Day 16: Cultural insensitivity (Sunday 13 November)

I hope Zoe has a most excellent third birthday party with all the Bunts, Harrisons and other friends at the beach today.

I really thought I was going to strangle someone this morning. Anyone. I didn’t care.

Last night’s sleep on the new bed was so-so. Maybe I didn’t sleep for long enough. I don’t know what happened but I caught Brad’s frustration bug from Friday and everything was getting on my nerves. I like to think of myself as respectful of other people and their customs, especially when I am a guest in their country. I think there’s a place for cultural sensitivity and I understand cultural relativisim. I don’t expect people here to speak English just because I can’t speak Mandarin.

Now, take everything I’ve just said and disregard it.

I might as well have been on one of those movies or TV shows where you get a couple of white people being completely obnoxious and inappropriate in a non-English speaking, non-Anglo Saxon country. I think secretly Brad was happy that my frustrations around the foreign culture and language were coming to the fore so he wasn’t feeling so left out!

I suppose the frustration comes from the little things. The problem though, is that it comes from all the little things. We were looking forward to stopping in to the buffet breakfast included in the room rate on our way to the hospital. We showed up downstairs at 930am only to find that the buffet had already been completely closed down. What?! These kind of opening hours make Perth look like a glamorous 24-7 international mecca. It is SUNDAY MORNING people!!!! Can’t we sleep in and still have breakfast? No. The added frustration factor came from the fact that we knew that there was an a-la-carte breakfast option was available on the menu at this ‘Western’ restaurant in the hotel. But it was like there was some sort of higher directive going on this morning: you must not let these pasty white people have their scrambled eggs – under any circumstances. So that was that.

We went over to the hospital knowing that our only option for food at this hour was from the hospital supermarket. We managed to get some fruit, a warm imitation fruit juice drink, a roll that was bound to be about 80% sugar despite it being labelled as “nutrition food,” and grossly over-processed sultana and date cake. The sweet roll was discarded after one bite but the apple and banana were fine. The date cake, despite its over-processing, was quite edible. Unfortunately though, nothing like Nanna would make.

When I got into my room I felt as though everyone around me was giving me the ‘hard sell’ on HiFU treatment. I had said that I would give them a yes or a no on proceeding with HiFU today. But I also wanted to feel like it was my decision. Allison started up about it, then someone else or other, then Dr Yan. I was going to scream. I know it wasn’t rational but the fact that everyone seemed so keen for me to pay up and get started on this new treatment started to make me suspicious. Probably it was just that they were concerned about my pain and believe that HiFU will help to eliminate the pain, not that they wanted to make extra money out of me. I couldn’t help but be cynical.

I told them I will take HiFU but that I didn’t know when I would get the money to be able to do it. We are having a ridiculous time with the banks. Last week Brad transferred money to Dad, Dad got the money and took it to the bank and physically filled out the transfer form and talked to the people at the branch in Perth to get the money transferred here into the Chinese bank account so that we could access it and pay for the treatment. That was Tuesday. As of today (the banks are open on Sundays) the money still isn’t here. We’re not here to launder money people – I just have to pay the hospital!!! Give us our money you stupid banks. And while you’re at it, disclose your commissions along the way!!!

Anyway, after a very long conversation in Chinese it was agreed that I would start HiFU tomorrow (Monday) and that we could get some grace time to pay until our money arrives. I was told that three other patients are receiving HiFU at the moment so they couldn’t guarantee what time I’d be rostered on to the machine. They were very eager to tell me that the mother of the President of the hospital was one of the three other patients receiving HiFU. I suppose that information might be persuasive, depending on whether the President likes his mother or not. If he does, and he’s trying to save her life, then that’s a good thing. If he doesn’t, and he’s just using her as a lab rat, then maybe I should be worried 😉

An hour and a half or so after I got my P53 today the fever came on. The shivering was really violent today. Not violent as in I hurt someone or got hurt, but violent as in epileptic-fit style shaking in my bed. It was a bit weird. The shaking passed and the cold turned into heat, and I drifted off for a couple of hours or so. KLT was infused as normal and I left the hospital around 5pm, saturated in my own sweat and looking forward to a shower and getting into some dry clothes. I am definitely getting more efficient at this fever thing.

Brad’s trials and tribulations

Brad had a bitch of a day. There’s just no other way to put it. A few tasks that should have taken an hour took him nearly six. I am trying to encourage him to write a blog entry so that he can tell you what this is all like for him, in his own words. Of course, I didn’t say that I wouldn’t edit what he writes 😉

A dose of normality

It was short-lived but tonight we had just a small dose of normality. After we came back from dinner at the dumpling place where the lady used to be an English teacher we thought we’d treat ourselves to some couch time and a Sunday night movie. Brad watched Transformers 3 (he’s such a boy!!) and I promptly went to sleep on the couch. Nice.


3 Responses to Day 16: Cultural insensitivity (Sunday 13 November)

  1. Andrew says:

    Jaye your strength and sense of humour in the face of adversity is inspiring. I LOL’d at your commentary on the Hospital President’s wife!! Love from all of us in Coldwells St 😉

  2. g Rad says:

    Definitely whack brad’s take life in china on the blog, I think that would be hilarious.

  3. Wayne Ivory says:

    “I suppose that depends on whether the President likes his mother or not.”

    I’ve read all your blog entries with interest Jaye but this one literally made me laugh out loud! 😀


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