Saturday the 31st of May 2014
Here is a list of everything I have taken, as recommended by health professionals in Taiwan.
I have been suffering from hypersomnia for about a month after having spent a good five months unable to sleep at all. I’ve been going to bed around 12:30AM and getting up around 12:30PM… or around 2:30AM and sleeping until 2:30PM the next day etc. I have genuinely missed entire days (on the weekend) where it seemed like I must’ve just needed to catch up on sleep even though I’d slept through the night. I yawn constantly and feel excessively tired in work which leads people think I haven’t slept at all when actually I might’ve had eleven hours or so. A month is way too long; I missed a workshop and decided to see a doctor. In order to actually see the morning now, it feels as though I just shouldn’t go to sleep at all.
Early Monday morning dentist appointments are usually followed by sleep before school, even though I’ve slept during the night. I feel like a teenager, as though I’m still growing even though I’m not, I’m a healthy adult (in terms of weight, fitness level, mental stability etc.), I shouldn’t be this exhausted. The medications I’m currently taking are numbers one, two, three and thirteen (see list). These medications were prescribed when I told the doctor about my extreme over sleeping, general tiredness and sore throat. I don’t feel like being social and I force myself to stay awake, alert and enthusiastic so I won’t be judged by people but it seems to be taking its toll. I find myself wanting to rest my head on the toilet roll holder at work so I can have a little nap in the bathroom half way through the school day. When I’ve planned all my lessons and there’s no one else in the teachers room I put my head on my arms and try to rest a little, even though as I say, I’ve had more than enough sleep.
So, what are numbers one, two and three? 1. Thiamphenicol, an antibiotic, usually used as a veterinary antibiotic, but is available in China, Morocco and Italy for use in humans. 2. Lisamin, or tranexamic acid is used in various other medical conditions but mainly to treat or prevent excessive blood loss. 3. Volna-K, or diclofenac potassium, is used to relieve swelling (inflammation) or pain from various conditions.13. Unlabelled Multivitamins, with iron, as I’m now malnourished, I should also point out that it’s not always clear if someone is malnourished, although most people associate the word with an emaciated body, this simply isn’t the case.
I cry a lot, I’d say I cry almost every day. No one has been able to help me with that. My grandmother on my mother’s side told me she doesn’t cry, at all and that she can’t remember the last time she cried. I believe her. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t cry. When I was at university, one of my triggers was not sleeping, as well as stress, not eating correctly and certain kinds of over stimulating social situations etc. I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2010 and yet since moving to Taiwan, I haven’t had a seizure, or at least (due to me living alone) I definitely don’t think I have, not a grand mal anyway. My tongue has been damaged once or twice during sleep but I presume that might just be from bad dreams or something. It feels a little swollen at the moment, as though it was scratched by my molars. I’m starting to wonder whether or not I probably should’ve braved the John Radcliffe hospital stay when I was down in Oxford. Perhaps this strange lack of followed by too much of sleep situation might’ve been prevented had I actually gone through with it. I remember being asked to stay in the hospital around the time of my degree show, so instead of going I kept myself incredibly busy as I didn’t want to think about it.
I don’t like hospitals. I don’t like being in hospitals, I don’t like visiting people in hospitals; I don’t like the corridors, the signs, the smells, the sounds, the seating areas… I do like that they exist, I like the doctors and nurses, the other members of staff, I like that people are born in hospitals and that people die in hospitals, I like that people can be saved and healed in hospitals, so really, when I say I don’t like hospitals, what I mean is that I don’t like the way hospitals affect me, psychologically. Hospitals in Taiwan are very public, as are doctors, dentists and physiotherapy clinics. It seems as though there is usually always more than one person being seen at a time, I’ve mentioned this in a previous post but every medical scenario here reminds me of a hair and beauty salon, a lack of privacy.
An average of ten or more hours a night is not healthy, in fact, it has been linked to a host of medical problems, an increased risk of death, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. I’ve been hit by a car a few times and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t sleep cycling so I suppose over sleeping and not having a proper sleep schedule here might’ve contributed to that.
