Aches and Pains

In just a few short hours, I board a flight back to North America where I’ll be until October 18th. I have a long tour that stretches from Ontario/Quebec into the US Midwest, down as far south as Virginia and back up through the New England states. This is the release of the first baby this year (my new album) and then I’ll be coming home to Beijing to rest for my final two months before the release of my second baby this year: Little Spark.

As I type this, however, I’m sitting here propped up against pillows on the bed with a hot water bottle positioned at my lower back accompanying my new found daily companion: BACK PAIN. Only in the last week have I started to feel like my lower back was going to remove itself from my body and run away screaming into the distance like a figure on fire.

I’ve also been struggling with a minor bladder infection all week. Usually, I can douse these with cranberry juice, lots of rest, and lots of water, but my usual techniques for staying well have been thwarted by a compromised immune system (a la “Little Spark”), and so when my back started hurting I started to panic! I immediately imagined it must be a kidney infection and with my impending trip I wondered if I was going to need to delay departure, how I was going to deal with an infection without medication, etc. etc.

Turns out, I was just a panicked Mother. The back pain emerged because it was time for it to emerge. My considerable weight gain for my small frame, the fact that I’m nearly 6 months pregnant, and the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of computer work this week in preparation for the tour all are contributing factors to my back pain and just coincided with this mild bladder infection. It’s not a kidney infection. There’s no fever. I’m okay!

(In fact, I went to see the doctor just in case! They told me it was fine, but they did prescribe a mild antibiotic if it didn’t clear up soon. Apparently this won’t hurt the baby if I only take it for three days…)

So, I’m thinking I’m going to pack the hot water bottle and take it with me on this tour. I’ll have a lot of long drives. I’m guessing my back isn’t going to suddenly stop hurting from prolonged sitting. That experience starts with the 12-hour plane ride today!

The other thing that’s been happening in the “aches and pains” department is cramping. At night! Yes, in the middle of the night I have been jolted awake twice. Once it was from a charlie horse in my left calf. I screamed as I woke to the pain and Guo Jian freaked out in his half-asleep state as I was speaking English (uhm, okay, swearing and exclaiming!) and he was yelling in Chinese and trying to help me with my leg when he had no idea what was going on! The word in Chinese for cramp is: choujin (抽筋, two 1st tones), but if you think I could remember that at five in the morning as I was trying to stretch and bounce and dance and rub my way through the charlie horse then you’re very wrong about that! haha! That might be an early indication of what my language skills will be like during labour! Of course, it did eventually calm down and I was able to go back to sleep, but what a crazy experience.

The second time was a cramp in my toes, this time in my right foot that woke me up at about seven in the morning, a little too early for me! My toes felt like they were bent the wrong way and my foot seemed rubberized and unable to do anything about the strain in my toes. All I could do was get up, walk around, breathe my way through the cramp, and just will it to go back to normal. This time, I didn’t scream so Guo Jian didn’t wake up, but the experience was just as jolting for me.

After each cramping episode, I spent the whole day periodically stretching the strained areas and so far it hasn’t happened again. I’ve also started to do research on back stretches and how to do different exercises to accommodate this huge beach ball that I’m carrying around my midriff. I’m hoping to implement some of those stretches on the plane today, in between movies! 🙂

When I asked the doctor about the cramping, she said it was very common with pregnant women and that the best thing to do is to make sure that my legs are warm at night. There’s something here in Chinese ideology that immediately blames all ailments on cold. Either it’s the breeze at night through an open window, it’s the air-conditioning in a work place, it’s the cold water you drank or the icy treat you ate that day (etc.) that gave you whatever symptoms you have. She may be right, though, but while I cover up a bit more to sleep, I think I’ll also do more stretching and walking around as an extra health insurance mechanism!!

Speaking of health insurance, do you know how hard it is to find health insurance for a pregnant woman? That’s my task this week once I’m in a North American time zone and can make some phone calls at reasonable hours. I’m heading to the “gauge-you-with-hospital-bills” zone called the United States and I really don’t want to be caught there without insurance, especially if something goes wrong. The problem is that only obscure pregnancy complications are covered in the few plans I’ve found online like ectopic pregnancy (which I don’t have) or premature labour (which I hope to not encounter!). Wish me luck in finding a reasonable travel plan for me and the bump!

Okay, see you in North America, I hope! Me and Little Spark and my hot water bottle are taking to the skies!

Much warmth to you all,

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