Guangzhou, Guangzhou. International city of smog and taxi gangs, traffic jams and crammed subway cars, yet it possesses an allure strong enough to overcome its smelly stigma, and I have to admit that I actually love it here. It is my retreat. Strange perhaps, since I live in paradise. But even heaven has its downsides. At times, I yearn for a whiff of exhaust fumes and a chance to blend in with the masses. Always being the only one to stand out in a crowd wears on me some time. And although running a loving family and launching a book sounds like fun, it can all be terribly exhausting. Darkness creeps into my brain until, slowly, it consumes every ounce of light. Okay, I admit, this all sounds overly dramatic, probably because I am miserable. I’m never ill, but right now my body feels like a hellish cage. The only way to feel better is slay
one of my biggest fears and willingly set foot inside a Chinese hospital. The fact that I’m even considering this is a good indication of how crappy I feel.
For someone who writes about bloodthirsty immortals and vampires I’m really not
that brave in real life. Yet, my fear isn’t completely irrational. After having spent nearly a decade in China, I have encountered my fare share of over-crowded consultation rooms where one has to talk about his or her entire medical history
in front of a dozen other anxious patients, dingy check-up spaces with beds
covered in blood-and-iodine stains－the kind of room you fear you’ll never leave again, not alive at least. And yet all this doesn’t terrify me as much as having to talk to a doctor whose top priority isn’t to restore my health, but to sell as much medicine as possible. The more prescriptions he writes, the higher his salary. Commission is
a powerful thing. There’s truly something deranged about this. Fortunately, my
Chinese these days allows me to say no against certain meds, like China’s all time favorite: Amoxicillin. Life for some, but not good for me. Ingesting it gives me light allergies, making me feel exactly like the average vampire when put in sunlight.
Luckily, I am in one of China’s largest cities, which means I will probably be able to find an international hospital. Here goes. If you don’t hear from me again in the next few days, you’ll know that I haven’t made it out.
Gosh, people often ask me what I miss most about my former life in Europe. I guess that having trustworthy medical care is a firm number one.
V.V. Aku: writer, mother, rock-climber, kung fu addict. and explorer, lived in China on the border of Tibet with her Black Yi family for over a decade. She recently moved back to The Netherlands where she devotes her time to writing book and scripts for film and TV.