Successes and Struggles

September 12, 2016
So, I think I'm through the worst of my health issues, knock on wood. And knock on wood again. I'm afraid I scared all of my readers away with my dramatic posts, and also think I might have PTSD from what I went through here. The good news is that I'm doing better than I thought I would, but the bad news is that I'm still very far from being "normal."

*Success: I went and got my scans done at the hospital, and my surgeon said that everything looks good! That means the fusion is working, which is a HUGE deal because if I went through all of that for nothing...Oh my goodness, I can't even think about it. I'm just elated that my surgery worked.

*Struggle: I went from complete bed rest to working full time. It has been very hard on me. Sometimes I feel like an actual zombie. I usually am in bed by 9 pm and sleep the night through. 

*Success: Little things that I couldn't do before are slowly becoming easier for me. I now feel comfortable enough to walk along the streets near where I live and get food or purchase items from shops. 

*Success: I don't have to worry about groceries for the time being. I'm not allowed to carry anything heavier than a gallon of milk, so I was really worried about how I would go grocery shopping. Luckily, I have special permission to get food delivered directly to my room. (Usually delivery drivers are not allowed past the front gate). 

*Struggle: It's a bit embarrassing wearing my back brace in front of all of these new teachers. I'm not the kind of person that likes to attract attention to myself, but I absolutely have to wear my brace. I started wearing a tank top and then put the brace over that and underneath another shirt, but the problem is that I need something visible here in China to show that I'm injured so I don't get bumped. I decided that I wouldn't judge anyone with their leg in a cast or with their arm in a sling, so I shouldn't feel awkward about wearing my brace. It's just silly. 

*Struggle: It has been hard not having my BFF Scott here in China with me this year. I was so used to walking with him, that it felt extremely bizarre to walk alone on campus. At one point, I even turned my head to talk to him and no one was there. 

*Success: My co-teacher and another floating teacher are helping me out throughout the day so that I can rest more. I don't have to take the kids to lunch this semester, so that's 30 extra minutes that I'm able to lie down per day. That really does help immensely.

*Struggle/Success: Once I started being up on my feet, my ankles got SUPER swollen. Like a freakish amount. My right ankle was bigger than when I had sprained it years back. I showed my doctors and they told me that it definitely was not normal and ordered that I get a sonogram. After waiting in the hospital for a day and a half, I was told that I didn't have any blood clots. Whew!! I can deal with the swollen ankles for the time being. I mean, it makes sense. I was lying flat almost the whole day before, so being up and around all day is probably just a shock to my body. 

*Struggle: Everyone is out and is making new friends. I am still limited in what I can do and need a lot of rest, so I haven't made any new friends because I don't socialize all that much. It's hard to hear about everyone's plans and full lives. I usually don't suffer from fear of missing out, but I have it now! 

*Struggle: There are still things I can't really do like bend, twist, etc. I'm not supposed to be doing these things now, so I do try to avoid these actions, but I couldn't really bend certain ways even if I wanted to. It makes me worried because I don't know if/when I'll ever be able to again.

*Success: I was able to get the last of my stitches out on Sunday, which means that the wound that was open for so long is finally something I don't need to worry about anymore. That's a HUGE RELIEF. When it was open, it was susceptible to infection which could've made my surgery fail! Also, I was having to go back to the hospital three times a week all summer long, and now I don't have to go for another 3 months. You have no idea how happy that makes me!!

*Struggle: I lost 15 pounds in China last year, and was working on losing some more weight. Then this whole thing happened, and I lost 15 pounds in the hospital because of the gross food and a lot of it was probably muscular loss in my calves since I wasn't able to walk for so long. Over the summer, I didn't eat that much, but I was gaining a pound a day. It was really frustrating to eat vegetables with a little meat all day and then see the numbers go up. I didn't have any sweets because I seriously couldn't go out and buy any for myself! I ended up gaining 35 pounds in a really short span when I was eating only healthy food, but it was probably because I was gaining muscle back. I decided to ditch the scale for the time being. It was stressing me out and there's not much I can do for myself now. When I get stronger, I do need to monitor my weight because I want to do anything I can to help my back!

*Success: I'm able to go out for short outings. This week I went to a local cafe and got some dinner with two of my friends and then we got a foot massage. The chairs are angled, so I could lie back and not be super uncomfortable. Yay! I also went out and tried a new restaurant with Rachael called Chicken and Egg, and then we were able to do something I'd been wanting to do for awhile! We got to go to the Friends Cafe (Central Perk) here in Shanghai! It's modeled after the one from the tv show, and different episodes of Friends play on the tv there.



*Success: All the teachers in my elementary school voted on the "best teachers," and I was voted as one of them. We went to an awards ceremony and I got a certificate, award with my name on it, a small cash bonus, and a Brita. I'm super excited about the Brita because apparently I can fill it with Shanghai tap water, and once the Brita works its magic, the water will be safe to drink. (Realllly though? I'm not sure I fully trust that). I haven't tried it yet, though. 

*Struggle: While it's sooooo wonderful that my wound is closed, there is a big dip in my back where the wound was. Is that going to fill in?? It's pretty unsightly.

*Success: It was Teacher's Day in China on September 10th. I woke up to a bunch of nice messages from my students' parents thanking me for being their teacher. It put a big grin on my face.

*Struggle: I miss my close friends and family in the States. At a time like this when I need help and motivation, I'd feel better if I could be around them. 

*Struggle: Only 1 out of 6 second grade homeroom teachers stayed, so I don't feel our team is very strong. If I were healthy, I could help the new teachers a lot more, but I'm just trying to get through the day, honestly. Work has been a little more stressful for me, and normally it'd be no big deal, but since I'm dealing with health issues, it does really affect me.

*Success: I made it through my first full working week!!! At times, I didn't think I'd be able to, but I did it! I think it helps me a lot knowing that I can, and that I've (barely) got this! :)

*Success: I was able to go on my first nightly outing and made it to a comedy show! The show was only about an hour and a half, but it made me feel more human to be able to do something fun with friends.

Some good news is that there is a Chinese National Holiday this week, so we just have a three day working week. It couldn't have come at a better time for me.

What are some of your recent successes and struggles?
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