29 September 2011

CD13 and a better day

aka Thankful Thursday

Today is CD13 of my cycle and also the day I was told to start POAS to test for O. After all the trouble I went through to get the pee-sticks yesterday, I had to test one last night. Besides, what girl can resist peeing on a stick when it is in her vicinity?! I know it was late (midnight) to be testing and that I wasn't going to test that late the rest of the time, but I just couldn't help it. The test line was quite faint, but it was there. Today though, the test line was much darker, but still not darker than the control. Fingers crossed for a darker test line tomorrow or this weekend so I can call the clinic to schedule my transfer for next week.
I know yesterday's post was quite horrible, dreary and just down and out negative. That was exactly how I was feeling though. Today, on the other hand, has been much better. While I've still had a few small bouts of sadness, I've been much chipper and in a pleasant mood. I actually meant my smiles when I smiled today.

I'm not quite sure what got me into my horrible funk yesterday. Sure thinking about and missing my mom can do it. So can upcoming O-time hormones. But I really don't know what triggered it, nor why it wouldn't go away the entire day. Bleh.All I know is that I'm not feeling that way today and for that I am very thankful!

In honor of feeling perkier and it being Thursday (for 37 more minutes), here's a few things I'm thankful for at the moment:
- Mr Siili cooked dinner before I got home, so all I had to do was re-heat it.
- I had 2 tv series ready for me to watch this evening. (Again, thanks to Mr Siili.)
- I had a snuggly kitty on my lap while watching my shows.
- I stayed 2 hours extra at work (boo), but I feel confident that I've sorted the customer's account out much better than it had been in ages. One more thing to cross of my to do list!
- It's Thurs-night! Only one more day of work until the weekend.
- I wore my new bra today and it didn't bug me once! It also has a cute little jewel right in the middle.
- I'm going to bed now! I'm aiming to be in bed and asleep before midnight.

Woeful & Wordy Wednesday

When I opened Blogger for the first time today and saw that I had earned my 33rd follower, I gasped in happiness. Really, I did! This month's ICLW saw my followers increase by 3. And each time I saw/see my numbers go up, I feel amazed and happy that someone wants to read my words. I can't imagine these feelings will ever get old. I love my followers and the interaction they give me. Thank you everyone!

As ICLW winds down for the week and month, I hope everyone has gotten something out of the comment leaving, whether it be big or small. Any time I get a comment it helps me know that I am not alone, especially on some of my darker days. This week was no exception.

- This morning started out with me sniffly and then in tears over my mom. I still miss my mom tons and I find that I just want to call her and talk about things or ask her something. I'll never be able to do that again. Some things are just going to be lost to me forever. And it kills me. This sadness has followed me most of the day. Not even diving into work made it go away. I just felt so hollow and empty inside that I almost expected someone, anyone at work to stop me and ask what's wrong. But I guess I'm a good actress as no one seemed to look at me twice or ask what's up.

- I was going to leave home early so I could go to the pharmacist before work. I left the house 1 minute too late, because I saw the bus already at the stop and there was no way i was going to run for it today. Actually, I've decided that the bus was too early this morning, or rather exactly on time. I walked a few bus stops in hope of catching a different bus line, but they all leave about the same time, so I saw them all pass on by in front of me. By the time I did catch the next bus, it was late downtown because of some construction work. So I didn't go to the pharmacist before work.

- My underwear decided it was a good day to ride up my ass, on one side. (God that sounds so stupid and laughable when typed out.)

- I went to the pharmacist during my lunch break, only to find out that I left my wallet at work.

- On a positive note, I didn't receive my normal mass influx of work emails, which allowed me to get caught upon some work. I still have tons more to do tomorrow. Isn't that how work is, though?

- I went to the pharmacist after work to get my asthma and progesterone prescriptions filled and there was a long line. Thankfully they have numbers to take so I could walk around and get the O-tests I needed. Although, I couldn't find the O-tests and finally had to ask someone. They were right next to the pregnancy tests, I was just blind. I bought the cheaper brand. It was also the one that didn't have the smiley, happy baby on it. Only a flower. On a positive note, the progesterone is covered by the Social Insurance, so I only had to pay 1,50€  for the 2 boxes (total) instead of 37€ each. Unlike the Lugesterone I had been using all of these previous times, which I am allergic to, and I had to pay 17€ per box as the Social Insurance wouldn't cover it. Let's hope I don't have any allergic reactions to this stuff.

- I got home and my cat meowed at me. Like he always does when I get home, but some days I just wish he would shut up. I feel bad for thinking that. I gave him and his sister their evening treats and he was content for a while.

- Dinner wasn't cooked when I got home and I felt way too lazy to cook it myself. So, I had peanut butter on Saltine crackers for dinner. A few of them even had a tiny piece of dark chocolate on top, for dessert.

