It was St. Patrick’s Day and I was sitting outside with a Guinness when I got a phone call informing me my daughter was ill and I needed to get back home. She had a fever, a cough, and a runny nose. I immediately checked my pockets to see if I had enough cash to pay the hospital bill. Luckily, I had around two thousand. I felt that should be enough. Now the question was how to get home. I was helpless. No taxis were in sight, so I nervously sat there with another Guinness. I thanked God; at least she hadn’t broken a leg or something. What would I have done if something more drastic had come along? Time clicked by slowly. About a half an hour passed when I noticed that there were empty taxis going by. By the time I got home, my little one’s fever was raging. My wife had put a cold compress on her forehead to get the temperature down, so she looked a mess and miserable. We got to the hospital in no time, and I checked my money again. Because it was nighttime, the place wasn’t mobbed. Everyone (who had reason to) was sticking thermometers up their respective baby’s rear ends to take an accurate temperature. We decided to just put the thing under her armpit. Apparently it was cold, so my daughter even protested at it being there. I could only imagine how she would have reacted had we gone backdoor with it.
After ten minutes, we got her temperature and it was just under forty. Then we received a number and waited for our turn to see the doctor. It felt like being in a bank. It cost five kuai to get the number to see someone about her illness. Sometimes it costs more than that to use an ATM machine in some places. The line of twenty odd people in front of us seemed to move quickly. I thought that the doctor would be this tired old man who looked as if he had enough with all of the sickly, chubby-cheeked cherubs, but I was totally wrong. The guy was youngish and playful. He kept doing this trick with a penlight that amused my daughter to no end. He said that she was fine, but that we needed to get blood drawn to see if there was any virus. Without too much of a wait and many tears, we got this done, and fifteen minutes later, we got the results. Then it was back to the doctor for a quick look at the paper. He had a check and decided to prescribe some medicine. I paid the forty-two kuai and got the prescription. Here I thought that two thousand should just about cover it. We paid under fifty kuai for the whole procedure and the most painful part of the whole ordeal was watching the nurse stick a pill up my daughter’s ass. Hey, her fever did go down in the end. No pun intended of course.
By Tim Hoerle