we were pretty much in a car for 7 days there where I had to hold my pee all day and I was also dehydrated. She was like no no no this is all bad! Are you sleeping? No I’m not sleeping as much as I should be or usually need to. She was SO CONCERNED. She kept putting her hand on my shoulder like for moral support, that's how upset she was with like, these very minor complaints. It was like if I became a doctor. I would SO be the doctor telling everyone to sleep more and drink more water and getting so upset if they weren't doing enough of either. She was like, listen, you need to sleep more, you need to drink more water, you need to eat berries, especially red ones (amazing medicine). Then she hit a language snag and said, “You need...it’s in Chinese pingwan (or pingyan I don’t know)...just....lying down on the bed is good.” I THINK SHE WAS TRYING TO TELL ME TO TAKE NAPS. I love this doctor! The results came back and showed signs of infection, and given the symptoms was 99% a UTI. Which, given how many jokes I made about getting UTIs in my recent posts, shows that the universe looooves messing with me.
Dehydration - CHECK
Holding urine - CHECK
Long car rides/travel - CHECK
Squatting instead of sitting when urinating - CHECK CHECK (all that business about how it's better anatomically to squat is just for #2; for #1 for women it leads to incomplete emptying which leads to infection in the urinary tract which issss UTI)
Poor hygiene - CHECK did you READ the Mongolian outback post?
I’m relieved that we went to a real doctor who believes in medicine and fixed me up. And mostly, I’m super grateful for our UK health insurance, which covers us worldwide and immediately gave the clear when the receptionists contacted them so we didn't even have to pay out of pocket first. We area so lucky to have such good insurance that covers us everywhere we go - well, except in the USA. It covers us in freaking China and will continue to cover us in Kazakhstan and everywhere else, but it can’t cover the USA because their healthcare system is too much of a mess. Every other country is fine though! Jesus America.
Okay that's enough about my insides! Here's the treat I promised you (plus one more hilarious treat at the bottom) about our adventures in Beijing's super intense electronics scene. One whole section of the city seems to be electronic parts superstores, selling all types of gadgets but most of all doing repairs and crazy customization of gadgets. Little baby laptop's fan stopped working, so we took it to this section of the city and just dove in headfirst. We entered one of the giant buildings, and were greeted with four floors of indistinguishable counters with Chinese guys gadgeting huge messes of gadgets. We went over to one counter that we chose randomly and showed the guy the computer and mimed a fan turning with our hands and then did a NO gesture. He got it. Unfortunately, he didn't have the part. We tried the next counter, and a guy was just not into trying to figure anything we were miming out (not as many English speakers as you might expect in such a city!). Onward! The guy at the next counter was in, and he rebooted the computer a few times and determined that the fan wasn't actually broken, but that something was stopping it, so he needed to just go in there and clean the parts instead of replacing them. How we communicated this is a feat of human interaction and behavior because it did not happen with actual language.
Okay that's all the random thoughts I have for today. And don't worry Mom I'm all better and it was like nothing!