Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sick again

I've been in a constant state of coming down with/suffering from/getting over various illnesses since coming to China. Most foreigners working here go through it the first few months they get here while their bodies adjust to the poor air quality, new strains of bugs/viruses and (with spring coming in) a combination of high pollen counts and the beginning of building season. I myself live in an apartment complex next to a building site, as they are building new blocks nearby. Last Monday I got a wicked sore throat, a which point I began losing my voice. This sucked as I have lessons and demos to do at work and you have to be really high energy. A day later the sore throat abated, so I didn't feel bad at all, but my voice sounded like I was dying. Then the coughing started.

My God did the coughing start.

It was bad to the point of me having to excuse myself to throw up because it was hard enough that it was setting off my gag reflex. Weirdly, I felt fine, just coughing a lot. I've been ill before and a cough tends to be the last stage, it just goes on forever. I went to the pharmacy next to work, armed with my pocket dictionary, and they gave me some things I thought would help. Sadly no. Yesterday I had a truly unpleasant day (fortunately the first of my tues/wed 'weekend') and finally caved to the idea that I actually needed to see a doctor. After going to the fabric market my friend and I went to Global Doctor today and the doc gave me a crap ton of drugs for the cough and virus I have:

Thank God our insurance pays 90% of our costs! We go to Global Doctor rather than some of the other medical places because they have a direct pay system, so instead of me paying 100% and claiming the 90% back, they can just take my insurance card and I give them the 10%. Given that the bill came to 1,739RMB (about £170/275USD) I was happy to only pay the 173RMB. After listening to my chest he also put me on a nebuliser (heh, 'nebuliser' makes me feel like I'm in Star Trek or something) for 30 minutes, with further appointments for tomorrow morning and afternoon for more sessions. It would appear my lungs were not designed for Chinese air. 'Bronchial hyperactivity' were the words he used; all I know is that I've used my inhaler more these past few days than I have the past 3 months. He asked me if I would be able to move apartment (NOOOOOO!) which isn't possible, so I've got to try and keep windows etc closed when I can. To add insult to injury I get to wear this walking to and from work from now on:

Now, I know that wearing a mask isn't so very strange here as the air quality is bad. In Japan people would wear them when they were sick to avoid coughing on you (not the case here as people are more than happy to cough, sneeze, hack and spit in your direction). Unfortunately I still feel like a complete tit wearing it. My friend and I decided we would wear them together as she's been meaning to get one because the dust is so bad around us.

After we'd finished at the surgery, I nipped to Walmart on my way home. I wanted to get some chicken and vegetables to make soup and be sure I had supplies for the next couple of days. I got a small cauliflower, aubergine, carrots, 2 red onions, and 8 chicken wing/drummet things for the princely sum of 14RMB (just over 2USD). I was going to get a little whole chicken and simmer that as I thought it would be more flavourful, but after finding the whole chickens I found I couldn't get past the look of 'Whhhhhhy?' in it's eyes:

The 'Aquatic Life' section of the supermarket is tubs and tubs of fresh fish; and by fresh I mean still alive swimming in the water. You get a net and catch it yourself (or get the helper lady to do it for you).

These poor turtles looked nervous:

I actually got served one of these little guys in a restaurant the other week. I was with two friends eating lunch and the people thought they'd be nice and bring us out something free to try, but it ended up being a whole turtle in a grey soup. I tried a bit because let's face it, left to my own devices I'd never knowingly order turtle (and I felt bad trying to ignore it when they'd been nice enough to want to give it to us) but it freaked us all out a bit. The taste is strange, because it tastes like fish but has the texture of meat. Needless to say, when we were boxing up leftovers to take to work it didn't make the cut.


  1. OMG--I'd probably lose lots of weight over there or else become a vegetarian! Hope you're better soon!

  2. The mask is Lovely. *snarkiness intentional*. Seriously, though you think it makes you look ridiculous, it's better to wear it and preserve your lung function for more important things, like breathing.

    I had no idea that air pollution was so awful there.

    AND - the whole chicken and turtles in the WalMart just crack me up.

  3. I'm just getting caught up with your blog.....I was out of the loop for a while.
    Love your apartment! Different cultures can take a while to adjust too. I remember living in Singapore.....I was a child.....but always remember being fascinated at the market. There when you wanted a chicken, you chose the one you was alive, I kid you not.....they killed it in front of you and had a machine that defeathered it!!!! I think I prefer your chicken!
    Hope you get to feeling better soon.

  4. I say buy a really nice mask in a pretty color to keep in your bag. Make it work stylewise.

    As someone born with hyperreactive bronchii (ie, asthma since infancy) who has had her own nebulizer since pre-puberty and keeps ampules for the neb in the fridge , I commiserate. It sucks.

    If you have access to apples, try to eat loads for the quercetin, take your Vitamind D3, Vit C rich foods and supplement if you have it...and keep coffee handy, It can bronchodilate in a pinch.

    I laughed at the chicken "why?" hahaha

    Like the previous commenter said..I'd probably have to go vegetarian if I lived there. But given the air quality, I could not live there. My asthma and allergies, bad enough in the US, would kill me within 24 hours, methinks.

    Later, babe...feel better.

  5. OMG!! I am totally grossed can people even think about eating turtle??!! I hope you feel better soon!

  6. I ate sea turtle in the late 60's as a child in South America. Always the joke tastes like chicken but it is not comes around for stuff like that lol it had a subtle fishy taste. Had to try it but I was like 11 yrs old. And my mom would take us here in the States to Oriental Grocery stores (as a child back in the day)I recollect one that had a butcher case and whole heads on the chicken and there was even a racoon. My mom got excited at a friends when she was serving smoked fish with the head still on. I ordered a fish meal at a restaurant on my mom's suggestion when I was a teenager. It was here in the states at a restaurant that was traditionally American..and it came with the head on it. OMG I gave it a good try and was unluck enough to fork into the egg that was in it and I had this loud reaction tasting it then spitting it out saying "The guts are still in it! " Got the explanation that fish eggs are a delicacy...(Yah sure mom)

    You are lucky you did not get the Chihuahua Special or the German Shepard Pie in China lol I am back tracking your blog. This is so interesting. I want to see where exactly you are...