Trying Desperately to Stay Healthy in Shanghai

Life in China is difficult to say the least.  Some days just staying alive seems to be a challenge….will the bus hit me or will the pollution get me first?  I regularly go into the epicenter of bad air, Beijing, where the frequent  AQI of 500+ is apocalyptic to say the least.  But, business needs dictate, so off I go!  My new masks will be put to good use.   The breathing valve helps to not fog up my glasses and looks oh so fashionable as well.

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I hate wearing my mask!

In order to combat all that seriously unhealthy stuff we face daily, I am trying to take some steps to stay alive.  First, we only use bottled water. Okay, I use bottled water and Thom doesn’t–he has a stronger stomach than I do.  I even had to yell at Thom today to make sure that he washes our food with bottled water too.  No tap water ever passes my lips.  Ever.  Then, we have started buying fruits and vegetables from the online Western store that guarantees organic quality produce.  Who knows if it is really organic since I don’t trust anyone or anything in China but their food has got to be healthier than the van on the corner pedaling produce.  We also go to the gym in our apartment complex and we take lots of walks when the pollution isn’t too bad (again, our standards here are very low as anything below 150 AQI Unhealthy Level seems good to us now).

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Fruit Juice Bars are plentiful in Shanghai

This week I got a cold and then life seemed very difficult indeed.  I worked from home today so I wouldn’t have to go through the commute which is difficult and where I probably got the cold in the first place from my millions of fellow commuters who hock and spray me with their DNA daily.  Thank goodness we have all the OTC meds you could want because you can’t get them here in China.  Someone today suggested I try Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) but no thank you!  The only time I tried CTM, I bled from a place that should not ever bleed.  Nuff Said.  I did end up going to a doctor eventually for my self-diagnosed bronchitis.  He barely spoke to me and told me to rest to get rid of it.  I laughed and asked for antibiotics and cough meds instead and he then grudgingly gave me a prescription.  I would love to just “rest” but I am on the road again next week to Beijing and Nanjing and need to get well fast.  Give me drugs that work quickly!!!

People say that in Shanghai there is nothing to do but smoke and drink and eat.  Not exactly a healthy lifestyle!  It’s hard to make friends when you are empty nesters like us.  I actually met another woman executive when I was waiting for Thom outside our massage place, Dragonfly, and she and her family seemed to be checking it out.   We had a nice talk (she’s an exec with Disney) and Thom actually has already gone out with her trailing spouse to play cards with some expats.  We also met another nice couple on the plane home from Vietnam and I look forward to getting to know the gal, who is another woman executive with a trailing spouse.  Go women executives in China -there are a few of us!  Of course, we go to Trivia Night at the Pub.  We really enjoy the crazy Brits that are in our group but healthy it is not—between the greasy pub food, alcohol and plentiful smoking, we come home and have to immediately strip our smelly clothes that have absorbed a pack of Marlboros.  Yuck!

Of course, the stress from living in China, being away from family and friends, working at a new job, etc. is tough on us as well.  We have started to go to church and that is helpful to me.  I have to remember to pray frequently and remember all my many blessings every day.  Some days are harder than others but it’s always better when I pray.

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