26 June, 2012

Injury report...

My birthday wish has come true: I don't have a cast on my leg.

I spent all afternoon yesterday in the hospital waiting to get my right leg x-rayed. About a week after the marathon, it started hurting, and continued to hurt the more I walked on it. I've been a runner for a while now, so I did everything I knew how to do to try and alleviate the pain. When it all proved fruitless, I talked to the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) about getting it checked out. We feared that it was a stress fracture.

However, yesterday, the x-rays showed that it wasn't a stress fracture. Right now, the goal is to rest and try not to aggravate it too much. I am headed down to Chengdu to have the PCMO take a look on Friday.

As I joked, today is my birthday. I had my other can of Dr. Pepper today to celebrate and treat myself. My amazing friends in Lanzhou are hanging out with me tonight and cooking dinner. I'm excited... but until then, I have grading to finish before I trek to Chengdu.

UPDATE (Thursday, 28 June): Originally, I wanted this post to be about my birthday, but it seems more prudent to make it about my current situation and health debacle...

I am updating you now from Chengdu. I flew in this morning to meet with the PCMO. She wanted to see the x-rays and examine me in person. Despite not seeing something in the x-ray, she remains convinced what it is based on my description of the symptoms.

Because of this, I'm getting another x-ray either this afternoon or tomorrow. In addition, to keep it from hurting, she has given me some shiny new crutches and expects me to use them for the next four weeks.

Goodbye July travel plans.

I'll keep updating this when I know more information...

UPDATE (Friday, 29 June):  I went to the hospital again this morning and had an MRI of my ankle. From the results, we can tell that there's definitely some excess fluid in it, but we can't rule out any bone damage for certain. The PCMO is still pretty sure it's a stress fracture. The only real treatment is to stay off of it until it heals.

Because of this, my travel plans for July are gone. Instead, I am living in Chengdu, not going places and weekly check-ups with the PCMO. I don't know how long this living situation will last—at least one week. In an effort to save money (not putting me up in a hostel), they have put me up in an apartment for the Admin Officer who left last month. A replacement won't be arriving in China until the end of the month, so I'm keeping it warm for him or her.

Now, my complaints about this travel-less house arrest could possibly fall on deaf ears. It's like the scenes in Horrible Bosses when Charlie Day's character complains about Jennifer Aniston's harassment. All the other guys scoff at his complaints, because it's seemingly unreasonable that his situation is awful, because Aniston is as attractive as she is. Well, I'm stuck here, but I'm in the middle of foreigner country, in the swankiest flat I've ever seen. I'm amazed at how nice it is, and it has the biggest flatscreen I've ever seen.

I guess I'm saying that imprisoned in the nicest cell, and I hate it.

The one thing about my new living arrangement is that I don't have internet access. I'm across the street at a tex-mex restaurant. I probably won't be posting again for a while, but if I have more information about my injury, it'll be here. Check back often, and read some old posts while you're at it.

UPDATE (Wednesday, 11 July): Hopefully you have enjoyed the story of how my stress fracture came to be. In the meantime, I've seen more doctors and have another update for you.

After sending my MRI to multiple doctors, it has been determined that my talus bone has the signs of a developing stress fracture, but I luckily stopped straining it before it developed further.

The PCMO decided that it is in my best interest to not travel anywhere while my ankle heals. Trying to travel by train around China on crutches is too dangerous, and the risk of further injury is too high. I will be staying in Chengdu, continuing to use crutches, at least for the entire month of July.

Today I went to the hospital for what I was told would be physical therapy. I imagined people using parallel bars to try and walk. You would think, after one year in China, I would learn to stop having expectations, but no... Instead of what I imagined, I entered this room with all sorts of scary looking machines. Instead of the exercises and stretches I was expecting, they used electric pads to stimulate my muscles for a while. 

The most amusing part of all this was the spectacle I became. Most of the people working in there didn't look any older than me, and they were fascinated to see a tall, blonde laowai in need (it probably didn't help that I was wearing my orange shorts). They crowded around as the doctor asked me questions, giant grins on their faces listening to me speak English. 

While the electroshock therapy was taking place, one of the attendants who I had spoken with the most asked me for a favour. This is always a scary question to get as a foreigner in China, because nine out of ten times they're going to ask something outlandish from you. This was one expectation that proved true. She wanted my help proofreading a scientific study she helped another doctor translate into English. 

I figured I didn't have anything else to do while my leg was jolted, so I acquiesced and started reading. This girl's English was pretty good, so it was a lot easier than I anticipated. It also helped that the paper was pretty well written (and that I got experience with scientific papers as an undergrad at Saint Joe).

The electroshock therapy was followed by an ultrasound of my ankle. The ultrasound was followed by a ten-minute blast of microwaves. It was hot, and I didn't have any popcorn.

After it was all said and done, I was told that I'm supposed to return each day for the next week... so that's what I will be up to. I'm going to finish editing that paper tomorrow, too.

Below are some photos another volunteer took at the hospital. He was amused by the attention, and snapped some photos with his iPad.

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