My illness in China: Are they all smog?

happy kid in the field

Now, the time has passed for a few months, and I am bathed in the summer sun, I am safe, but I have to admit that my body is very bad all winter.

Everything started in November last year, and I suffered a fracture for the first time in my life. It was a stupid accident, the bicycle slipped on the oil spots, and I broke a clavicle. The annoying pain accidentally tortured me for more than a month. But far worse than this is still behind - last December, I was diagnosed with asthma and needed two inhalers to improve my breathing. The disease came unconsciously, and I began to wake up in the middle of the night because of chest pain. At first, I thought it was just a bruise from the ribs that fell from the bicycle, but then I began to feel short of breath. One morning, I suddenly woke up and gasped, which made me finally decide to go to my colleague in the clinic to show me.

My chest examination was normal, but the breath test showed that my lung function was only 60% normal. She said that I might have asthma. I will never forget the first inhalation of salbutamol aerosol (albuterol, a beta-adrenergic receptor stimulant used as a bronchodilator for asthma and other obstructive pulmonary diseases): shortness Within a few minutes, a month ago, the chest was like elephant-like oppression, and my lungs were filled with precious, polluted Beijing air. The irritating smell was unprecedented in me. Sweet.

This makes me quite sure that I really have asthma. Although I was relieved after the symptoms improved, the diagnosis of asthma still shocked me and was upset. It’s not unusual for an adult to get asthma suddenly. What I think is all about it: this is the fault of air pollution. I have lived in Beijing for eight years and have breathed from many apocalypses. Although I tried to protect myself with various methods like OCD, I still couldn’t escape the air pollution. I feel that I am a fool, thinking that I can avoid the long-term effects of pollution on health. All the blog posts about masks and air purifiers in my blog; my TEDx talk about healthy living in China; my book about healthy lifestyles in China - all of which suddenly seems to be wishful thinking with a sugar coat. My rosy glasses were finally shattered by reality, and the real iron blue face of the city where I lived was exposed to my eyes.

I feel that I am trapped, and I am so helpless in the face of the devil's demons that are silent and ruthlessly infiltrated from the gap between the doors and windows. I just had a hole in the hole and it was able to find another one soon. Anxiety is full of my daily life, whether I am at work or at home, it distracts my attention all the time. When I get along with my family or patients, I can no longer concentrate. I frantically checked all my air purifiers, added one in my office, and upgraded the mask I used when I was commuting to work from the N95 to the N99. The scent of meditation at home suddenly changed from a tool that can be relaxed to an annoying source of PM2.5. I even thought about the obvious, but the "healing way out" that was previously unappealing in my eyes - fleeing China.

As you can see, my response to this matter is not very good. Samuel Johnson once said: "The disease makes people very selfish. People who suffer from pain are always seeking relief." I even wrote a long blog post about my new condition. It has a profound impact on my life and a desperate attempt to protect myself from pollution. After completing the first draft, I felt that I was venting, and I was very satisfied with the article and felt that it perfectly showed my condition. However, I decided to postpone the release so that I can change it later.

A few months later, I am glad that I did not publish this article because the disease I was diagnosed with asthma has completely disappeared. And I also realize that my symptoms are probably not related to China's air pollution - my illness is entirely an infection that can happen anywhere in the world.

What led me to discover this was the amazing transformation of the situation. After a few weeks of treatment with aerosols and steroids, I did feel a lot better, but in mid-February, I started breathing again, with very strange, seemingly unrelated symptoms such as muscle pain and recurrent headaches. Then, the pain at night hit again. On New Year's Eve, I woke up again, this time with fever and headache. So, most of the night, my family was neither preparing dumplings nor watching the Spring Festival Evening, but guarding me in the emergency room of the hospital. There, I was diagnosed with atypical pneumonia and started receiving antibiotics. After seven days, all my symptoms, including the symptoms of asthma, disappeared. Since then, I have never touched an aerosol.

The role of antibiotics is to kill bacteria. Since this medicine completely cured my pneumonia and the "asthma" I thought, it is clear that the bacteria have been infecting my lungs for several months, it caused all my symptoms: chest pain from the night The more traditional symptoms of pneumonia that emerged at the end, including asthma and asthma.

Looking back, my colleagues and I initially blamed my illness on air pollution, which is not an illogical assumption because my initial symptoms did not have the typical characteristics of pneumonia infection, and there is strong evidence that air Contamination can exacerbate asthma – however, a person who is already very healthy, like me, suffers from air pollution and has not been clearly confirmed. Yes, many studies have indeed shown that during the peak pollution period, the rate of admission to pneumonia has increased, so perhaps through this indirect approach, air pollution is still partly responsible for my illness - but in fact, last winter Air pollution is far less serious than in the past.

Looking back at the difficult months of the past, I was so easily caught in the popular "all China's fault" game, which made me very upset. For Chinese and foreigners living in Beijing, complaining about various environmental issues has become a deep-rooted conditional reflection. The shocking reports are commonplace so that we are already eccentric, and it is easy to think about the worst. Therefore, I, my colleagues and friends take it for granted that air pollution causes symptoms of suspected asthma. But we are all wrong.

Therefore, I have completely revised my unpublished article from both language and purpose. No longer simply chattering, it becomes a nuanced discussion of environmental risks and the inherent genetic health risks of people. But more importantly, it has become – at least for me – a forerunner that warns of unpredictable reactions in the face of disease and suffering, and the fragility exposed in the process. During the worst illness I have ever experienced, I was both anxious and helpless, degenerating into an empty shell that only knew how to struggle. I desperately want to find some meaning and some positive results from this sudden disease. Looking back, I was a bit disappointed with myself. I actually reacted so negatively to a diagnosis of a disease that was not really serious. How much is my pain compared to the patients in my clinic? I found that in the face of the disease, my emotional reserve was not as deep as I hoped.

From this experience that made me humble and made me down-to-earth, I also found a lot of positive sprouts, so this whole test turned out to be an unexpected blessing. I now have deeper sympathy for the sick, and I understand that if the doctor wants to "cure" the patient, the patient's own perception of the condition may be more important than the actual condition. More than ever, I realize that there is a deep interrelationship between the mind and the body as well as the physical and mental health.

I don't want to be caught off guard by pain and disease anymore. I constantly reflect on how to improve any inner strength (even on a spiritual level) that I may need to reserve. As David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times said in his new book, The Road to Character, The pain "let you know more about yourself." Now I am enchanted by the pure joy of being with my wife and playing with our two lovely sons. I am full of gratitude for the health of each of us, knowing that they are so fleeting.

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