Monday the 26th of May 2014
It’s midnight here, my Sunday has ended and I have managed to mark a pile of exams, eat whatever I had left in my room (four eggs, two slices of bread, rice with soy sauce, two ice lollies…) and watch The Wolf of Wall Street, which I have to say, (although a good film in its own right) is not my kind of film. I found a sachet of hot chocolate earlier, so I’m about to make that.
It’s as though reading less has caused me to write less, it’s a strange dilemma, no time to read, no energy to write, willingness without execution is rather a depressing state of mind. I want to do so much and yet I’m unable. Even when I’m being productive, I feel like I’m procrastinating. I washed my dishes in the shower again today, I long for a kitchen sink. Living alone in one room, with a shower room attached, as though I’m an immigrant in a 1960’s tenement building (if you ignore the electronic devices, WiFi and cable television) is something I never really considered a viable living arrangement for my twenty three year old self.
I went to Taichung or 臺中市 yesterday for Compass Food & Music Festival 康百視雜誌美食音樂節. It was good, I liked the Taiwanese punk bands more than the others but the music wasn’t the highlight of the event. There were stalls selling all kinds of exciting food and produce as well as nice bar tents etc. It was a family event, there were lots of kids everywhere blowing bubbles and dancing near the stage, the weather was hot and not a drop of rain fell. I had to buy make up at one point as my skin (due to being ill almost constantly here) was affected by the heat and I needed to reapply. I have never seen so many English teachers in one place at the same time. I say English teachers, some of them might be expatriates in other fields of work such as engineering but I didn’t think to ask.
It was a very sociable event, although, one that I found meant towards the end (it started early and ended at nine o’clock) people were rather drunk. I have almost zero tolerance for ridiculously rude and reckless drunken behaviour, I can’t stand it, it is probably the bête noir I despise the most. It shows when I myself have had more than one drink, I make it quite obvious someone is starting to bore me and then I apologise because it’s not their fault I don’t find them interesting. We went to a KTV after the festival; we were shown to a huge fancy room with a big screen and three microphones. It looked like a hotel on the inside with a marvellous buffet which I kind of wish I had eaten more of. I should’ve taken plates of biscuits into the room and saved them for my house. Standard buffet etiquette, steal the deserts…
I got a taxi to Changhua with two new friends and one of the other Shane teachers, the journey back was quicker than I had initially expected. However, once I had said my goodbyes at the dimly lit train station (it was very late), I headed by myself into what’s known as ‘the bike graveyard’ to some. I heard there was another place called ‘the bike graveyard’ where a little old Taiwanese man sells second hand bikes. I don’t recall seeing that one though. I posted the following status update after a horrendous start to my journey home, in the dark, in Taiwan, from the city out into the country:
I don’t understand Taiwan sometimes, I thought someone had stolen my bike as it wasn’t where I left it (locked up) at the train station. I spent ages scrambling around in the dark (in the early hours of the morning) trying to find it amongst hundreds of other bikes. As if it’s fine because where I’ve parked is more convenient for them… Find your own damn space, I was there first. You’re going to ruin my bike… This is not the first time it’s happened either (although this is the most extreme case). Furious.
I realise now that this status update required a semi colon rather than a comma after sometimes but that’s fine. My manager constantly moves my bike, almost every day in fact and it drives me mad. I realise now that all the razor blades and glass I kept finding in my bike parking spot outside of school (for months I experienced this) were put there on purpose. I realise that when my tyre burst in the middle of a storm, whilst cycling on the road it wasn’t due to any shrapnel or wear and tear, it was sabotage. I know this because my boyfriend read in a guide book that there is a culture of extreme passive aggression in Taiwan when it comes to convenience of parking, a sort of ‘if it suits me, screw you’ attitude. I’ve seen slashed scooter seats and tipped motorcycles and thought nothing of it, I’m much more aware now that this is some kind of petty turf war they like to play here. Anyway, so after my boyfriend told me this, I went online and sure enough there are forums full of upset people (mainly English teachers) whose neighbours have decided to mess with their property. I actually heard someone (a neighbour) attempt to move my bike from beneath my window today. It was dark outside and he saw me as I moved my curtains to the side and with me living on the ground floor, he noticed the light, he looked at me, I glared at him with a ‘if you dare’ look of pure hatred in my eyes and shook my head. My lips pursed as though I was holding back the urge to scream.
