Sunday, September 30, 2007

China Day 9: The Sabbath is a Day of Rest

Your Sabbath is beginning and ours is just ending.... we have had a good day. We have been to church, done some therapy, had what seemed like another eternity on the IV drip (5+ hours), took a short nap, had spaghetti and chicken curry for dinner, and watched the movie, 'Ben Hur'. We are now ready to hit the showers and hit the sack (it is best to shower in the evening when there is plenty of hot water!)

We hope you all have a wonderful Sabbath Day!

Take care friends and family! :-)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

China Day 8: Saturday is a Special Day

I thought we might get a little break today as it is Saturday – but no – still forging ahead. This is a good thing – but I think it is unusual as next week is a major week long holiday and a lot of the therapists will be gone. They will be taking turns, so they are all working the weekend before the holiday to make sure we get taken care of. Apparently the 'Moon or Autumn Harvest' festival is a big family gathering event, much like the Christmas holidays are for us in the USA.

Today we had speech therapy for the first time – I really liked it as well. It is with Lily – our occupational therapist (she doubles up and does speech therapy as well). Where speech therapy in the USA has always been about breath control and pronunciation, this therapy was about moving Dan's lips. She massaged his face and molded it until it would pucker – this is exactly what Dan needs. It is great! I included a picture to show you how she worked him over. We taught her a new English word that she didn't know before – 'slave driver'. Now she sees us in the hall and laughs and says 'Slave Driver!'. She is fun to work with...

Baseline: We did a baseline last night of Dan's speech in areas that we had records on about two years ago. These are a couple of lip exercises that Dan has done to try and improve his speech.
Open / close mouth = 48 (normal 88)
Pucker / smile = 14 (normal 60)

I timed myself for the normal readings – when comparing to his time a couple of years ago he had 46 open / close mouth as opposed to 48 this time, so a bit of an improvement. However, in the pucker / smile category he went down from 19 to 14, so there still needs to be some work done here.

Before we left for China we also went to the mall and did a baseline walking exercise for 5 minutes. Dan walked from Mervyn's to a store just after the Tree House. Angie and I walked from Mervyn's to Radio Shack-- so as you can see we have taken some measurements and videos of what his current capabilities are so that we can clearly measure the progress made.

Tonight we all went out to dinner as a group from the hospital. They arranged to take some vans so that all the people in wheelchairs could go. We went to a traditional Hong Kong style Chinese restaurant. It as a lot of fun and we were able to get to know some of the other patients better. We are now back in our room and Dan still has two bags of IV to go through before we can retire... my guess is at least a couple of hours.

Hope all is well in the USA – we miss you guys, but we think this is a great opportunity to be here! The changes won't happen overnight – but we are prepared to do our part and work hard to see improvement again. It is a good environment here to work toward these goals (and hopes and dreams...)

Friday, September 28, 2007

China Day 7: Treatment Schedule Taking Shape

If a group of geese is called a gaggle, and a group of birds is called a flock – what is a group of Chinese doctors called? I have not figured this one out yet! Each morning we have a visit from the doctors and I am amazed at the size of the 'group'. Sometimes it is just a group of nurses that come and check Dan and other times we get the 'directors' in addition to the nurses. They always make sure that Dan can follow their finger with his eyes and that he is not in pain. They tap, they poke and then they say a bunch of stuff in Chinese-- and I just get a kick out of it.

The other thing that I love are the therapists. They smack Dan around a bit (tapping him between his shoulder blades and keep saying 'Your head... your head!” ) This indicates to him that he needs to keep his head straight up. I just laugh – it is great entertainment for me... the funny part is that if I ever tried to do this, I would get the evil eye, but Dan is good with the therapists, very obedient to their commands and I thoroughly enjoy watching the process!

We had pizza for lunch today – it was quite expensive given China's standards. I figured out it cost about $16 USD, which is quite a lot considering we get a Chinese breakfast for two for about $1.40 USD. We did have some leftovers, so we will use it for more than one meal, but it was kind of fun to see what Chinese pizza is like. (It is very similar to US pizza, but no sauce. They also sent a couple of packets of Ketchup with it – perhaps that was the sauce...!)

