Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brief Update

First of all, I am feeling better every day and absolutely sure the worst of this is behind me.  On Monday I saw the specialist in HK for the second time.  I did not have Dengue Fever.  The hepatitis tests are not back from the lab.  One disconcerting thing was that he re-checked my immunity for Hep A and B.  I was vaccinated for Hep A before I went to Namibia (should last lifetime) six years ago, and for Hep B before I left for China.  I show immunity for Hep B, but no immunity for Hep A.  It is as if I never got that two-shot vaccination series.   I am returning to see the doctor on Friday and at that time I am going to get re-vaccinated for Hep A, and the results of the Hep E test should be back.  
I still get tired easily, but aside from that my only continuing symptom is some cramping in my legs. The doctor is not sure if this is from the original viral infection, or from the allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was given.  

Also, he said that after researching this antibiotic he learned that so many people have allergic reactions to this antibiotic ("Avelox") that current best practice is to not prescribe it unless there are no other options.  He then said, "Apparently Mainland China has not gotten this message."

My potassium levels are back to normal.  He also did an EKG to check my heart because the weird muscles spasms were not originally limited to my legs - my arms and sometimes my chest muscles felt strange.  All good with the heart.  

My liver function is improving, and he said to resume a normal diet just to avoid alcohol.  That I can do.  My colleague Victor accompanied me on this last trip to Hong Kong.  Due to the Ferry schedule, we arrived about an hour and a half before my appointment. In a high rise next to the building containing the doctor's office, we found a "360 Market" - which is a branch of "Whole Foods Market" in Hong Kong. I thought briefly I had gone to heaven.  They had a large "food court" on the second floor.  I bought a few things to bring home for Josh, and had a good lunch.  If I feel up to it, I plan to do some serious shopping there when I go back on Friday. 

Yesterday, I went to campus and taught my story class.  Really all I needed to do was sit and listen to students read stories.  That went well and I was happy to be back in the classroom.  I came right home after class, rested, did a little light housekeeping around the apartment and mostly took care of Josh, who came down with a nasty cold over the weekend. Given all he has been through the last few weeks, I am not surprised.  Fortunately, we arrived in China well equipped with Advil, Tylenol, Sudafed, and two “Z-packs” (zithromax).  Unfortunately, I had not taken this full arsenal to Beijing with us.  As his cough and congestion got worst, Dr. Mom decided it was time to start at Z-pack.  It was a good choice, and probably 12 hours after the first dose he started to show some improvement.  Today (Wednesday) we are both spending a quiet day at home, continuing to improve.

A number of people have suggested that I come home immediately, and I must confess that during the worst of this if there had been a Star Trek method to beam me home I would have taken it.  However, I really do not want this experience to be my closing chapter on China.  My general education class at UIC in The Theory and Practice of Story, has been one of the most rewarding teaching experiences in my long teaching career.  I did not want to leave without giving some kind of closure to this class. 

I will return to see the specialist in Hong Kong on Friday, and then hope to be done with this whole illness episode of the saga.  Bob will join us in about three weeks, and our family of three will spend the last three weeks in China together.  We are excited to share with him all that we have loved about our time here. 

One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, has a line in a recent poem that states, “I love this world even in its hard places.”  I cannot say I love the hard places, but I continue to love this world in spite of its hard places.


  1. So glad that you are doing better Michele. I'm sure that with Bob joining you relatively soon it will be a nice ending to your journey in China.

  2. Very very glad to hear that it is NOT Dengue Fever. Strange about your Hep A antibodies being "missing." Hope you continue to feel better and better.

  3. Hoping very much that by now you are feeling much, much better and maybe even close to normal strength and energy.

    On the topic of medical care abroad, and specifically in HK, a couple of days ago, an American friend (and graduate of GAC!)who now lives permanently in HK is in the US to help her elderly mother. She wrote two days ago about her mother:
    "We hope to get her strong/well enough to move into assisted living.... at least temporarily, and I am looking very seriously into bringing her to Hong Kong to live with us where we can get one on one care for her 24/7 very reasonably. As a dependant based on my permanent residency, she would get free public medical care... I can assure you all that Hong Kong is more developed than all places I've been to in the United States."

    She also added, "[I trust you'll not] respond as some who have not lived outside of the U.S. have with consternation about my moving mom to "China"--many still seem to think that Chairman Mao is alive and well with no understanding of Hong Kong's autonomy and fantastic infrastructure in any case."

    Just thought you might find that perspective of interest given your recent experiences!(Oh yes, must add that my cousin happily gave birth to her second in a HK hospital last week.)