Month: September 2014

Surviving sinusitis part 2

More than 2 years ago, I wrote a post about my experience surviving sinusitis. You can click here to read about it. I still adhere to the points I mentioned in the first article. This second article is an update to my current condition and some measures I have taken in addition to the points mentioned in the first article. Having sinusitis is really a pain in the *ss!

Note: The author is neither a doctor nor a sinusitis expert. This post is solely based on the author’s experience having chronic sinusitis for the past years. This post is solely for sharing purposes. 

My BFF once mentioned to me that when I sneeze or blow my nose, the noise is as loud as a bomb. She told me that if I continue to blow my nose like that, my nose is going to drop soon. Actually, I’m quite ashamed by this fact (harsh nose blowing). It’s not that I don’t want to blow my nose gently. I obviously don’t want my nose to drop. And honestly, I have developed many bad symptoms like pain in the ear, pain in the middle of my forehead and back pain due to my harsh nose blowing. Can you imagine having back pain while blowing your nose? Yeah, I’m not even talking about being pregnant. I’m talking about my back hurts when I blow my nose. That’s how hard I have been blowing my nose. So, why did I not stop? I have tried to blow it gently but the mucous in my nose is so thick that it refuses to get out from my nose. Gentle blowing doesn’t help me to clear my mucous. I can gently blow my nose for 20 times in a row and the mucous would still remain stuck. But twice harsh blowing helps to clear mucous, but of course I have to suffer pain elsewhere. So tell me, what choice do I have?

When I vent my frustration about sinusitis, many people offered suggestions. In fact, I have been to so many doctors (GPs, ENT Specialists and Chinese Physicians), have taken so many different medicines and have used different nose sprays but none of them really helped to completely cure my sinusitis. They did help to relieve the symptoms in some ways but usually my sinusitis would occur again and again and again. Ggrrrr… I believe my sinusitis condition can only be controlled and not cured. It is like a bomb ticking in my body, which can explode at any time. If my surrounding and my diet are perfect, usually my sinusitis is under control. Under such “controlled” condition, I would still sneeze in the early morning or once every few hours. Therefore, it’s not entirely sneeze-free or mucous-free. However, if there are slight changes in my surroundings and diet (e.g. the weather becomes colder or if I eat a little more chocolates), then my sinusitis becomes so serious that every day I use a box of tissue to clear my nose.

Really, I am thankful for all the suggestions and advice I’ve received. I truly appreciate your concerns. I assure you that I’ve done everything possible to keep it under control. In return, if you are also a sinusitis sufferer, I’m going to share with you which doctors I have visited, which medicines I have eaten, and what I have done to keep my sinusitis under control (not always, not most of the time but just sometimes). If your symptoms are not as severe as mine, I truly believe these methods will help you. However, if you have severe symptoms like I do, you can also try these methods and in addition, let’s pray and keep a positive mindset that one day, miraculously, our sinusitis will be cured completely.

