Diary 2013/08/17 Dial the white blood cell count up to 11! (x 10^9/L)

2013-08-14 Wednesday afternoon

I’m currently stuck in the hospital on an IV drip. The tonsillitis that I came down with a month ago in Manchester and never ended up seeing a doctor for flared up with a vengeance. I felt super ill the past couple of days, but waited ‘til today (as per usual for me) to actually get a professional opinion as to how serious it was. This doctor’s medical specialty seems to be concern, rather than any particular branch of medicine. She looked horrified at the size of my lymph node, and even asked if it was possible that I had swallowed a fishbone recently. I am actually really hungry right now because my sore throat’s made me lose my appetite.

The doctor asked how my family could possibly rest assured with me so far away. I said that they don’t worry about me because they know I’m very independent. But inside I was crying a little, because the doctor’s looks made me think that I was really seriously ill. She wanted to admit me to the hospital so I could be under constant supervision, and even wanted to get a bit of the white lump on my tonsil removed so it could be examined. I didn’t like how she was talking, and it was really overwhelming because it was all in Chinese, and a Sichuan accent. No one from my company came with me today because I really didn’t think it was serious and put on a brave face at work.

Because I persuaded the doctor to not make me stay in the hospital, I have to come back to the hospital tomorrow and the day after for outpatient IV treatment.  The meds weren’t cheap, and all the costs kept adding up. I don’t see why a sick person has to keep running back and forth to the cashiers desk to pay for all these tests and meds. I suppose that’s why family comes with you. To do the running. I got a blood test done, and that actually yielded some interesting results (not surprising to me, but seemingly so to the doctor, which was odd). When your body fights an infection, it makes a lot of white blood cells and lymph cells to combat the infection. According to my blood test results, a normal person should have 4.0-10.0 x 109/L of white blood cells. My count was 11.08 x 109/L. Of lymph cells it should be 20-40%, of what I’m not entirely clear, but my reading was 59.3%. I found this fascinating, but was disheartened when my doctor didn’t seem to know to equate this with the lump on my throat…


2013-08-17 Saturday night

Yesterday my company rescued me from Jinsha Hospital. Thursday night was a real low point, as I actually looked at my tonsils and saw that they were entirely white with a BIG lump, not just one small lump as I’d previously observed. I wasn’t sure who I should be asking for help, and was feeling a little abandoned and helpless. When no one from my company answered my texts, I ended up having to ply the front desk for ice cream and/or painkillers. They came up with some ice cream, but said the pharmacy wouldn’t carelessly sell medicine. I said fine, as long as there’s one close and open, I can get there myself. So I marched down to the pharmacy, and asked for some painkillers. They asked what was wrong, I explained “tonsillitis” and they immediately try to replace the anti-inflammatory that the doctor had prescribed me with another set, and then when I insisted I only needed a painkiller, they gave me one I didn’t recognise. I said, “No, give me ibuprofen” and they said “oh that doesn’t work effectively with what you’ve got.” I was like “You’re wrong. It did.” And they say “Well, why don’t you keep taking it?” and I said “Because I ran out!!!” Why else would I be in your pharmacy trying to buy it???

They also looked judgingly at the ice cream in my hand, and said “You shouldn’t eat that sort of thing when you have this sort of illness.” It was useless trying to explain how good the iciness made my throat feel. I was having it up to here with Chinese remedies. The doctor at Jinsha was all up for me drinking milk, and scoffed at my juice. Maybe milk is a fine thing to have when I need nutrients, but I decided not too long ago that milk on its own is one of the vilest substances and belongs only in yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or cappuccino form.

So on Friday, when I went to the hospital alone for the third time, I broke a little. The doctor started off by saying she wanted the throat experts to see if my lumps needed to be removed, but luckily the throat doctors had more sense. They said that the infection was improving, and there was no need to undergo surgery. Phew. But then, since my doctor wasn’t in the hospital over the weekend, she nearly persuaded me to stay overnight. I ended up crying from the stress and going all blotchy red (which my idiot doctor was worried was an allergic reaction to the IV medication, adding another senseless thing to be afraid of to the stack). There was a lovely couple sitting next to me who calmed me down for which I was very grateful. The doctor was just freaking me out with her concerned looks and her Sichuanese and her “allergic reactions sometimes take hours to appear”. Thankfully, Shirly from work finally arrived then.

Shirly was like the break in the storm clouds, a ray of sunshine and clarity. Someone I could speak English to, who spoke Sichuanese as well. I could lay back and be “the foreigner” while she translated and asked questions. The nurses told her I had been crying, so she explained to them how IVs are only used in “my country” for someone who is unconscious or seriously ill, not to treat every little thing. And she also told the doctor with a straight face that we would do as she advised, getting another slew of IV medicines and coming back over the weekend. We ditched those prescriptions and high-tailed it out of there for a community hospital as soon as my last IV was done.

The community hospital was  a breath of fresh air. The doctor there knew a lot more about tonsillitis, and had the good sense to consult a book for the finer details. He prescribed an IV of penicillin twice a day, some more anti-inflammatory pills, and some throat lozenges. He advised I keep up with gargling to clear away the spots.

My appetite returned on Friday night after the penicillin, and I wolfed down the homemade mung bean and pumpkin soup that Jack and Little Annie brought me. However, the appetite disappeared again this morning, but I forced myself to eat some rice noodles in soup. I always feel better after the penicillin, but the ibuprofen is really what’s helping me get through.

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