Burn, Baby, Burn

A photo of the offending item.

I'm not exactly a reliable blogger. Even with plenty of time on my hands I don't find the time to sit down and write...even when sitting/lying down is all I can do. With no time on my hands I'm even worse.

It's not that I have nothing to say, I have plenty to say, it's just that I choose not to say it or write it down. Then there are the times when I'm simply stuck for words.

I don't believe I'm the go-to-person for advice when it comes to living abroad, living in China or anything. I don't feel like the typical expat, China is my home and I make the best out of it. What most people talk about when they talk about China are things that I couldn't care less about. Yes, there are many things about China that aren't exactly perfect and that are very different compared to other places but I could say the same thing about living in Ireland and also about my home country, Germany. It's all just about perspective and about the way you look at it.

That's not why I'm writing this post though. I did plan to sit down and compose a lengthy rant about living in China, etc, etc, but I decided against it. Let's leave ranting about expats in China for another day, it's not going to end well. In all fairness I don't know many expats in China, I haven't made the effort to get to know any. In Wuhan I know three and they are my colleagues. In all of China I maybe know another five or six and these are all sound people with their heads screwed on right. Some of them are leaving, which is sad, but I respect it, and some are here for the long haul. As for the other expats who only moan about things that aren't great in China...here's an idea for you: Why don't you just back your bags and go right back to where you came from? Sure things in China aren't always perfect, or almost never perfect, but there's really no need to make everything look bad, write/talk only about the bad things and just generally paint a bleak picture. Not everything needs to be taken with a large helping of sarcasm either. What is required is an open mind and the ability to adapt to a completely different way of life and way of doing things. There, this is the short version of the post I'd planned to write.

This past week I've been suffering through my very own China nightmare although I can't say China has a lot to do with my current predicament nor is it at fault for what I'm going through. If you are following my Twitter account or are a friend on my personal Facebook account then you probably know that I've been on bed rest for the past ten days with plenty more to go. If you are only following my blog, which has been very quiet, or my Facebook page then you know knowing about what's going on...so let me clear things up for you.

You see, I had an unforgettable Valentine's Day evening...no my other half did not whisk me away to get hitched under the palm trees of Sanya, Hainan - I wish!!! What I went through was much more unforgettable and if I'm unlucky I'll have a couple of scars to remind me about it forever. Actually I most likely will have some scars, I highly doubt that everything will heal up so well that I won't be able to see it any more.

First of all, I was unlucky enough to work on Valentine's Day which by the way fell on the same day as the Lantern Festival this year. This only happens once every 19 years so it was a special occasion. Not for me really because I was stuck working and also not for my other half who is in a different city altogether and was too busy to sent flowers for which he got the third degree.

Anyway...moving on with the story. After a long day at work I finally managed to escape home and my other half was nice enough to call me and walk me home. When I got home I had a shower and changed into about three layers of pyjamas. Don't look at my like that! It's only getting a little warmer now, two weeks ago it was bitter cold, we had minus temperatures both during the day and at night. It was cold enough for me to plug in my electric hot water bottle (see picture above), a present from my friend and former colleague. That was my first mistake. The second mistake was that I placed the hot water bottle on my lap while it was charging. Ten minutes into playing some games on my phone something didn't seem quite right but before I could figure out what it was it was too late.

You see my hot water bottle filled with air while it was heating up the water inside and then it exploded, just like that. The water was hot, very hot and it went right through the three layers of trousers leaving nasty burns on the front and back of my left thigh. Actually I am thankful for the three layers of trousers I wore that night, without them I would have suffered burns of an entirely different calibre. Believe me, that night I stripped in record speed, I don't I've ever ripped off any item of clothing that fast. Unfortunately it was too late and even one hour of continually pouring cold water over the burned areas didn't provide me with much relief. I was in a hell of a lot of pain, screaming and crying bitterly.

Sure I've burned my finger before or flinched when a small drop of hot oil ended up on my arm while cooking and yes I've also touched something hot before. But I've never had the displeasure of going through what I went through that night. Burns hurt...a lot. The burned skin has no sensations left in it and neither do the nerves right underneath the top layer of the skin but the flesh underneath continues to burn, frying small veins and nerve endings and so on and so forth.

