Monday, October 30, 2006

Bad news on computer scene

Hi Friends,
I'm alive and back in Yilan. Last Friday we drove up and with the help of some medicine I didn't even get carsick! But it was a long curvy ride. I'm so thankful for the Yos who turned around and did it again in the same day. We stopped in the hospital and jumped in line in front of about 15 people....oops.. and changed my bandages had my doctor look at it for a minute and then were gone. When I got back to my apartment it was a big gong show, culminating in a spectacular fall by yours truly. It really wasn't my fault. My crutches are really old "ghetto crutches" and one of the bottoms has been a little slippery since I got them, but when it combined with my tile floor, it just couldn't hold out anymore. Unfortunately for me, i was using it on my left side... and when it slipped out from under me, guess what went crashing down.... yes... my bad foot hit against the floor, causing a lot of pain, and giving us all a heart attack. Thankfully I grabbed onto my clothes rack for support, so didn't fall all the way down. Fortunately, the pain subsided after about 10 minutes, so I don't think i did any (more) permanent damage. They promptly went out to buy a replacement for the rubber bottom (now only slippery when wet) and about 17 rubber bath mats. Didn't do much for my decor, but hey, safety first, right? Since then I've literally just been sitting at home... when i went to turn on my computer it crashed again, and i need to send it to Taipei this week, all i can say is HAO MA FAN! What a pain! So I've been getting caught up on my Taiwan tv viewing and doing a lot of reading.. and eagerly awaiting today where I could update from school!
I went to church yesterday and school today on a combination of crutches/wheelchair and car. It's been ok, but I found that my ankle really starts hurting after about 2 hours in the wheelchair. It's been interesting to teach my classes, but so far, thanks to PowerPoint, it hasn't been difficult as I'd envisioned. I'll update again when opportunity allows.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Goodbye, Kitty Mobile

I met with some bad news yesterday....
I'm very sad to say that my dear Hello Kitty bike is no longer with us.
Way back when, on Thursday, October 5, I parked it in front of the train station, figuring it would be safe for the 5 days I was going. I could have parked it at the church, but I didn't feel like walking back to the train station with heavy bags, and didn't really have the extra time. So I parked her out in the open, vulnerable to the elements and the eyes of passing thieves.
Of course you know by now that 5 days came and went without me returning. In fact, tomorrow will be 3 weeks that I've been away from Yilan. I mentioned it to my coworker while I was in the hospital, hoping someone could check on it for me, and perhaps move it to a safer place. Last Monday she helped me look, and it was still there ! I was really excited even though I won't actually be riding a bike any time soon. Unfortunately, she hadn't brought my key with her, so they left it at the mercy of Yilan's urban corrupt for 5 more days. When they returned that Friday it was gone. She'd only survived two weeks. So let's all take a moment of silence for my cool Hello Kitty bike. You served me well, though I'm not sorry I don't have to ride you in the rain!

Crutch Dreams

Lately I've been having some really wierd dreams which all seem to be centered around my crutches. In the first one one of my friends was "holding" my crutches for me, but they kept walking too far ahead of me to catch up and get my crutches back. I kept trying to follow them, hopping on one foot and stepping on my broken foot and calling after them to wait. Every time i lost my balance, I would think "I'm not allowed to put any weight on this foot yet!" The funny thing was that we went across a lot of different types of terrain in this dream, including stairs and a flower garden.
Last night I dreamt that one of my crutches kept shrinking until the end of the dream I was trying to walk with a stick! The other one was still normal size, so I was really off balance, again, forcing me to walk on my bad ankle. In that dream I was trying to go to class at the girls' high school, where I have to cross a wide track field to get to my classroom.
I don't think my analysis is necessary to see where my current area of stress lies.
I'm heading back to Yilan the day after tomorrow, to try and make it on my own again, and get back to (sort of) normal life. Next week I'll be learing how to teach class from a wheelchair.