- I told Mr Siili that my day was just crappy and I cried a bit more. I'm quite sure a fair share of this moodiness and hormonalness is due to the pending O. So, in a nut shell, that's my crap-tastic day. It's a big nut shell, I think it's a coconut. I know none of these things are that bad, but when I'm feeling down and out, everything just seems multiplied.

- After a two hour break while Mr Siili and I watched 2 episodes of Fringe, I'm feeling a bit less sullen and sad. I'm now just extremely tired. It's off to bed with aforementioned meow-y putty tat for me.

Good night!

27 September 2011

Time Warp Tuesday

Kathy over at Four of a Kind has started a blog hop titled Time Warp Tuesdays. (RHPS anyone?) As Kathy says: The idea is to revisit and share some of our favorite blog entries from our archives and reflect on our journeys since we wrote them. I think this sounds quite interesting and I'm ready to give it a go. I've never participated in a blog hop before, so this'll be something new and I hope fun. Also, each week Kathy'll announce a new theme (for the following week).

This week's topic is: Waiting.

Looking back at my blog, I realized that I started my blog about 1 month before we started TTC, but I didn't start actively and more consistently posting until closer to the 2 year mark. (We've now just gone past the 3 year anniversary of TTC.) In essence, this entire blog has happened while I've been waiting and is about my journey of waiting to get pregnant (and hopefully have a baby in my arms some day).

Things haven't changed too much since my I started this blog or since I wrote the post I'm reminiscing about today. I'm still waiting for O, waiting for the elusive BFP, waiting for IF appointments and waiting for a baby. At least when I wrote that post, I was still in the happy-go-lucky stage of TTC. We weren't even 6 months into trying and we didn't have any clue that I have endometriosis. I had no worries and definitely no idea of what would be in store for us in the journey ahead. In many ways it would be easy and 'nice' if it could be like that now. If wishes were fishes... These days, the waiting is worse and my feelings of hope are less, more often than not. Especially on a down day like today.

On a lighter note, in my older post I mentioned that I had just received the book Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer from Santa, which I had been desperately waiting for. That wait is now long gone as I've read all the books in the series, twice. On the other hand, I'm now waiting for the first part of the Breaking Dawn movie to come out in theaters in just under 2 months! This wait is agonizing (in a fun school girl-like way)!

CD10 + doctor's visit

I had my first clinic visit in ages today! But first I want to share the mushrooms I picked yesterday with you. I went by myself into unknown and new woods to pick mushrooms by myself! Normally, I've gone with someone else to pick mushrooms and to a spot that they know about. But this time, I didn't have anyone to go with me (and Mr Siili isn't a big mushroom person), so I put on a brave face and decided to check out a new place right near our home. Actually, it is between our current place and our new home. Score!

I wandered around for the first hour not finding the mushrooms I had gone to look for (suppilovahvero = yellow foot), but rather finding a few chanterelle (1/2 liter) instead. Just when I was thinking of heading back, I stepped upon, literally, the mother load of mushrooms. I picked 2 liters of the suppilovahvero. By that time I had been wandering around for about 2 hours, it was time to head home. On my way back to the car, I heard some snuffling noises behind me, turned around and there was a white fluff ball! I yelped (no screaming or yelling) and the dog growled at me. I froze for 2 seconds and calmed my heart down enough to remember I have Taekwon-do skills if need be and a bucket of mushrooms. The guy finally got his growly dog back under control and I found my way back to my car. I didn't get lost! Another score!

Summer break from TTC is over! After an ill-timed O in June that caused the FET to not work that month, the clinic being closed all of July, my period starting too early in August (actually 1 week before Aug) and then me going to Shanghai for work at the end of August and first half of September, this is the first time the timing is working again. So, when AF showed up for cycle #40, I called the clinic to schedule today's appointment.

The lady doctor was one I hadn't had/met before (they have rotating doctors at the clinic, so we get whoever is there that day). She was nice, answered my questions well and I liked her. The details are as follows:
- lining is 8mm. Yay!
- left ovary has a couple of small cysts; nothing new & nothing to worry about, but also only very small follicles growing there
- right ovary has a couple of nice sized follies, at least one is a 7mm and one 8mm. Go follies!
- I'll start POAS on Thursday to hopefully catch the surge (on Friday?) sometime during the following couple of days
- If/When I get a positive, I'll call the clinic to schedule the thawing of our last and only embryo. Fingers crossed the timing is correct and it thaws in tact!

I also asked about the AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) blood test I had done back in June to see how my egg supply is doing. She told me my score is a 0,6, which is normal for my age and having endometriosis. Dr Lady said that if had been 0,2 or lower, then we'd be in major trouble. There's still some time for me and my eggs, but still it is time to be cautious because, yet again, of my age and endo.

