The Lunar New Year ‘Effect’ on Chronically Ill Patients Like Me
Happy Year of the Ox! If you’re celebrating Lunar New Year, perhaps you’re like me and you look forward to this holiday simply because it means rest.
This year I’m experiencing mixed feelings. We love the build-up to the holiday as Taiwan swings into LNY party mode. Like everyone else, we purchase lucky red clothing and red and gold ornaments. We haven’t bought any spring couplets, but my refrigerator is brimming with giant Korean pears, passionfruit, dragonfruit, fresh vegetables, and more.
Now that we are getting a bit older, we both look forward to the whole island shutting down, especially after the madness of Christmas holidays, New Year’s Eve, and my birthday. I can finally take my foot off the pedal a bit with Reach To Teach Taiwan for a day or two. We both look forward to complete rest and not having to see or speak to anyone.
Today is Lunar New Year’s Day. Happy Year of the Ox!
Having lived in Asia since 2003, we’ve celebrated in China, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Borneo Malaysia, and more. I’ve included links at the bottom of this post if you want to see how we have celebrated this holiday in years past.
In the past five years, I’ve been too sick to do anything for Lunar New Year, but I’ve written about it many times from abroad and from home. Thus, I felt a simple update for LNY this year was appropriate. Many thanks to A Chronic Voice for providing writing prompts for February. They meshed perfectly with what I want to say today. Sheryl’s prompts always give me an opportunity to write about things I wouldn’t normally put in a blog post.
While I’m seated here in my lucky red satin pajamas with my lucky orchid and Brom Brom the red bromeliad along with some fresh flowers to make arrangements, I know that I am safe. Yesterday I had a fantastic afternoon listening to music and playing with flowers.
Today, I’m sad. Moodiness is part and parcel of being chronically ill.
The deep sadness I feel is definitely holiday-induced. Add chronic illness, a holiday , a pandemic, and two years of not seeing my family together and it hits hard.
Last night I watched our skyline burst with fireworks at midnight as people joyously celebrated everywhere. As this was happening, the reality of not being able to go home and being cut off from my family for the first time in 17 years has sunk in.
As people in Taiwan rejoice at being with their loved ones, I’m grateful to be here in my safe island bubble. But I wish I was planning my trip home this summer.https://t.co/YC6HOfVnMF pic.twitter.com/4BXNYDXLjS— Carrie Kellenberger – My Several Worlds (@globetrotteri) February 12, 2021
We usually use this time of year to look at flights to go back to North America each summer. The chances of that happening are looking slimmer by the day as COVID19 rages on in the US and Canada.
The Year of the Ox is supposed to be a year of endurance. Didn’t 2020 test us enough? Geez!
2021 is supposed to be the year that makes our dreams concrete. Unless the pandemic ends soon, my dreams won’t be fulfilled this year. But I can always look at next year and try to tick off boxes to get home as quickly as possible.
The bright side is that I will have more time to define and hone my advocacy work.
Keep an eye out for more video content and more collaborations with some of the amazing WGO Health advocates I’ve been working with over the past six months. We’ve got some great content coming up for 2021 awareness months, especially for fibromyalgia, mental health, Ankylosing Spondylitis aka axial spondyloarthritis, IBS/IBD, MECFS, migraine awareness, primary insomnia, and more.
I’m focusing on topics that affect me personally in order to provide patients with patient support and up-to-date information in English in Taiwan.
Right now I’m allocating my time to rest since February is always a hard month for me.
I don’t know about you, but most chronically ill patients I meet have increased disease activity during several months throughout the year. I’ve cancelled the few things that I committed to in February and plan on spending the rest of my time in bed so I can get back to prepping in March.
August and November are also hard months for me. I try my best to allocate the time that I have to plan ahead so I don’t fall short on awareness campaigns and initiatives.
Our team at WEGO Health united on several projects at the beginning of the year. Currently, I have plans set up with other advocates for fibromyalgia awareness, World AS Day, and MECFS day, which are campaigns that I participate in every year.
From a personal point of view, I’m counting down the days until it’s safe for me to fly so I can be united with my family. I’ve never been away from them for so long. Two years is way too long.
Since we weren’t able to travel in 2020, I haven’t had to worry about saving money for trips across the world. I had a good chunk of change in savings for the Tokyo Olympics last summer. I put that money down on medications instead. This has taken the stress off of making monthly payments of $1,000 for my injections.
And since my business is related to travel somewhat, I’ve been forced to take on a lot of extra freelance projects. I’m saving that money and will invest it in March.
Reach To Teach is an education consulting business and I’ve managed to keep our Taiwan program going. 2020 was hard. At first we weren’t sure if we had a business. Then I had to hustle to get teaching positions filled when Taiwan’s borders opened up for people to enter on special visas. I changed my recruiting strategy completely to ensure that teachers coming to Taiwan are educated on what they can and can’t do in Taiwan.
Having moved abroad to China during the SARS pandemic in 2003, I’m a unique situation to assist teachers who want to make this move. (Back then we didn’t have social media, so I had no idea what I was flying into.)
Ensuring that our teachers feel supported and that they’re being educated properly on Asian culture, lifestyles, and expectations has taken a lot of time, but I’ve found myself enjoying the role of being a teacher again.
I’m also working hard on educating others and raising awareness for my health issues while assisting others, especially patients here in Taiwan.
Finally, here are some posts from past Lunar New Year celebrations:
- Spring Festival 2004 in Beijing: Beijing and the Arts in Our Land Competition
- The Essential Guide to Celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing
- 2007 Red and Gold New Year in Taiwan
- Year of the Pig: A Dragon Made Out of Rice
- 2007 – Lunar New Year in Hualien – Our Motorcycle Trip Around Taiwan
- Lunar New Year and the Art of Giving in Taiwan
- 2008 – Our Central Cross Island Highway Lunar New Year Motorcycle Trip in Taiwan
- We spent Lunar New Year in 2009 at home in Taipei because it happened two months after our destination wedding in Mexico.
- 2010 Lunar New Year at Coco Loco Island in the Philippines
- 2011 Lunar New Year Celebrations in Kota Kinabalu
- We celebrated Lunar New Year in 2012 in Seoul, South Korea
- In 2013, we spent our Lunar New Year holiday with friends in Kenting National Park in Southern Taiwan
- 2014 was a quiet year for us. Having spent close to three months in North America because of trips and family obligations, it was nice to spend our Lunar New Year at home.
- 2015 Lunar New Year and the Year of the Goat!
- 2016 through 2020 required me to stay at home due to illness
And that brings me back to my first point with this article. Perhaps that’s why I’m moody? It must be the Lunar New Year effect.
It’s time to look ahead and focus on the possibilities that 2021 presents to me. This time next year, I’ll be celebrating 2022 and the Year of the Tiger. That’s my year. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you, whatever it is!