What Chinese TV taught me

I had no exposure to Chinese media til mid 2014.

I’ve recently begun to watch a particular show, basically Chinese (romantic-some married, some dating, some playing around with possible dating) couples solving their issues. Their ages range from 20 to 70, the conflicts are sometimes idiotic, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes rather dark.

images<photo credit:tianjinweizhiaiqingbaoweizhan>

The dialogue (led and guided by the host and panel of “teachers”) generally consists of both parties telling their history, how they met, complains about the other’s actions’, etc.

I watched a few minutes one time, then an episode, then ten episodes. I found myself truly surprised by a building realization.

Chinese people are ill, often.

We’re talking young college aged kids to married couples in their 30-40s to elderly pensioners dealing with their own children’s marriage, etc.

The picture this show (and much of tv news and general chatter online) gives is that people are often sick with the flu, a cold, fever to unknown mysterious illnesses that seem to not have much impact on their dating/online gaming activity but require much needed medical attention, hospitalization and costly medication.

Out of my recent (in the past 6 months) exposure to Chinese tv and the Chinese society (employees, colleagues, acquaintances, etc), I have learned:

-People (even but maybe especially young people) frequently fall in love with someone based on how the “potential bf/gf” acts while the individual is sick. As in “Oh we knew each other for X years and he pursued me in A, B and C ways but then one day I was very sick, had a fever was hospitalized, went on IV fluids and he brought over fruit and medications…..I was so emotionally moved.”

-Chinese people are ill very often, it often requires immediate trip to hospital.

-When in hospital (admittedly a complex and frustratingly inefficient system) Chinese people require much Much emotional support (it would be offensive to not).

-“To go on IV” is a phrase on to itself. Individuals obviously incapable of much movement (especially post op) or comatose let’s say, among a number of things are put on IV, also makes it much easier to administer drugs whilst in hospital for many patients of course, I get it. However, to “go on IV” seems to be an indicator of the severity of an illness, it is evidence to the “oh woe is you.” What’s in these special Chinese IVs? Why are so many people on IVs?

-Chinese people are frequently hospitalized, for many days at a time.

-During hospitalization, the patient needs to be attended to by family members. One hears the phrases “What if they needed a drink of water?” or “What if they were cold and had a suffer in the bed with no one?” or “What if they were hungry and…” I still don’t know why the individual was hospitalized to begin with so I’m not understanding the problem.

The Chinese factories I’ve dealt with (in 2014) had ridiculous numbers in way of employee sick leave. I’m talking only the 20-40 year old (equivalent of modern day assembly line) workers. My question is, How can so many of them be ill? More than 80% of illnesses quire 3+ days for recovery. It’s very much expected that the employer allows time for sick leave, doctors visits and the like.

I am very much dead center of the present working population age pool. I’ve never been hospitalized. I’d say if I asked close friends they’d also indicated there was that one bout of the Flu that us out of the work for a few days (a week maybe).

It’s not the air pollution, it’s not the food, it’s not the genetics or “something” in the water.

At first I was a bit alarmed. The dating drama went unnoticed, I began googling whether the Chinese really have some major health issue. Is life expectancy on the rapid decline, rampant tail-end waves of SARS? Okay, now I’m teasing. I came to the conclusion that it’s not a really weak and sickly population as a whole. Culture, of course it is.

On many an occasion I’ve thought of stopping the machines to make an announcement — those with weak and delicate health/dispositions will be laid-off, if you find yourself inefficient and unable to perform the duties hired for self-terminate today for a one time offer of 60% comp for 3 months.

Women also quit or request months off when they discover they’re pregnant, OR when planning on pregnancy. Funnily enough post-birth leave requested is rather short, generally 3-4 months vs say the length of gestation.

In this moment my english is failing my, befuddled brain. People gotta stop being so ill.


One thought on “What Chinese TV taught me

  1. Hi,
    As a foreigner living in China, I can’t say I understand all this hospital business, but I think I can bring a few answers.

    First, all doctors are at the hospital. When you are sick, you go see the doctor, so you go to the hospital. There is no doctor working from their own office such as in France. At least, not as far as I know. There are a few private clinics, but of course, they are very expensive. So you would go to the hospital, even for a cold.

    Of course, when you are in the hospital, they wan’t to keep you, since the hospital earns it’s money on surgery and drugs, not really on consultation fees. So they will find excuses to make as much tests/procedures as possible.

    Finally, regarding IV, I think it’s cultural, and people just consider it as the quickest way to get the drugs at the right place. Once, when sick, I was told that I would be given an IV. I really wasn’t looking forward to staying stuck in the hospital for hours, so I asked for another solution. The doctor said I could take pills for several days, which I prefered. But apparently, for him, it was crazy to prefer taking pills for days when I could get better in a couple of hours with an IV.

    And since you can’t move when you get an IV, hospitals are boring and hospital food is not good, of course family has to come and help you out/bring you food. And anyway, family is very important here.

    So, I might be wrong on what I mentionned here, but that’s what I gathered from living in China for so long.


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