I put together a schedule of what a typical day looks like for us.

7:00 AM
Shower / breakfast
8:00 AM
IV / Speech exercises
9:00 AM
TCM - acupuncture
10:00 AM
Occupational therapy
11:00 AM
TCM - Chinese massage
12:00 PM
1:00 PM
Speech therapy
2:00 PM
3:00 PM
Physical therapy
4:00 PM
IV / Speech exercises
5:00 PM
6:00 PM

It varies a little bit, but this is the general schedule. Tonight Dan is still receiving IV treatments and it is almost 9:00 pm. He goes through about five to six bags of fluid a day.

We really like Dr. Guan, the Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. We were talking and we mentioned that our biggest goal / hope was for Dan to have improvement in his speech. Ever since then, he will work with Dan on his pronunciation of words while he is doing the acupuncture and Chinese massage. I believe he also told the other doctors about it as we just got speech therapy added to the list of therapies today. We were just going to practice the lip motor exercises on our own, but now we have additional therapy to help Dan out in this area.

We will work tomorrow to set some specific goals for each type of therapy so that we can be 'laser focused' in our approach.

Thanks for all your support – we do appreciate the love and friendship that we feel. It makes all the difference for us.. :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

China Day 6: Bone marrow operation (9/27/07)

Today Dan had the operation to retrieve the stem cells from his bone marrow for processing. They extracted the bone marrow from his hip, with an incision on the left front side. Dan was awake during the operation as only a local anesthesia was used. He told me that they removed about 4 tubes full of the bone marrow substance and that it was magenta in color. The entire operation took about 20 minutes, including the anesthesia.

After the operation, it was required that he lay on his back and rest for 3 hours. They told us when they do the lumbar injection to put the stem cells back into his body (via spinal fluid) that he will need to lay flat on his back for 6 hours. We may need to watch a movie or something to help speed up the time going by! Today we watched the Success Formula training on the Nu Skin site. It was really good – it talked about having clarity and focus when working toward our goals. We need to write down our goals, and keep them in front of us so that we focus on what we really want to achieve. Good stuff!

Because of the operation we did not have occupational or physical therapy today, but we did have some Traditional Chinese Medicine. Our favorite doctor (Dr. Wisdom Guan) and his associate (William Hou) came to our room and worked on Dan while he rested. They performed acupuncture and moxibustion treatments. We have included some pictures so that you will have a better understanding. It was like smoking a cigar, except that they held the burning herb up to Dan's leg at a certain acupuncture point. At the same time, they put about 5-6 acupuncture needles into his head! This is supposed to help Dan's energy flow better and increase his energy levels. I have enclosed some pictures of todays events for your enjoyment...!

Today is also our daughter, Heather's birthday! Happy Birthday to Heather! It is strange being on the other side of the world and having a full day of events happen before Heather's birthday even gets started in the USA! It is 5:26 p.m. on September 27th here in China and my computer tells me that it is 3:26 a.m. on September 27th in Utah! So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to HEATHER! We LOVE you!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

China Day 5 : Settling into the Regime/Doctor's Visit 09/26/07

Here we are, another day down in China... we are starting to get into a regime with our therapy schedules. We start in the morning about 9:15 a.m. with acupuncture, then occupational therapy at 10:00, followed by a Chinese massage at 11:00 a.m. Then a bit of a break as we don't have physical therapy until 3:00 p.m. During that time we return to our room, have lunch and allow Dan some time with the IV drip. Getting through all the IV's takes a few hours, so we need a block of time that we are not interrupted. I have detailed out some of the therapy and medicine Dan is taking for those interested:

Traditional Chinese Medicine – Wisdom Guan, William Hou

Acupuncture once a day.
Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.
Use the mind to visual a healthy, strong (fast) body.
Chinese massage.

Occupational Therapy – Lily Li

Control your head!
Hands clasped – move up above head with elbows extended. Keep head straight, look in the mirror.
Arm lateral – forward position. Move hand up and down.
Hand flat on mat, lean on hand.
Lay down flat
Move arm straight up and down (exercises shoulder)
Arms up & down with resistance
Snow angels (arms) with resistance
Move head side to side with resistance.

