10-14 Day 96 (The Kunming hospital)

My experience in a Chinese hospital


You’ve got to be kidding. The last thing that I cared about today was mileage.

Travel FromKunning
Intermediate Location 
Ending LocationJianshui
Starting Odometer37,525
Ending Odometer37,525
Miles Driven Today0 Miles
Total Trip Mileage12982 Miles
Countries visited Today 
Countries visited on trip US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China


I’m starting this blog post as items unfolded the night before, starting at about 7:00 PM. Hopefully, you’ll understand why I obscured the days a bit, but it’s easier to understand, rather than imposing the deadline of midnight. So, here goes…

The Hospital timeline

8:00 PM

I had been experiencing craps in the van, on the way to the hotel. By the time I got to the hotel, I knew that I needed to find a bathroom, and in China, when you look for a bathroom, it better have a “western;n toilet”. So, with Tom’s help, I found a toilet, and did my best.

Unfortunately, the pain got worse, the cramps increased in intensity and frequency, and I was left in a remote bathroom, to fend for myself. so, since yelling tor help might not be understood, I simply started moaning, really loudly. Considering the level of pain I was in, this was the easiest thing I had done all day.

8:15 PM

They heard the call, and the manager asked to help. He asked if I needed an ambulance, and said, “Um, Yep, that’s right, please get an ambulance”. With more moaning, and more pain, the ambulance finally arrived about 20 minutes later or so. They tried to get me onto the gurney, but I’m too long, so the Chinese intern from the ambulance kept swatting my feet, indicating that he wanted me to move them. I immediately knew what he wanted, and wished that he did not swat me, but simply indicated that I needed to move.

8:35 PM

I arrived at the hospital, and once again, the guy was swatting my feat. They pushed me into the Emergency room, and as I was transferring to the ER bed, he started to swat my feet again, and I said “Look, knock if off. If you do that again, you’re going to pay for it” or something like that. But, since he did not speak English, I figured my emotions were all lost on him.

8:45 PM

I receive a analysis from Doctor 1, and he sort of left me alone, simply indicating that I had gas.

9:20 PM

I was sent to X-Ray, and an X-Ray was taken. The Technician looked at it and proclaimed gas.. So the preliminary diagnosis was gas, but when the doctor looked at the X-Ray, 15 minutes later, he said that I had a blockage, and that I was holding gas. So, I would need to evacuate the gas.

10:00 PM

They started giving me pain killers, after which time, they fed me two different IV solutions, one was electrolytes, and I’m not sure what the other was.

12:00 – Midnight

The new diagnosis was that I was blocked, and that they would need to let the air out, so they decided to intubate me, inserting a tube in my nose, allowing the pressure to become less.

12:15 AM

It seems that I have a gag reflex when someone tries to shove a tube down my throat, through my nose. Go figure…

I tried my best, but I just couldn’t do it, so I asked them what they do to patients who gag. Do they offer a sedative, or something to relax the throat, and they said “No”, we just try again.

12:20 AM

And so, they tried again, and finally, with me literally screaming in agony, they managed to get this tube down my throat. Now, I was intubated, and the gas began to release. Tom, my trusty Chinese guide and sidekick, had decided to stay with me, to aid in my communication with the doctors, and also to provide a bit of aid and comfort himself. He was great, and I think the night would have been much tougher without Tom’s help.

Tom was “thoughtful enough” to capture the event on Video. So, here it is. If you’re squeamish, you should skip this video. But, if you want to see an old friend in extreme agony, then this is the video for you.

Throughout the night

Over the course of the night, I slept a little bit, gagged a little, and slowly felt the gas becoming relieved. I tried once or twice to use the toilet, but none was the luck that I had.

6:30 AM

With morning rolling around, it seemed that I was feeling a good deal of relief. They took another X-Ray, and discovered that the gas had subsided a little bit, but not much.

8:00 AM

With a new doctor present, who was now the day shift, he asked if I would consent to an Enema. Considering that I had suggested this about 12 hours earlier, I was completely bought into the process. So, we engaged in the Enema process, with is not glorious, not pleasing, not fun, and offers only a single kind of relief.

8:45 AM

The relief came briefly, but swiftly. After that, I was able to begin to “help myself” and so, over the next few hours, I got better and better. With the gas gone, and the blockage broken up a bit, I was able to slowly return to normalcy.


We began to talk about discharging me, but we’d need one more X-Ray, to be sure that the work had actually worked, as planned.

12:30 PM

The X-Ray was taken, and we were told to wait an hour for the results.

1:00 PM

Finally, after a very long night, they removed the intubation tube and were ready to release me.

2:00 PM

By 2:00 PM, we had gotten the final X-Ray, and were out theh door of the hospital. Now, I needed to get to the next city on the tour, which was 150 miles away, to the South.

The Bullet Train

There were a few different ways that I could get to JianShui. I could take a bus, a taxi cab, or a train. Luckily, I was in a city that offered the Bullet Train, and the city that I was headed to, also was a stop on the train, just 2 hours away.

So, we boarded the train, and two hours later, we were in JianShui. it turns out that the Bullet Train is really great. It’s quiet, fast, and reasonably comfortable, especially if you’re not 6’5″, and slightly overweight. But, I toughed it out, and arrived at the hotel at about 5:45 or so.

It felt great to have finally arrived, and at 7:00 PM, we had the daily briefing, and I learned about tomorrow’s route, and made the decision to spend at least one more day riding in the van, rather than tempting fate, and trying to ride these tough roads, without 100% of my self being employed.

What will tomorrow bring?

Tomorrow is expected to be another long day, with about 240 miles of riding to cover, over windy roads, which are prone to landslides, and construction. So, we’ll have to wait and see.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. Good Grief and Holy $hit! I know how tough you are, Cliff – this must have been a horrible experience. Good to hear that you are recovering though. Hope you stay well and keep moving forward.

    1. Dave, did you have to use the expression “Holy Shit”. Its almost too much to hear…
      Thanks for checking in. Please give my best to karen, and for sure, on another note, I am always trying to improve my riding skills. I miss the ability of you, Alex, Larry, Rich and the others to watch someone drive, or ride, and pick out all of the little things to improve. In our group, we simply don’t have folks with that kind of an eye, and even if they observe the mechanical errors, they don’t know how to communicate it. You and I, and the others have done this kind of analysis so many times, we’re good at giving and getting critiques.
      I miss that.

  2. Wow Cliff, just read these last posts! How painful and frightening! So glad you had your guide and friend Tom with you, so that you were not all alone. Very glad to hear you are on the mend, and back on the road.

    1. Hi Maria,
      It is hard to describe the feeling of being so helpless, but having a hunch that your care is not being delivered correctly. Tom was an amazing help to me, but he was just as frustrated as I was with the communication of Doctor 1. Thanks for your well wishes. I’m back, and I’m ready to kick ass and take names, once again.

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