Ever since working from home became common, a new game emerged for me to play. Basically, it was: what makes my back hurt today? To be honest, I think in normal life my posture is quite good. Probably because I am pretty short and thus always need to look up anyway. And in general office equipment tends to be of a higher quality than the chairs I sit on at home. At least for work purposes.
When lockdown began, I actually sat a lot on the ground or laid in my studio. Because space was limited and work scarce, which actually made my hips and sides hurt more than my back. But once I actually found a regular job and started regularly working from home, it was my back’s turn to let me know of its existence.
I resisted bringing the proper chair from the office for quite some months before I capitulated and actually brought the high-quality one home. However, with my currently limited digital nomad life (basically just travelling between 2 cities that are 45 kilometers apart) I sit on a lot of different chairs while working. And although there are definitely high-quality chairs around me, I cannot always hog them to myself.
So today I made the ultimate compromise. I think this trend was hip about 10 years ago when we started paying more attention to the health and well-being of employees. It was the time when we were making fun of al the ‘strange’ contraptions companies came up with. Standing desks, biking desks, back cushions, feet rests and exercise balls. Yes, there seems to have been a time when we thought everyone would be bouncing around in office and behind their desks. Needless to say, it did not happen. But I bounced behind my desk today. So that is me finally hopping onto one trend.
Actually, in Dutch we can also use the word ‘sick’ as a positive adverb. Once you are sick, it feels quite illogical to use it in that sense.
For me, being sick abroad is almost my second nature. I must have seen almost as many doctors and hospitals in my country as I have abroad. I must emphasize that in the Netherlands, going to the doctor or hospital is taken up as a more drastic measure. if you have a cold, the flu, or are just not feeling well, we might go to the GP but normally we just suck it up and huddle up in a blanket. As a consequence, most of our conversations about feeling sick are relatively low-profile. ‘I am not feeling very well.’ ‘Something’s been in the air lately so I think I caught that too.’ ‘My whole body feels listless, I need a good rest.’
In China, that is quite different. On the one hand, the chances of having food poisoning and/or diarrhea are much larger here. Therefore, you might just hear somebody say very casually: ‘That hotpot did not go well, I had diarrhea for 3 days.’ The dutch, not the most prudish but still, would feel a bit uncomfortable directly stating that in a casual conversation. The same goes for constipation.
Another difference, is the amount of medicine. I now happen to have a cough and a cold which has already kept me in the cough-sneeze-breathe state for almost a week. Almost all Chinese will ask me if I have taken any medicine, and if so Chinese or Western medicine. In the Netherlands, we almost tend to pride ourselves on our ‘toughness’ and ability to bear sicknesses without any medicines.
I do have a feeling in China apothecaries and/or doctors still receive commission over medicines. I recently was in the hospital for someone else who had a hole in his head and he received four different medicines for the next 4 or 5 days. It seemed like a bit of overkill. I had the same when I had ‘a simple’ pharyngitis and also received about 5 different medicines.
However, sticking to my Dutch roots and trying to survive on as less medicines as possible is also quite a challenge. But who does not like a challenge?