I also asked her about my endo and whether or not that is a good enough reason for "infertility" or should I still be searching for another reason. She said endo is a 'good' enough reason. I think I have a post brewing about this topic, so I'll save it for a later date.

All in all, the doctor's visit was like I expected. Everything looks to be going like it should and nothing earth shattering was found. Fingers crossed we see some double lines on the O tests later this week!

For now, I've got a bit of bounce to my step and some hope in my heart.

24 September 2011

Sniffly Saturday

That's right, I've been lucky enough to get my first cold of the season. Ugh!

Thursday after work I could feel the sniffles and early cold-like itches creeping up on me as night came on. Then as I went to bed, my eyes felt that telltale feverish burning of an oncoming cold. By Friday morning I knew I was sick, although I wasn't feeling too horrible just yet. I still went to work and worked my entire shift and then some because my co-worker who was supposed to stay until 6pm was out of the office with his sick daughter. It was a long sneezy, sniffly, runny nose day that wasn't made any more fun by having a fuzzy and addled brain. At least Mr Siili was up for Subway so I didn't have to cook. As if he'd want me cooking food with snot running out my nose every time I looked down.

Today I woke up on my own schedule (around 10), lazed in bed a bit and then Mr Siili and I went to take our weekly pictures of the progress on our house and then to the food store. After that we came home, got food and sat down in front of our respective computers.

At one point I decided to get my laptop out and try to update it as I haven't used it quite some time (70 days by the update manager's calculation). That caused a stupid argument between Mr Siili and I. Needless to say, I'm not to pleased with that situation or him at the moment. Computer is finally updated and I'm too tired to download the pictures from my camera to my computer now.

Later this evening we'll head to sauna and then possibly watch a few tv shows. It's going to be a quiet and recovering weekend for me. I hope everyone else has a better weekend than I am having.

23 September 2011

Egg tart recipe

Today started with me missing my mom and then crying. It wasn't until I got to work and really immersed myself in my tasks that the deep sorrow was drowned out of my mind. I was just too busy to think about anything else. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. This time it was good, I guess.

Work has been busy, as usual. Yesterday, our team was supposed to do some cleaning and rearranging of seating places and it ended up being me who did it as everyone else went on break at that time. Even though we had a "meeting" scheduled and no one said anything to me about how it wasn't a good time for them. My hide was very chapped! (This most likely contributed to my not-so-chipper emotions this morning.) But, if I didn't do the stuff that needed to be done, another team couldn't move out of the seat I needed to move into. It took me much longer than what it should have and I left for the day without reading/answering some emails, a huge mess on my new desk and my computer not set up. Then today, the others finally got their act together and started cleaning and organizing the rest of the files and desks (which affected them). I didn't lift a finger! And if someone would have asked me, I would have politely refused to help. Petty, I know, but it truly irked me.

On the bright side, Mr Siili called mid-day to see how I was doing. It was so sweet of him. I also decided to spoil myself at lunch with some guava juice and a moon cake. It definitely made me feel better. And on an even better note, I decided to make Egg tarts tonight!

Egg tarts are something I discovered while in Shanghai. They have a thin pastry shell, an eggy-custard middle and so delish!! I made them once already since I've been home just over a week now and I had to make them again because, 1) they are that good and 2) I really wanted to take some pictures to go along with the recipe when I share it. Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Finished Egg tarts*
Hong Kong Egg Tart(makes around 12 egg tarts)

Ingredients for butter pastry:
100g room temperature butter
200g plain flour
1 egg
50g sugar
Ingredients for egg filling:
100ml water
80g sugar
3 eggs
100ml milk

 Directions for butter pastry:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius
1) Mix butter to the flour and sugar mixture
2) Add egg
3) Knead it into a dough
4) Press the pastry into the moulds gently using your two thumbs. Try not to have a thick pastry bottom.
5) Punch holes into the pastry with a fork

Directions for egg filling:
6) Melt water and sugar together (I just used the microwave for a second)
7) Add milk and eggs, beat and mix well
8) Sieve the mixture two times to get a smooth egg filling
9) Pour the egg filling into the pastry moulds
10) Bake it in the oven at 200 degrees celcius for 15-20 minutes. The egg should still be wobbly (you don't want to overcook it!)

My little helper, Rusty. He shares his cat hair freely.
I Googled and found this recipe (and others) from DessertzHouse. She also has an updated and slightly different version, which I haven't tried yet, but I think I will.
*I was so excited to eat a warm egg tart and I was in th emiddle of writing this post, that I almost forgot to take a picture of the final product, which is why there are 2 tarts missing. They are already in my and Mr Siili's tummies.

