How the hell do people write autobiographies? Seriously. “Why, I remember when I was but a lad of three and I can recall this conversation with my uncle word for word…” I can’t remember what happened ten minutes ago if I don’t write it down. I swear, I’m gonna get home and people will say “so tell me about Korea!” and I’ll be all “Um, good? It was good. Yes. Something something kimbap.”
Plus, ages ago I planned to write about the semester change and all that it heralded in, plus a billion other things, only I got really damn sick and simply getting up for work was easier said than done.
So you may recall that a couple of entries back, I mentioned that I was avoiding my apartment like the plague and that I would get to the “why” eventually. This is the beginning of the why.
When the semester changed back in December, it was not exactly a stress-free week. We received our new books and new schedule about, oh, FIVE MINUTES before we were expected to teach it. The textbooks were completely new to us and we hadn’t been able to do even one iota of prep for it. Also, since the semester change also marked a changing of levels for many of the kids, the classes were all filled with different students. The dynamic of a particular group was now opseyo.
Oh, and then there were the new class codes, and some classes didn’t have their textbooks yet, so we had to do a lesson we had prepared ourselves during time we never had, and teach that. By the way, the classes vary in size so an activity that might take an hour with one group could take ten minutes with another. Also, I was teaching a couple of classes that were at a much lower level than I was used to teaching, with kids who were total strangers to me, despite me having been at the school for two months at the time.
It was all a tad nervewracking, and to be honest, I lost track of the number of times that I thought “Thank GOD my first week wasn’t like this!” The stupid thing is it pretty much WAS my first week all over again, except we were all going a bit loco and I didn’t cry at the drop of a hat.
My appetite took a turn towards the opseyo, because, shockingly, I was having serious difficulty getting to sleep at night. When I am exhausted, I cannot eat. I was giving Paris Baguette a lot of business because I was so very fried all the time, and going there for a bagel instead of making my own breakfast meant ten extra minutes of sleeping. I was too tired to do much more than chat with my parents online after work, and I basically neglected everything resembling cleaning.
After spending my work days nearly dozing off at my desk, I would come home, convinced that this was the night I would get some real sleep, that the moment my head hit the pillow, I would be out cold—and then I would toss and turn until dawn, dozing off and on (if I was lucky), until RRNT RRNT RRNT! …that’s the sound of my clock. To describe its hellish shrieking sounds as mere beeping likens it to the sound a baby chick might make. Or the roadrunner.
Anyway, things weren’t good. I’m reasonably sure I came to work with a hangover at least once because one of my attempts to have a sound sleep involved inadvertently downing a whole bottle of soju. I’m not completely sure though because the headache I had was exactly the same kind of headache I get when I haven’t slept properly.
My glasses serve a double purpose. They help me see things, and they hide the shadows and bags that perpetually exist under my eyes. I was tired enough during those weeks (eternity) that the glasses hid little of my exhaustion. Even via Skype, nearly 7000 miles away, my parents could see it.
So I was not surprised in the slightest when I got the cough.
Coworker S had been suffering from a cough and her desk is right next to mine, so I figured it merely was a gift from her. Her cough went away after a week.
Mine did not.
Instead it was turning into this wracking cough, the kind that tells me I will soon be unable to breathe out of my nose and that I would be wise to obtain some Kleenex. Strangely, that never came about.
Now, because I’m an idiot, I kept putting off going to the doctor, convinced that sooner or later, my condition was going to improve. Yet by this point, it’d been close to three weeks and the cough had gotten loud enough and bad enough that everyone around me was talking pneumonia, and my ribs were actually aching on a constant basis. It felt like I was being punched in my left side every time I had a coughing fit—which was often. Even the kids would get concerned when I’d start coughing. That’s when you know it’s bad.
Finally, D says to me, “Megan, unscramble the following sentence: ‘tomorrow. I’m. to. the. Doctor. Going.’”
And then I started laughing—for about two seconds before I doubled over coughing.
Even though it meant giving up a good extra hour and a half of my precious precious sleep, I got up the next day and dragged myself to the doctor’s office. The doctor at the local clinic speaks enough English that we’re able to communicate with relative ease. After I told her my symptoms she checked my throat and told me that I had a throat infection. “From irritation, it looks like,” she said. “Probably it is the air in the city.”
Quite plausible, I thought. When I moved from piddly little Hampton to Windsor for university, I did get an ungodly painful something or other in my throat. Maybe the infection was obstructing my airways. She gave me a prescription and I went off to work. I spent the day coughing up a storm, trying to convince myself I was feeling better. Plus, the night time dosage hit me hard enough that I slept through most of my coughing fits.
But the cough lingered after the pills ran out. So back to the doc’s I went. Got more pills and trudged off to work.
By this time, I’d been plagued by this damn cough for well over a month. I was sleep-deprived, and my ribs were no longer aching, but rather pulsating with pain from all the coughing—my stomach muscles were pretty killer though—still, the doctor was insistent that my lungs were clear. I was thisclose to informing her that her stethoscope had to be busted. Could she not hear my wracking cough? The wheezing? See my purple face?
I opted to refrain since I didn’t want to offend her. After all, I ain’t no doctor.
Regardless, I was feeling pretty damn miserable. It was nearing a week since I’d discovered the ultimate shutting-up-unruly-kids technique (cry), so I was kinda nervous about facing that group again, and I just plain wanted to curl back up into a ball and sleep forever. Maybe cry some more while I was at it. So after pounding the snooze button for like, the eighth time, I made myself sit up, wishing wholeheartedly that I had a reason to phone in sick.
In about 5 seconds, I would truly understand the phrase “Be careful what you wish for.”
I stood from my bed and began my new morning ritual of having a massive coughing attack. I knew the drill. Grasp my aching ribs, bend the knees, hunch over, and pray the fit was going to be brief. (Ha.)
That’s when I heard the pop.
Now, for a couple of weeks before this, I had been thinking that I had merely pulled a muscle or something in my side, hence the constant ache, and so I thought at first that this ‘pop’ signified a return to normalcy, so I stood upright, thinking all would soon be well.
And that’s when I started screaming.