1. Doctors

  • General practitioners in clinics that I have visited would most probably take my temperature whenever I told them I have sinusitis. Perhaps they just want to ensure that it is not a flu instead. Usually they give me antibiotics and flu medicines. Sometimes they give me anti-histamine pills and paracetamol if they think I have additional symptoms like fever or sore throat.
  • I’ve been to ENT specialists in both private and government (public) hospital in Malaysia. I hate going to specialists because there is always long queue. Even if they have taken my appointment, I’ll still have to wait somehow. So I’m not sure what kind of appointments those are. Being frustrated not having my sinusitis cured from GPs in local clinics, I decided to go to this ENT specialist in one of the private hospitals in JB. Waiting in queue for hours was really not a problem. The doctor did nasal endoscopy and laryngoscopy for me. According to this specialist, my condition was “normal”. He sent me away by giving me medicines with nose spray and asked me to see him again in two weeks’ time. I was very confident that I would be cured, since he said it was “small issue”. However, it turned out that the medicine he gave me (Aerius 5mg) almost killed me, eventhough I have already mentioned what kind of medicine I am allergic to. I couldn’t breathe and my heart was beating fast after taking it. I called them to tell them about this and they told me to continue taking the medicine. Seriously, did they want to kill me? What if I died? That was way more horrible than my nose being stuck. I didn’t return to that doctor ever since.
  • After that incident, I decided to go to the ENT specialists in the government hospital in JB. Since then, I’ve been returning for regular medical follow-ups. Sometimes in 3 months, sometimes in 6 months, depending on the schedule they gave me. One bad thing about going to ENT specialists in a government hospital is that I don’t have a regular doctor. Each time I go, there’s different doctor who attends to me. It doesn’t really matter to me because I’m sure they have my medical reports but most of the time, I have to repeat one and the same story to those different doctors. Different doctors will tell me the same thing – avoid dust, avoid pets, avoid cold rooms etc. Seriously,I know all these. I have been there more than 10 times, can you tell me something different? Do you think I would purposefully expose myself to these conditions knowing that I’ll most probably suffer? Some doctors are very nice, they do very thorough examinations (nasal endoscopy, laryngoscopy and x-rays) for me. Some doctors merely ask me a few questions and send me away. So it really depends on luck when visiting them. If I’m lucky, I get to be examined thoroughly. If not, I basically waste my time there. But, I still prefer the ENT in government hospital over other private clinics and hospitals because doctors in government hospital don’t give me antibiotics. They usually give me just anti-histamine pills and nasal sprays. They give me different types of nasal sprays according to my condition. I hate antibiotics! (Read below for the reason).
  • I’ve also visited Chinese physicians. Chinese physicians usually don’t believe in the “western” medicines and they highly recommend you the ‘traditional herbal medicines”. However, these herbal medicines usually require a long period of consumption. The Chinese physicians usually explain that they believe in “healing from the inner side, rather than healing on the surface” (direct translation from Chinese). That means that they believe that one has to cure the “root” or “core” symptom, which sometimes may or may not be directly related to what illness one is having (for my case, it’s sinusitis). These herbal medicines usually come in big dosages. There are several packs of small pills or liquids that I’ll need to take. In addition to these medicines, there are also several foods and beverages that I’m not allowed to consume. I do believe in this “healing from the inner side” principle, but for how long? Usually these physicians can’t tell me for how long I need to consume the medicines. I’ve visited Chinese physician and have taken herbal medicines for some period of time (6 months and above). Has it helped in any way? Well yes, it did help in some ways (not entirely) when these medicines are taken for long period of time with the rigorous and vigorous diet routine. Was I cured? Obviously, no.

2. Medicines

  • I have taken so many types of antibiotics that I can’t remember their names. Some of the recent ones I’ve taken are Zinnat 500mg and Klacid 500mg. These are not the strongest. I’ve taken some which are so powerful that my brain doesn’t work. I also constantly feel tired when taking antibiotics. I don’t see sinusitis as being “sick”. If I have caught a flu, that is “sick”. And I think antibiotics in this case are helpful because I get sleepy all the time. But having a sinusitis relapse should not be considered as “sick”, so it’s really horrible that antibiotics are making me weak and tired. (Note: I’m not saying antibiotics are bad and unnecessary. They are good and necessary when consumed at the right time.) 
  • I’ve also taken so many different brands of anti-histamine pills. I mostly consumed this white anti-histamine pill, which is to be consumed once per day. I’ve also been prescribed the yellow anti-histamine pill (that usually causes severe drowsiness), but only on very rare occasions. Note: I’m not sure the exact names of these pills but as far as I understand, they are all anti-histamine pills. But I hate these yellow pills because they are making my body weak. I don’t like the white one either. But if I have to choose, obviously the white pill is better than the yellow pill. On a short term basis, these white anti-histamine pills work well. Usually after a few days I can see my symptoms get reduced, but not completely gone. Usually, doctors told me to consume the white pill whenever necessary. However, there was a time, my sinusitis was so bad that a doctor told me to eat the pill daily every day until the next appointment. My next appointment was 3 months later. So I ate those pills, once a day for 4 weeks straight. Guess what happened? I notice that my brain somehow “stopped” working normally. No kidding. I started forgetting things very easily and sometimes I couldn’t find the right word when speaking. I was a lecturer. Can you imagine the pain when my students asked me some questions and I can’t find the right word to answer their questions? Horrible, horrible feeling!
  • So far, my favourite sinusitis medicine is Sinupret. It was first given to my by my father-in-law (who is a doctor). I’ve previously told him that I hate all kinds of medicines because I felt like these medicines are destroying my health and not helping me. But he mentioned that Sinupret is a plant-based medicine and that it’s not as “harsh” as other medicines. I would say that this medicine did help in some ways, but also didn’t cure me completely. The last time I asked in a pharmacy, Sinupret was not sold in Malaysia. My BFF (who told me my nose would drop) told me that she got her Sinupret from Singapore. (Note: I don’t have exact information about Sinupret because every time I consume Sinupret, I’m in Bulgaria. Hence, all instructions are in Bulgarian. Therefore, I can’t give you any details.)

