JD finishes a three day course of IV drips today. After a fever earlier this week, we took him to hospital for a blood test. That indicated a very elevated white cell count, and the doctor strongly advised an intravenous antibiotic drip. JD has been in fairly good spirits since then, mostly at the thought of three days off school. We are hoping he will be OK to return to his class tomorrow as he has important end-of-term exams next week.
Flashback: This day in ...2006
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
My trip to the VSO Conference in Beijing started smoothly enough with a 3 hour car ride to Simao shared with teacher Li (man), teacher Li (woman, no relation) and Ms Wu (very recently promoted to the Local Education Bureau). After a night there, we flew (45mins) to Kunming and met Sun Kang, a leader from the Provincial Education Bureau. He speaks great English and in conversation gave examples of how unlucky he’d been on recent trips (in Indonesia for the tsunami, in Vietnam during riots, in Thailand for the coup, etc). His jinx continued as our flight to Beijing was delayed by 1.. 2.. 3.. and finally 4 hours. At the airport we took an hour to find a taxi which then ran into a midnight traffic jam(?) and took another 2 hours to get us to our hotel. We finally arrived at 2am to find our rooms had been double-booked. And then I tripped and broke my ankle...!
At first I thought I had just sprained my ankle and continued to limp around for the three days of the conference. My talk on the first day went OK, and I learned a lot from the other talks (although some Chinese speakers were rambling a bit and, filtered through a translator, it often made it quite hard to follow ...and I was taking minutes). On the last day, VSO suggested it might be wise to see a doctor while I was in Beijing. He x-rayed the ankle as a formality though he suspected a sprain. But the x-ray came back showing a fracture, so on went the plaster! Crutches in tow I managed to get through the two flights and a 3 hour car ride back to JiangCheng, hopping up the 86 steps to my flat. I’ve been confined to quarters for at least this week - very frustrating when I had planned to finally launch my training here. Teams of Education Bureau colleagues are bringing me food, clean washing, bottles of water etc. So I’m trying to put my independent nature aside and allow myself to be “cared for” and “fussed over”!
Luck of the gods?
A really mixed day today. Jiajia, JD and I visited the Bamboo Temple with a friend of ours - Du Laoshi - a 40 minute drive up a mountain on the outskirts of Kunming. We had a good look around, including the famous 500 detailed statues of monks in various poses there. Then we joined the monks and worshippers for a vegetarian lunch.
Thankfully, JD only suffered scratches and bruises and was keen to keep on. The rest of us, including the driver, were a lot more shocked, and we decided to head back to the temple and the car. JD said the gods kept him safe because he'd donated a few yuan to them in the temple. I'm wondering whether they arranged the crash because of the meagre cash amount
But, after a rest and a thorough check-up, we did drive on to the park and JD enjoyed a few hours of fishing (including catching a 20cm long shrimp and nearly catching a yellow garter snake).
After returning to Kunming, we found a car wash for which Jiajia had a free ticket, and enjoyed a large dumping meal while the car was cleaned inside and out. A day of ups, downs, acrosses, insides and outs.
Cut and dried
Well my cataract operation is all done. No pain exactly, but more uncomfortable than I'd been led to believe. I stayed overnight in the hospital afterwards but I was up and about this morning. The staff were really good - professional and caring - and they asked for a group photo before I left as I was the first foreigner they had treated. My wife was a star too, braving heavy rains to translate for me and bring me food! Two weeks of "20 eye drops a day" now, plus I'll need new glasses!
I spent 9 hours doing various tests today in preparation for a cataract operation tomorrow. 8 eye tests, blood test, blood pressure test, ECG, chest X-ray, you name it! Jiajia was really helpful and patient as usual but it was a tiring process. The operation is tomorrow morning.
Lay in? No, inlay!
I've had four dental visits over the last three weeks - two fillings, an x-ray, a clean and two "inlays" - a procedure in which a scanner builds a 3D model of your teeth [see below] in order to 3D print a small but precise resin shape that fits exactly into a gap between the teeth - a gap which apparently has been attracting decay! Not cheap or quick, but state-of-the-art. JD had a check-up too, but no problems for him!
Eye don't know
I've been noticing my left eye getting more and more blurry over recent months. Then last week I had a half hour with quite limited vision in the eye except for a floating zig-zig shape!? So Jiajia and I went to a hospital last week to see a recommended eye doctor. I was given a battery of tests and finally told that my left eye had got significantly worse from 7.0 degree to 15.0 degrees over the last two years! But they couldn't say why - just old age - and had no suggestions for improving it or avoiding further deterioration.
So the next day we went to a different hospital and another recommended eye doctor. He looked at the previous scans and did a couple more tests before declaring that my left eye has a sizeable cataract and needs an operation sometime in the next few months. Jiajia and I felt this sounded like a more believable diagnosis but we are now left wondering why the first hospital had such a different conclusion. Meanwhile, I'm left with some blurred vision and the odd headache.
