Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh, What a Night - Part 2!

Before I start I just want to say thanks for all the comments and calls offering support after my last post; it's great to know people are reading. I also want to let you know that if you ask me a question in a comment I will answer it as a separate comment, so you'll just have to check the comments page under the relevant post. If you'd prefer a personal reply send me your email address (I won't publish it) and I'll reply that way.

So, we're now into our fourth day of J's chest infection and things are looking up. We haven't had much sleep since Sunday night and I now have a nasty sore throat, but my son is back to his old self again, which is great to see. He hasn't had much of an appetite this week and hasn't even wanted his bottles. It's been a real struggle to get juice or water into him, and he's been very sleepy and grumpy. Last night he went down at 6.30 and was up coughing a few times, but was fairly easy to settle. Then at 2am my husband went in and he was wide awake, wanting to play. He was clearly feeling much better and wanted us to know. He was also starving! We decided to break our "no milk after midnight" rule and see if that helped. He drank nearly a full bottle in our bed and sat up entertaining us for another half an hour. I put him back down around 3 but he woke fairly frequently after that. He's also worked out how to pull himself up on the bars of his cot so D had to go in and lie him back down a few times. He gave up just before 7 and brought him downstairs. He's been a very happy boy this morning and is out walking in the stroller at this moment with his "Ya Ya" and the dog.

This week's trip to the doctor got me thinking about the approach to illness here in Hong Kong and how it differs to Australia. There are pharmacies here but not many have actual dispensaries, and I've never been given a prescription here. All the clinics seem to have their own dispensaries out the back and you get your medicine after you've seen the doctor. Most of the time your medicine is dispensed in little "baggies" with the instructions typed on the front. I spent 10 years working in the pharmacy industry, so I know a little bit about medicines, and I much prefer my drugs in a box, with all the ingredients listed on it and a little fold out piece of paper detailing the side effects etc.  I've been given things here I've never heard of and have had to resort to Google to find out exactly what it is I'm taking. Something else that I've noticed is the sheer number of different medicines you're given at the one time, to treat every single symptom. I once had a chest infection and was given no less than 6 different medications: A painreliever, a mucolytic, a decongestant, an antihistamine, antibiotics and a cough syrup that is classed as a borderline narcotic in most western countries. There are signs and advertisements here warning people against abusing cough medicines... If you don't want people abusing them, don't give out liquid codeine in 200ml bottles!! It's crazy. One doctor also gave me 60mg of pseudoephedrine once; it was taken off the shelves in Australia a few years ago as it was often used to make illegal drugs, but it was handed to me (in a baggy) without a second thought.

Early last year I had a brief hospital stay and on telling the doctor I was feeling better, I was told I had to wait until he had my tests results because he didn't trust "feelings"; he trusted science. In some ways this sums up the approach to healthcare here. Rather than telling you to go home, lie down and drink lots of fluids, many doctors throw a load of drugs at you and send you back into the world. They have complete faith in the healing abilities of pharmaceuticals, and a lack of trust in the body's ability to heal itself with a bit of commonsense. It's no wonder there are more highly virulent flu strains emerging every year. In complete contrast to this is the practice of Chinese medicine. You can't walk a block here without coming across a herbalist or Chinese medicine practitioner. Their shelves are lined with jars of exotic weeds and fungi, horns of this animal and internal organs of another. Acupuncture is also so widely practiced here that it's covered by most major health insurers. To be honest I have never tried either form of alternative medicine but I know quite a few people who swear by it. I'm just confused by the two extremes of medical thought: Where one claims that antibiotics are the only way to cure a cold, based on science, while at the same time drinking bird's nest soup for virility; a practice that has no scientific basis whatsoever. It's mind boggling! I just put it down to one more thing that makes this city so unique and utterly fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. You can read my blog for some of my frustrations about the HK hospital system! My daughter has been in NICU for 6 weeks now, in any other country she probably would be home by now - but the hospital is just keeping her under observation until either she gets better or worse - they're not even doing any testing or treatment. She's not 100% healthy, but they're not doing anything at the hospital that couldn't be done at home. The only thing is, if she DID get sick fast, they can respond faster there than if she was at home. But that's all just "if"...