Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Writing Is On The Pill

Since it took me a month to get that last post up, I figured two in one day would be a good way to redeem myself. Essentially, I was working on the post, trying to craft some nice words for you folks, when my computer did that stupid hibernate thing. I lost half my post and frankly, it royally ticked me off. Before I could brush myself off and make my way back to recreating what I lost, I got sick. This brings me to my topic for today.

If you tell someone you have gotten ill in China, they immediately think food poisoning. It's not an unreasonable guess really. If you come here, you will eventually eat something funky and then you're body will be forced to take action. That's right.
That action. Well, there's two really. Not really sure which is worse, except getting both at the same time, which is pretty much just like dying I think. I have been fortunate in this respect so far. I have gotten sick two times, but I don't think it was food poisoning and it was over quickly. Friends of mine, however, have not been as lucky, and usually there is a loss in the downward direction, if you get me. In Chinese, the word is ladutza, which my friend swears is an onomatopoeia, just like "Zap!" "Sizzle" and "Guffaw!" LaDUTza! LaDUUUTza! Shout that in a deep voice in a subway in China. Trust me. Good way to make friends.

Anyway, it wasn't
ladutza, but I didn't know what was going on. I felt like I had heartburn, but only in my stomach. It didn't hurt all that much, but it was nothing I had ever felt before. Guess what happens when you feel that way in a foreign country? You freak out.

What if I pass out? What the hey is the number for an ambulance? Wait, didn't people say you'll die in an ambulance, take a cab instead?! Wait, what's the word for hospital?! What's the word for help for that matter??!

It's times like these that I regrettably don't have a proper brown paper lunch sack to hyperventilate into. Luckily, I had a rockin' headache that first day, so instead of totally panicking, I collapsed into a desperate nap. I woke up later with the headache and stomach thing still going strong. Twas a bad day, indeed. Same story the next day too.

Two days later, the headache was finally gone, but the burning, weird feeling in my gut was not. I ate bread and it burned. Cola and fruit were out of the question. Even water was dicey. Very depressing. Well, depressing except for the green light to eat ice cream all the time, since it seemed to settle a bit better than most food and drinks. Sweet!

Even doctor's orders to eat ice cream didn't make me feel that much better once I was going on 4 or 5 days with no improvement. It was about this time that I started feeling hungry all the time, but eating didn't seem to be doing any good, for the pain or the hunger. I had a breakdown at day 6 when things seemed to be getting worse. David called right as I was panicking.

"I don't know how to take care of myself here!" Being alone in a foreign country when you do not feel so hot is just scary, plain and simple. He talked me through how to go to the hospital if I had too, told me I was going to be okay and I felt a little better.

So, after 9 days of this silliness, David took me to see a doc. She was really nice and she spoke English. The place was nice too. Even though I live here, I still get this image of foreign countries being way behind in modern technology and medicine, so I pretty much picture a cholera ward from the turn of the 19th century with people moaning on cots. But it was very modern of course. It was actually a foreigner clinic, so it was even better than most and quite nice. That helped. I wasn't really eager to experience roughing it in a Chinese hospital.

She asked me a bunch of questions and said she would give me meds to reduce stoamch acid and see if that helped. She also gave me meds she said were for protecting the mucus lining in my stomach. Hrm. Great. The lady at the medicine desk (which was in the same place! How convenient!) told me to take the granules, or as I like to call them, mucus granules, three times a day without water. Gagola! Are you serious lady?

"You can take a little sip if you can't get them down, but not much."

Oh how generous. Sounds like a party. Sounds like I will feel sicker after taking them than before. Good plan.

I decided to start the meds the next day. Now, I am not normally very hung up on where things come from or whether they could have asbestos in them, but this is CHINA after all. So I consulted our friend Gregg, who just so happens to be Dr. Gregg. He had already given me advice earlier in the week, but I wanted to run the names of the drugs by him. He had no problem with the pills, but he seemed puzzled by the granules.

"Can you send me the name?"

I sent him the only English words I could find on the packaging. A few minutes later I got a return text message.

"I don't know what that is and it's not in my US drug reference. Maybe stick to the acid meds and tums."

Whoa. That freaked me out a little. Can't say I was disappointed not to have to take the mucus granules, but it was weird. I hadn't expected an unknown drug. Gregg is pretty even keel too, so I knew he was serious when he told me not to take them. Better safe than sorry. Best case, it was just cornstarch or something. Perfectly harmless, but ineffective. Worst case...well, I'd rather not get stomach cancer if I can help it, thank you.

So, I went ahead and popped a pill out of the bubble pack. A little picture was carved into the one side. I flipped it over and my eyes bugged out.


No, that's what was written on the pill. OMG. Oh my god! My pill says 'OMG'!

My thumb was actually covering the 2 that made it 20MG. The two and zero were the same size as the MG, so it definitely looked like OMG for a second. Ha ha....ha.....ha......It just says 20 mg! No problem! Haha. Right? Ha....gulp.

I threw caution to the wind. Down the hatch. I started to feel better a few days later. So, maybe the OMG sign was more like "Oh My God, a cure!" Well, I guess we'll see once the meds run out. Until then, I'm trying to find creative uses for 3 dozen packs of mucus granules...

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