Is Miso Soup An Acceptable Substitute for Chicken Soup?

In what feels like serious deja vu, Allison has fallen ill again. But unlike last time, she actually has someone here to help take care of her, running errands and picking up food for her. Yes, that would be me. I didn’t so much come to China to take care of Allison, but certainly I found it appealing that if something should happen to her, that she would not be alone. With the Chinese New Year celebrations, and school out of session, things are very quiet around campus and this area of Beijing. Her roommate has left for the year, and even the whole floor Allison lives on has largely been emptied out. So I’m glad I’m here.

I realize I’m no substitute for a doctor or nurse or anything, but I know it was depressing for Allison to face her series of end-of-year illnesses in Harbin all alone, and it means a great deal to me that she not have that kind of situation again.

And it’s not like it’s a major burden on me or anything. Since falling ill this weekend, I’ve been spending all of my time here in her room, but my work is mainly just keeping her company, and bringing her entertainment like episodes of Heroes on DVD. This afternoon, I ran down to the convenience store to pick up a few more food items, and when I came back, she was sound asleep. So I’m taking the time now to update this blog, and depending on how long she sleeps, get some reading down related to my current project – figuring out a dissertation topic.

I’m not sure what she has. She did have a sore throat and cold-like symptoms initially, but she gradually developed a fever and body aches, and for the moment, those seem to be her primary symptoms. That, and this morning, she awoke to find herself so dehydrated that she nearly passed out while she was taking her shower. I’ve made sure she’s had plenty of water, and so far it doesn’t seem like the dehydration has returned, or that she’s facing anything on the scale of what happened to her during her visit to my folks’ house in Texas last summer. So, for now, she sleeps.

I hope that this doesn’t suggest that she’s fallen into some sort of pattern of recurring illnesses. As she pointed out to me, it hasn’t really been much more than four weeks since she recovered from her last bout of illness during New Year’s. My hypothesis is that this is probably unrelated. That is, she was sick toward the end of the semester in Harbin because of overwork, stress, unhappiness and homesickness, not to mention encountering all kinds of exotic bugs to which she had never been exposed before. Most of those conditions aren’t a factor here, or are very much reduced. She’s barely in the beginning phases of her project, but she is getting a bit stressed out about it already. I can’t help but wonder if I’m, actually, as much of a burden as benefit to her, because she’s found herself adapting to a sleep and eating schedule closer to my own – almost nocturnal, late to bed, late to rise, and meals at erratic times. If anything, I should be trying to adapt my schedule to hers, because it’s far more healthy and normal. So I very much hope that my arrival hasn’t itself become something that could make things worse for her. That would pretty much horrify me.


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