Well, whadya expect?

Sick and Tired of…

Jiangmen, China

June 1 – June 27, 2011

….BEING SICK AND TIRED!! Where has you been?! Sorry dedicated followers (1? 2 of you?) for my absence! Somehow I managed to be sick for nearly a month, and as for that other month of  blogging drought…I have no excuse…but I could think of a few: busy corralling the little children (little children?! Why yes, didn’t I mention? I am now teaching Kindergarten…2-6 year olds…yes…2! subject for another entry indeed.)? Busy studying Chinese? Busy writing songs on my guitar to sing to the little children? Busy “playing” tai chi? Busy sweating more than seems humanly possible? Yes! Sure! All of em!

a few views around the city pre-sickness. if you stand on a corner long enough something interesting always flies by. i love it

But anyway, I’m back, and I hope to give you a couple more entries before summer break (ahh…now I really love teaching…summer break?! Remember that?!). I’ve finally stopped sniffling, snotting, coughing, and bathroom racing, and i can hold a conversation without excusing myself half-way through, hooray! The first bout of sicky-ness was some stomach bug that kept deceiving me: I’d feel fine one day and the next day I’d go back to school and wham! Nooot ok, NOT ok. The tidal wave of nausea hit during one class and just when I think I will have to race for the toilet, where has my T.A. gone?! No one is here! I can’t leave these 4 year olds alone (usually I have a T.A. and at least one mom in the class)! Ok, 10 more minutes…I can make it. Sweating, sweating. Breeeeathe. And then I look up. My T.A.? No! it’s the Principal and she’s watching my class through the window…ok…energy! Look normal!

Feeling healthy and having fun on a lil bike ride with some of my jr. high students and awesome teacher-friend Sharon!

Luckily I made it through without embarrassing myself or living the kidlettes in the lurch. someone came back and I took my cue and sprinted out trying not to look insane “ok. Class is over…goodbye!” It’s funny, usually at home, people can tell you’re sick “ohh, wow you don’t look so well. You should go home.” But here I’m white, and white is white. Ha. Do I look pale to you? I really don’t feel well. “Hmm, no, just a bit tired.” And then I glance at myself in the bathroom mirror and think I look shockingly like Mozart in the last scenes of Amadeus. Although my host brother did comment at dinner one day that I looked like a “flat tire” hahahahaha. I then proceeded in zombie fashion to the school clinic where I curled up on a bed made for someone half my size (kindergarten remember). No one quite knew what to do with me…I was just happy to be horizontal.

Cute little kiddies at the Kindergarten lining up for the flag raising.

Eventually I biked home to escape the curious eyes of strangers and wanted to be invisible. But of course I was not. My family kept knocking on my door, calling to take me to the hospital. I know they were just worried about me and i should be happy to have someone so concerned, but all I wanted to do was sleep! And it’s different here, you don’t go see a doctor, you go to the hospital for any little illness and I tell you people here are alarmists! My host family couldn’t understand, even with a cold, why I didn’t want to go to the hospital, take more medicine or get an IV. What?! No wonder crazy diseases are breaking out in China. That and perhaps the lack of soap in the public bathrooms. I’m not against medicine of course, but only if I reeeeally need it. I’m also used to living in a family where you generally tough it out these kinds of things out.

I'm just across the way from this apartment and every day i can't help but take a window size glance and peer into someone elses life, if just to watch them sort beans on the ledge.

I will always accept offers of “tao yao” though. That is the Chinese herbal medicine. I think the use of this has transitioned into using western medicines similarly which seems quite dangerous. People here do take herbal medicine a lot though still and there are special pharmacies selling all sorts of roots, leaves, funguses, anything plant or animal you can imagine….pretty awesome. At one point all peoples had traditional medicine practices and a thorough knowledge of what plants could help with what illnesses. But most of it was oral, passed down and has since been lost.  Chinese medicine is incredibly unique in that way, it was written and recorded and people still greatly use and understand these medicinal practices today. I definitely respect it. I love seeing people picking plants and flowers in the park because they know some special tea or food dish to make from it. That is definitely a connection with nature many of us in the west have lost.  Many people also doubt the effectiveness of traditional medicines, but hey…the Chinese are the longest surviving culture in the world…they must be doin something right! Plant medicine hurrah!

Dear Buddha, please take the illnesses far from me!

Much of Traditional Chinese Medicine  is preventative practice as well; you visit a doctor even when you are in good health to track your yinyang…get a full check of your energy, your pulses and you catch a deficiency before it weakens your body, rebuild yourself with herbs and certain foods.  Chinese Medicine looks to foods to heal and I dig that! And because my host father is awesome, he always makes tao yao when I’m not feeling well. So this I always agree to take (or drink as it were: all the roots or leaves etc are boiled into a tea…usually very earthy and bitter…drink up!)  But besides the herbal assistance, I like my body to fight any little bugs off itself. Antibiotic resistance ain’t good, and I hate what antibiotics do to your body anyway. I waited a week for the ceasefire…I really wanted my body to win the battle, but it seemed to be a long drawn-out war in my innards. A week of wretched illness and missing work…and it still persisted. So in the end, my dear friend Sharon gave up most of her day to help me communicate with a doctor (see, even if i did go to the hostital it’s not so simple…anyone speak english?? anyone? Thank goodness for good friends!), go through all the hospital schtuff, tests galore (can you poo into this tiny cup that is smaller than a shot glass? Thanks. Lid? No, we don’t have lids. How about a plastic glove then? Greeeeat.)

A weekend away in Guangzhou. The rains swept away the smog and what a city-skyline site! More on this trip another time

And in the end I did in fact have to give in to the all-powerful bacteria-killer, which as I feared, came with it’s own set of awful side-effects that made me feel like a dim-witted zombie, constantly about to pull a muscle, for a week  (For real tho, I would never take Levoquin again….that stuff really messed with my body…). And in the aftermath of the Intestinal Stomach War, my poor defenseless body and ravaged immune system could only take so much. Those snotty little kids and smoggy skies were like a relentless army on attack and a head cold it did cannon blast me with. Ahhh, to have a cold in the heated humidity of summer…ugh.  Two weeks of fighting and fiiinally, the mucus has retreated, the fatigue has fled and now I’m feeling like I have some semblance of energy again…welcome back me! I apologize for the absence! And if you’re in California you will also be able to really “welcome back me” because I am in fact coming home to the U.S. of A. for summer time! But for now, it’s still all about China (mystery sicknesses included) on this here blogitron. Next entry: “Meet my friend: senior smog”.

a sunset glow photo for ya


One response

  1. K

    so did you get a “gold star?”

    July 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

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