Monday, October 23, 2006

How many of me
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

According to this website, there is no one with my last name in the U.S. I don't know if that's accurate, but there ARE 253,473 people in the U.S. with the first name Charlotte.  That's pretty spiffy. Actually I've only met 3 other Charlottes in my life.
The most popular names among my students tend to be Amy and Tina for girls and Tony and Kevin for boys. My most unique student name this semester is Andoreare.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Day 11

What I miss: coffee (Dr. said no coffee or tea for awhile), my apartment, being able to walk/shower etc without difficulty

Favorite distractions: Watching movies (Phantom of the Opera and Narnia today), reading books on lend from Joey, including Inkheart and The Dragon Rider

I'm thankful for: this family who has really made me feel like part of their family, milk, my MP3 player, time to call people (if i had your number saved on my skype)

Newly discovered website:

Looking forward to: Going to church tomorrow, teaching classes again, making all my students try to stand up using only one leg, no more crutches (i don't think i should be thinking about it yet!)

What I need: better ways to carry things around, ideas about how to change my teaching style, prayers, to shave my legs (maybe that should go under "random gross fact")

I was tagged by Amanda for this meme, which I like to do if they spark my interest and I have time (one thing i'm not exactly lacking at the moment). I'm supposed to write what these 4 words mean to me:
directions, lovely, improve, once

My immediate thought (perhaps this shows my true human nature) was:

If you would just follow my directions for once, i'm sure things would improve and everything would be lovely! Perhaps said in a moment of frustration LOL.
Since my blog has become Charlotte's broken leg story these days, here are my thoughts relating to my current situation:

directions: crutches need to come with directions! Thankfully I'm getting the hang of things though. I'm also learning how to give better directions in Chinese when people are helping me do something.

lovely: when Peggy first saw my stitches she said "oh, hao piao liang!" which means "wow, so beautiful!" which was the last thing I was expecting to hear. Perhaps the word "e-xin" or disgusting crossed through your mind when you saw the pic. But aesthetics aside, this lovely scar and this crazy time will become a permanent part of my life, and I alone can choose the attitude i will take toward it, and the memories i can take from it. I can choose how i treat those around me, and how i respond to my circumstances. Let's hope it can be lovely in the greater scope of things.

improve: did you know you can get tired of hearing about how much your Chinese has improved? How do you say "I've still got a long way to go" in Chinese?

once: I really really really hope this only happens to me once!! Actually I got some good news from my Doctor last night: he said that the original plan was for 2 surgeries to take the plates and pins out of my leg, but now I'll only need one! He said they can do it all at once, in about 6 months.

Now my last task is to choose 4 new words and tag someone else. Actually it reminds me of something I used to do with a friend in college, we'd choose 5 or 10 words and have to write a poem using them! Anyways, I tag Hope and Johanna and anyone else who feels like doing it:

inside, shaped, medicine, although

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sitting down has become a 3 point turn!

After surgery, they didn't let me get out bed for 5 days! Fortunately, the bed could be adjusted into a sitting or flat position. The only problem was i couldn't adjust it myself, so everytime i wanted to move i had to ask someone to turn the crank at the end of the bed for me!
I also had kind of a "DIY" painkiller. It automatically released some medicine every hour, and any time I felt pain I could press a button to release more into my IV. Actually I didn't use it that much because, amazingly I didn't feel so much pain after the surgery! Actually I had been afraid of this, and I'd asked the doctor beforehand - "Will it still hurt this much after surgery" and he said well, maybe. But the pain was reduced dramatically, probably in part thanks to that fun little machine. This added a whole new set of challenges though in the realm of changing clothes. I had to get the sleeve of each shirt over all the needles and wires, and finally over the saline and painkiller bags! Fortunately I had lots of help.

You certainly don't want to hear all the gory details of my bedpan experiences, but let's say they were a source of frustation and a place where the communication gap (most of my nurses didn't speak English except for the GUY who naturally I didn't really want helping me with this particular area) was most sorely felt. Anyways, that's all I'll say about that... man we really take things for granted.