I didn’t make it to breakfast, followed by church in the end with my new friend and although I said I would go next week, I now realise it’s my colleague’s birthday and Dragon Boat Festival so I don’t think I’ll be able to. I need to get in touch with her later on. My internet is questionable (almost as questionable as The Great Gatsby soundtrack) at the moment and my messages don’t seem to be sending properly. I also don’t own a smart phone which can access apps or the internet. Although my Blackberry is now unlocked thanks to my parents help, the Taiwanese SIM card doesn’t allow the use of apps etc. At least I know that once I’ve moved to Poland, my Polish SIM card will be one which does allow apps. I considered buying an iPhone here as technology is so much cheaper in Taiwan; however on learning how many people are poisoned here in those electronics factories my view on cheap products has changed slightly. For being known as ‘the safest country in Asia’, it’s nauseating how dangerous Taiwan is when you get past the beautiful cultural heritage of the island.
Monday the 19th May 2014
My manager decided to cut all of our hours for some reason, I now teach one class on a Monday and have lost an adorable CEO1 class that I actually enjoyed teaching. They’re a group of accelerated students, which means that rather than spending two lessons per unit, we do one unit each lesson with a review every third or fourth lesson which makes teaching them both challenging and fun. They started off with counting from one to five not so long ago and they’ve already progressed into more complicated grammar points and vocabulary. Ah well, que sera sera as they say.
On Saturday, I woke up with a headache, my neck felt stiff and my apartment was so warm that beads of sweat were dripping off my nose and resting on my lips. I turned on my AC and sat upright, I was unable to fall back to sleep and spent most of the morning wondering what time I was meant to be at school. Rather than getting changed, I just sat there, in my pyjamas, thinking no one has really given me a specific answer as to what my involvement is today. So, after an hour or so, I sent two messages, decided I wasn’t going (to school for the mother’s day show) and even reconsidered going to the leaving dinner in the evening. Two YouTube WW2 documentaries later, I had a shower, got dressed and cycled towards Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì). I was going to the dinner. I stopped off at Café Minerva’s and bought an apple juice, I was asked if I was planning a wedding. I don’t go out a lot, so when it comes to not dressing for school, I might overdo it. Although, I think I probably looked more like a 1940’s secretary than a guest at a wedding. I bought the teacher who was leaving a big box of Danish cookies, which he kindly shared with everyone.
I went to the dentist again this morning; I didn’t make it to the church yesterday for various reasons but I have made plans for next Sunday with my new friend, starting with breakfast, which should be nice. There is so much going on in my mind at the moment that not being able to function due to a lack of sleep is having a serious effect on my body. My room looks like it was hit by a bomb, I have exams to mark. I had my card details stolen last week and I was unable to buy my flights last night so I have to try again at about midnight tonight. I spent around six hours speaking to the NatWest fraud team and Emirates customer service yesterday in an attempt to leave Taiwan in August. Not being able to board a plane unless you’re able to show the card you paid for the tickets with is ridiculous. Thank goodness my brother and sister are coming next month; they’ll bring my new card with them. I also found out yesterday how heavily monitored internet usage is here in Taiwan and China, it made me feel physically sick when I traced several IP addresses to different locations in China after port scanners thought they’d attempt to access my computer again. Usually a hacker will try to access a computer ten times before moving on, an infected computer acting as a bot though, that’s a whole different story. I’ve taken to covering my webcam just incase.
My school sent me generic malware via an excel document containing my payslip and when I brought it up and told them to scan their computers, I was asked how my computer gave theirs a virus… Not scanning your computers regularly and checking your firewall, as a business in Asia, particularly as a school, is a really, really bad idea. Anyway, so I backed up my files and then appeared to break the internet in my building by removing a ton of viruses from the network… My landlady had someone come and fix it the next day but my computer was freaking out for a couple of hours due to it. It’s all back to normal now and due to the lack of internet (less than 24 hours), I found I was exceptionally productive. If you live in an apartment and you share WiFi, you should use your computer as though you’re in a coffee shop, it just makes sense, set it to public and update your anti-virus software.
