Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chicken Pox Season Or So It Seems

Hey there everyone. Hoped you are having a good week. 

I had a bunch of appointments planned for this week but had to cancel them as Nic also known at The Husband came down with of all things, chicken pox!

It was one of the most surprising things ever. 

Firstly, he said he already had chicken pox. When he was 5 years old it seems. He remembered wearing a pink cardigan/sweater? My memory is pretty selective. It doesn't go back THAT far. I just recall bits and pieces of my very young life but there you go. Some people have deep memories. 

I had chicken pox when I was 20. I remember it well because it was my first week on campus - the actual first week of classes after orientation week - and I got the damn pox. I missed 2 weeks of classes and I recuperated at my late Grandma's house. 

She took care of me - forbidding me to eat anything that was made with beans or any seafood. Pork was allowed. But I had pretty bland food. A lot of soupy rice noodles and vermicelli. Not exactly exciting food. 

When I got back onto campus, I was told to stay away from seafood (prawns, fish etc.) and soya sauce. Apparently if you eat anything with soya sauce, your chicken pox scars remain.

Anyway, I think I adhered to that diet for all of 30 days. It's hard figuring out what food has soya sauce. Most food is cooked with dashes of soya sauce. 

Nic got it right after he returned from a trip to his hometown in Kuching. Either he got it on the plane home or he got it there. 

And for the first 2 days, I thought he had a bad case of allergy to something. Red spots appeared on his face and body. I didn't think anything of it. 

One night, he started scratching and he felt the spot burst! Even until then we went, nah, he has had chicken pox as a kid, he couldn't have a second attack, could he? 

You know, my husband is as strong as a horse. I'll be the one with all the strange health issues - from nose bleeds to headaches to god-knows-what (recently I had some weird acne on my butt and I still can't figure out if it's from sitting on public toilet seats...I know, eeuuuwww or from trying on clothes at Uniqlo!). I'll go out in the mid-day sun for a bit and get all heaty inside. He can walk in the sun, hat-less and never suffer a blip. I'm a bit of a princess when it comes to things like these. 

I can't sleep too late - sleeping at 1 am kills me for the next day I will be like a zombie. 

So you see, I could not believe it when he got chicken pox. So unlike him! 

When we eventually figured it out, we went out to drink herbal tea. If you get chicken pox, it means you're heaty inside and drinking herbal tea helps expel all the heat. We went to the regular uncle who operates a mini van on the roadside behind the Sunshine Square supermarket. Even asked for 24 Herb Tea with bitter powder. It's superbly bitter. On most days I am able to  stomach bitter teas but even last Sunday I was remarking to the uncle that the tea is crazy bitter. He says I should be fine if I can taste the extreme bitterness of the tea; the ones coming down with flus won't have such sensitive taste buds!

Despite Nic drinking this herbal tea and Hor Yan Hor, he did erupt in more spots which later filled with a clear liquid. 

So two days ago, I dragged him to the Chinese sinseh or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner which is just 10 minutes from our home. He confirmed that it was chicken pox. His wife, a cute little old lady with eyes lined with eye liner, started assembling herbs for us. I was curious - as I always am and watched her weigh the herbs. She made 2 packets of the dried herbs. This was in addition to tiny little envelopes of powder which were to be taken once every 4 hours mixed with a little warm water. And two little capsules of something. 

The dried herbs needed to be boiled in a non-metal pot with 3 bowls of water. The sinseh's wife instructed that I bring the mix to a rapid boil before lowering the heat to simmer the entire contents of the pot until one bowl of liquid remained. 

Here's how the mix looked like. 




herbal brew for chicken pox - traditional chinese medicine


Here's how the dried herbs looked like - there are some dried bees or wasps (yes! it was just the insect shell though as the innards were already dug out I think), Jin Yin Hua or Honeysuckle flower, Lian Qiao or Forsythia Fruit, Gan Cao or Licorice Root. The only ingredients I couldn't figure out was the bunch of dried leaves and pieces of twigs or bark. If you know what those are, do let me know.

(Are the leaves Zi Hua Di Ding? Maybe!)



dried herbs for chicken pox - traditional chinese medicine


So Nic has been drinking this brew which he says is incredibly bitter. I believe these herbs are helping to clear toxins, dry up his pustules and abscesses and overall get rid of the heat in his body.


dried herbs for chicken pox - traditional chinese medicine

When friends heard Nic had chicken pox, everyone recommended a remedy or two. 

First was neem leaves. The sinseh's wife told me it was "demam bu" but I told her it's called neem. She says Indians would usually use the leaves to brush all over the body of a person with chicken pox to stop the itching. 

My best friend, who is Indian by the way, told me to line Nic's bed with neem leaves. She said the other method is to soak neem leaves with some turmeric in a pail of water. This pail is to be left out in the sun for 3 hours or so and used to bathe. 

So I went in search of neem leaves. I asked another Indian friend if her neighbourhood had any. She told me yes so off I went with her to this house in Batu Lanchang. Unfortunately the house owner wasn't in. Fortunately for us, the neem branches were low enough for us two to pluck. (Most neem trees are tall and their leaves are hard to reach, unless one stood on a ladder.) 

I took home 2 large bunches of neem leaves. Later as I was doing my evening walk around my housing area in Taman Sri Nibong I saw two young neem saplings. They were a bit too young to pluck even if I was in dire need of neem leaves! (Neem is truly an amazing plant. Will write more about this soon)

Just some information why neem is helpful for chicken pox:

"Neem leaves have often been used in India to treat viral diseases. Neem leaves extract, absorbs and eliminates virus. As a preventive measure, you can prepare a neem paste and apply on the affected area. It is very useful for treating warts, chicken pox, and small pox. This is because neem absorbs the virus and protects from entering the unaffected areas. Neem extracts, toxic to herpes virus accelerate healing." (taken from this website)

And then there was the other Chinese method of preventing chicken pox from spreading to other family members. First you take a chopstick (if you have chopsticks in a utensil holder). Next you find a piece of red paper - the kind that Chinese often have at home if they pray - where the red dye leaks onto your hands if your hands are wet. Poke the red paper with the chopstick a few times without other people seeing you do this. 

If you have chopsticks in a drawer (not from a chopstick or utensil holder), you take the end of the chopstick and poke the red paper multiple times. 

Apparently this prevents your other family members from catching chicken pox! 

I have no red paper. Nadda. If I were at home in my parents' house, I'd easily find the red paper as my mom prays and uses the red paper to wrap around oranges or nian gao. 

The cute little sinseh's wife told me that I should not be afraid of the pox. She recounted that when one of her kids had chicken pox, she wasn't afraid. The more afraid of catching it, the more you'd catch it. 

Sage advice from a little old lady. 

Still I told Nic - we need to sleep in separate rooms, just for the time being. I am going off to Chiangmai in a week's time and I simply have to be at my best. Not taking chances. I've been looking forward to my little trip with my 2 gal pals since we booked our air tickets back in January. 

Do you know that if you have had chicken pox before and if the virus (yes it is a virus) still lingers, you may get shingles later on in life? 

There's also this taboo that if you have chicken pox, you should not go near a pregnant woman or someone whose family member just passed on. I think logically it's because chicken pox is highly infectious. 

Also, no seafood, beans or soya sauce for 4 months! I doubt Nic is able to avoid soya sauce when he gets well. 

Do you have a chicken pox remedy or have heard any weird or odd taboos or superstitions? Do share! 







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