I had a LOT of wonderful visitors and made some new friends. Some of my friends from Yuli made the trip up to see me, and one friend was in town from Taipei and brought her mom and another friend over. My friends the Yos brought over other friends of theirs in Hualian city to check up on me when they went back to Yuli. And my boss called her missionary friend in Hualian to come make my acquaintaince and later bring me homemade brownies!! I was also lucky to see my good friends who live in Hualian more frequently that usual, including A-Hsiang and Ariel and Richard who even lent me their laptop!! So while I was in the hospital (no tv in my room, only across the hall) I watched Monster House, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Cars. Even though most of them won't read this, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who gave time, money, came to see me, stayed the night, brought me food, and did a hundred little things for me while I was lying in bed!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Surgery Stories

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Time for me to relate more about what happened in the last little while. After my ambulance ride down Taroko Gorge (which is still beautiful even when you're in pain), I ended up in the nearest hospital, which happened to be the military hospital, also known as "Ba ling wu." I'm not exactly sure why. Since that day was a holiday it was really really difficult for me to get ahold of ANYONE. People here turn their cell phones off during holidays so work can't reach them I guess. Finally I reached Joy, my co-worker in Hualian, and she came to the hospital as soon as she could. By then I'd had x-rays, and the doctor had set my ankle as best as he could (another of the most painful experiences in my life). They told me I would need surgery, and wanted to know if I wanted to do it there or go back to Yilan first. Going back to Yilan didn't seem like a very good choice at the time so I decided to stay there and surgery was scheduled for the next morning. I got in touch with more and more people, and it turned out that Peggy was in town, taking her daughters back to school. She ended up staying the night with me and the next 2 nights as well. She was really like an angel. It was so amazing to have my "Taiwan mommy" as I've affectionately referred to her before, there with me, and helped me to feel not so afraid. In the morning, her husband, the dear Dr. Su came up from Yuli and called his friend who knew the chief of staff at the hospital. Apparently essential in ensuring I had quality treatment. Even hospitals here work on "guanxi" or relationship networks. As the only foreigner in the hospital I was probably kind of like a "VIP" there.

The anaesthesiologist came in next and tried to explain the side effects of local vs. global anaesthesia and get me to choose one. Well at that point they both sounded really bad to me. I decided to go with local anaesthesia, and they wheeled me away. I guess here is the time for confession... I was really scared as they wheeled my into the operating room, leaving all my friends behind. I started crying, but when we got into the operating room it was soooo cold in there, my tears turned to shivers, my teeth were literally chattering. Soon the doctors started talking with me as they prepared to give me the needle... once... twice....three times they stuck a needle in my back, but to no avail! It wasn't working, their needle wasn't going deep enough. So onto plan B... global anaesthesia.... maybe you've experienced it before... the slow sleepiness and then sudden waking up to discover that it's been 4 hours and they've cut your leg open and sewn it back up with 13 lovely stitches.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Recently Acquired Chinese Vocabulary

I'm not sure if i should post this on my Chinese blog or my English blog, but Ihaven't learned the characters for these words yet, just the sounds. As with a lot of natural language learning i followed the order of listen, speak, read, write.
Nothing like "authentic situations" for learning a language:

Jiao huai - ankle
Tuo jiu le - dislocated
kai dao - surgery
bing ren - patient (bing actually means sick, but it covers all those staying in the hospital)
hao tong! - it hurts
zi tong yao - painkillers
yi yuan - hospital
chu yuan - leave the hospital
shi gao - cast
san ku - wound
bian pen - bed pan
hua, hua hua de - slippery, to slip, to slide
xie xie ni di zhao gu - thanks for taking care of me

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

out of the hospital!

