Three nightmares collide in a taco shop in western China…
October 20th, 2009 by Kate

So you know that bad dream you have that you are just sitting there minding your own business and all of a sudden your teeth feel loose and fall out into you hand?  Or how about that one that you are in a dimly lit dentist office and people in masks want to work on your teeth with drills and no novicane?  Oh and how can I forget – the traveler’s nightmare of needing to visit the “emergency room” in a hospital in western China  at 11pm on a Saturday night … OH YEA BABY – I HIT THE TRIFECTA OF NIGHTMARES!

The night didn’t start out as a nightmare, actually it started off fabulously… our friend from Shanghai (Tom Callarman - Miss Lisa’s dad and our saviour!) met up with us in Chengdu to go and visit the giant pandas.  He knew of a good Mexican restuarant (hey all you out there in AZ – stop rolling your eyes – it was good – and we are JONES-ing for Mexican food!) and there was NO question that the Wells’ would be “livin la vida loca” for the night!  Cold Corona, carne asada and burritos as big as our heads – ole!  We ate and drank and had a merry old time.  The girls were topping it all off with fried ice cream while I sampled the key lime pie (okay, now all you Florida people stop rolling your eyes – they tried really hard and get an A for effort) and finished off my “tastiest beer ever”.  Nightmare #1:  We were stuffed and happy and chit chatting when my tongue brushed by my tooth.  I felt it move.  I felt it again and it moved again.  That’s weird, I thought.

I didn’t want to touch it.  I had a few beers at this point so I pretended it didn’t happen.  But my tongue was curious, and when it brushed it again I felt it pull up on the inside bottom.   Holy shit I thought!

I suddenly felt nauseous (I am NOT writer’s embellishing this) and reached up with my two fingers to access.  My tooth just feel into my hand.  I can not write on this blog what I said but anyone who has ever had a bad dream about their teeth falling out can just guess…

I breathed in and it felt like someone shocked me with electricity.  Man do exposed tooth nerves hurt like hell!  I stuck the tooth back in its hole and held it in place while I did my best not to faint.  It was a tooth that I had a childhood filling in, and I had it replaced with a crown last year.  All that is left under the crown is an ultra-sensitive tooth nub.    I mumble and drool in Jeff’s direction – honey my tooth has fallen out – he doesn’t seem to get how serious this is for a few seconds (Margarita Boy momentarily forgot we were in far western China) and then his face gets white like mine.  More “oh shit”s follow.

It’s 10:30pm now on a Saturday night.  I need help right away – if I move my hand away from my mouth my tooth falls out and I have insane exposed nerve pain.  Tom calls someone he knows and they say go to the hospital.  An American expat sitting at the next table also says go to the hospital and tell them “gold card” and they will bring you into a special emergency room for foreigners.  I’m feeling like I’m going to cry but the girls look worried so I keep it together.  We have our computer with us and the taco shop has wi-fi so I tell Jeff to get on and call the American consulate.  Someone name Mark answers – I LOVE AMERICA!  WE HAVE PEOPLE, IN THE MIDDLE OF CHINA, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, THAT PICK UP YOUR PHONE CALL AND HELP YOU – OH BEAUTIFUL FOR SPACIOUS SKIES…. He gives us some numbers and tells us he’ll call us back after he speaks with the “consulate nurse”.  After some back-and-forth they also say go to the hospital.  UGG – I was totally looking for another answer than that!!!

Nightmare #2:  I am sorry if I am offending any of my friends here in China – but the mere thought of going to a hospital here scares the beegebbers out of me.  At this point my mind has shifted from “sane, rational can-conquer-the-world-Kate” to “oh-my-god-germs-and-pain-and-dirty needles-Kate”.

Everyone has given us the same name of the hospital, Hauxi Hospital… so at least they are being consistent.  We take a cab there.   It is a massive complex of concrete buildings.  It is dark and there isn’t really anyone around but one security guard that acts like he has no idea that he is guarding a hospital.  We walk around outside along the sidewalks and Phoebe spots a giant tooth holding a toothbrush in front of a building.  I mean this is a giant tooth.  There is a light on in the building and suddenly the security guard is at our side pointing for us to go in (I’m thinking that it took him that long to decipher what me pointing at my mouth and crying meant).

Nightmare #3:  There is no one in the building, then out of no where a young guy in a lab coat comes out.  He is too young to be a doctor (Tessa reminds me that he was old enough, I just have a warped sense of age because I am getting old).  He doesn’t speak English.  He motions me to a chair and puts a mask on but I won’t sit down.  I figure out he is a student and I ask for him to call a doctor.  He wants to examine me first but there is no way in hell I’m seeing a 14 year old student/doctor/child.

Okay, now is when my story gets less nightmare-ish… I didn’t mention that the hospital’s dentistry emergency room (yes, they have a dentistry emergency room – isn’t that cool!) was nice and bright and clean.  The student/doctor/child didn’t make me beg for a doctor – he called the dentist-on-call and he came right away.  He spoke great English as he went to the University of Indiana (Katie H - your people are EVERYWHERE!) and put on a nice temporary bit of goo on my tooth that made the pain stop.  He arranged for me to see another dentist at 8am the next morning (on a Sunday no less!) – and charged me a whooping… $6.35 US!!!  For an emergency room visit on a Saturday night!!!