3. Nasal spray / Nasal rinse

  • In addition to medicines, I’ve also used various drops and sprays. I can’t remember all the names of the nasal sprays I’ve used. I’ll just list some, which I used recently. Back home in JB, the doctors in government hospital have given me  Oxynase, Budecort, Beconase and Beclomet nasal sprays. In Varna, I’ve tried Vibrocil nasal drops.
  • Not relying on just these medicinal nasal sprays, I’ve also tried sterilized seawater nasal sprays, namely the Pureen Clinzo Isotonic Spray and Ialumar Isotinic Spray.
  • Besides all these spray, I’m also using Neilmed Sinus Rinse to rinse my nose daily.

4. Food intake / Daily routine

  • Going to doctors, eating medicines and also using nose sprays are definitely not going to help if my daily routine and diet are like shit. As per recommended by the Chinese physician, I try to avoid all kinds of cold food and drink (i.e. iced beverages, ice cream, yogurt, etc.), white bread, Milo, nuts, fried food, dairy products, and biscuits. Well, I’ve tried my best but I can’t avoid them completely, right? If I do, I’ll have a completely miserable life. According to the physician, all these foods are mucous-inducing food.
  • Also, I can’t be in cold room. I cannot have pets. I cannot go near anywhere dusty and smoky. Hmmm… I can avoid having pets. Avoid cold room? My office was air-conditioned, should I turn off the air-con so that everyone sweats with me? Avoid dust? I can try my best but I can’t prevent dust from entering my house. Avoid smoke? I can avoid smokers but I can’t avoid if my neighbouring country decides to burn its forest.

Thank you for reading until the end of this post. Thank you for your kind suggestions and advice. From this article, you should know that I tried my best to control it. But it relapses from time to time based on surroundings, which is very frustrating as this is not something I can control.

Are you a sinusitis sufferer? Did you also take similar measures as I did? Sinusitis is very frustrating. I hate sinusitis!!! 😦

Note: Sorry for any typo/grammatical mistakes here. I blame it on my medicines that affect how my brain works! 

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Five essentials for the summer

I’ve visited Bulgaria many times, but never had the chance to really enjoy the summer here. My first two visits were during the winter and my 3rd visit was during the autumn. Last year, I came here for the 4th time during the summer but I spent all my 3 weeks preparing for my wedding. This is my 5th visit. For the past 2 months, I’ve experienced the summer more than I have ever wanted. In this post, I’m going to share with you how I feel about summer and 5 essentials you should have with you if you want to visit a country with 4 seasons during summer.

Note: The author is neither a geography expert nor a climate expert. This post is solely based on the author’s experience in Varna (Bulgaria), Rome (Italy) and Milan (Italy) in July 2014. This does not apply to all Bulgaria, all Italy or all countries with 4 seasons. This post is solely for sharing and/or entertainment purposes only. 

