Monday, March 13, 2017

A rough few days

I usually keep my blog posts happy and upbeat. I like sharing the adventures and I usually leave out the day to day stuff. After all, even though I live in interesting and unusual places I still have a lot of the typical same ole same ole. Unfortunately the last few days have not fallen into either the adventure category or the everyday life category. This story is going to have a number of stages that all came together last Friday so give me a chance to introduce all the important preceding events before I actually get to the rough few days...
I move to Beijing in August and I found an apartment I really love, but the commute was rather killer. I had to walk 10+ minutes to the subway station. Take the subway 1 stop then walk about 8 minutes within the subway station to change lines. The next line was always super crowded and then when I got to my destination I had about a 15 minutes walk to the school. Altogether my commute took 50 minutes and was hot, stinky and frustrating. So in November I bought an electric scooter she was a beauty (I'll try to find the picture of her) and she changed my life. My commute was shortened to just 15 minutes! Oh, it was wonderful. I was now saving 1.5 hours off my daily commute. Unfortunately, exactly 2 weeks after I bought her, I discovered someone had stolen my wonderful scooter. I told my neighbor who helped me tell the security guard who said we needed to go to the complex's service center. They arranged for me to go to a room that was labeled fire protection but was actually all the security camera feeds. Unfortunately, it turns out they didn't have one for where I had parked my scooter. Both my neighbor and the guard were like you should park by the security guards at the gate. I replied (in Chinese of course), "If only I still had a bike." Three days later I purchased a cute red scooter and started parking it next to the gate. The guard saw me the first time and was like, "absolutely, it won't get stolen here." Each day he greets me and moves the cones for me. When there are too many scooters and motorcycles for me to park he moves them around to make room for me and life was good.
My original scooter
(In a completely different story line) three weeks ago I woke up in the early morning to terrible pain like I'd never felt before. I called in sick to work and tried to get comfortable, but I couldn't. My abdomen felt awful. I called my parents and they said I needed to go see a doctor. I got an appointment for about an hour and a half later, ordered the Chinese equivalent of Uber (didi) and bare-knuckled it to the clinic.  For a while, I thought I would never make it. The doctor diagnosed it as a stomach virus, gave me some anti-nausea meds and told me I could go home, eat (I hadn't eaten all day because I just felt like I needed to throw up and it would be fine). The meds, however, made me feel worse and the next day (Wednesday) I took them in the morning and then never again. I made it to work on Thursday, but only managed to teach my classes (first and second periods) before I had to go home. Friday I felt okay and Saturday I was back to normal.
Okay, so now you have the background. Let's fast-forward to this past Friday. I woke up a little after 12 in the morning with terrible pain. I was able to go back to sleep a few hours later, but when I woke up in the morning I was definitely tired. I was running a little slow and I got out to my scooter a little late. I bent down to unlock the U-lock on the front tire and realized something was wrong. Someone had tried to steal my scooter! They had drilled out the lock and now my key wouldn't open it. I showed the guard. He and I both tried to open it. It is now 7:30 and I start work at 8 and class at 8:15. I cannot make it to school on time via the subway. The guard suggests a car (taxi, didi, etc). I tell him, this time of day traffic is too bad. A car will stuck in a traffic jam and I won't make it to work on time. He then suggests a bike, which was exactly what I was thinking. There are these bikes all around town that you can borrow. They're very cheap and you download an app onto your phone, verify your identity and put down a deposit.
My current scooter
Then you can rent the bike from anywhere you find one and ride it wherever you want. You can then leave it in any legal bike parking area and you only pay between 0.5-1 yuan (about 7-14 cents) per half hour for the privilege. It's great for short distances, but the bikes aren't very adjustable and they are fix gear bikes. Nonetheless, I pulled out my smartphone rented one and took off. I made it to school in 25 minutes (it's about 10 km or 6 miles) and got to the cafeteria just as they were closing up breakfast (which ends at 8). I convinced the worker to let me take a couple of egg sandwiches to go, ate 1 bite put the rest on my desk and went to get the lab demos I was doing that day ready. My first period went great and my day improved. Second period went pretty well. We were in the last five minutes of class and I was cleaning up and discussing things with a student while the other students were supposed to be working in their groups on their lab papers. All the sudden I saw one student on the floor in a fetal position while another was kicking and punching him! Now, I teach in a very nice private school. We have some violence like this with the middle schooler, but never with the high schoolers. I ran over and shouted at him to stop. He did not respond and was beating the snot out of the other student. I decided I had to break it off and pulled the kid off of him while sending other students for help. Two of my male colleagues arrived to help and while the three of us were standing with the two kids they went at it again (this time both throwing punches). We got them separated and took them to the office separately. I dealt with giving my side of things (today I saw the video from the security cameras and while I got the important details mostly right, I was WAY off on a lot of details. It rather amazed me, just how faulty my recollection of the event was). Meanwhile, I started to see purple spots on my arm and thought I had been injured. However, as they turned black I realized I had accidently gotten a chemical from the lab on me, but it wasn't anything serious, thankfully). After all this, I was beat. I collapsed at home (and remember I'm still not feeling really great).
The next day (Saturday), I feel even worse. I am chaperoning a field trip to a concert at the National Center for the Performing Arts (amazing, I can hopefully write a post on that later). After an hour on the subway to get there I was sick! I was nauseated and miserable. Thankfully, I recovered some while sitting in the concert hall, but then the ride home was torture. The smells aggravated my stomach. My abdomen hurt, and so many people stunk of sweat, alcohol or both. I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I didn't go to church or small group the next day. Nor did I get my lock cut off my scooter and replaced. I just didn't feel well. I was in so much pain last night I only managed to sleep two hours. Today, I still didn't feel well (and still couldn't ride my scooter to work, not to mention I'm sure the lack of sleep didn't help). I went to work, but made an appointment to see the doctor in the afternoon and was diagnosed with gallstones. At least, I now know what it is. I need to have my gallbladder removed and I need to work out when and where I'm going to do that. I will be cutting nearly all fat out of my diet (which also means I pretty much can't eat school food) to try to stave off additional attacks. Thankfully, my small group is praying for me as are other friends around the world. I'm so glad I have a support system and I know eventually it will all work out okay.

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