Hi friends, have i ever got some stories for you!!
In the last week I've had my first experience with a lot of things, including anaesthetic, crutches and bedpans (which I have now become an expert at using in english and chinese). I just arrived in yuli this afternoon and am staying with my dear friends the Yos for the next week or so. I'll update more in the quiet days to follow. Thanks for coming by and for praying for me if you did. it's been really crazy. I've been so overwhelmed with the kindness of friends and strangers alike during this time, bringing me food, helping me do things i used to be able to do by myself, and making me feel very cared for. I'll write more soon.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Charlotte Returns!

In case you were wondering why it's been longer than usual (has it?) since I've updated my blog, have I got a story for you!Actually, I'm writing this from the hospital and my friend is helping me post it. My long weekend started off really well and camping was great. It was only on the last day that things took a turn for the worse...

On Tuesday morning I slipped when I was walking and felt something "pop." It was really wierd and painful. I rested for about 20 minutes, and founds I could still stand, so I figured it was OK. I felt more pain as I was going up the stairs to go home, and then it happend: I lifted my leg to get on the scooter, putting all my weight on the other leg,then promptly collapsed. It was one of the strangest feelings in the world. Like there were no bones in my leg. I lay on the ground screaming and drawing a large crowd of onlookers. Later I would discover that I had dislocated my ankle and fractured my tibia.

Have I mentioned yet that this all happened in Taroko Gorge? As I waited for an ambulance to come, many stopped to help, and one even took a picture without permission. Anyways, I made it down into the hospital and have already had surgery to put everything back together and hold it there with metal. So now I'm stuck in a bed for awhile. But not in too much pain anymore. I'll update again when I get a chance.

Monday, October 02, 2006

October already

Happy birthday to my mom and happy Thanksgiving next weekend! I found some turkey wings in the grocery store here, so I just might try to have a mini-solo-Thankgiving dinner here. It happens to fall on the same weekend as Mid-Autumn Festival here this year. Since October 10 is Taiwan's national holiday, we end up with a 5 day weekend! My plan: going camping!!! I'm really excited about it, and hopefully will get lots of fun pictures. I'm going to a place we visited once when we lived in Yuli with a bunch of families from there.

I barely had any students today because they were participating in a science competition. So I only had about 15 students per class. Why can't that happen on the days I have the class with 53 instead of 33??

It's hard to believe October is here again, this month will mark 2 years in Taiwan. And I just passed my one year anniversary in Yilan. Good times.

Kids of all ages love the strawberry slippers.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


On Wednesday night I had a long-awaited sleepover with my Chinese teacher's daughters. I'd had the idea in the summer once I'd moved into my new apartment, but it just hasn't happened until now. Since I didn't have class on Thursday, it was a good time. My Chinese teacher has 4 kids, Esther, 10; Rebecca, 8; Deborah, 3; and Gloria, 1. The two oldest stayed at my house, but they all came over beforehand to play. They had originally planned to come over around 7, but by the time they got here it was almost 9! They enjoyed looking at some pictures and playing with various "cool stuff" they spotted around my room. After mom and two youngest left, we got on with the fun! I'd prepared the ingredients for Snickerdoodles, and we baked cookies together, playing a fun card game while we waited for them to cook. Next I painted their nails (though afterward they informed me that they're not allowed! When asked "Why didn't you tell me?" they innocently said "I forgot" riiight). By the time they went to bed it was nearly 11:30. The next morning Rebecca was up bright and early, like 6:00 early.... leaving me a little sleepy for the rest of the day. I made them toast and they played some more, including hide and seek (there really aren't a lot of places to hide in my apartment, but somehow they managed it!!). Until their dad called me to say he was downstairs, much to their disappointment! the phrase of the day was "Ni jia hen hao wan! Wo bu xiang hui jia!" (Your house is really fun! I don't want to go home!)

Playing with my "cool stuff" Posted by Picasa

Everyone loves the strawberry slippers! Posted by Picasa

The two youngest thought my house was fun too! Posted by Picasa

Baking cookies Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

Good morning! Posted by Picasa