Friday, October 19, 2012

The Fall’s Fallout

I wanted to get all this in last post but, as always, it ran rather long. So I start a new post, mercifully short.

The most obvious benefit of this accident of mine is firsthand knowledge of China’s heath care systems. Paying in advance for treatments, patients being custodians of their own medical records, affordable and expedient care are all things I experienced firsthand and can now report on with authority.

The second miracle: I did not ruin my support hose. Being as I spend my Tuesday mornings standing on concrete and my classrooms are on the 4th floor support hose are essential, otherwise my feet and legs are too achy to do anything else that day. The hose are a valuable commodity made more so because they are unavailable over here. I brought 5 pair while stateside last time and I have to be very careful with them lest I ruin them. Much to my surprise, even though I suffered scrapes on both knees and substantial bruising my hose did not run.  Thus I am comfortable endorsing L’eggs Active Support hose for anyone who does a lot of walking or standing.

Beyond that, what good was this accident?

It seems the Chinese only go to the doctor if they have a specific complaint. Preventive care is apparently unknown here. If I wanted a well-woman exam or a stress test on my heart, or any of the tests doctors in America recommend when a patient turns fifty I would either have to request it or go to America to have it done. Therefore I’ve not had a checkup in 2 years. With the terrible way I’ve been feeling virtually since I got here going on 3 years ago, you might understand that I had some serious doubts about my health.

As a result of this accident I now know:

·         I have strong bones. Not once in all of my falls have I broken anything, including hitting my head on a piece of angle iron. X-rays show good bone density.
·         I do not have a brain tumor. Two MRIs are proof of that. 
·         I do not suffer from diabetes. My wounded head healed quickly and the bruises disappeared within a week. One symptom of diabetes is slow healing of scrapes, bruises or serious wounds.
·         I do not have heart problems. During all of these procedures not once did any doctor express concern over high blood pressure or irregular heart activity. Indeed the readings were well within the norm. 
·         I do not have any serious or life threatening diseases, including any blood cancers.

In trying to figure out what was wrong with me during this past year I have speculated on all of the above listed health concerns. High blood pressure, a brain tumor and diabetes could have been causing the lingering dizziness and outright dizzy spells I’ve been hiding from everyone. They could also explain why I was so fatigued.

Diabetes and heart disease could also account for the numbness in my hands and feet. Not a constant numbness, just enough of one to be scary.  

Besides that…

I’ve long despaired over my thinning hair. I do believe another winter here, with the air as dry as it is will result in the rest of my hair falling out. With my head partially shaved I now have an excuse to wear a hat all the time… but why stop there? Remember I had bought a wig last time I was in the states? It must have been serendipity again.

I had no use for the wig till now. Now that I am partially bald and especially because I’m letting my gray grow out I now have an excuse to wear my wig all the time. How nice it is to have a glorious head of hair, even if it is fake! And, because circumstances demand I wear a hat anyway, nobody is any wiser to my vain wig deception. An added bonus is that the wig and hat are keeping my head nice and warm as the weather dips down into the 50 degree Fahrenheit range overnight. 

My hair is growing back where Doc shaved my head to stitch me up. It feels weird having stubble. I will wait till the stubble grows to a respectable length and then cut the rest of my hair to match. It will be a long process.

I have decided that I will no longer take chances with Benadryl. During that first long night in the ‘injection chair’ I conceded that I have allergies and will most likely be plagued by them for the rest of my time here, if not the rest of my life. I now take Benadryl every 4 hours whether I have allergy symptoms or not.

As a result I have come to feel better than I have since I’ve moved here 3 years ago. I sleep undisturbed through the night. I breathe with no wheezing or gasping, and there is no tightness in my chest. My energy levels are back to normal and with that my zest for adventure and desire for activity.

Most importantly, that which has been affecting my balance has been reversed. The pressure on my ears, at one time so strong it caused near deafness is now in proper ratio. My balance is still not completely restored but I’ve not had a dizzy spell or lost my balance since I started my rigorous allergy regimen. Of course, if I don’t take my medicine on schedule I feel it, almost immediately. The first symptom is increasing  pressure in my ears.

Friends, it feels wonderful to get out of bed and not have to hold on to the walls for my first few steps of the day. It is amazing that I can do squats again and get off the couch without having to hold on to something. I can now go out walking with full confidence that I will not trip or fall. Or that a trip does not guarantee a fall.

I feel like I am back to my old self. What a great return, and just in time for my half-century celebration!

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