So to make a long-ish story a bit shorter – I got good care the next morning too (that follow-up visit cost $2.10US) but ultimately I needed to get to a bigger city that could take care of me.  So on Sunday afternoon I put Jeff and the girls on a train to southern China (we had already booked our train tickets) and on Monday morning I flew back to Shanghai where the American consulate there helped me find a doc who could fix me up right.  My new crown should be ready on Friday afternoon, and if all goes as planned I’ll be back with the family by Saturday for a nice lunch and cruise down the Li River.

I have to say, that for about two hours I felt like I was in a nightmare.  But, everything did in fact turn out to be just fine.  Again.  Thank god!

As to Tessa’s post – it scared me too!  She is SO overdramatic… I don’t know where she gets that from!!!

9 Responses  
Natascha Karadsheh writes:
October 20th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

K- Skyped with Jeff tonight and heard the scoop. Can’t believe that you had to go through all that. You poor thing -I wish I could hang out with you in Shanghai while you are waiting for the replacement. I think Jean Georges has a restaurant there. Well, I guess what we now know is that what doesn’t kill or maim you always makes for interesting blog posts (have to say that this and the tuk tuk entries are my favorites – especially when read in tandem with Tessa’s observations!) Miss you lots and hope the rest of this ends well and life settles down for a bit…Much love …Tasch

Curt writes:
October 22nd, 2009 at 10:05 am

Can we get an update???

eileen writes:
October 22nd, 2009 at 10:53 am

Wow…as if you didn’t have enough adventure!
Kinda reminds me a bit with my encounter with the Japanese eye doctor back in ‘85. My expectations of a very “high tech” Japanese clinic experience were dashed when the doc pulled out a wooden ruler to measure…a ruler?! I had just turned 40 and my eyes started to blurrrrr. As it were, all went well and I had a good story. loved your stories Tessa you are a hoot! xxoo eb

Claudette James writes:
October 22nd, 2009 at 2:02 pm

On our trip we had to make 2 hospital visit, one in Hong Kong and the other in Dar Es Saleem in Tanzania. Surprisingly we had similar experiences, good, clean, quick service for a small small fee. North America could take a few lessons.

Sam writes:
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Oh! I am so sorry! That sounds horrible…. and don’t worry. I have had nightmares were my teeth fall out too. Uggg! Horrible! I told my mom this story, and she was like “Aww, poor Kate!” when I got to the part about “Margarita boy” she just busted out laughing! (Not about your tooth, about what you called Jeff). Eager to hear more of “The Well’s Family Adventures!” Sam

Miss Lisa writes:
October 23rd, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Your stories are so funny. I’m glad you lived to tell about your tooth. :) Say hello to the family for me. Thank you for posting so many neat photos.

Melisa Mace writes:
October 24th, 2009 at 12:25 am

Gee Kate, my dental nightmare pales to yours. My cap fell off, and yes, exposed nerves are insanely painful. I was lucky while driving from Guadalajara to Mexico City, as my travel companion happened to be a dentist. We were in the city of Urapan in Michoacan when I woke up chewing on my cap. I knocked on her door, she used vaseline to adhere it and I continued on my merry way until I got back to the states. You deserve a medal for going back to Shanghai by yourself…please update your status soon!

Roy and Shuiki writes:
October 26th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Hello Kate,

Here’s a message from the Dutch (but Chinese looking) couple at the Moon Resort ;-)
I think I’ve got the other piece of your tooth, because the same “drop-off” happened to me in Guilin after chewing on a candy. I felt terrible too and didn’t dare looking in the mirror to see the damage. We ended up looking on the Internet for a dentist in Guilin (of course no good one to find there, or at least an open one) and calling my brother for help; he happens to be a dentist. Luckily he could calm me down. And actually: I didn’t feel any pain (the filling fell out, but no nerve was exposed). I was just shocked :)
So after making a picture with our photo camera of the little crater, we still went out for dinner and have sushi. With the hole in the tooth (always good to carry some extra food there…heh).

We’re now in Hong Kong. Such a contrast to the beautiful and peaceful scenery of Yangshuo and the Moon Resort! But hey….the little miss Shuiki needs to shop-shop-shop too ;-) (and I can find some gadgets too).

Anyway. Nice meeting you and your family! Have a safe and pleasant journey. We look forward to read about your “Titanic” river adventure :-)

Best regards,

Roy and Shuiki

Scott Katz writes:
October 27th, 2009 at 4:58 am

I had intended to post the following comment here, so will copy from Tessa’s wonderful post:

Screw John and Kate and their 8! I vote for Jeff and Kate plus two (Phoebe and Tessa’s IQs surpass those eight rugrats combined).

You guys deserve a reality TV show! We want to see you eat Mexican food and lose your teeth in China.

The Katz family vote you most engaging, articulate and fun family in the UNIVERSE.

Thanks for the great blog entries!

Lots of love from Arizona,

Scott, Amanda, Nate and Eli

PS- When will you be in Morocco? Amanda and I should be there in early 2010.

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