March 30, 2013

Eating Bitterness in Beijing

On Monday we’re off to Beijing by train to see a dentist to fill Kanyon’s cavities. In February, we visited a highly recommended dentist in town and found four cavities. We fixed one. By fixed, I mean Kanyon sat still through a root canal. He braved so much that first visit that he refused to sit in the chair again a week later to get the other three cavities filled.

I don’t blame him. The dentist didn't treat him any differently than an adult. No numbing cream to reduce the sting of the shot. No hiding the syringe so he couldn't see it. Nope. The dentist just treated him like she would have any other adult.

When talking to our house helper about the situation, she agreed with Kanyon. Ayi said she also cries every time she goes to the dentist. We talked about how in America, the patient (especially a child) can be sedated for bigger procedures. Or how we arrive 20 minutes earlier to allow time for the dentist to numb the area before the big shot. Ayi then asked about the price and we realized something important.

In China there’s a saying that everyone must “eat bitterness.” When you do something unpleasant, you eat bitterness. When a person endures hardship, one eats bitterness. When students study for long hours, they eat bitterness. When a patient sits still as the dentist drills your not-quite-so-numb cavity, the patient eats bitterness.

The less bitterness you’re willing to eat, the more money you’ll have to pay. Kanyon doesn't like to eat bitterness, and I don’t blame him. I don’t like it either. And for that, we’ll pay.

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