01 October 2009

Ramblings from a drug-induced stupor

That's right, folks... I have a cold. It hit with a vengeance on Monday night after my evening class ended at 9. What seemed innocuous enough as a tickle in my throat turned into a full-fledged sore throat, congestion, headache and cough by the time the alarm went off at 6 Tuesday morning. Luckily, Tuesday is my 'light' day when I have only 2 hours of class and those were easily cancelled. So, I crawled back into bed, cursing my lack of foresight to bring any sort of cold medicine with me and my inability to speak enough Vietnamese to buy some on my own.
For those of you unfamiliar with shopping in Vietnam, there's no real equivalent to Wal-mart or Target which is a truly sad thing when you really need a variety of things such as cold medicine, chicken soup, and orange juice. Instead, getting cold medicine turned out to be a day long process. First I talked to one of the TA's at the RCCD because Joan had asked him if he knew where we could get some ginseng lozenges. So, he called Ms. Yen in the International Relations office since her father is a doctor and she called him to see what medicine they should give me. BUT... she didn't call him right away, so I popped some Advil and went about my day. By lunch, my throat was as raw and painful as possible and my ears were popping pretty fiercely. It was all I could do to drag myself back into bed and pray that I'd feel better when I woke up. I did, somewhat, but I was still no closer to getting cold medicine. Finally, around 7:30 or so I get a text from Phung saying that Yen thought that I should see a doctor in case it wasn't just a cold. While my experience in Vietnam has generally been positive, I wasn't feeling like I wanted to be introduced to the medical system quite yet so I said I didn't think that was necessary. But, I asked Phung, can you help me get some medicine? Sadly, there's something wrong with my phone and he didn't get the message. So Tuesday night passed simply due to the Advil and sleeping pill that I took in the hopes that it would simply knock me out.
Wednesday morning, not feeling as awful... sore throat largely gone, but it appears it's a sinus infection rather than the cold it had started out as. I drag myself to class because I do not want to have to schedule a make-up session. While I'm teaching, in walks Phung and we set a time to go to the pharmacy after I'm done teaching. Well... the pharmacy is right across the street from the campus and it looks exactly like the countless shops that line the street, selling everything from cell phones to motorbike parts and everything in between. Stepping up to the counter, the smiling woman in the white coat asks Phung, or me through Phung, what my symptoms are and how long I've had them. As they talk (and I listen, uncomprehendingly) she begins to reach into the cupboards behind her and assemble various drugs into little plastic bags. She admonishes me to stay away from AirCon and fans for a while and after paying her my 22,000 VND (just over $1 US) I left with three doses of four pills that are supposed to help and a box of lozenges.
Now, there are many things that I was taught as a child about health and safety. One of the primary lessons was not to take medicine if you didn't know what it was... but, I figured that the pharmacy lady knew more about the medicine I needed than I did and so when I got home I popped the pills and crawled into bed once again. Waking two hours later, I could already tell that there was some improvement as I was not nearly as congested as I'd been before. I made it through my afternoon class, feeling better as the afternoon moved on. I ventured out for dinner last night and managed to stay awake until 10:45 last night (which is pretty late for me since I teach at 7 am).
I took my last dose this morning and would say that I'm about 75% better. Pretty speedy recovery since my last cold seemed to drag on forever! So, whatever was in those packets must have worked and I'm thankful for that.
In other news... I'm ending up my 7th week here in Vietnam and things continue to go well. It's been cooler and rainier recently which I must confess I love. There have actually been days where I haven't sweat and that's a welcome change from the first few weeks I was here. Other than the cold, my health is good and I'm getting plenty of rest and fresh food (no worries there, Mom). I continue to learn my way around town, which is incredibly liberating. I also had my first ao dai made this week for a wedding I'm going to on Saturday... and I must say it looks rather stunning. I'll post pictures later. That's it for now since I've ramble on too long already.

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