Physical Therapy – Nancy

Stretching / resistance with legs
up -down
side – to – side
Stand on one leg
Lift leg outwards
Front to back movement
Balance bars
Weight shifting when walking practice
Leg lifts (Cybex like chair with out the forced motion)
Standing table

Medicine List

IV: once a day
-deproteinised calf blood serum injection (engery supply)
-ginko leaf extract and dipyridamole
-paverine (5-7 days) (change micro environment of brain)
-reduced Glutathione for injection (reduce oxygen free radicals)

IM: once a day
-nerve growth factor
-flunarizine (1 tab) 5 mg. every night
-Vitamin B12 500 mg (1 cap) three times a day
-Viatmin B1 10 mg (1 cap) three times a day
-Idebenone (1 cap) three times a day
-cerebroprotein hydrolysale (2 tab) three times a day (trophic the nerve)

We also met with a Director (neurologist) today and were able to get some questions answered. Basically, the procedure is not much different than what we previously understood, but it was a good opportunity to talk and make sure we had all of our questions cleared up. My understanding of Dan's injury seemed to be higher in the brain stem than what I originally thought. However, as we discussed our understanding of Dan's injury primarily being a 'connection' problem between the brain and the spinal cord, we were right on target. We have the MRI images taken early this summer and we will be able to review them in detail once we get them over here. I have wanted to review this with a medical doctor but have not been able to get an audience in the US to discuss the details of Dan's injury from a tangible perspective such as an MRI. I would just like to see it on film and have someone discuss it with me, so it looks like we will be able to have this discussion in the upcoming months. For those of you who wonder why I have never seen / discussed an MRI on Dan's injury is due to the fact that the technology was not developed when Dan was injured in 1986. Most of what I know is from conversations with doctors, and then I am left to put the puzzle pieces together in my mind and figure out what I was just told. Hopefully this will bring a greater understanding for us of what we have been up against.

GOOD NEWS! The doctor did say that we should expect improved motor and balance abilities, in addition to improved movement in the facial area (lips, mouth). This should improve his speech...!! So the prognosis at this point looks good.

Dan's bone marrow operation is TOMORROW! So – off to bed without an more to eat until morning! He needs to be fasting in order for them to take the blood tests in the morning prior to the surgery.

We are meeting lots of really nice people over here... from Australia, Mexico, Canada and the USA. Many, many people who travel a long way from home in order to help the ones they love. Everything from cerebral palsy to stroke to spinal cord injury patients are treated here. We are enjoying getting to know them, and so admire their determination and spirit. We are kind of 'all in this together'!

Last and most important – make sure you say an extra prayer for Dan tonight that his bone marrow operation will be successful!

Thanks bunches!!
Dan & LaNae

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

China Day 4: 09/24/07

So far – we love the China doctors and therapists!

This is awesome! The thing that we like best is the attitude that if Dan will try, he can improve. We love the holistic approach of mind and body. Today Dan is continuing his IV treatments, has had some acupuncture, Chinese massage, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

The acupuncture looked painful, but Dan said it didn't hurt too much-- I am sending some pictures for you to enjoy Dan's torture! He said it was alright until he tensed up. He has one leg that does its own thing, and so when it was tense, the acupuncture hurt a bit. He was a good sport about it though.

I loved the occupational therapist!

I have never gotten along well with OT professionals, most likely due to my first experience in 1986. Dan was only 4 months post injury and we were released from McKay Dee Hospital. We started up a therapy program in Logan, and we were expecting the therapists to work the muscles and get further improvement. What we got was 'compensatory therapy', which means to compensate for the loss of functionality rather than work to improve muscle coordination, and hence functionality. So they ask – 'can he dress himself?' The answer is 'yes, if you give him about four hours, he can do it!' The focus is then on offering substitutes like buttons on the shoe or Velcro, etc. Now these are nice devices, but at 4 months post injury I wanted to continue on THERAPY!! I got in a little argument with the therapist in which I was informed that I just didn't understand the severity of Dan's injuries and that Dan would NEVER recover and the I just NEEDED TO ACCEPT this! Needless to say, we quit therapy there and never went back to that establishment.

