Best, Wang Shi Kai Email 3 Part 1

This post is part of a series we are calling "Best, Wang Shi Kai." Dr. Rich is an Emergency Medicine Physician from Los Angeles who picked up and moved to China where he is currently practicing. He was given the name Wang Shi Kai by the Chinese Medical Board. In this series of posts we feature his emails sharing his unique experiences practicing medicine in China. Here are the links to his first email which gives some background Email 1 Part 1,  Email 1 Part 2, Email 2 Part 1, Email 2 Part 2.

Hi Ben,

It figures that you are having a great ski season now that I'm in China. Last year was the worst ski season I had experienced in my 25 years on the West Coast. I went up to Mt. Bachelor in Oregon in late January because it was the only place that had even reported a few flakes of snow. I pretty much had the whole resort to myself. It was pure ice on the slopes and I almost killed myself. I'm going snowboarding in a few weeks with a group of nurses so I'll let you know how it goes. I'll have to rent all my gear so I hope it warms up just a little bit first.

It's Spring Festival this week, the biggest holiday of the year, and Beijing feels like a ghost town. It's actually the largest mass annual mass migration of people on the planet. Millions and millions of people leave the city to go back to their Provinces to visit their families. I worked on New Year's Eve (February 7th) and New Year's Day (February 8th) and they were two of the quietest shifts I've ever had. I might have even gotten some sleep if it wasn't for a 53-year old guy who walked into the ER at 04:30 am clutching his chest who turned out to have an aortic dissection from his arch all the way down into the iliac vessels. That gave me something to do.

The normally crowded streets were literally empty on my walks to and from the hospital. It was almost eerie. Everyone will return to town this Sunday and the normal chaos will resume.

I spent New Year's Eve at the apartment of one of my friends who is a Pharmacist at my hospital. She invited me to join her family for lunch prior to my 14-hour night shift. It was a pretty special experience. Her Mother taught me the proper way to make dumplings. We stuffed them with Chinese chives, lotus flowers, pork, carrots and mutton. They were then boiled. I think I ate 30-40 of them, along with beef tongue, perch with pepper sauce, cabbage and noodles, spicy duck gizzards, prawns, and fungus in vinegar sauce. Dessert consisted of glutinous rice balls with sesame. Everything was delicious and it was really great spending the holiday with a nice family. They thanked me for helping the Chinese people and then sat down in front of the TV to watch the State-sponsored New Year's Eve variety show (reminiscent of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve) while I went off to work with a full stomach.

It was definitely weird not seeing a single drug overdose, major trauma, or 20 acutely intoxicated patients. Many of my worst nights in the ER over the past 20 years have been on New year's Eve where, no matter where I was, we always seemed to be understaffed. This was a nice change of pace. i even got to step outside at midnight and watch fireworks with the nurses. I could hear fireworks exploding until the early morning hours and only saw 1 patient who was dumb enough to burn his eyelids and sustain blast injuries to his eyes from getting too close to the fun. He wasn't even drunk.

The conclusion of this email in the next post.

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