Being sick in an Asian household could end up killing you

I just can’t seem to catch a break. For the past fourteen days straight, I’ve been at home sick. Clearly my immune system has been slacking off, which is why it needs to get punished—I think a heavy dose of trans-fat, spicy food and excessive gluten will do the trick. The doctor wasn’t of great help either. They hooked me up to an IV, told me they thought I had a virus and sent me home to rest. Really? I could have googled that!

Following their advice, I took medical leave from work just so I could recover in peace. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I was able to catch up on The Walking Dead, read up on world news and realized that nothing remotely interesting happens on Facebook anymore. I became incredibly bored and delusional after six days at home. That’s when I decided to stay with my parents so that my mommy could take care of me. This also seemed like a great idea at the time, but as with all things in Asian culture, it came with a price.

“Did you get a flu shot?” I’ve been diligent about getting my flu shots since college. I even encourage my co-workers, the ones who have health insurance anyways, to get their flu shots too. So when I told my mom that I got a flu shot a month ago, she swore that it actually gave me the flu. “I haven’t had the flu shot since I came to America,” she said, “and I’ve been great.”

“I don’t think it works like that Mom…” I replied. Soon she begins to sound like one of those crazy people who thinks the flu shot causes autism. And yes, those people are crazy. Eventually I relented and decided this battle wasn’t worth fighting. “Ok Mom, you win, I won’t get a flu shot next year.” Unbeknownst to my mom however, I had my fingers crossed under the table. Booyah Mom! In your face! Didn’t learn that in citizenship class, did you!?

How to take medicine correctly. For all her wisdom and knowledge, I don’t think my Mom knows how over-the-counter drugs work. She seems to think these drugs will actually cure the flu, and kept pushing pills on me based on this belief. “If you want to get better, you need to keep taking medicine,” insisted my mom. She had all of the pills regimented on the table for me: Tylenol, Dayquil, Costco’s Kirkland Signature. It was like a pile of beautifully assorted Skittles. “You can take the white pills in the morning and the red capsules in the evening, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can take the round pills.” It seemed lost upon my mom that all of the pills had the same active ingredient, acetaminophen, which relieves pain and reduces fever. As soon as I point that out, she quickly brushes it aside. “Fine. You want to get coined instead? I’ll make dad give you a coining.”

Coining is a form of torture. Without a doubt, the worst part about being sick is that my mom always wants to coin me. Coining is an Asian medical practice where someone rubs a coin on your back to cure your illness while you scream in pain and beg them to stop. The louder you scream, the harder they coin you. And it leaves dark, red marks all up and down your back. I’ve been living in constant fear that my parents are going to pin me down in my weakened state and give me a coining. It’s terrifying. I would say and do anything to get my parents to stop coining me. “Stop! I promise to call more often,” or “I swear I won’t put you in a retirement home. Just no more!!!” Maybe the CIA should try this technique on terrorists. It’s absolutely devastating.

Image by Bradwesley69, 2009
Image by Bradwesley69, 2009

Despite all the things I complained about, it’s great having Asian parents. They will always go out of their way to help me out when I’m not feeling well. I imagine for my mom, it was like caring for a helpless baby all over again. I slept 11 hours a day, only ate non-solid foods, and occasionally wanted to be swaddled. But seven days at home with my parents was probably the upper limit that I could handle and I am glad to be healthy again. Now…time to punish that lazy-ass immune system.


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