Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Foreign Bodies

I have been ill, and while the doctor is convinced the problem is acute bronchitis, I haven't been coughing as much as I thought I would be under the circumstances. The doctor didn't seem particularly surprised by this but I must admit it did set my mind wondering as to whether there might be any other possible causes.

I suppose at the back of my mind I'm always worried that I'll find the stress of life here getting to me. Trading here hasn't been going well of late, my computer has been grinding to a halt along with our Internet connection on a regular basis, and I'm just not making the progress with learning the language that I hoped I would be by now. In fact, lately I don't feel I've been progressing this forward at all. So then I end up getting ill on top of it all, and because not being able to breathe properly is stressful in itself, you start to wonder whether it's really cause or effect.

So a story reaches me today of another foreigner here who was also recently struck down with breathing problems, which in his case required an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room. The diagnosis? Heart problems caused by stress - the stress of living here while not being able to speak the language and therefore properly function in society.

Now it strikes me as being a rather sweeping and judgemental diagnosis, and yet I have to admit I can also understand it in a way, which I suppose is the recognition within myself that after a while the various language and cultural barriers could really start getting to you. That said, so far I don't really feel they have so much - there are differences - some things which are better, some which are worse - but on the whole I think I've taken them in my stride. But of late I think I've become increasingly annoyed with myself and my slow progress, and perhaps it's this more than the external factors that wear you down as an individual in the end.

I believe the other foreigner has been here for a few years so perhaps I have some way to go before reaching that stage, if indeed the diagnosis was a fair one anyway, which I'm not sure about. As for my own diagnosis, I am fairly sure there was a definite viral cause, but the story didn't do anything to reduce that vague nagging doubt, and more importantly, it carries with it a potential warning of what the future might hold if I don't apply myself a harder...

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