The week began with a sprained ankle. It’s the same ankle I sprained between New York and Johannesburg back in grad school. It was a three week trip and we did a LOT of walking. One of our local instructors took me to her doctor and he gave me some wonderful gel that killed the pain, but nobody seemed to know what an ACE bandage was! When I got back to STL, my doctor put it in an Aircast® and I spent the rest of the summer limping around.
I twisted my ankle in my kitchen at lunchtime. I was reaching up to get a container from the cabinet (the lowest shelf is above my head), when someone began POUNDING on my door and startled me. I turned quickly and got off balance and boom! Ankle twisted.
It was the maintenance guy, who was there to caulk my leaky windows. Apparently he had come before and I wasn’t home ( I was t e a c h I n g ) – so he seemed annoyed.
*I* was annoyed because I had been smelling cigarette smoke in my bedroom for weeks. I finally realized that the windows were not secure and I had reported it. He had come to caulk the bedroom window previously, but did not do due diligence and check the other windows. A week later I realized that the large living room window also was not secure so I reported that.
I had also been in contact with Carol about the door to the porch. It has a gap at the bottom of three centimeters! I had to explain what a door sweep is and find a photo online so that she could order me one on TaoBao.
I had also ordered a heavy winter coat like the one my students wear. The microfiber coat I brought with me is not enough for the rain and wind here in Liuzhou. I had asked some of my students if I could try on their coat and knew it was warm. I figured out my Chinese size by asking different sized students!
I didn’t think much about my ankle, it was only a little sore. After school N took me to go visit the street market that he found. I’d been here almost three months and had no idea that it’s right behind the school – only a few blocks away! It was much larger than I imagined and has just about everything, including live animals at the butcher.
The next morning I knew I was in trouble. My ankle was swollen, tender, and painful. But the only way to get to class was to walk across the quad. I figured I’d ask about getting an ACE bandage during my free period. But as I limped up to the building, the students were all leaving for morning exercise. The office staff saw me limping and said I had to go to the hospital. I told them that I knew it was just a sprain, there was no need for an xray, but I’d like to get an ankle brace.
They kept wanting me to go to the hospital, but I had class and besides I know what to do: RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Finally, they said they’d take me to the campus clinic. (We have a clinic?) I agreed to that figuring I’d get a bandage at least.
First we had to stand and wait for all the students to get outside for exercise. Then, we had to wait for the delivery guy to bring my coat. (Which was actually pretty neat. He drove up on a scooter with a few shopping bags, picked out mine and handed over the coat). Only then did we begin to walk across campus to the clinic. I asked how far it was and when I learned it was on the other side of campus, I suggested that maybe we should have borrowed somebody’s scooter… (the pain was increasing and the limp more pronounced).
Oh ok then. Limp, limp, limp…..
It turns out the clinic is right around the corner from the print shop. It’s a big room with a couple of desks, a divider, and what looked like a couple of cots behind the divider.
(Did I mention is was super cold that day? The coldest day so far).
The doctor came over and had me take off my shoe and sock. He proceeded to poke and prod my freezing foot with his ice cold hands, pushing on my ankle over and over while I kept saying OW, OW.
He did a LOT of talking. Every so often I’d get a translation. ‘He say not broken’. Um, yah, I knew that. ‘He say no walk on it’. Oh, really?? ‘He say you need wear softer shoes’. What? That’s the opposite of what my doctor said at home, and besides, I wasn’t wearing shoes when it happened.
Finally, he went over to a cabinet and got a small bottle of brown liquid. He then took several swabs and dunked them in the liquid and proceeded to paint my ankle with the stinky stuff. Over and over. After a while it did seem less painful. (I learned afterwards that the herbal remedy includes painkiller. And the label says it also cures frostbite!).
He handed me the bottle, I paid, and that was it. We walked out of the clinic and I saw an open door. I asked where that went, since I hadn’t been past the print shop before.
‘That’s where the peacock lives’.
‘Yes, we have a peacock. By the lake’.
There’s a lake??
‘You didn’t know? I can take you…’
Hmm, now’s not the best time. Maybe later.
I was surprised because usually if there’s a peacock, you can hear it calling for quite a distance.
‘Oh, your apartment is on the other side of campus, you wouldn’t hear them’.
And we resumed walking back. After a few minutes, a car pulled up and offered us a ride back.
It was the woman who’d I’d seen sitting in the background at the clinic. She’s the other doctor. She knew I was in pain and didn’t need to be walking on my injured ankle. Thank goodness!
The next day we had our monthly birthday party. It had a garden theme, even though it’s Fall and cold.
Late in the evening, I saw something on the local expat page. Walmart was opening tomorrow!! OMG! I texted A and asked her if she wanted to go. She wrote back that she had a few hours in the afternoon, so the next day she came to get me and we headed off to Walmart!
(Yes, I know, not too bright. But the painkiller in that brown stuff made me forget my ankle was sprained).
I realized that I couldn’t walk all the way to the pharmacy to look for an ankle brace, but then I remembered the new treatment my doctor had used the last time I hurt my knew. KT tape! The stuff the Olympic athletes wear to support and strengthen their muscles. I found some on TaoBao and asked Carol to order me some. Yay!
I rested the remainder of the week. On the weekend I watched some men come and clean out the empty building out back.
On Sunday I decided that I needed fresh fruit and walked to Lianhua outside the back gate. There were some new signs outside.
When I came back, there was an event! I asked the students in the crowd what it was and they told me it was a cooking contest! I dropped off my groceries and came back outside to watch. There were four rounds and all the contestants were Liugao students. On the first round I was able to grab an egg roll and it was wonderful! Very fresh and not greasy. On the other rounds it was harder to get to the food, so I gave up by the end. But it was nice to be outside on a beautiful sunny day. I realized that the cold damp weather the week before had gotten me down, and I was ready to begin my fourth month here.