Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Took a cab to Beijing United Hospital yesterday. I wanted to replenish my supply of Cipro. Beijing United Hospital is the international hospital which caters to the expatriate community. I went to the pharmacy and told the lady I wanted a prescription. I wasn't surprised when she told me that I needed a prescription. I told her there were two problems with that. First of all, I did not want to pay the cost of having an appointment, and second, I feel fine right now, so I may not be given the prescription I am asking for.

To be truthful, it's impossible to tell how valid either of my arguments is. My neighbor in the Foreign Teachers' Dormitory had his thyroid removed a long time ago, and he has to go there to get medication. He told me once that they made him pay for the lab tests, but no physician has ever charged him a fee, because he told them he is an English teacher. So those guys really are pretty nice people. But that hospital is designed for foreign business people who are coming to China with expat benefits packages. The bottom line is that they charge American rates, and they expect you to have insurance to cover it. So I don't really want to take a chance of making an appointment there, and getting charged an arm and a leg to have some doctor tell me he isn't going to give me medicine if I'm not sick.

I explained to her that I want to have some stuff when I travel, so that it is available if I need it. Fortunately, this lady was on my side, and she was also a bilingual pharmacist (first time I've met one of those in China). She wrote down the Chinese name for the drug. I seized the opportunity to have her write down the Chinese name for a couple other drugs that were over-the-counter. When I got back to the University, I had no trouble with the over-the-counter stuff (Imodium and Ibuprophin), although I had never been able to get them before, because the pharmacists didn't know what I was talking about. They still told me they did not have the Cipro. I'm guessing, now, but I think what I have to do is go to a hospital, and find a doctor who will say I can have it. In that respect, it is like America, but probably a lot cheaper.

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