I called for help and when my friend finally came over to pick me up and take me to the hospital I was close to passing out. I cannot describe the pain I was in that night. It's all consuming, it takes your breath away and you can't focus on anything but the pain. You are literally on fire and even cold water only takes a chip of the edge. It doesn't make it bearable. The trip to the hospital was a nightmare. The taxi driver drove as fast as he could and thankfully he opened the windows for me. The cold breeze was a bit like the cold water shower at home. It took a chip of the edge but I was seriously light-headed at this stage.

We drove to the nearest hospital only to find out that they have no burn unit and couldn't help me. Luckily the taxi driver was still outside and when the passenger he had just picked up saw my burns and the state I was in she gave up the taxi in favour of me getting help...fast.

The Third Hospital of Wuhan City near the Yellow Crane Tower has an excellent burn centre with a burns emergency room, which I ended up in that night, and an outpatient department. It was quiet with no other patients and two doctors came to my rescue immediately. They cooled the burns, disinfected them and put a cooling and moisturising healing cream onto the burns. It was painful as hell but once they put the bandage in place it was somewhat bearable. 

Don't I look dashing all bandaged up like this?

I had to stay in the hospital for a while as the doctor wanted to make sure that the trauma of having burned myself didn't cause any shock. The head doctor was a lovely chap, chatty and distracting, while his colleague was very attentive. On the way into the hospital a nurse and the husband of another patient helped me walk and on the way back home my friend took care of me.

Still, that first night was pure horror. The pain was unrelenting and eventually, after a two hour torture I managed to climb back out of bed and get two ibuprofen from the dresser nearby. That took the edge off and I finally drifted off to sleep. My apartment isn't exactly big but the first few days everything seemed impossible. Getting out of bed and lipping to the bathroom felt like climbing the Mount Everest.

The next morning a lot of friends called and send messages to find out whether I was okay and some very good friends have come by to bring me food, spend time with me, cook me something delicious or just wash and clean up a little.

I have to go back to the hospital every second day to get the bandage changed and it's been quite painful. The place I burned (thigh, front and back) isn't exactly easy to bandage up. The bandages slide off very easily and it takes a lot of tape to keep it all in place. This is part of the reason why I am on bed rest. The other reason is that I can't walk properly or stand for a very long time plus the doctor said I should avoid it as much as possible.

So, this last week hasn't exactly been fun. Getting the bandages changed is painful with last week being especially painful since the doctor put on a new type of medicine that really made me curl up in bed and cry. This week I'm doing slightly better but I'm not exactly making a miracle recovering. Burns take time to heal and the doctor said I was quite lucky to wear three layers of trousers, had the water spilled directly on my thigh...well I don't really want to think about that. 

The doctors at the hospital are great though. They are attentive and careful and it helps that I can talk to them. So medical care in China isn't all bad. I'm happy that there is a hospital with a burn unit nearby and that I'm being taken care of so well. It makes things a little easier. What's not great is having to rely on other people so much. Independence is a great treasure and it sucks when it's ripped out from under you so suddenly.

Spending all day in bed isn't exactly fun either. There isn't much you can do and it gets uncomfortable very quickly. Last week the workers on the construction side next to my apartment complex broke a gas pipe so I had no gas for three days. Yesterday there was a problem with the water on the street I live on so nobody had water for the entire day. On top of that my washing machine is broken. Ordinarily these are all small things that a healthy person can deal with but they have been testing my patience and made me very angry and upset. It's not something I can deal with in my current state. I hope to be better soon but I can only do that if I get a lot of rest and without having to worry about problems that I shouldn't have to deal with in my current state. Things like that eat away at your patience and your ability to keep calm and collected. I'm big on independence. I don't mind asking people for help but when you have to ask about everything and anything it gets annoying. Short of going to the bathroom and boiling some water I am pretty much helpless and it sucks.

Here's to a speedy recovery and that everything goes well. After this I am hoping for a smooth year of the horse because it certainly did not started well and except for a handful of things the year of the snake was pretty crap either so I'm glad I don't have to deal with that one for another twelve years.