I am now at the half way stage of my time in Kunming, as I will be flying back at the end of May because my other two sisters are getting married this summer. I had my return date booked when I flew out here in February and so always knew that I had 14 weeks of hard work. Having that in my mind has made it much easier to stay focused and work towards my goal of 26th May. I am almost certain that I will return to Kunming in July after the weddings, but I am currently just trying to take each week as it comes and not think too much about the long run.
So the last couple of weeks have been hard.. in particular this last week, which has probably been the most physically and mentally challenging week to date. I am trying to change the way that I walk, as I believe that my technique before was going to quickly plateau and I would never progress further. I asked my physio and reluctantly she agreed to help me modify my technique… she was only reluctant because out here they seem to wait for the patients to naturally progress from one thing to the next. I, however, don’t like to wait around, and if I think something needs to be changed then I will change it.
As a result, I am asking a lot from my muscles, in particular my very weak lower back muscles. Also this week I was learning to push the walking frame myself so that I do not have to rely on the person pulling it for me. This is SO difficult, as a lot of my momentum to swing my leg through comes from using my arm strength to pull against the walker. Basically I have been trying to achieve a lot in these last couple of weeks, and have perhaps pushed myself a little too hard.
I was doing very well learning to push the walking frame myself, and was really starting to get the hang of it when fatigue began to set in on Thursday. I haven’t been sleeping well either, so my walking wasn’t up to standard in my eyes.. I am extremely critical of everything I do in the gym, and I get so frustrated if it isn’t going well. I was just so exhausted and annoyed that I was exhausted… and anyway it resulted in a bit of a breakdown on Friday morning.
Now it is Sunday and I have had some time to rest and recover, and I am feeling much better. I am taking a three day weekend as I think I really need the extra day to just chill out. I have had such an intense 7 weeks, and I need to listen to my body when it tells me to take it easy for a few days.
Anyway, I seem to have gone completely off topic from the original point of this post…I wanted to introduce the people that have been so amazing to me ever since I arrived. I have mentioned a few times already Ali and her family, and David and his family, but I haven’t introduced the Chinese people who I spend pretty much all day every day with…
This is Emma (Chinese name Feng Xiaoqing), who is the hospital’s translator. She is an absolute legend and I guarantee I wouldn’t have survived so far without her! She is so great at helping to cheer me up if I am feeling homesick or frustrated, and I don’t know how she manages to make me smile again. As she is one of the few people that speak Chinese and English, she is often the messenger between me and the physio when I am being told what to do and how to improve. She does such a great job at that, and I really don’t know how she is so patient with me.
Next is Xu Zhexi, who is known as Xu Laoshi, meaning Teacher Xu. She is the main physio that has pretty much been assigned to me. I think she is extremely talented and caring and I am so glad that I get to work with her everyday. She has a lot of experience and really knows what she is talking about. Her English is pretty good so we can chat and have a laugh together as well…She takes such good care of me, especially since my mum left; she even offered to do my washing for me one day!
And then there is my student girl that is just fantastic as well. There are a number of students that are in the gym everyday, sort of on a placement I guess. The majority of them don’t make much effort and spend most of the day playing on their phones, but there are a couple that aren’t like that, and are actually really good at their job. The one that I like in particular is May (Chinese name Ruan Hongmei) so I get to work with her a lot. She comes to collect me from my apartment with her boyfriend every morning, and she walks me home at the end of the day. She speaks very good English and is teaching me Chinese… she gives me new words every day and makes me say them over and over again when I’m walking my laps in the gym.
The students are all due to go back to school in a week’s time unless the hospital decide to hire any of them. I am really hoping that they decide to hire May as she is so sweet and makes the days so much more fun.
And I have to give a special mention to Jenny (Wenjun Liao), who is the translator for Ali’s family. She has been absolutely fantastic since the very start and is always helping out with shopping and any problems that I have. Her and Emma are very close friends, so they are like a dream team! They are so efficient and nothing is ever too much trouble for them. I really couldn’t cope without them and am so grateful for everything they do.
All of these people are the reason I am still out here and am able to keep going when I think it is all too much. I know that in the future when I look back on this whole experience, they will be the thing that makes me smile and have happy memories of Kunming.