Someone (or something) has just this second attempted another port scan… I’ve been reporting IP addresses all over the place recently. I am so done with the internet here, Taiwanese gangsters (and their horrendous girlfriends), traffic, wild dogs, dangerous architecture, poisonous insects, questionable education systems, pollution and sewage. Also, I have never seen as many tropical thunderstorms and flash floods in my life, it’s really hard to be a cyclist here when it rains. They actually speed up here when it rains… why do they speed up? They’re in a car, they’re not going to get wet, slow down. I’ve seen way too many crashes this month; people just beep their horns at one another expecting that to be a fine reason to run a red light etc.
Monday the 12th of May 2014
I woke up at around 8:15AM and I was on my bike by 8:45AM. Today’s trip to the dentist was better than last time. Mainly because I left with all of my teeth, all of which are now much cleaner, although, my teeth are usually immaculate anyway as I am very tooth conscious. There was actually a stain on the side of my molar, on the top right hand side of my mouth, the tooth next to the wisdom tooth which was removed. I noticed it a few months ago, it wasn’t noticeable unless I put my finger in my mouth and pulled my cheek until I could see it. I’ve made another appointment, at the same time, next Monday at 9:00AM. As of next week I’ll have held the same appointment three weeks running, which is quite cool. I think it’s definitely important that I get all of my dental work here before I leave, especially as each trip costs about £1.50, which includes the cleaning and filling I had done. Last week was 50p more as I had a wisdom tooth removed and technically it’s minor surgery.
The dental nurse who gave me a sticker last week asked if I wanted to come to church with her on Sunday and I told her I didn’t know where it was, so she gave me the road and pointed in the general direction of it. I said I would see her there. I decided that I should go and that actually it would be an interesting experience to be part of a congregation in Taiwan. I cycled the opposite route to that which I took to get to the dentist in an attempt to find the church. I found it. You can’t miss it. It’s an actual Presbyterian church; it even looks like one (which I didn’t expect). I’m quite excited for church on Sunday now. It’s really near my house too, the address is 財團法人台灣基督長老教會彰化中會和美教會No. 22, Section 6, Zhangmei Rd, 彰化縣508. Although, I’m going to have to find out what time to get there by doing a bit of online research. I am going to a meal in Taichung with my colleagues on Saturday night as a dinner has been arranged. I think I might skip the club afterwards in order to get home early.
School starts at 5:30PM for me today; I might go and buy myself something with meat in it, perhaps from a fast food restaurant which I have up until this point managed not to enter alone. I definitely think my body is lacking some kind of nutrients at the moment. My diet (as in the food I eat) seems rather limited here. My boyfriend and I were discussing this yesterday. It’s strange. I think he was as surprised as I was by the amount of food you can’t actually get in supermarkets here, some of which seem like normal every day groceries in the West. He’s going to take me to the Alma supermarket when I come to Poland in August (something I may or may not have previously mentioned on here). I can’t wait; originally I asked if we could go to Tesco. I like Tesco.
Sunday the 11th of May 2014
It is 1:35AM, I feel really unwell today, my stomach is in knots, I haven’t left my apartment since returning home from work on Friday night, nor have I opened my curtains. I’d give anything for some salted pretzels or an apple right now. I need to make sure I go to the supermarket tomorrow, I need to eat something crunchy, something which isn’t greasy, something which isn’t sweet.
Friday the 9th of May 2014
I bought white hot chocolate which was labelled as being ‘caffeinated’. It just tastes like hot milk. The same company make a nice regular hot chocolate though, you buy a bag and the bag contains lots of sachets. This is how most things are sold here, in bulk. It’s very hard to find anything singular in a grocery store, unless you want to buy a tin of tuna or something to drink.
