Saturday, March 7, 2015

Silent thanks

I am truly and completely silenced. The flu that I've suffered for more than a week, coupled with shingles, has resulted in my totally losing my voice. What comes out of my mouth are some hisses, croaks and squeaks. I wasn't sure if I even wanted to post this, but it's too hilarious a story not to share, and there are some lessons I've certainly learnt from the experience.

As some of my family and friends know, I've had the flu for awhile. On top of that, when I went to the doctor for the flu and told him, by the way, that I had what looked like insect bites on my bum that hadn't healed, he proclaimed (my doctor is a drama king) that I was also suffering from shingles! In one week, I've gone from bad to better, then worse again. I haven't been able to sleep, have to abstain from eating and drinking a lot of things, and worst of all, lost my voice. I'm not whinging (really, I'm not). I'm just saying that despite all these health issues, I'm feeling, above all, grateful.

Just some of my medz
My doctor gave me a course of medication which included antibiotics, steroids, creams and whatnot. I supplemented those by getting gauze and surgical tape as well because how else was I going to keep the cream on my bum? The flu has certainly taken its own sweet time to heal. I notice that as I get older, the recuperation period is much more prolonged. I no longer bounce back to health like I used to. Now it's more like one step forward, two leaps back. I had to go see the doctor again because my cough was worsening, and got another course of medication.

I decided to get some herbs from my neighborhood Chinese medical hall for the persistent cough. Here I was told that my cough was the "cool", not "heaty" kind. I have to refrain from tea and fruits because they are "too cooling". Fruits are out. Coffee's ok. Who knew? Here I was thinking that the toxins from the shingles and everything else was making my body heaty and I was downing fresh coconut water. No wonder I lost my voice!

Through this entire ordeal, in my more lucid moments, I just feel thankful. First of all, that my ailments are relatively harmless in comparison with many others who are facing life-threatening diseases. I watched "Still Alice" which was unbearably sad, because mental illness is probably more devastating than a physical disease, especially for those who pride themselves on their mental prowess. I panicked one night when I couldn't even remember the word "shingles" and had to look it up. Uh-oh, still Aunty Boomer for maybe not so long.

I also have the good fortune of easy access to doctors, pharmacies and all kinds of healthcare in general. My doctor (alarmist though he may be) is sympathetic, knowledgeable and most importantly, available 7 days a week. Once, when a cousin, V, was visiting from Vancouver and needed to see a doctor, I rushed to pick her from her hotel at about 8 pm. While driving to the clinic, I called my doctor and told him to wait for us. V was amazed that, first, I had his mobile number, secondly that he took my call, and lastly, that he actually waited for us past closing. V was also gobsmacked that we could get all her medication from him instead of having to go to a pharmacy. This time around, when I told my doctor that it never even occurred to me that I had shingles, he said I should have texted him an image of the affected area to check!

A surprisingly soothing and yummy brew for the throat
In this age of new-fangled technology, I'm very grateful we still have Chinese medical halls in most neighborhoods. They not only sell all kinds of dried products and pharmaceuticals but, best of all, dispense advice along with herbs and potions. No matter how many cough syrups I've tried, I find that nothing beats a double-boiled concoction made with mysterious herbs, barks, berries and powders.
Herbs to "open up the voice"
Do I care what they are and what their scientific names are? No, I just want to get well, and obediently down the usually foul-smelling brew in one big gulp. I still remember when I was living in Singapore and was miserable with the flu and lost my voice. I was utterly bereft when I couldn't find a medical hall anywhere near me. Looking at how popular they are here still, I don't have to face that problem. Not yet anyway.

As for the shingles, it wasn't a very serious case, although having it on my bum is inconvenient. I googled natural cures and found that apple cider works for most people, so I slathered a paste I made with it and baking soda onto the affected area and covered it with gauze and surgical tape.

I made a paste with the green concoction and clay
When she found out, my sister in Penang told some friends about it and immediately they sprang into action. Literally, despite being busy professionals.
Swearing by a concoction made with the leaves and stems of some plant, they drove quite a distance to obtain it and brought it home to blend into a chlorophyll-like juice. My niece, C, then enquired at another Chinese medical hall in Penang and was advised to buy a brown powder (I swear it's clay) which cost a pretty penny. All of this was delivered to me in a matter of days.

Since then, diligently, I've been patting the green potion onto my bum, then mixing it with the clay to apply before covering with gauze and tape. It would be just too gross to show a picture of my bottom. Suffice to say that it looks, and smells, like a herbaceous swamp.
Seriously? Were you expecting me to show my swampy bum?

And so through it all, I'm reminding myself to be grateful. For family and friends who rally around to help, or cheer me on even they must be laughing themselves silly at my hissing and grunts over the phone. (I apologize to the delivery boy whom I greeted at the door yesterday morning, croaking at him in my pajamas.) I am thankful for all kinds of healthcare available to me, at still relatively affordable prices. I need to remind myself constantly that while these may be temporary setbacks, I still have a lot to be thankful for.

Note to self:
Get a flu jab.
Go see an acupuncturist. Apparently the toxins from the shingles are still in my system, and since it's a disease that attacks the nervous system, I need to get that balanced and aligned again.
Build up my immunity - exercise regularly, sleep early, eat healthily, think positive thoughts, pray!

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