Convalescence

Click here for some background reading.

Waiting to be discharged

Instead of staying in hospital for two days as I originally anticipated, I ended up staying five days. I was kept in hospital for a day of observation after my wound was closed four days after my operation.

My stay at Oasis was generally very pleasant. I was one of three inpatients so the wards were quiet almost all the time, bar the muted sounds of nurses and doctors going about their work. The nurses got used to me shuffling out of my room and wandering aimlessly around the floor three to four times a day, getting my daily dose of exercise. I enjoyed my daily chats with the physio as he checked my progress and gave me more exercises to do with my left hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

Despite all this, it became general knowledge among the staff at Oasis and the friends I kept in touch via WeChat that I was desperate to be discharged. After months of exercising outdoors on a daily basis, being cooped up indoors for five straights days, even in conditions much better than my own apartment, felt like imprisonment. The temperature dropped drastically the week I was hospitalised, so the nurses were justified in denying my daily requests to go outside for a walk, especially before my wound was closed.

I’m a firm believer that God allows everything happens for a reason. In addition to a broken forearm, I was also nursing a cold while I was staying at the hospital. In fact, it was this same cold that fogged up my brain when I fell off my bike and broke my arm. If I’d just stayed home and nursed my cold that day, I’d still have an intact left forearm. If only I wasn’t so restless and easily bored…

Surviving in the real world

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Free from the cast, at last!

I was elated when Dr Miia announced I was well enough to be discharged from hospital on Friday morning, five weeks ago. The nurses were amazed at how quickly I changed out of my hospital gown into my own clothing without their assistance.

On the one hand, I was happy to finally be going back to my own apartment, sleeping in my own bed and regaining my freedom to roam aimlessly outside whenever I felt like it. On the other hand, the physical weakness of my left arm was a constant reminder that I’d had to make certain adjustments to my living habits to get by as much as possible with the use of only my right hand.

Here’s a list of bits and bobs that helped me get by in the real world:

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Kipling Keiko Crossbody

An impulse purchase at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to replace another broken Kipling bag, it turned out to be my lifesaver. I never appreciated compartments, smooth zippers and practical design until my life literally depended on it. It was big enough to hold my purse, keys, Iphone 6, headphones, office access card, transportation card and my compact cosmetic bag, yet small enough so I couldn’t overload it with things that were non-essential and overload my left shoulder.

Transportation mobile apps

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Didi Chuxing 

Uber’s strongest competitor in China, Didi’s affordable fast car  (快车)  services have been my lifesaver when I’ve taken a little longer getting ready for work and needed a ride to the office. The 15-minute ride from my apartment in Dongzhimen to Beijing Fortune Plaza typically costs between RMB 8-15, depending on traffic and weather conditions and the time of the day.

  • Chinese only interface
  • Payment method: Only accepts WeChat Wallet
shenzhou
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Shenzhou is the app I turn to when I can’t get a ride with Didi. Shenzhou provides chauffeur-drive cars and employs their own drivers so naturally their services are much more expensive. I started using their services when they launched the introductory offer of getting an extra RMB 100 for every RMB 100 credit I transfer into my Shenzhou account. That offer ended in September, but they still give you RMB 50 credit for every RMB 100 you transfer into your Shenzhou account.  But as I was telling a friend, when you desperately need a car to take you home on a cold, rainy night, money becomes the least of your concern. It’s reassuring to know that even if I miss the last bus, taxis are scarce and no one’s responding to my Didi request, I can always get a Shenzhou car to take me home.

  • Chinese only interface
  • Payment method: WeChat Wallet, Alipay, Jingdong Wallet, debit and credit cards issued by China banks.

Food ordering app

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Baidu Waimai

Cooking was out of the question for the first week after I was discharged from hospital. When I didn’t go out to eat, I ordered meals using Baidu Waimai. They have a huge range of restaurants, provide discounts if you pay by WeChat Wallet, Alipay or Baidu Wallet and often waive or charge a meagre delivery fee (RMB 5-7). If the food was delivered later than the time they originally estimated, they refunded 50% of the price of the meal.

  • Chinese only interface
  • Payment method: WeChat Wallet, Alipay and Baidu Wallet

2014->2015

what made 2014 special for me
what made 2014 special for me

My colleague reminded me yesterday that January was almost over. I began pondering if I should still write this post I’ve been thinking of writing since the last week of 2014. Posting a review of 2014 and my resolutions for 2015 at this point in time seems to be advertising how disorganised I’ve been.

Then I remembered the name of my blog. It’s better late than never.

Instead of a list of resolutions, I’ve set myself one resolution, one mantra and one goal for 2015….

Think as much about what I don’t say as what I do say

I received some news on my birthday that forced me to re-examine what I said to a friend 7-8 years ago.  Even though I know I’m not responsible for what happened to her relationship, I can’t help but wonder if I could’ve saved her from heartache had I not verbally encouraged her to date this guy, someone I barely knew but who looked like a good idea.  I remember telling her she should give this guy a chance, otherwise she might end up being single like me at my age.

What really irked me about this incident was how I practiced nothing of what I preached to her. I’m still single, waiting and trusting God for His best, while she’s had to spend years healing from the breakdown of the relationship.  It made question my motives and the wisdom for saying what I said to her all those years ago. I felt incredibly stupid and hypocritical.

