Just How Kind Your Students Can Be (part 2)
by Professor Fury
Read the first part of the story here.
So there I was on a ward in a Chinese hospital. I had arrived late at night so the lights had to be turned on. The scene that greeted me put me in mind of war-torn countries. Just three beds, mine being the nearest to the window and the bathroom, which had a squat toilet. That was going to be a problem!
Around the first bed, sleeping on the hard floor were three generations of the occupant’s family, who stayed throughout his admittance. By the second bed a wife slept on the floor, her husband having fallen through a roof at work and whose lower legs and feet had now been rendered 50% metal following numerous operations. At that point he had been bedbound and unable to walk for 6 months.
The only people who spoke English were my colleague and my boy students. One nurse who had helped push my wheelchair from the ambulance (and who would subsequently be summoned every time they needed an English speaker) had asked me, on seeing my hands shaking uncontrollably, whether I had been diagnosed with Parkinsons! Even in agony, with the thought of losing a finger and the welfare of my animals in my mind, I could do nothing but laugh aloud. No, I said, its shock. Privately I wondered whether in fact it was because I needed a stiff drink.
They came and intravenously connected me to what I later learnt was a morphine drip to help with the pain. I have to report that a couple of aspirin would have been more effective, and indeed a day later my colleague brought me my prescription Remedeine I had brought from the UK, prescribed for a bout of pleurisy. Much better!
The boys I told to go back to their dormitories, it was past midnight by now. No, they had been told to stay until morning because the hospital had demanded translators! A new crew would arrive at breakfast time. The poor sods slept on the floor. I never got a wink. The pain was unbearable despite the alleged morphine, indeed I heard later one of the lads had reported (accurately) that I was awake with the pain all night even with medicine.
Sure enough, the second watch arrived at breakfast to relieve the night crew. Yes of course I was in a strange country, in a hospital where hardly anyone spoke English but on hearing that my night boys were still expected to attend lessons that day I was horrified. I asked for hospital management to be summoned. I explained it was doubtful I would pass away from my injuries and that there was no need for the school to provide 24 hour translators because at least one nurse could speak decent English and they should not inconvenience either the school or the students for my sake.
The compulsory round the clock guard was dispensed with. After all, the hospital was clocking up a bill.
That day the nurse was brought to me to explain my operation (something I desperately resisted throughout) and introduced the chief surgeon Doctor Hu (really!) and my nurse in charge, Nurse Fang. Honestly, you couldn’t make this up – Dr Who and Nurse Fang! It was some days later when a student friend of mine, Linda, not one of mine but we remained friends for years and her family were “names” in the city, told me after Dr Hu took her for dinner that he was basically shitting himself over my procedure. I had the worst bone fragmentation he had ever experienced in his career and if he got it wrong he would be in trouble because I was a foreigner. What?
I pointed to the guy in the far bed (another e-bike casualty) and said bring his x-rays. I had seen them. Mine to the untrained eye showed nothing but this guy’s clavicle was V shaped! I said his was awful, only to be told no, his was easy. The seeds were sown. My pictures showed absolutely nothing to me but then they never showed me the CT scan. They couldn’t operate for at least 10 days until the swelling reduced. My shoulder had indeed done an Incredible Hulk and by now was extremely black. I could go home now and not have the operation but the likelihood was I would end up deformed when the bones fell apart. What’s a man to do? Even my Dean insisted I should have my operation and against every instinct, I consented, I am still not sure it was entirely necessary and six years on my shoulder is still not right nor ever will be.
But having successfully dismissed the press-ganging of students at the hospital’s behest I was utterly stunned to find that every day I had streams of visitors. On the odd occasion they were university bigwigs but mostly my students, mainly girls. I have no idea if they were instructed to come, I hope not. The other patients were most put out, for I had on average 30 well-wishers each day.
Anyway, whilst the school dignitaries came bearing powdered milk for seniors (who in hell uses that???), the students were bringing fruit. Well, imagine 30 students arriving with grapes, apples, oranges, bananas etc each day. Ere long I could have started making my own wine. As it was, I got the nurses to distribute the fruit to less fortunate patients.
After two days I had to call a halt. The hospital resembled an orchard. I knew what I needed. I told the next visitors to spread the word that I would prefer beer to fruit. They were aghast. You can’t drink beer in hospital!!! Leave that to me.
Thereafter, four and six packs were brought instead of fruit. My hospital locker gradually filled with Snow, Tsingtao and all flavours. I was making the best of a bad situation. Already the other patients had indicated I could smoke my cigars on the ward rather than going to a balcony for a puff. Yes it was grim, no radio, no TV, no internet and no food unless someone brought it or you went down at set times to buy stomach-churning stuff from a mobile stall that came thrice daily. I eat little and so a visit each evening from my colleague (who kept a flat within sight of the hospital) with a toasted bacon sandwich or the like was sufficient. The beers? I was discreet, rising at 0500 each morning to dispose of my empties elsewhere even though I am convinced the hospital knew they were mine. Nothing was ever said even when my anaesthetist started visiting in the evenings to practise his English.
I forget his name but not what he did. On the day of my operation he got married. After the ceremony he came back to work to help with my operation.
To be continued…………
Next on Prof Fury – Just How Good Your Students Can Be – Part 3
About the Author
He is in his early sixties and has been teaching in universities in China for seven years. He has been a ships officer, salesman, manager, company director, engineer and truck driver in the past and so has a wealth of stories and experience to impart to his students.
He has been to 47 countries so far and visited more than 400 cities around the globe. Antarctica is the only continent he has yet to experience but there is still time!
He has so far volunteered at every school level in China, appeared on television several times (including taking part in a Spring Festival Gala show) and his ambition is to be allowed to retire in China when the time comes. His latest party piece is playing Santa for whoever asks!