“Drink warm water, and wear more clothes or keep yourself covered.” This is the advice you might hear if you have a cold, are feeling sick, or have just had a major operation in China. Another foreign teacher from Japan, recently had his appendix removed here in the local hospital. The surgery took 2 hours; he stayed in the hospital for 8 days afterward “recovering.” The recovery process consisted of nurses giving him a series of IV drips each day, while the doctors would check on him usually in the morning. From what we could tell, the IV’s he received were a mix of saline and vitamins. So for 8 days, he endured quite intense pain in a room with many visitors and well-wishers. At times, when the pain was intense, he would groan and writhe a little and the students would look on. The students and doctors also had some advice for him on how to speed up his recovery: drink warm water, keep the heavy blanket on your body (to maintain the “qi,”) and try to walk. He graciously listened to their advice, but towards the end of his stay, was more direct about taking off the thick blanket for a few hours. Also, one of the other foreign teachers convinced a student that it was okay for the patient to drink cold water because when the water hit his throat, it would be warm. The student, quite hesitantly, allowed the foreign teacher to serve the patient cold water.
From what I observed, if you are sick in China, your friends and family want to show they care by staying by your side. This is quite different from Western people’s feelings about being around people who are sick. We want to protect ourself and stay clear of sick people. Furthermore, sick people in the West, generally don’t readily welcome company when they are feeling intense pain. But in the East, it seems you show your love and concern by staying with the ill. At one time during the Japanese professor’s stay, he passed some gas and asked his students, “What do you think of my smell?” They smiled mischievously and said, “It smells good.” Side note: I learned that after surgery, it is good for you to pass gas because during the operation, a lot of air gets inside your system. So the fact that this professor was passing gas, truly was a good thing.