This incident made me think about misunderstandings that’s arisen between me and my loved ones because I’d withheld my opinions for fear of hurting someone. For the longest time, I believed people couldn’t get hurt by what they didn’t know. Now I’m not so sure.  There’s a Chinese saying that goes, “Paper cannot cover up fire.” It depends on who’s involved and what’s at stake. But most importantly, it depends on how much I care about someone and their well-being. And I was forced to admit that most of the time, I cared very little. I just told myself it’s none of my business and went on living my life the way I always did.

All this changed on my birthday. I thought back on all those people who made it their business to look out for me, watch my back and speak truthfully and openly to me for my benefit. And I realised I owe it to them and God to care and exercise greater discretion in what I say or don’t say, when I say it and to whom, so my words could be “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

This is easier said than done, but I’m going to try nevertheless.

Slow down

My annual body check-up in November revealed that my good friend, hyperthyroidism, is back. When I was first diagnosed with it 12 years ago, I was relieved to find out the cause of my crazy heart rate, my constantly trembling hands, my seesawing weight and my lack of good quality sleep. I heard this condition was common among Asian women and I was relieved I got it under control after taking meds for two years. Not all my friends who had the same condition were as fortunate as me.

I’d suspected it came back about a year before I went for my check-up. My thyroid was noticeably bigger than before and the doctor who examined me for my work visa medical in 2013 had recommended I get it checked up.  I put it off for as long as I could, not because I was in denial, but because I wasn’t looking forward to taking meds everyday, and seeing the endocrinologist and getting blood tests every month. I absolutely hated the hassle and the expense.

Then a friend I’d met at church was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. That was my wake-up call. I booked a check-up, got my blood tested and began seeing an endocrinologist and taking meds to get my thyroid under control. Thank God my company’s health insurance policy covers my bills.

Apart from prescribing meds, my first endocrinologist reminded me that stress was a primary cause of hyperthyroidism, and I should be careful not to over-exert myself. Hence my mantra for 2015: space things out and slow……. down.

This means I will have to tone down my workaholic tendencies, consciously take time out to wind down, turn down appointments/opportunities/cool projects, and ruthlessly keep my daily to-do list to a maximum of 3 items. So far so good. I’m slowly seeing the other upsides of going slow, apart from an improvement of my physical well-being.  I’ve been making less messes at work, prioritising more, feeling less worn out, and focussing my attention on things that are important to me. Yes, it’s early days, and things at work are winding down prior to Spring Festival holidays, but I’m optimistic. The tough part, of course, is sticking to it.

Regain control of my finances

I racked up debts when I was unemployed in 2013 which I chose not to pay off in 2014.   I decided instead to enjoy having a regular income again by splurging on holidays to exotic lands (here and here).

Being back in Sydney last October forced me to look at my Australian financial affairs square in the face, especially after speaking to my bank manager.  I hadn’t maxed out my credit card limit but the debt felt like deadweight hanging over my neck. It made me feel like I’ve lost control over my finances and I hated it.

So I set myself a deadline to pay off my debt, and made some hard decisions about what I will and will not buy in the next 12 months. It was really tough when my LG G3 was stolen in December, and I had to replace it with a Huawei Honor (my first ever ‘made-in-China’ phone) just because it was within my budget. I’m sure this is the first of many tough purchasing decisions I’ll have to make in 2015 so I can reach my goal, but I tell myself everyday regaining control of my finances is worth the sacrifice. The gradually weakening Australian dollar has given me further motivation to reach this goal.

You may be asking, why advertise these on my blog? I’m giving you permission to remind me all throughout 2015 to stick to these three items. I’ll be needing all the help I can get.

communication (or the lack thereof)

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This couple was sitting two tables away from me at Muse. There was another middle-aged Chinese couple sitting side by side to each other across from me doing exactly the same thing. This is an increasingly common sight in restaurants in Beijing.  I’ve often wondered, why suffer a traffic jam, wait an hour for a table at the restaurant and put up with bad waitstaff if you’re not going to even talk to the person you’re having dinner with? 

Smartphones and WeChat are to blame for the increasing number of failed marriages and relationships in China. How does a couple cultivate the important things in a long-term relationship while staring at their smartphone screens? 

I’ve once witnessed my Beijinger friend giving a blow-by-blow account to his friends on WeChat while climbing Jiankou, a treacherous part of the Great Wall. I was so busy climbing with my hands and feet, I almost forgot to take pictures, let alone provide live commentary!

I’m probably the least qualified person to diss smartphones, since I was the first in my family to use one. I now depend on my smartphone to tell the time, store contact information, shopping lists, notes, bank account information (including passwords, the horror), take pictures and beautify them, share photos and information to friends, buy anything under the sun I can dream of, pay bills, search for restaurants, cinemas, movies, bars…. I’ll never finish this post if I listed everything I did on my smartphone. And that is scary…

So despite my gripes about smartphones and WeChat, I know I can’t live without them…. anymore. For my last birthday party, it took me three days to decide if I was going to email or sms friends who weren’t on my WeChat/WhatsApp/Viber.  I added and kept in touch with all new friends I met over the Spring Festival holidays on WeChat. I found out which of my favourite restaurants are open over the holidays on their WeChat service accounts. Hell, the last boardgame I played was organised on a WeChat group. So much of my life is tied up with my smartphone, I compulsively check it even though it doesn’t ring. How sad is that!

Come to think of it, I would literally vanish from the face of the earth if I lost my smartphone. Literally.

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Ugh!