It was a Sunday afternoon when I visited the dentist in a town of some 4,500 residents in the far north of China’s Guangxi province.
There was an appointment for an eye specialist, and I was the first patient in line.
The dentist’s office was filled with young people, dressed in bright colours and wearing red-tinted glasses.
They looked like they had just stepped off a bus.
The dentist’s face was calm, but his expression was serious.
He was speaking Chinese, but I couldn’t understand him.
The doctor wanted to speak with the patient first, so he was holding his tongue.
He looked at me and told me, “You have to wait until you can speak better.”
The young people nodded and then turned their backs.
As I waited for a moment longer, I felt my vision slowly fade away.
I’m not sure if I was imagining it, but after the first couple of minutes, my vision started to return to normal.
I had no idea why.
I was on my way to my appointment with the first-ever neurologist in China, and it was the worst thing I’d ever had.
I was told that my eyesight would return to its normal range of 120/80/20, and that it would take four to five weeks to see a doctor.
But it was still far too early to be optimistic.
I’d had a couple of headaches the previous week, and they had worsened.
I had had enough.
I didn’t want to be wasting my time, so I called my parents.
They called my brother and sister-in-law.
I told them what happened to me.
They told me to take a nap.
I don’t remember if I did or not, but my eyes were still blurry.
My brother and my sister- in-law told me they would come to visit and see if I could sleep on their couch, and if so, they would help me.
But I couldn.
I woke up the next morning with the same headache as before.
My eyesight was back to normal again, but not the way it used to be.
My vision was blurry, and my vision was getting worse.
I felt like I was seeing things in a dream, and then it hit me.
I went to my family’s house.
They told me the doctor wanted me to get a blood test.
I went to a local hospital.
I got tested for a blood disorder.
They were expecting a normal result.
My blood was normal, and the test showed no abnormal results.
I thought nothing of it, because I knew the doctor had been looking into it.
But when I got to the hospital, I was surprised to find that the doctor didn’t even want to go in and do a test himself.
He told me that the tests would be too expensive, and wouldn’t be able to perform them on everyone.
He said that the specialist would just give me a letter to send to him, and would give me the results of the test.
I got a letter from my father, who said he was worried about me, and he sent me a photo of a letter in Chinese.
The letter was addressed to a “specialist in medicine”.
It said that I would have to pay $US1,800 to have a blood sample sent to him.
I said no, I’d be happy to pay whatever I wanted, and also that I’d pay $800.
My father then said, “But what if I get a letter back?”
I said no.
I’ll do whatever you want.
I thought I’d never have to have the test done.
Then, I realized what the letter said: “Please don’t worry.
I have enough money and you don’t need to worry.”
It wasn’t until I got home that I got a second letter.
It was from my dad’s brother.
He had already paid for the blood test, but he’d just written me a $US2,000 cheque for the test himself, and said that he was sending me a copy of the letter from the doctor, so that I could pay for the tests myself.
I paid $US800.
My father didn’t seem to understand that he had to pay for both the blood tests, but that I wasn’t his only financial burden.
He knew I was suffering because of my eye condition.
I’m Chinese and I have to work to make ends meet, and his financial hardship had forced me to ask for help.
I didn’t have any money to buy the tests.
My parents had given me a deposit of about $US50, and now I couldn and wanted to pay it back.
They said that they’d give me $US500 a month to cover the costs of my test, and $US400 to pay my brother for his job, and about $100 to cover my sister and I for our two dogs.
I figured that was enough.
But they were already asking for more money, and so I started to pay