Thursday, November 27, 2014

Crusin’ on Crutches… How to Get Around Shanghai with Semi Mobility (Part II)

(This is a two part post. Click here to read part one.)

I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back! Unfortunately, I’ve had internet issues (mostly due to the recent APEC conference and simply living in China) so, I was unable to post anything on this blog for a while. Besides the internet, I had a pretty busy month of school stuff which has recently slowed down (only to pick back up again in a few weeks due to Christmas).

In terms of my recovery, things were going well for a while, but I’ve become discouraged recently. I feel as if I’m not progressing and I miss doing dancing and other physical activities. I tried hopping on one leg today and I honestly got two centimeters off the ground :( On top of that, I spoke with one of the physical therapists yesterday who told me to expect another two to three months of recovery! I guess I was a bit disillusioned (and I’ll be honest, even lied to) about this procedure. What I thought was going to be a nice and simple procedure, is turning out to be quite difficult.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve decided that I really need to commit myself to doing my recovery exercises more and making a true effort in being a bit more healthy. Hopefully I can make my goal of getting out of mainland China for the Chinese Spring Festival come February.

So, I won’t waste any more time, here is Part II…

      5. China is not really made for people with disabilities
This probably should be number one on the list, but it’s no secret…China isn’t really a comfortable place if you have any kind of physical disability (and I would even add a mental one). Despite the glitz and glamour of Shanghai, China is still a developing nation that is still trying to get other parts of the country up and running to 21st century standards. While the center of the city may have more elevators, ramps, and even handicap accessible restrooms, outside of that, you may have to conquer loads of stairs, uneven sidewalk (pavement) and crazy pedestrian laws that put the pedestrian at the bottom of the transportation hierarchy (just under manual bicycles). I never really saw any local people in wheelchairs or on crutches and now I understand why…sometimes, it can be too damn difficult to get around!

  6. Be Prepared to Spend More
With all of those taxis and delivered meals, your wallet may take a hit. I advise that you have a budget each week and try to stay within that figure as close as possible. It would be best to cook a few large meals a week and then refrigerate/freeze the leftovers. That way, you can have some homemade ready meals to last you for a few days. Now, you don’t have to be Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, but understand that boiling water, spices and ready-made sauces (with few ingredients as possible) will be your best friend.

7. You Could Save Money
If your only expenses each week are taxis and a take-out meal every so often, you could end saving some money in the long run. In the beginning, I was a bit upset about all of the money I was spending on my work commute.  I went from 6-8RMB a day taking the bus to 30-34RMB a day by taxi. While this is a considerable jump, I wasn’t really spending any money on anything else besides my groceries. I didn’t go shopping at the mall or markets, I didn’t go for any meals or drinks, and I wasn’t spending frivolously since I barely left my home.  So, sometimes it does pay (literally) to be a homebody.

While were talking about staying home…

      8. Make your home as comforting and entertaining as possible
Pre-operation, a lot of my entertainment came from outside sources (restaurants, bars, shopping malls), but due to my limited mobility, those aforementioned entertainment sources had to sit on the backburner for a while.  You may experience this as well, so I suggest that you turn your home into your own entertainment area (if you haven’t done so already). This way, you won’t go completely crazy with boredom or even develop depression type sadness.

In order to keep myself entertained, I stocked up on lots of reading material (books, magazines, Chinese language manuals); streamed some shows through Chinese internet sites; stayed in touch with friends and family (through emails, skype and social media) and I even got crafty and started a vision board (which I need to finish this weekend)! I also did a number of beauty treatments to my face and hands so at least I wouldn’t look so bad when I finally went out to meet the public.

Speaking of the public, this leads to my next point:

  9. Don’t turn down offers of help
Anyone who’s ever been to China could tell you that China is not the most hospitable place.  The people here are not really as friendly or helpful as they would be in say America or Canada (apart from the language barrier). One thing that impressed me during my time on crutches was the fact that random people offered ways to help when possible. Whether it was telling me “ma dian (slow down)” or “xiao xin (be careful),” giving up their seats for me on the bus, or actually touching me to assist me, I felt very thankful for the help. 

While I did encounter some rude people who made comments or who tried to cut ahead of me for a taxi (on a few occasions), the majority expressed words of sympathy and they offered their help whenever possible. Heck, even my young ones loved to carry my books or bag without hesitation, and they would try to make the class comfortable when I arrived.
At first I felt awkward about this, but then, I simply embraced it and accepted it whenever possible. I suggest that you don’t shun others when they try to help you, accept their help with a smile and a thank you. After all, you may never experience this kind of V.I.P. treatment in China again!

And now for my final tip…

110. Be positive!
Anyone will tell you that surgery is no fun, but combine that with being alone in a foreign country and one can get downright depressed. I’m not afraid to admit that I experienced a lot of sadness and bad thoughts at the beginning of my recovery. Feelings of loneliness washed over me combined with anxiousness, boredom, helplessness and even anger. I was angry at myself for being in this position and even became jealous of seeing friends and even strangers going about their life and having fun. All I wanted to do was get off the couch and be outside; yet, I was stuck indoors with my foot propped up looking at clothing websites for the umpteenth time.  

What got me through those dark times was going to physical therapy and seeing my progress. Talking to friends and family on the phone who cheered me up with encouragement; and finally, knowing that my full recovery would happen in the near future.
So don’t give up! Do what you need to do to put a smile on your face and get yourself happy.

To be honest, I think I need to do again after expressing my doubts at the start of this post. After all, I know that my situation isn’t permanent and I’ll be back to doing tree pose in no time!

Well, that’s all! Tune in next time to hear more of my adventures abroad!

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