COVID19 continues to spread through China (and some other parts of the world). Being in Kunming, we are quite far from the worst areas, but we still wear masks outside, have to go hunting for markets selling vegetables, and make do without buses, parks and the subway.
If I'm honest, I think the dangers are being over-exaggerated in our neck of the woods. So far, there have been 70 infected people in our Province of 46,000,000, so the chances of bumping into someone carrying the virus are incredibly small, let alone getting close enough to them to actually catch the infection. But science and facts often take second place to fear and rumors, especially here it seems,
We flew back to China late today. The recent Coronavirus infection is spreading quickly and we had our masks ready as we arrived (as did all the other passengers). Our Province is far from the origin of the outbreak but that hasn't stopped the locals here panicking: supermarkets have been stripped of food, parks are closed, roads are empty and we are getting strident, but largely pointless, texts from JD's school and my University (eg "..if your throat feels dry, drink some water..."!!)
For crying out loud
This little fellow has been causing me a lot of grief over the last month or so. I've never quite known what it is in China that gives me allergic reactions at this time of year but, after a tip-off, it seems "ragweed" is probably the culprit. It's common in Kunming (ü
), its sprays pollen out every Sep/Oct (tick) and it causes tears, repeated sneezing and sore throats in those affected (tick).
So if you see tears running down my face as I say goodbye to JD at school each morning, it's not sadness. If you hear me shrieking as I wake up it doesn't mean I've had a bad dream. And if you spot me swallowing hard before talking to my class, it's not a sign of nerves! It's blummin' ragweed!
JD was sent home from school last Friday with a temperature (and an official form telling us he was seriously overweight!?). His fever continued over the weekend but his main complaint was stomach pains. He had a poor appetite too but no other symptoms. By Sunday the fever had gone, but he had started a cough and was still saying his tummy hurt. The cough is now less, but he is still not eating well and gets very sleepy for no real reason.
So we took him to the hospital yesterday to get him checked out. After an ultrasound and a blood test the first doctor we saw diagnosed him as having, "an infection and bubbles in the stomach" while the second doctor said, "no infection and mild constipation". So we're still none the wiser, to be honest...!
Wig awaiting wellness
Ma-in-law has been weeping and screaming this last week, "unable to get out of her bed" due to a bad back. I've made multiple trips across town to her 7th floor flat in response to phone calls requesting, "a glass of water from the kitchen" or "help to walk to the toilet" etc. She seems somewhat improved now since Jiajia returned from her business trip and a couple of her friends visited and gave her some attention. I'm sure she has some pain but Jiajia and I are both convinced she makes the most of it. There are clues such as the medicine she says she has been taking being on the table in the living room (how does she take that if she can't leave her bed) and signs of cooking in the kitchen. My five-year diary shows this is the third year running she's "gone ill" at this exact time, perhaps knowing that I am off work (term is over) and Jijaia is away. Suspicious timing!
Sea fire of my mind
I've had my very own "Sea fire of my mind" the last few days, with a fever, headache, sore throat, stomach upset and extreme fatigue. I've slept for 32 of the last 38 hours. My "Green Body" is not well!
Cathy come home
Lovely to meet up with Cathy yesterday, a friend for about ten years since I moved to Kunming. She and her boyfriend were up in Kunming for some paperwork business and came to the house here for lunch and a chat. Cathy lives in JingHong, a 45 minute flight away, in the sub-tropical south of Yunnan, where she runs an English language school called "Cool School" (my original suggestion for a name). JD enjoyed playing with her, despite him still suffering with a week-long cough and sore throat.
JD has been off school all this week with a nasty cough and occasional fever. It caused particular problems on Monday with Ava in Shenzhen and Mother-in-law in ChengGong, leaving me to look after him, despite having four university lessons, to teach. Thankfully, I was able to postpone the lessons even though it causes the University staff ridiculous amounts of paperwork. It is the first time I have missed a class in two years there, so they understood. Ma-in-law was back on Tuesday, allowing me to do my normal lessons, and Ava flies back today which means I can complete the catch-up classes. JD meanwhile seems full of energy even though his cough shows no sign of improvement.
Off for a cough
JD's been coughing for nearly 3 weeks now and so, after a particularly bad day earlier this week, we kept him off school and took him for yet another visit to the hospital. After a blood test, he was diagnosed as having a "mycoplasma bacterial infection" which requires two weeks of anti-biotics. So he's been at home for most of this week, which put a stop any of my personal work/play plans! Fortunately (I think?), his cough hasn't affected his energy levels, so we've been able to go out and play, visit a museum, go to a park, catch a local train, go on shopping trips, etc. And he's shown a fast improvement since going on the meds, so h0pefully he's back to school next week.
