I think the Chinese have a different perception of what is an illness, they visit the ‘hospital’ for the smallest of problems when I would either grin and bear it or stay at home for a few days.
I have had this discussion many times in class and the believe the reasons behind such thinking are complicated. From a western perspective this could be considered a form of hypochondria, but I think it is more likely due to a a lack of understanding/ basic education when it comes to medical issues and a fear of getting sick.
I have noticed that much ‘knowledge’ on such issues here spreads through old-wives-tales, conjecture and of course the media. TV adverts , especially for the older citizens, maybe the only ‘education’ they get when it comes to medicine, and we all know how misleading they are. Also I believe questionable medical ethics have a part to play in this – the more things prescribed the more money made. Perhaps doctors not being able to say ‘just go home rest and keep warm and drink plenty of fluids’ without first prescribing something.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some really nasty bugs going around here that warrant seeing an expert and drugs being prescribed. But its how things are done that disturbs me. Here, the medical staff will give you an saline drip for pretty much anything.
Does this work? I’m told it does but I’ll take thier word for it! 🙂 Is it necessary? Who knows.
Maybe if I’m dying or something like that then I’ll have to have it, but before then I won’t. I’m not a great fan of needles but I’m more concerned of contracting something from a dirty needle, especially so here. I also believe in not doing something to my body unless it is really required, is it effective, will it work? Or is it just a way to get me to spend more money?
Most of my students think I am weird in having such beliefs, for them it is totally normal and all of them have had this at one time or another. I’m no medical expert but It begs the question: If this is such a wonderful way to make you better, then why have I never seen people in the UK walking around with colostomy bags like I have in Changchun?
The good side to this distrust is that it has gives me an opportunity to try out various alternative remedies.
Recently I’ve been taking this really good Traditonal Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a cold I’ve been trying to get rid of for the last week or so. Before I came here I knew very little about TCM and I was pretty cynical about whether it actually worked.
I have become somewhat of a fan of Chinese traditional medicine and I believe that there is much to be learnt from this.
I have previously relied on these black compound licorice tablets to relieve a bad cough and have found them really effective. They cost less than 4 yuan for a bottle with over 100 tablets, but what is more appealing to me is that this remedy is 100% natural. At the moment I am taking some yellow coloured tablets that are made from the extract of apricots. This apparently has some medicinal values that I was previously unaware of, as my cold and saw throat disappeared within 24 hours of taking the pills.
Luckily I have been pretty healthy throughout my time here in Changchun so I’m yet to try out some of the more ‘exotic’ solutions – I’ve been told that snakes gall bladder is one of the best things to cure a fever.