Posts tagged with "sickness"

Swine Flu Movie Reviews

Being sick is one of the most difficult things for me. It’s a psychological mind game. Not only am I unable to be productive1, which is something that normally keeps me sane, it’s the only situation in which I feel like I can’t take care of myself. All I’m left with is this misery, this suffering that mentally wears me down. On a long enough time line (though I’m talking months to years), I lose the will to live.

I started getting some symptoms since Tuesday afternoon, when I was feeling faint at work. When I woke up the next day, the symptoms had gotten worse. I spat into the sink, and cheered the fact that my phlegm wasn’t dark green, which is the case when I have strep throat (something that seems to happen annually to me). I should say that I only suspect swine flu, since I didn’t have a blood test confirming it, but the person who gave it to me told me she had it, so I’m going on her word, and my symptoms match up with how swine flu is different from seasonal flu.

For me, it’s been:

  • runny nose with extremely watery mucous
  • stuffed nose
  • loss of appetite
  • mildly sore throat
  • dry cough
  • headaches
  • very slight fever
  • hot flashes and sweating

This flu, though drawn out, has actually been easier than strep, which is so painful for me that I get fairly severe headaches. I went through two entire boxes of tissues, and I’m sure I would have gone through more, I had not spent almost the entire time like this:

Nose tissues

On the upside, it was an excuse to drink Neo Citran every night, which I also call Yummy Sleep.

In the five days since I realized that I have the flu, I didn’t leave my house, aside from going across the street to buy groceries. Not a single one of my friends called me (although some of them probably didn’t know I was sick), which was a little disheartening, but I didn’t let it get to me. Jen offered to pick up groceries for me, but I didn’t take her up on it because the offer was enough of a morale boost.

This time, I survived, I did it by myself, and I’m stronger for it.

To keep myself sane, I watched a record number of movies. Usually, it’s hard for me to watch movies, because I feel guilty for not being productive, but this time I embraced my sickness. I may watch one every two weeks when I’m healthy, but this time it was nine in five days (ten if I hadn’t passed out in the middle of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice). Here are some quick reviews. Warning: SPOILERS.

Continue reading “Swine Flu Movie Reviews”…

  1. I have the motivation, but it isn’t enough when my head feels like it’s exploding from the inside. []

Conflicting Medical Advice

One of the drugs I’ve been prescribed for my colitis, Asacol, is delay-released, which means it has a special coating that makes it travel through the stomach, and absorbed only in the colon. This specific brand is released in the left and end of the colon, which is where my colitis is. I often get conflicting advice about how to take the drug:

  • The instructions that came with the medication say it can be taken with or without food
  • The first pharmacist told me to wait an hour after eating before taking the pills
  • The second pharmacist told me I didn’t need to wait and could have it with food and other medications
  • The third pharmacist told me that delayed release drugs should be taken on an empty stomach, and may have conflicts with other drugs
  • My gastrointestinal specialist told me I could take it with food

It’s generally taken that the doctor’s advice takes precedence over anything else. But as a person who works in the medical industry, where doctors are frequently revealed to be incompetent, I know that not all of them know what they’re talking about.

Scary, for an industry in which we put so much blind faith. Who am I supposed to believe?

A Different Kind of Understanding

The doctor told us she has another 5–6 months. Her colon is so enlarged from the tumor that it’s thicker than her spine, and the procedure was just a temporary solution to prevent further blockages.

How strange it is to “know” how much time there is left. I guess that’s why they call it a deadline. I had already assumed that this would going to be the last time I could see her, but that won’t make it any easier when I have to leave.

I’m grateful to the people who have been sending me their regards. It’s a nice comfort. One of the best pieces of advice came from Charlotte, who told me to “not leave anything at all unsaid to her…leave no questions unanswered, and to not withhold any affection you feel for her”.

I had come to Hong Kong with the intention of telling my grandma how important she was to me. Finding the right words in Chinese to express exactly what I wanted to say.

But trying to speak with her has made me realize that she doesn’t care about any of that. She’s a very practical woman, almost to the point of tactlessness. For almost her entire life, married at 14 and as a single parent of seven kids, she’s had no time for words or feelings.

I’m here, and that’s how she understands how I feel.

Here, Scared

Grandma’s at the hospital. She woke up this morning with pain all over her body, but more severely in her lower abdomen. They quickly drove her to the doctor, and it turns out there’s been a blockage in her colon. This afternoon they performed a procedure to expand the colon, and it went through without any complications. She’s resting at the hospital for the night, and my family is taking shifts to stay with her.

I’ve been stuck at home all day. Everyone else has been at the hospital and they decided to leave me behind. I’m on immune suppressing medications and the hospital is full of germs; getting sick myself is the last thing I need, especially when it means that I wouldn’t be able to see my grandma, as her immune system is even lower than mine right now. I would only be in the way if I was there anyway.

I’m scared. I’ve never dealt with any kind of sickness like this before. The only people in my family who have passed away were always far away in Hong Kong.

And now I’m here.

Being Strong For My Grandmother

The cancer has spread to her bones and several major organs now. We asked the doctor not to tell her, but we can’t do anything against his moral obligation to inform the patient. Either way, she doesn’t know how serious it is, whether it’s from shock and denial, or memory loss.

But she’s awake, and aware, and feeling no pain, which is good enough for me. The most we can do now is to try to make the rest of her life as enjoyable as possible.

She thinks she’s going to be fine. Keeps telling me that she’ll take me to a nearby park when she’s better. As much as it hurts me to know this won’t be possible anymore, it’s relieving to know she’s so oblivious. We don’t let ourselves cry around her, for fear that she may realize how bad it is.

Her face is more sallow, her fingers and legs emaciated, but she still has her thick, black hair1. Aside from a distended stomach, it’s hard to tell that she has such a grim prognosis.

But by far the hardest part is having to coddle her like a child to take her medication. Telling her she’s a good girl if she swallows her pills and rewarding her with ice-cream. That we’re only strict because we care about her. It tears me in half when she gives such a painful look of distaste with every pill we hand her, 18 a day.

She used to be so strong. Now we have to be strong for her.

  1. “I used to have even more”, she tells me. []