Go out? No, gout
I finished my final full term at Robert's School last Saturday, teaching for 8 hours in my socks. Yes, after over a year without any problems, my gout unexpectedly flared up on Saturday morning, leaving my right foot red and swollen. As ever, I've no clue why it has returned. I downed a lot of medicine to keep me going and, two days on, the swelling is down and I can walk again without hobbling. However, this morning I woke up feeling really dizzy - something I've not experienced for 2-3 years now. I'm hoping it's not related to my blood pressure as it was before. I'm thinking it might be the result of carrying JD around Green Lake on my shoulders yesterday. Maybe I trapped a nerve or something? I just hope it passes soon as I was really looking forward to getting some exercise done this holiday, and running/skipping with a swollen foot or while the world is spinning before your eyes isn't such a good idea. Fingers crossed.
22 and counting...
So pain, no gain
It's my fifth weekly visit to the hospital for the "shockwave" treatment on my elbow. Regular readers may recall that each visit entails receiving 3000+ ultrasonic shocks to my right arm, of the kind usually used to pulverise kidney stones. It takes place in the aptly named, "Pain Clinic". The idea is that the blood vessels regrow stronger, eventually overcoming my aching "tennis elbow". So far, no real improvement, to be honest. But this is the last session before a 2 month rest to allow for some healing. Then, the doctor says, maybe more treatments will be necessary.
Sitting on defense
These posters have gone up around town, advertising the "Kunming Defense Hospital". At first I thought it was a military hospital (though a very small one, from the photo), but the name apparently comes from a poor translation of the road where it is located - "Defense Road". For me it is still something of an oddity that hospitals in China feel the need to advertise to attract patients!
Back to the hospital this morning. JD had a simple, but painful, procedure on his "jiji" (as they call it in China!), and I had the first of four treatments on a new hospital machine which, they assure me, will cure my tennis elbow in four visits. After two unsuccessful years of trying other treatments, I can only hope. I was told its English name is a "non-invasive rectilinear ballistic extrinsic shockwave machine"(!). It's similar to the ones they use to pulverise kidney stones. It is supposed to gradually induce blood vessel growth. All I know is it was jolly painful at times though not, I suspect, as painful as poor JD's visit!
Jiajia's been suffering from a hacking cough for over three months now and, despite two CAT scans and two courses of antibiotics, it remains as bad as ever. We went to another hospital yesterday for more tests - asthma and allergies this time, hence the amusing nose and mouth appendages! We returned for the results this morning, and a junior doctor said she thought it was a sore throat!? The expert doctor we had hoped to see (a friend of a customer, of course) was in a meeting. So back again this afternoon to see him and find out if it shows anything. As Jiajia said on the drive home "I don't think the doctors have a clue". I tend to agree.
P.S. Jiajia's been diagnosed with tuberculosis. That's put the cat amongst the pigeons in all sorts of ways. Watch this space!
The tooth finally comes out
It was just last week that Jiajia told me she'd had toothache for a week or so and was finally ready to see a dentist (she hates dentists and never gets check-ups). Then, the next day, she was chewing on a prune when three teeth suddenly fell out! Yes, three! And none was the one causing pain. Unknown to me, my wife has a row of false teeth and so the following day we went to the dentist (a customer of hers, naturally, so free treatment!) to have the teeth refitted and a filling put in the painful one. Later, I asked her how she came to lose three teeth at once but she claimed not to remember! Hmmm. Biting off a beer bottle top perhaps or losing a punch-up? My wife is a woman of mystery.
"KongLong" - just one of the many words JD has learned to say in the last week or two ...."dinosaur"! He also surprised me the other day by saying "dao" when he saw a knife - not sure who taught him that. He can also say, "digger", "bulldozer", "crane", "mixer" ...guess where his interests lie! Then, when I suggested to our Nanny in Chinese yesterday that JD might like some "xiangjiao", JD immediately jumped up and shouted, "banana!". That's the first time he's clearly "translated" one language to another.
For those following the family's health situation, basically we've all got hacking coughs; JD, Nanny, Ma, Ava and I. Mine is the remnants of pneumonia, while everyone else's is apparently a regular (if very tiring) cough. That's not stopped all the women downing antibiotics though. They are wildly overused here - bought over the counter and taken (seldom a full course) for any slight cough or cold. Highly inappropriate but, try as I might, they will not be convinced.
The cough and cold I had last week didn't improve and a CT scan a few days ago confirmed a diagnosis of pneumonia. So I'm currently on a course of antibiotics. And they're not cheap! £7.50 for a box that looks fairly substantial but only contains three tiny tablets. I need to take nine! The timing is really annoying too, with Halloween weekend being the busiest of our school year. I usually give it 100%, dressing up, screaming and shouting in the corridors and scaring the pants off all the students. I've already prepared my outfit and lessons for this year, but I'm starting to realise I won't be able to go in (and my students will miss all the fun). I still have a hacking cough and I'm getting exhausted after climbing a flight of stairs or standing up for too long. Really frustrating, but I think I need to go with head over heart. It's an infection that kills 4 million people a year around the world, after all!
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries