Week 2 - new levels of pain

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March 13th 2009
Published: March 13th 2009
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So this week started quite well, I got started on my first form, wasn't aching too much, and this led to me stating on Tuesday afternoon "I think I'm getting used to it". Fool that I was, of course.
I'd forgotten that aches build up here, and while you may not be in pain on the Tuesday, by Friday you've had 5 days of hard training breaking down your muscles. So here we are on Friday, and I can count 11 bruises on my body, and 5 cuts on my knuckles from all the punching. Oh and it's agony for me to lift my arms above my head. There are different levels of pain here that I've never encountered before. I am used to muscular pain of course, but I'm not used to unrelenting and increasing muscular pain. With Wong Shifu you can't think "my leg's a bit tender today, I just won't run" because you get Wong Shifu coming up with "let's sprint up the hill and back - the person who is last has to carry the person who comes first!" (he did that earlier this week, fortunately he also said that the new people were exempt. If we're ever included in that though, I will be carrying one of the lads - I still can't sprint for toffee). He also has a tendency to carry around a long pole - or more terrifyingly, an old rusty sword - for hitting lazy students with.
Lately I've also developed a sharp pain in my knee which tends to reveal itself when I kick - this is annoying as Wong Shifu loves to do a lot of Sanda (Chinese Kickboxing). I'm trying to make this better with massage and elevation, but I'm beginning to worry that the ligament might have become slightly damaged.
Wednesday we headed up into the mountains again for some Qi Gong and conditioning - the conditioning seems to have given me nice big bruises on my arms. It's probably my fault as I went for it this week, really smacking my arms against Catherine's. At some point I'll toughen up. I hope. On Thursday we did break falls and grappling in the boxing ring, which was actually great fun - we did a lot of forward rolls, backward rolls and for those who could do them (pretty much just Kyle) flipping up onto your feet from your back. I'd like to learn to do that but I suspect I'd need to be here longer. I'm beginning to realise that 2 months isn't nearly as long as it sounds - I'm already a quarter of the way through my time here. It doesn't feel like I've been here 2 minutes.

From about 2 days into my time here, I've had these itchy little marks on my ears. They didn't really bother me, so I ignored them. However, over time they became more inflamed and angry, and then spread to my hands. This was upsetting, as this meant that my hands hurt when I punched the bags, and so I ended up pulling my punches quite heavily. So, time to do something about it. At first I suspected insects, and became convinced that I had bed bugs. However, when I went to the office to try and get some new bedding, Bei shifu said he thought it was an allergic reaction to something and suggested I went to the clinic and got some anti-histamine medicine. So I asked Lisa (one of the translators) to take me and translate for me, and off we set.
Now, obviously Chinese standards of...well...everything are different. But nothing could have prepared me for the clinic. We walked through a small village with small dogs following us, until we reached a courtyard that looked quite dirty. We walked into the clinic to find a small waiting room with a coal heater in the corner. A sliding partition revealed an elderly Chinese man lying down, coughing occasionally, hooked up to an IV. I've heard that in China, when people come for western medicine, even if they've just got a bad cold, they expect western medicine, so rather than send them home with nothing, doctors give them an IV drip, and let them have their rest and recuperation for a bit with a nice placebo. It still seemed weird to see it - I associate IV drips with seriously ill patients who can't eat.
The doctor eventually came to see me (I arrived during his lunch) and, after Lisa explained what was wrong he examined my ears and hands roughly, and asked if I wanted an injection. I'm not totally sure what would be involved in the injection and I was dubious about the hygiene at the clinic so I declined -- fortunately Lisa just thought I was uncomfortable with needles and so no-one was offended by my view of their hygiene standards. Instead he gave my 2 bags with 12 tiny pills in each, a box of different pills and a cream. Lisa explained that I was supposed to take all 12 pills in the first bag immediately, and all 12 in the second after dinner that evening! This seemed like a lot of pills in one day, so I took the first 12 yesterday and the second 12 today. They've had no ill effects, so I'm relieved. I half wonder if that lot were a placebo. The other box of pills are just an anti-histamine and the cream was to stop the itching.
So far it's worked and I'm more comfortable.


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