the best is yet to come

The Highs and Lows of 2014

The Eve of my Birthday was spent in a Chinese emergency room.

Since coming back from Russia, I’ve had a sharp pain and an increasingly growing tingling in my chest. Naturally my mind turned to the worst possible outcomes (heart attack, ruptured spleen, pulmonary infection?). I tried to ignore the pain,  hoping it would pass, but it only got worse, and by Thursday night, I sat at my breakfast table (at last, in my own apartment) and could barely move or breathe. Panicked, I called T&T and they spent the next six hours with me in a Chinese emergency room, as I bawled and underwent test after test, going in and out of rooms oscillating between stifling heat and winter blistering cold.

The emergency room I went to – Huashan Hospital located in Xuhui – is supposed to be in one of the best hospitals in the city, which as I learned was still not saying much. In the ER, I was greeted by rows of feverish Chinese people under colorful blankets (the hospital is BYOBlanket apparently), an entire room full of people getting IV Drips (which is supposedly a very accepted practice in Shanghai and elsewhere in China), and men spitting into bags (because in the hospital, you’re not supposed to spit on the floor).

Being seen by the doctor was ridiculously cheap (15RMB was the price I had to pay to get yelled and prodded at by an angry doctor). When the hospital first told me it didn’t take insurance to see me in the emergency room, I was terrified (my dad had told me the last time he got a CAT scan, he still needed to pay almost 1,000USD out of pocket), but, all in all, an EKG, a CAT scan, four vials of blood work, and a prescription ended up costing me around 80USD. And yes, I may not have gotten a band-aid after the woman took my blood, in front of that room of IV-dripping Chinese octogenarians, and the ‘sterilized’ Mercury thermometer I was told to place under my tongue tasted less than sterilized, but in the end, I was seen by each doctor incredibly fast and I left the ER by 1am, knowing that I would live.
The doctor told me the pain was likely caused by shingles, because my nerves were pinching themselves and causing heart-attack pain due to stress (which I was exacerbating by thinking I was having a heart-attack at my age). The solution? Rest, relaxation, and some medicine I was told would be good for my body.


So here I am, on my birthday, working from a cafe and nursing a cappuccino to avoid stress (does caffeine cause stress?). Today, I’m another year older, which begs the question, am I another year wiser?

This year was a year of really high highs, but also of incredibly low lows. For once, my career and my professional life seem to be on track. My personal life? Well, that’s another story.  So, my highs and lows for this year, presented without further comment:



  • Living full-time in a country where English is not the native language.
  • Visiting five different countries – US, China, Japan, Thailand, Russia
  • Leaving New Haven on my own
  • Not letting fear hold me back.

0 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of 2014”

  • And things will only get better, no other way about it 🙂 by the way, I didn’t quite understand – so do you have an insurance now? Because if you do, you could’ve gone to a western hospital. Otherwise, they’re very expensive though.

    • I do have insurance, because my US plan works internatiobaly and Huashan Hospital was listed as one of the ones taking Blue Cross Blue Shield. their wesrern division closes at 8pm as we found when we got there and the ER didnt take insurance at all, but the prices were very reasonable. Im going to a western doctor as a follow up next week though!

      • When we lived there, we went to an american hospital – everyone very nice and pleasant there, and definetely not a lot of sick chinese people in the hall. Although, my sister goes to a chinese hospital now, she says it’s all a matter of getting used to the local ways 🙂

    • I feel like this month Ive been really reflective and it was interesting to summarize all of my thoughts here like this. Look forward to reading your post! 🙂

  • I’m thinking, after all your advertised international travel and foreign-living, definitely a year wiser.

    Shingles sounds quite serious though. That’s what I’ve always understood “older” people getting chicken pox, having avoided it as a child, go on to get. Hope you’re recovering as you’re definitely too young for a heart attack. I just hope the next year requires less sobbing.

    And I see the picture of your new flat at the side which looks very swanky. Although with the black ceiling and the lights hanging down from that view it does look a bit like a TV studio flat!

    • I think the ceiling is actually wood, but it’s a small part of it. The bedroom of the apartment is basically a closet, but with the heating situation in China being virtually non-existent, I’ve almost found it to be a blessing, because I can lock myself in there with the heater blaring!

  • Glad you’re okay! In my case, caffeine definitely causes stress! I can’t have more than one cup of coffee, tea, or soda without getting incredibly jittery and anxious. sucks.

    • I’ve definitely been a little too over-caffeinated lately. They gave me some medicine which actually helped, but my stomach has been hurting all week and I’m trying to figure out if it’s from the medicine o r just one of those side effects of living in China haha

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