I miss supermarkets in the UK and shopping online, I really enjoyed shopping online. The nail of my left thumb has developed some kind of abnormality in the last week or so, since taking the medication I was given for my tooth. It’s definitely not diabetes, it could be anaemia, I don’t have enough iron in my diet (or many other vitamins and minerals for that matter). The gaping hole in my gum where my wisdom tooth used to be was neither stitched nor rinsed with salt water. One of the first things I wanted to buy in Taiwan was salt, there is only sugar. Sugar, sugar everywhere and not a drop of salt, it seems. I realise this is perhaps why almost everything I’ve eaten in Taiwan is sweet. I sometimes eat tuna out of the tin to combat this; it’s a nice combination of salt, oil, fish and a lot of mercury. I’ve actually had to cut down on tuna as my exposure to mercury is just under 100% here, it’s high. My immune system should be quite impressive when I return to Europe. I feel as though I’ve been camping indoors for six months.
Honey tastes very different here due to the varying plants and flowers, it’s not unpleasant but it surprised me when I tried it on a bit of toast. I still haven’t learned to stop buying bread from my favourite bakery. I’ve found no metal bits or hairs for a while but I have found something else. Here’s a little story about a sandwich.
I made another appointment for Monday at 9AM, so hopefully everything is fine and I haven’t developed dry socket or anything like that. I was given more medication, gauze and an anime cat sticker for being brave. My mouth bled all day. The combination of sleep deprivation, a huge amount of drugs and the fact that I’ve been suffering from nausea and various other illnesses for weeks meant that I was only able to get through one lesson before deciding that having to work after having a wisdom tooth removed is absolutely ludicrous.
Since moving to Taiwan, I have never actually had time to get over anything that’s been wrong with me. It just isn’t done. Had surgery? Back to work. Hit by a car? Back to work. Vomiting all morning because the contaminated water in your building is regularly ingested when you boil your kettle with it in an attempt to drink something? Back to work. I say this but my manager, the TAs and every other member of staff was more than understanding. Although I was expected initially to be in on the Tuesday, I knew it would be impossible for me to function, never mind teach three classes back to back. I was given a lift home on the back of a scooter, cycling on the verge of collapse probably wouldn’t have been the wisest of decisions. I’m fine now; I was back in work on Wednesday evening, a little less spaced out having stopped taking the mysterious ‘left on my desk’ drugs and only taking the drugs given to me by the dentist.
Sunday the 4th of May 2014
It’s 3:20AM; I have a dentist appointment at 9AM on Monday morning or tomorrow morning depending on how you view days. I haven’t been to bed yet. I feel as though this still counts as being Saturday. I’m prone to oversleeping at the moment. This morning I woke up just before 1PM… My days just disappear here, weeks, months, it’s all the same.
There are two NT $10 coins on my laptop to remind me to use the washing machine. I didn’t do it earlier today as I decided not to leave my room. I had planned on going out for a night time bike ride to try out my new camera but I spoke to my boyfriend via Skype instead and did some much needed organising. It was a better decision as I’m not well at the moment. I haven’t been well for a while. Last week really took it out of me though, this work schedule combined with flulike symptoms, a swollen face and glands (wisdom teeth) and a pounding headache make teaching rather difficult. However, as per usual, the show must go on. Most of my day was spent in front of my computer screen, I didn’t spend as much time on Pinterest as usual but I managed to update AAA Art and I found a lot of new artists today which made me feel relatively productive. I also started a clothing collection using a site similar toSociety6; however it’s not as well known.
I managed to book my brother, sister and I a room for seven nights in July at the CU HOTEL Taipei 西悠飯店-台北店. There’s a gym and free WiFi. It’s also near the Ningxia Night Market, Shuanglian Metro Station, Dihua Street and the Xiahai City God Temple. I decided to pay extra to buy an entire dorm room (it was a four bed dorm so it’s not as impressive as I make it sound). I know none of us like the idea of seven nights with various strangers in our room depending on how long each individual stayed… so I thought it best to avoid such an issue. I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to do that but it makes sense thought I might as well. I’d rather feel safe with my brother and sister than have the three of us not sleep for fear of some homeless looking traveller robbing our bags.
It’s May the fourth today, so as usual, Happy Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you!