20 September 2011

Next step: natural FET, if all works out

I called the clinic yesterday to see where this cycle stands. Since I didn't start any meds on CD1 (didn't have a prescrip), by default this cycle and potential FET will be au natural. I have mixed feelings about this because the last natural attempt didn't work because of timing. MRJ, on the other hand, will most likely be happy about this cycle being (more) natural so he can 'test' to see if it was him or the clinic to get me pregnant, if it happens that is. I'm sure he will think it all his doing, which who knows, maybe it would be. I really don't care how or what gets me pregnant, only that it happens. In any case I will go into the clinic next Monday (CD10) for an u/s and to see what happens next. I'm pretty sure I will get to POAS and hope for a positive O indication.

On a different yet similar topic, my heart just sunk today during a meeting at work. I was sitting across the table from one of the married girls (P) and I noticed that her breasts look quite full and once I noticed that, I thought her tummy could be also. I don't make a habit out of staring at other women's boobs and stomachs, but this just happened into my sight and mind. I also think this came about as another co-worker (G) told me a while ago that her and a couple of others were betting (not seriously, I hope) on who would be pregnant by this year's xmas party. I told G not to hold her breath on me being pregnant by then. And in a very, very selfish way, I hope P isn't pregnant either. No more work pregnancies before me!!

17 September 2011

Cycle #40, a day early

That's right, CD1 of cycle #40 is today. I had signs of AF arriving last evening and knew she was here before I went to bed. Since it was so late, I'm calling today day one. I try to tell myself that I'm not at all sad about AF arriving this cycle, because there is no way in hell I could have gotten pregnant this cycle with me being in Shanghai before and after O, but know that she is here and I'm still not pregnant still makes me a bit sad. The good news is that I get to call my clinic on Monday and get the ball started on our 2nd and final FET from IVF #2.

Here's to possibilities and hope.

Happy to be home

The trip home was uneventful for the most part. Like normal, the taxi driver in Shanghai drove like a mad man to the airport. At one point he was going 100kph in an 80mph area and surpassed a cop car! (Although the cop already had his lights on and was most likely after someone else, but still!) We hit a couple of turbulence pockets, which were scarier in the second flight and smaller plane. I arrived home on schedule and to Mr Siili cooking me dinner and peruna rieska.

It was great to sleep in my own bed with my own pillow. And then it was off to work the next morning. Life is back to normal. So much so that I was even at my 4th (in Finland) and final acupuncture appointment on Thursday.

The acupuncture appointment went well, but MRJ (acupuncture doctor) sort of went creepy-hippy-alternative on me this time. As I mentioned in my previous acupuncture post, MRJ has recently learned EFT techniques. I'm not quite sure what I think of EFT, but it isn't harmful at least. And I think they may have helped. Although, he kept trying to find traumas, bad things in my life and negative experiences, which I just don't think I have in my life. I think I'm a pretty happy person and I don't feel I had a bad childhood. Sure my parents got divorced, but I never thought it was my fault (even if I did try to feel that way to "be like everyone else"). So, this time around we worked on my feelings towards my stepmom, my infertility, my being ok with having or not having kids and any possible unknown negative emotions/feelings that could be stopping me from getting pregnant. None of this was creepy-hippy-too alternative. It was what he was doing during it all.

MRJ was "testing" to see if different questions he asked himself (about me) were correct or not based on how his muscles resisted or allowed him to press his thumb and forefinger together with his other hand. (I know this can be done with the arms also.) I had seen my mom do this previously and I didn't understand it then. And I still just don't understand how this works... It was explained to me that a question is asked and then the arm(s) or fingers are pressed against. If the body resists/doesn't resist, then the answer is yes/no. He tried to test this with me last time, but it seems my body didn't co-operate. (Gee, I wonder why?!) For example, MRJ asked me what was my name. And as I said it, he would press on my arm. Then he told me to say someone else's name while he pressed. I guess that when I said my name and someone else's name, my body was supposed to react differently. But by his responses, it didn't seem to work. So, it seems this time he took it upon himself to test with his own fingers questions about me. And it wasn't like he did this once or twice, he was "testing" a LOT! From some of the questions he'd ask me after I saw him testing his fingers, I assume some of the questions were along the lines of:
-Do I have unexplained feelings stopping me from getting pregnant?
-Will EFT help me get pregnant?
-Will fertility treatments help me get pregnant?
and so on...

In any case, that was my last acupuncture treatment for now. MRJ was sort of hoping that I'd wait a cycle to see if his treatment worked in getting me pregnant. And I think I would wait another month before going back to my "western medicine" fertility treatments if I hadn't been waiting for 4 months already on an extended summer break. But, when AF arrives in the next couple of days, I'll be calling the fertility clinic to get on with our last frozen embryo. I will call the acupuncturist if I do get pregnant, so he can "test" if it was his doing or the fertility meds that got me pregnant.

