House Arrest & Chinese Caregiving


It certainly has been a crazy week since my arrival in Kunming, as I mentioned in my previous post. Unfortunately, the day after my arrival I ended up with quite a serious urinary tract infection, which led to a very high fever that landed me in hospital for a few days.   I’ve heard that jobs that start hard often end well 🙂  Let’s hope so!

It is presently Sunday, and I am out of the hospital, but unfortunately I am still under “house arrest” for the next few days until my white blood cell count come down further.  I’m only allowed to go back to the hospital for a few hours for antibiotic IV drip.  So, unfortunately I have not yet been able to see the city of Kunming along with the rest of my family.

I can tell you a few funny stories about my two adorable new Chinese caregivers. I don’t think I’ve ever met two more hard-working ladies in my life.  They just never seem to stop moving, constantly cleaning house if not looking after me.  I have to admit it is kind of challenging trying to direct my caregiving in a foreign language, as it is been quite some time since I’ve been able to practice my Mandarin, but I think it’s coming back quite quickly. The local Yunnan dialect, however, presents a special challenge!

When I was in the hospital with high fever, I was pretty much passed out on a typically hard Chinese bed, so a pillow under my butt needed to be moved every few hours in order to weight shift and prevent a pressure ulcer.  However, this was not good enough for my new Chinese caregivers.  So every two hours they each got a chair and sat on either side of me to put their hands under my butt and literally massaged my backside for 20 minutes at a time round the clock. One even fell asleep on my stomach because she was afraid that if she didn’t stop massaging my legs and my butt I would get pressure sores.  Seriously, you just can’t find that kind of healthcare standard in the United States or caregivers who genuinely care about your well-being. It’s more than just a job for the Chinese people. They take so much pride in their work.

I am living about 20 minutes southwest of downtown Kunming, a sprawling, sub-tropical city of about 6 million population.   My apartment is located in a complex with just two other foreign families, so we sort of stand out.  Wish you could see the looks every morning on all the local faces watching this white, blonde, paralyzed chic wheeling down the road to the hospital … I swear MasterCard could get a good commercial out of my commute!

But I’m pretty used to the strange looks from when I used to live in China 10 years ago.  I remember this one time when I went to a tiny farm  a few hours outside Beijing.   All the children wanted my blonde hair. So, and yes I think I was a little drunk at the time, I just started cutting off little bits of my hair for the kids.  I think I’ll forgo that this time, as my paralyzed fingers are not yet up to the challenge!

Sometimes I forget how much we care about our appearance in America, because the first day before I got so sick I got all dressed up,  put on some makeup, did up my hair … only to discover that in this relaxed city, honestly, nobody cares. So, after only a week I decided to adopt the motto “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”   I must say I do get ready much faster now!

Alright, I’m off to the hospital and will report back in a few days with  more interesting  updates on my surgery and when I can actually leave my apartment and check out the city.

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