I am from Malaysia, a country with equatorial climate. It has either sunny or rainy days. When I told my friends that I’m visiting Bulgaria during summer, they quickly assumed that the weather conditions of “a hot day in Bulgaria” and “a hot day in Malaysia” are the same. If you’ve experienced similar conditions, you’ll definitely know that they’re not the same.

Note: The following information is solely based the author’s experience on a sunny day (without rain) in JB, Malaysia and a sunny day (without rain/snow) in Varna, Bulgaria. 

A sunny day in JB is usually hot and humid. The difference in temperature between day and night is usually small. Except when I’m in an air-conditioned room, I get sweaty very easily even I’m in a sheltered or shaded area (e.g. at home or in open-air cafes). On a daily basis, I use BB cream with SPF50 on my face, but I don’t use any sunblock on my body (unless I go to the beach, but that’s another story). Without sun block, I think walking under the sun is bearable. I try not to be exposed for too long because I’ll get tanned (or “burnt”) and freckles will start appearing. I would say that walking under the hot sun is bearable (but not advisable) without wearing a hat or sunglasses. The glare of the sun is also bearable if you don’t look at the sky directly, but of course you are most likely to be walking with your eyes half-closed (trying to protect them from the sun). Well, this is based on my personal opinion but I may be biased since I’ve lived in Malaysia most of my life! 😀

A sunny day in Varna is usually hot and dry. In the middle of the summer, the difference in temperature between day and night is small too. The temperature at this time is around 30°C (or hotter). However, during the start and the end of summer, the temperature differs quite significantly. The temperature during the day is usually around 27°C but during the night, it can go as low as 16°C. I personally feel weird because I’ve never slept in 16°C back in Malaysia at night. Even if I were to switch the air-conditioner to the lowest, it was 18° but then I would never do that. I usually kept it at 26°C. Here in Varna, I don’t get sweaty easily. Unless I exposed myself to the sun for hours, I usually don’t get sweaty after a 15-20 minutes walk under the sun. It is very weird for me that my skin burns when I’m directly exposed to the sun but once I step under some shades (e.g. trees), it actually becomes cooling. Weird! In JB, the only difference when you are under the sun or under a tree is that you don’t get burnt. Otherwise, the hot “feeling” remains quite the same. I cannot tell you why but you just need to experience the magic of tree shades during summer. Although I don’t get sweaty, that doesn’t mean I don’t get burnt! I get burnt way too fast as compared as I was in JB. Therefore, I usually apply 2 layers of BB Cream with SPF50 on my face, and a layer of sunblock with SPF50 on my body when I walk to the mall. Everyone wants to get tanned here and I’m taking measures to prevent myself from being “burnt”. Without hat or sunglasses, my eyes are almost (not half) closed. The glare from the sun can be so harsh that I can’t see properly.

If you love being tanned, then summer is your best friend. Well, if you don’t like being tanned but still love the summer, I recommend these 5 essential things you must have with you (especially if you plan to visit a country that has summer days like Bulgaria)! But  “hotness” isn’t just what I’m talking about here. Taking care of the “dryness” during summer is equally important!

Note: I like to use the word “burnt” instead of “tanned” but what I really mean is that “the skin becomes darker”.

1. Sunblock & sunscreen

  • This is a serious must! Even if you love tanning yourself, there’s no harm applying a layer or two if you know you will be exposed to the sun for a significant amount of time. I think my explanations are pretty much in the previous paragraphs! 😀