12 September 2011

Last day in Shanghai

Day 16 in Shanghai and it is my last! Tomorrow morning I will be flying out at 9:20am. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, but as with all trips away from home, I am excited to be back home. Home to my husband and cats. Home to my own bed and pillow. Home is where my heart is.
I have so many things I'd like to share about my trip and I hope to have a bit of time once I get home to be able to write them. I also have hundreds of pictures to sort through and choose the bestest to share. ;) But until then, I'll share a bit about my last day in Shanghai (sans pictures, because I have already packed my camera cord and I am not going to dig through my strategically packed suitcase. *big grin*).
After breakfast, I headed out to Longhua Temple and Longhua Martyrs Cemetery area. I found the Longhua Martyrs Cemetery first and wandered around it for a couple of hours. There are memorial statues everywhere. Huge bronze statues, rock/concrete statues, rocks with Chinese writing on them (in several styles and colors), some fountains, flowers, trees, bamboo and a lot of green grass. This area was peaceful and as quiet as I have found in Shanghai. I really enjoyed just walking through the area leisurely, taking pictures as it pleased me and letting my ears rest.
Eventually I found myself at the entrance of the cemetery area and walked to the nearby Longhua Temple. Longhua temple is a Buddhist temple that is said to have been originally built in 242 AD, but was ruined in war and rebuilt in 977 AD. The other surrounding buildings have been rebuilt more recently and are only about 100-125 years old. The temple costs 10 yuan (1,15€) to get in. Many people go there to leave their prayers with the deities. And a stinky affair it is! LOL. Most people buy incense, say a prayer to the four corners, light the incense (before or after the prayer, I don't know) and leave it there, as the belief is it will let the gods find their way to you.
I didn't spend too much time at the temple, as it was crowded, full of incense and didn't really hold much for me other than nice looking buildings and Buddha-statues. My tour-guide book mentioned a shopping area around the corner, so I figured I'd try to find it. I think I found it, but it was just like every other place I've seen (I'm not sure why I thought it would be different), plus because of today being Mid-Autumn holiday, not all the places were open. I debated whether to get a taxi right then and head home, but I figured I would continue to walk and eventually find a metro station to get me back to the hotel. If I got lost or tired of walking, I could always take a taxi home. I walked and walked, found a dead end (but my map said differently!), retraced my steps and walked some more. I was definitely in a part of town that doesn't see many (any?) foreigners walking along their streets. By the time I finally got back to some big streets, I was extremely sweaty and my feet were killing me. I found a nearby metro and took it the one stop to get me back to my known territory.
The quick metro ride was enough to restore me a bit. I know myself well enough, that once I got back to my hotel this afternoon, there was no way I was going to head back out into the heat to find food or go to the store for last minute candy and tea shopping. So, I went to the store, returned the metro card I was borrowing up to work and then found myself some food. I purposefully ordered too much food so I could take half of it back with me to the hotel. Even though I ordered 4 appetizers and a drink, it only cost me 82 yuan. That is the equivalent of 9,50€! (I am so going to miss the cheap and yummy food here!) Then it was to the hotel for me.
Once back at the hotel, I got out of my stinky and sweaty clothes to take a shower. As I was in the shower, a hotel staff lady rang the door bell, but I didn't get out of the shower (with clear glass walls) to answer it, so she came in, saw me in the shower and explained that she had a Mooncake (or check this mooncake link) for me in celebration of the Mid-Autumn holiday. I told her thanks and that it was ok that she disturbed me and then she left. After the shower, I finished packing. (I think I'm going to barely squeak by the 23kg limit.) And now, for the rest of the evening, I'm just hanging out, munching on some snacks and waiting to go to bed (at a hopefully decent hour).
I now have 10 hours until I hope on my plane to head home.

