Ask any teacher and their favorite acronym is EOY-End Of Year. EOY checklists, EOY parties, EOY, EOY, EOY. I love it. 🙂 Can you tell I’m excited that today is our last day with students? Tomorrow is checkout and Sunday we’re on the plane to the States. EEEK! Finally! This last week has been a blur of activities, but I wanted to take a moment and recognize some things and record some feelings and thoughts about finishing our second year of living in China. Last weekend we were fixing to go stay at a new hotel out in Luohu and do some shopping in preparation for going home, but Thursday night Paul woke me up with a terrible fever. It was unexpected because he hadn’t been complaining about being sick. I gave him some Tylenol, and then went back to bed. He woke up with a lower temp, but in the time it took for me to get ready for school, he got worse. I checked it again and it had gone back up to 101.6. I looked at his throat, and his tonsils were swollen with white pus on them. So I called out of school, sent in my sub plans and got online to set him up a doctor’s appointment, thinking I could maybe get back for the afternoon. In that time, Paul started throwing up, he threw up multiple times and couldn’t keep anything down. His temp crept up and I started getting nervous. I grabbed my stuff and headed to Home Hospital. We’d been there before, but not at all this school year. Traffic was horrific, a normal 15 minute cab ride became over an hour. Luckily when we arrived, the doctor saw us straightaway. After a million questions, he took a look at Paul’s tonsils and noted his high temp and said that Paul would need IV fluids and a series of blood tests to rule out bacterial or strep infections. I didn’t know how Paul would take them putting a needle in his hand, but we had to try and Paul couldn’t keep anything down, so I knew it was the right choice. He was brave and we only had to hold him down for a little bit. Once the IV was in, he was fine. We sat in the IV room (a room with a bunch of recliners with tvs and IV poles) for hours watching Chinese cartoons while Paul fell in and out of sleep. His fever crept up and down and the blood tests came back positive for bacterial infection (but not strep) so they gave him antibiotics by IV. By 3pm we were done with all the fluids and meds, and we were released to go home. His fever was still high, but there was nothing they could do there that I couldn’t do at home and we both wanted to go. Armed with more antibiotics (and a Chinese medicine), we grabbed a cab back home. Paul was too weak to even walk to our door so I carried him home. Amy made him some soup and Donnie brought him some Sprite, and for the first time all day, he was able to keep food down. His fever got a little higher, but the next day it wasn’t above 100 degrees, and it finally broke Saturday afternoon. I think any parent will agree, it’s the worst thing in the world watching your child be sick. You do everything you can, and sometimes they still suffer. I’m glad he bounced back so quickly, but it was scary for a while. I feel grateful for the doctor taking such quick action. The funny thing is that we have really awesome insurance that we never get to use because we never spend enough on our deductible. The meds, IV, care, lunch, doctor consultations and an English translator all only cost $300. It was a lot to pay out of pocket, but compared to and ER visit in the States, I can’t imagine it being less than that. Luckily we were able to cancel our hotel reservation and stay home to let Paul recuperate.
Wrapping up the school year also means wrapping up my soccer playing for the summer. I missed last week’s game because of an awards ceremony at school, so I was ready to play again this week. I have really enjoyed playing with the girls every week, and I think it’s one of the highlights of my week. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know the players and made friends from all over the world. I’ve also improved my soccer skills. 🙂 One of the girls who founded the team is leaving before we return, and she will be missed. It will be weird to play without her and I hope the team stays strong and playing every week because it’s become so important to me. I know these friendships formed in the sweaty Wednesday nights will stretch over time and distance and that makes my heart happy.
Another activity I will miss that has become routine, but so essential to my mental and physical health is hiking the mountain with my friend, Paula. We meet up at 5am on Tuesdays and Thursdays and somehow manage to summit the Nanshan mountain and back down in an hour. We’ve been at it since October (I think?), and even though getting out of bed that early can be difficult, we are both so grateful for it. We take the time to chat, breath, tell stories and ask questions. It’s like having a refreshing cup of coffee and a chat, but instead we’re soaked in sweat and taking breaks in the conversation to breathe and lift our legs up those steep stairs. There is no other feeling like standing at the top and feeling the breeze in your face before heading back down to face the day. 🙂 Unfortunately, for the first time this year, we were rained on, and got soaking wet on our last hike. It was definitely ironic and it made us laugh. I look forward to continuing this when I get back in August.
Like I said before, our last few days have been busy. I went on a field trip to an amusement park called Happy Valley. I spent most of the day chatting with my friend Lariska, and also we met up with the other teachers to get soaking wet on a few of the rides. It was a really fun day, mostly because of the company. And last night Donnie and I tried a new place with a really nice selection of brews. A couple of couples joined us, and it was nice to be social without much effort. One of the couples is leaving for Africa this year, and at the end of the evening, Donnie and I agreed that we wished we had more time with them, but it is not goodbye forever.
And so it brings us to today. I went back and re-read my EOY post from last year, and I sound so eager to get back to SA and everything I missed. I feel like a lot changed this year. I know I have changed. In contrast to last year, I will miss things here in China while I’m away. I’ll miss my weekly soccer games and gossip sessions with the players. I will miss my early, struggling hikes with Paula (and Jess before she got hurt!). I will miss my daily bike ride with Paul to school and kissing him before loading the bus. I will miss spending Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons brewing delicious beers with my husband. A few things will be here when I return, and it’s nice to know I have that to look forward to. It’s been a blossoming year for Paul. He’s comfortable in his new home, and come August, he will have spent more time abroad (and in China) than in the US and Texas.
There are days we still struggle with being so far away and feeling very foreign in a very foreign place. But we’ve hit a stride here, we’ve been successful in our transition. Next year will be another transition, Donnie will be head of IT at our school, and I will be moving to teach at the HS. (I’ve never taught HS!) But I’m not really worried. We adapt, we accept and we enjoy. It’s a process some days, and sometimes we take steps back, but we have a home. And instead of flying home to the USA to spend the summer, it feels more like a visit before we come back to a wonderful life we’ve built. But I’m so ready for the break and to see all the faces I’ve missed over the year. EOY all the way.
Much love and safe travels to all my departing friends.