China is unlike anywhere else on earth, at least anywhere that I have ever been. The language barrier is gigantic, etymological reasoning that works in Europe is non-existent here. To order food we have been pointing at menus with hopes of not getting anything too weird. Results are 50/50 and some of the more odd food we have eaten includes:
- Some sort of Black Snake.
- Eel of all varieities.
- A bowl of fish (which had to have their heads bitten off, then you eat like a Snickers Bar).
- Coagulated Duck's Blood.
- Duck eggs buried underground for a year, then boiled and served.
- Something that I am pretty sure was a turtle stuffed with pipe tobacco, but I am yet to get a positive ID on this one.
- Ducks Head for appetizer.
- Cow Stomach.
As Americans, we tend to like our food to not resemble the animal that it came from. The Chinese have no qualms with this, and though it grosses me out, it does seem silly to disguise the obvious fact that we are eating an animal. The Chinese also don't waste much of an animal; when you are eating chicken, no part of the chicken is spared. I am still getting used to the food.
If I thought the language barrier was unsurmountable w/r/t ordering food, something else came along that was 10X more insurmountable. (I will preface the following few sentences with this: I am completely OK.) About 3 nights ago I was lying in bed when I found a hard lump on my left testicle. It was inside on the actual testicle and about the size of a BB. Needless to say it fucking freaked me out and I was up all night perusing testicular cancer websites. I had also been having a dull pain in my lower abdomen, which coincides with the symptoms listed for TC. The next morning I went to the hospital with IW-R, NR, BL, and a Translator. Chinese hospitals are fucking crazy. The reception lobby resembled the betting cage at the horseraces; people pushing their way to the window with money in hand, disrespecting the notion of a civilized queue. I finally (via and with infinite gratitude to the translator) found my way to the Urologist. The Chinese, surprisingly, have much different views of privacy then I would have imagined. While my pants were dropped and my balls were in the hands of another man, the door was open and hospital staff and other patients were coming and going as they pleased. I had already embarrassingly explained the words dull, testicles, lump, pain, abdomen, ejaculate and narcosis to my translator. The even more surreal part came when there was a man feeling my balls with a three-way bilingual conversation taking place. When you are in the midst of a cancer scare you want to know every word your doctor is saying and I was only getting about 20% of it through the translation. He felt the lump and told me to go have a urinalysis done. I went to the next horserace cage and the woman handed me a cup and pointed at the bathroom. Again no privacy, and I pissed in the cup and walked by all the other people in the waiting room carrying a cup of my own piss. NR lightened the mood by saying, "Nice color, mate." The urinalysis was performed on the spot and it said that the problem was not my kidneys, but my testicles.
At this point I was fucking terrified.
They told me to return the following morning for an ultrasound. After a very long 18 hours of foreseeing my future as a man with one testicle, and thoughts of impregnating the next woman I saw, I returned to the hospital. I had to drink gallons of water for the ultrasound, and this waiting room was completely bizarre. The Chinese have a spitting problem which you think would be controlled in a hospital, but the NO SPITTING ANYWHERE signs seem to be more of a suggestion than a rule. There was also a man smoking. The queue for the urinalysis was even more pushy than the reception line. After I finally got on to the ultrasound table and dropped my pants (the 3rd time the translator has been exposed to my thunder) they rubbed a cold gel onto my balls and performed the ultrasound. No privacy here either, I was behind a very transparent curtain and while in the queue I had seen many boobs and penises through the curtain and knew that mine was now prominently on display. After the ultrasound was completed the man spoke in Chinese to my translator and the translator said "everything is good." All i could say is "no cancer? no cancer?" to which they all laughed and said "No, no cancer." They thought that I was out of my mind for even thinking cancer, but that is what every damn website told me it was (well among 11 other possibilities, but of course the mind assumes the worst.)
I went to one more specialist to have my balls fondled in front of the translator again, and my ultrasound results were read. The conclusion is that I don't have cancer, it could just be a cyst, or an allergic reaction, or a slight hernia, or torsion... but I am fine until I get back to the states to have it checked out.
The bottom line is: No Cancer.
All of the privacy issues aside, Chinese health care is pretty great. Everything was performed and diagnosed instantly. And what would have probably cost me close to $4000 in the states cost me roughly $24 in China. Twenty four fucking dollars for 3 specialists, an ultrasound, and a urinalysis.
I owe more than I could ever say to the people who helped me during the hell of these two days. NR was great, he lightened the mood a bit, spoke frankly with me and made sure that I received whatever I needed. If I didn't already thing IW-R was the coolest woman in the world, I definitely do now. She was with me the entire time and made me feel more comfortable in a fucked up situation then I could imagine. This is the second time BL has accompanied me to the hospital and stayed until we found out I was alright. Anything I can do to pay you back, I will. And to Xiaofeng, my friend and translator, who helped so much in an incredibly embarrassing situation, my deepest gratitude. I would not have been able to do any of this without him, and he totally went out of his way to be there and help a relative stranger. Thank you, I love you all and my gratitude is sincere, infinite, and real.
So now my balls are the center of discussion, which is generally how I prefer it. I am fine and back to work. I have a lot of catching up to do. Apologies to my family and loved ones, I didn't want to call you until I had something concrete to tell you. No need to worry you.
I am 100%. My balls are bulletproof.