10 September 2011

Obsessed like a little school girl

Hello. My name is JustHeather and I'm addicted to Twilight.
I have never denied it. I have loved Twilight since I first picked up the first book several years ago. (This series was yet another one that my mom had tried to get me to read years earlier, but I ignored her for a time.) I devoured Twilight (book 1) and New Moon (book 2) and the half book, Midnight Sun. And then I just had to buy Eclipse (book 3) from a local book store, at a higher cost. Mr Siili wasn't happy about that. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't wait for him to go to Dublin and get me the rest of the books there. I did hold off from purchasing the fourth book, which he did buy from Dublin  and let Santa give to me for xmas. Although, I was very naughty and knew where he hid it, in plain sight!, and read the first chapter or two before xmas. I told you I am obsessed, with the books and movies a like.
I'm not quite sure what it is that attracts me so much to the books and movies. I mean, there are the surface reasons that everyone else is in love with also: the love story and a very cute and sensitive guy that falls in love the girl next door. Part of it has to do with the vampires too. I've loved vampires for ages. My ex introduced me to Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire back in 1994. I devoured all of her books (up until her Christian books in recent years) and short stories that I could find. And then I devoured all other vampire books I could find, which still continues today. But other than these few reasons, I can't tell you exactly why I go gah-gah over this series!
When the first movie came out, I was so unbelievably disappointed that it didn't come to Finland until 6 weeks later!! Everyone I knew everywhere else had seen the movie by then. When the movie finally came here, I was giddy with excitement. I truly couldn't contain myself and was wiggly with excitement waiting for the midnight showing. When the 2nd movie came out, Finland's first night was the same as the rest of the world and I was right there waiting to see the midnight show. In addition, Finland is 7 hours ahead of New York, which means that I was able to see it before my US friends! WooHoo! (No spoilers from me though.) The third movie I didn't get to see until the following day, because there was a mix-up when ordering the tickets online. But I was still school girl-like crazy about seeing the movie. I was giddy, happy and almost couldn't contain myself. And that is so NOT me. I don't know what it is that makes me behave like this.
Now, with the first half of the fourth book coming out in theaters on November 18th of this year (that's 68 days away), I'm already as excited as a little school girl. I think about the books and I just want to read them all over again, same with the movies. I was able to satiate part of my craving by watching New Moon this evening in the hotel. I would have loved to be watch this with someone, friends who are just as crazy about the movies (and books) as me, but that will have to wait until I am back in Finland. But until then, Eclipse will be shown on TV tomorrow evening. Guess where I'm going to be?!
p.s. I am so so so so thankful Gmail saves drafts of emails as you type. I somehow managed to "go back" a screen and deleted everything I had written. But, because of the automatic save, I didn't lose more than a few words.

09 September 2011

Shanghai - doctor visit experience #2

Just as my first doctor experience here in Shanghai was not planned, this second one was planned.
I thought that since I've gone to to the acupuncturist a few times in Finland and that acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and I just happened to be going to China, I should actually try acupuncture where it originated from. So, I asked my Chinese co-workers if they could make me an appointment with an acupuncturist.

One of them, Nan*, said she had a doctor friend (let's call him Dr.Boy) at a TCM hospital that she would ask if he could help us get an appointment there. I say us, because two of the girls, Nan & Cece* (I mentioned her in my previous post) decided to join me. Neither of them had tried acupuncture before and thought that this would be a good time to check it out with me. Sunday arrived and I took a taxi to a predetermined place where Nan met me and then we walked to the clinic. Celia was waiting for us and away we went. This TCM hospital is a medical place like any other where people go to get treated. Just as you and I would go to our doctor's office or RE clinic, many Chinese people go here (or to another one that is similar) when they need to seek medical treatment.

The first building we went into to find Dr.Boy ended up being the wrong building, but I got my first taste of where real** Chinese go for medical help. It was an older building that looked a bit run down. Definitely not western by any standards. There was people everywhere and they didn't look to be waiting in any orderly fashion. I mean, I saw 10-15 people in what looked like the treatment room (or maybe the admittance area), all just standing around where you could definitely over hear what the other people are saying. And I was the only foreigner there, being stared at intently by everyone!
In the second building we found Dr.Boy or maybe he found us. Before we talked to a doctor, we went to pay our visit-fee and to get me signed in as a patient/customer there. The patient booklet and card (to track my treatments) and the visit-fee cost less then 7€. We then went to the intake room where people were diagnosed before they were treated by acupuncture and cupping. The girls decided I would be first. Thanks girls! LOL. I sat there talking to a doctor trying to explain my 'pain' and what I wanted treated with my coworkers standing right behind me and several other people who were waiting to be treated also. Again, I was the only foreigner there. I started by telling the doctor that in Finland I was being treated for back and neck pain, but mainly for fertility issues also. The first part the doctor understood, but not the latter part. So, I quickly explained to the girls and they translated to the doctor. He still seemed sort of confused, so I just forgot about that issue and kept the focus on the back and neck. Sure it would have been great to have a treatment geared towards helping me get pregnant, but really I just wanted to experience acupuncture in China. After my diagnosis was made, I needed to pay for my treatment. It only cost 4€. Then it was back to the room where I was diagnosed and I waited my turn to be taken to a bed.

The receipts, my membership card (credit card looking item) and treatment book.
The inside of my treatment book with my 'diagnosis' written in Chinese.
 The treatment beds were cordoned off by curtains (like you see in a hospital). I was sitting in my little room for about 5 minutes waiting for the doctor to come. An older lady came in the 'room' and asked me to take my shirt off and lay down on the bed. I did tell her that I have experienced acupuncture before. She then made sure I was comfortable and away we went with the treatment. I know she used brand new needles, as I could hear her opening the package (and I saw the same happen to someone else after my treatment). Only 1 of the needles twinged a bit uncomfortably as it went in, but that feeling went away almost immediately. Once all the needles were in, I was hooked up to a light electrical current for about 30 minutes (sort of like the TENS unit (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulator) I used for a while right after the car wreck I was in when I was 14). During this time, I also had a heat lamp placed on my lower back. The feeling was so relaxing,k that I think I actually dozed off for a bit. Once the time was up and the needles removed, it was time for the cupping. I've never tried cupping before, although I did know what it was. 12-15 heated glass globes were put on my back in traditional pressure point areas (if I remember correctly). Since the cups are heated before being applied, they suction onto the body and also pull a bit of the skin and muscle inside. Cupping promotes blood circulation, remove stasis, and alleviate swelling and pain. I found this procedure to be a bit painful, but not unbearable. I was left this way for 5-10 minutes and then they were removed. My treatment was complete and I was free to go.