2. All your moisturizing agents!

  • Face moisturizers: If you have oily combination skin like me, please don’t think that being in a dry climate place is going to make you a beautiful princess. Your pimples will still pop up if you don’t use proper skincare. The good news are that you can put lesser layers of moisturizers on your face and that your face will not get oily so easily/fast. The bad news is that “the very moisturizing” formula you used back home is probably not suitable in this climate. I’m not sure about other skin types, you may want search for more information on the Internet.
  • Body lotion: Also a must, preferably after shower. WHY? I can’t imagine myself applying lotion on my body when I already have layers of sunblock. Over time, your skin gets drier without you noticing it. I’m not even staying/sleeping in an air-conditioned room here in Varna and I can sometimes feel my skin is dry and tight, what’s more if you are travelling and are sleeping in a hotel with air-conditioner? Body lotion is a must!
  • Hand cream: The skin around nails sometimes becomes dry and eventually it cracks. Use hand cream whenever you can. It’s not necessary but it’s good to keep one near you.
  • Moisturizing facial masks: If you have invested in good moisturising skincare products, facial masks are not really necessary. But there’s no harm wanting to look beautiful, so you can use some sheet masks. I personally gel mask.

3. Hat

  • This is pretty obvious. You don’t want to have a burnt forehead, right? It’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” (without the sunglasses) under a sunny day. Seriously, without a hat is not so bad. You’ll just have to live with a “burnt” forehead for a few months. But without sunglasses…

4. Sunglasses

  • Well, it’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” more (with or without the hat). It helps to shield the glaring sun.  But please don’t look at the sun directly, thinking that you are 100% protected. You’ll most probably be blinded. I’m personally not a “sunglasses-kind-of person”. I prefer to see things in their natural form/colour. But yeah, … without sunglasses, it’s so difficult to see anything because of the glaring sun. Everything seems to be reflective of the sun light. At this point I’m wondering, why does the sun glares more in Varna than in JB? Does it? Or does it not? Maybe I’m just biased. Hahaha…never mind.

5. Insect / Mosquito repellent

  • Seriously, I myself am surprised from this. I came from a place where mosquitoes are breeding like crazy. Yeah, I’m talking about living near to a dengue-infested lake near my previous apartment. But put aside these Aedes mosquitoes, I would say that “normal” mosquitoes are not something new back in JB. Honestly, I’ve very rarely used a mosquito repellent back home. The only time I remember using it was when I went with my parents-in-law to the Tropical Spice Garden in Pulau Pinang. I’m not sure if it is considered a mosquito repellent, it was some lemongrass spray. I didn’t feed myself that much to the mosquitoes there. Perhaps one or two bites which were inevitable. Well, I would say that in Varna, if you avoid “grassy” areas like the parks or the gardens, you are surely safe! But if you enjoy garden dining like I do, you definitely have to prepare insect/mosquito repellent! Initially, I was thinking that I was just unlucky when I garden-dined in Varna. But, I encountered the same when I garden-dined in Milan!!!!! After 2 visits to 2 different restaurants in 2 different countries, my legs are full with mosquito bite marks that I sometimes feel like crying. T_T

So, nothing about what clothes you should wear blablabla. You wear what you wanna wear during the summer. Woohoo!! You don’t need anyone to tell you that. In case you are interested, I usually wear my favourite 3S – shirt, shorts and slippers when I’m going out. Sometimes, with short dresses too. However, if I know I’ll be exposed to the sun for more than 30 minutes, I usually wear long dresses or thin long sleeve shirts with long pants (plus my hat – still not liking the sunglasses). So it really depends whether you wanna get “burnt” or not. If you’ve decided to get “burnt” all over, the best solution is to go to the beach in your tiniest strings! I promise! 😀

Finally, do I like summer? Hmmm….95% yes! Where does the remaining 5% go?! Well, I had “some problems” with summer when I had to pack for my Milan/Rome trip. After all, they are the major fashion cities and I did not want to be “underdress”. I had difficulty choosing “the perfect colour combination” so I ended up with the “safest combination” of black and white. -_-” During that packing session, I was secretly wishing that it was winter so I could just wrap myself in winter coat! Enough said! Hmmm…

Have you experienced summer in another country? Are there any differences between a sunny day in a foreign country and a sunny day in your home country? Share your thoughts with me. You can leave your comments below. Don’t worry, your email address will be invisible to others. 🙂

Alternatively, if you have a story about your experience about summer which you would like to share, find out how by clicking here.