I got dressed and then waited for the girls to finish their treatments. During this time, I was intently scrutinized by all the other patients there. Dr.Boy came to talk to me and asked questions about my experience that day and previously. He's a very sweet, young and cute guy. When the girls were done we went to have lunch and we invited Nan's friend along. At lunch, Dr.Boy explained to me the lady who did my acupuncture is ~80 years old, although I wouldn't have guessed that. She is also very well known (famous?) as a doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I was quite lucky to have her treat me, as usually it takes a long time to get in to see her. I was also told that this hospital is one of four, very well known and I believe one of the oldest hospitals in Shanhai.

My back  a bit more than 24hours after cupping.
(Even 5 days later, some of the markings can still be seen.)
It was a good experience and one that I am definitely glad to have been able to do. All of the doctors and staff that I came into contact with were very nice and professional. (Nan even went on about how the admittance doctor was so nice, took his time to ask questions and behaved as if he truly cared. He is her type of guy. *giggle* She's so cute, naive and young at times.) The price of the treatment, only 11€ total, is insanely cheap compared to my 45€ per visit in Finland.

*Not their real names
**I say real, because the Parkway Health hospital I went to previously seemed more for expats and foreigners. I could very well be wrong, but that is what it looked like to me.

Shanghai - doctor visit experience #1

During my visit to Shanghai, I've been to 2 different doctors. One was planned, the other not. What follows is my experience of going to a doctor here in Shanghai. I have a feeling this is going to be long, so I'm breaking it down into two posts.

The first time I went to a doctor was because I felt like I had an infection in my throat & nose area. It was something more than just irritated asthma, plus my asthma hasn't ever been quite like that, even when I don't take my medication regularly, which I have been lately. As my voice started to go, I told the team leader, Cece*, here in Shanghai, that I needed to go to the doctor for this. One of the ladies called Parkway Health hospital. From their website: "Parkway is a leading healthcare group based in Singapore, operating 16 hospitals with more than 3,000 beds in Asia." The staff is quite internatioal and the doctor I was booked a time with happened to be American (although, he didn't know I am too, because I am here with my Finnish passport).

I took a taxi to the hospital as that is the easiest way to get there (and quite cheap at aprox 3€), especially when I don't know where it is. Neither did my taxi driver. So as I am in the cab, I called Cece to have her explain it to the driver. He still didn't understand, so she hung up with me, Googled it and then called back. *phew* Finally the taxi driver understood. He got me there about 15 minutes before the appointment, but I still needed to find the exact buiolding I needed to be in.

I quickly found the building and entered it. I saw signs to the OBGYN, surgery and other places, but not a sign that looked like an outpatient clinic. Thankfully some guy in the lobby saw that I was lost and got my attention and pointed me to the elevator. My instructions said floor 2/3. Of course floor 2 wasn't where I needed to go. Once I was where I needed to be, I handed them my passport (to take a copy) and quickly filled out the registration form. Then I sat and waited.

The waiting room wasn't fancy but it was decent, clean and somewhat busy. The nurse took me to a room, asked basic questions and took my blood pressure. I then waited 5 minutes (or less) for the doctor. He asked some more questions and I explained to him that I had horrible mucus in my throat that wasn't like the healthy stuff. I was also coughing quite a bit (to try and dislodge the mucus so I could breath) and as he could hear, I had lost my voice. I also told him it wasn't in my lungs nor did it feel like a sinus infection. After examining me a bit more, he agreed. He said that it wasn't because I am a traveller here that I got sick, because locals were coming down with this also. His verdict: "Shanghai, she won this time". He wrote out a prescription for some antibiotics, hystamine/allergy pills and cough meds (pill form). These were filled for me in the pharmacy they had there as I waited. Once I got my meds, it was time to pay. And that was that! This experience was quite nice and very "western-like".

I left the building with my meds and found a taxi to take me back to work. The trip back to the office took about 45 minutes, twice as long as going there. Much more traffic and we were smack-dab in the middle of it. (I'll have to post another time about taxi drivers and traffic in general.)

The meds started working within 24 hours and now almost a week later, I feel much better. My voice is back, no more mucus and I have less coughing, especially at night. Now the only symptoms I have are asthma related. and they aren't too bad, especially when you think of how big a city I am in and the amount of pollutants are in the air.

The following are some pictures of my journey from the hospital back to work.
Street view - laundry hung out to dry
There's a bunny in the cage on the right. When I asked about it later, it was mentioned that maybe it was meant to be eaten. :(
Sorry for the bad quality, but the taxi was moving.
*Not her real name

08 September 2011

Can't comment on Blogger blogs

I've been reading a few blogs (when I should be working) and I've also wanted to comment on them. But for some reason, I can't comment on blogger blogs. I don't know if it has to do with me being in China or not, but it makes me frustrated. I guess I'll wait until I get back to Finland next week and see if that resolves it.

Sorry for not commenting. :( I really want to!

02 September 2011

6 down, 10 to go (in Shanghai)

Wow! I have now spent 6 days in Shanghai, China. In some ways, I still can't believe that I am here. For that matter, I still find it quite unbelievable sometimes that I've been living in Finland for the last 12 years. How did I, a small town girl from the west coast of the USA, manage to end up in Finland and now Shanghai?! I tell you, the life I live would never have been possible without the internet. I LOVE the internet and all of my friends in and on it.
Anywho, enough about that, I just wanted to give a quick update on some of my many thoughts and experiences during these 6 days in Shanghai.
I've seen and experienced so much here in the short 6 days that I've been here. It's been a bit confusing at times, but mostly it has been great! It's late (just after midnight) Friday night and it's been a long week, so I'm just going to do bullets for now. Enjoy!
  • Food - The food is just amazing here. I am totally loving everything I've eaten. It's cheap too! Have you ever had a huge, fill-you-up soup or rice meal lunch for just 2€/$2.5? This evening was the first time I've eaten western food all week and that was because our team leader at work went and got us some KFC for a snack. (This topic will have a full post of its own, with pictures, later.)
  • People - The sheer number of people is just amazing. There is over 23million people in Shanghai! Walking through one of the many malls in my 'neighborhood', even at 9pm, it is full of people. The only times I've seen malls that full in the US and Finland is around the holidays or when there a huge sale going on. I do have to say, it hasn't been so packed that I've felt clausterphobic, but then again, I haven't been in the metro at rush hour. I'm told that it is packed with people like sardines.
  • Toilet paper - In several places I've been (one place even had a sign on the wall), people put toilet paper in the garbage can instead of in the toilet (to be flushed). I haven't asked anyone about it yet, as I'm not sure how to approach it. I just find this strange.
  • Weather -  It's been roughly 30C (86F) degrees each day and even into the night. The weather is such, that it reminds me of summers in So. Cal when I was little. I love it! I haven't been cold once.
  • Traffic - Everyone drives everywhere regardless of the markings on the road. And horns are used all the time to mean any number of things. I don't think I'd ever want to drive here. Thankfully, taxis are cheap. (Another topic that I'm thinking of posting more about.)
  • Hotel - When I first arrived, the hotel room smelled musty, damp and moldy. I've turned the air conditioner off in the room and opened the window, it's much better! I've even put a piece of paper over the air conditioner controls with an X on it. I don't want the thing on, I think it makes the room smell even more and it also makes it cold! I want warmth. I also don' t understand why hotels (this isn't the only one) put a sign in the room saying that they'd like to conserve water and if you want to help. If you don't want your towels washed, then keep them hanging. If you want them washed, put them on the floor. I don't mind using my towel a couple of days in a row and so I hang my towels up, yet each day I come home I have all new clean towels! Why oh why put that sign up if it doesn't mean anything?
  • Language - What an interesting language! I know 2 words: Xié xié (thank hyou) and ni hao (hello). I would like to learn more, but with losing my voice (that'll be another post), I just can't make many of the sounds needed to (try to) speak Chinese. I'll try a few new words this weekend as my voice gets better. Also, the Chinese characters fascinate me to no end. They are just so interesting. Each little line, the thickness, angle and tales all change what is means. And even how you combine characters changes the meaning of things, which really isn't so different to English or any other language, except for the fact that I understand these characters. (Think of the word honeymoon. Honey and moon by themselves mean something totally different than when they are combined.)
  • Shopping - So many shops with packages and products that are very different than what I'm used to. This is one of the worst places for people like me. I'm a crow and I'm totally attracted to anything that glitters, shimmers and shines. This is fun!!!
And with that last point, I'm off to bed so I can get up in the morning for a fun and exciting day and weekend. I've got places to see and money burning a hole in my pocket.

p.s. I can't access Blogger or my site here in China (thank goodness the posibility to do email postings), except for while at work. And well, while I'm at work I really should be working. So, that means that I don't really have time to reply to anyone right now, but I love comments and will do what I can to catch up when I'm back in Finland.