How can one expect to improve when there is so much negative attitude around that you will NEVER improve! No wonder most people don't improve after two years post injury. They have been programmed in their minds that there is no HOPE and when there is no HOPE there is no improvement!

Sorry for the tangent there... back to the occupational therapist here (Lily). She worked with Dan to help him improve his muscle coordination and skill. She forced him to stop using his full body when making movements and to keep his head straight (something that is hard for him to do). He tends to 'compensate' and will move his shoulders and head to get his arm to move. She positioned him in front of a mirror so that he could see how he was 'cheating'. She worked hard on helping him improve rather than compensating for what he can not do. Five stars for OT today!

In the session with the Traditional Chinese doctors, we talked a lot about how Dan need to focus his mind on healing. There is much power in the mind and they are helping Dan to learn how to tap into this power and have it help him as he works to improve. In the Chinese massage, he worked a lot of the meridians of the body, especially in the stomach and head area. Heather will like this – he did some cranial sacral massage on Dad... ;-)

It looks like we will need to work with the physical therapists to show them Dan's capabilities. We didn't quite get there today, but Dan did have a good session with lots of stretching. This is good for him as the tendons in his ankle are really tight and he doesn't have good flexion, especially in the right foot. It seems that these therapists have not worked a leg brace before. They had me remove the brace and tested Dan's functionality without it. It would be nice not to have to use it, but in order for that to happen, the signals have to travel faster from the brain to Dan's knee area on the right side. He hyper extends the knee without the brace and his walking is really slow. (slower than normal slow...). I will talk to the doctor about this tomorrow and we will formulate a plan. I would like to see the focus be on balance, proper weight shifting and stretching. We will continue to work in this area.

We have an consult session with all the doctors tomorrow at 1:00 pm. At that time we will be able to get a lot of our questions worked out, and we will finalize the treatment plan. For now, the bone marrow operation is scheduled on Thursday.

One last note... if someone ever offers you 1000 year-old eggs, the correct action is to politely refuse them! We had some at the Autumn Moon Celebration party that the hospital put on last night. Next week is a holiday for the Autumn Moon and so they had a party for the patients this week. I got to tell the jokes and yes, I did tell the 'Ocean Roar' joke (sorry kids – but no one laughed at that one – probably because it is NOT funny!). I did tell a pretty good joke on the Clinton's though, if you remind me I will share it with you.

Take care friends!

Chinese Breakfast - can you guess what we're eating?

Acupuncture - See Dan Flinch

Taking a walk with the physical therapist

They like to come as a group, which is an interesting approach. We really like the doctors thus far

Getting his proliferation cocktail via IV

Dan with his AWESOME Occupational Therapist

Dan getting stretched in Physical Therapy

Dan with Dr Wisdom Guan - he is a wise guy in every good sense of the word.

Dan on the tilt table - also good for stretching the tendons!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 3: China Adventure

Here we are at Day 3 - the China adventure! Dan was able to see several different doctors today and Dan started his oral and IV medications. First they started the IV proliferation cocktail - a combination of several different drugs that are supposed to promote his body to generate its own stem cell production. I will get a list of all the medicine included in the cocktail tomorrow. Then the physical and occupational therapists came. They are starting Dan on a therapy program in the morning - starting at 9:30 a.m. Next the traditional Chinese medicine doctors came -- they spent quite a bit of time evaluating Dan and asked lots of questions about his abilities and issues. We will all meet on Wednesday with the team of Neurologists to complete the final treatment plan for Dan. I have been told that the bone marrow operation will most likely be on Thursday - so that we can get the stem cells over to the lab prior to a 'Chinese New Year' holiday next week. We want to get things going before all the partying starts!

I was also privledged to go to Wal-mart today. I bought lots of necessities like bread (for our peanut butter / honey sandwiches) and some fruit. I bought some kind of fruit that is Chinese and I don't have a clue what it is... but the lady with me said it was good, so we are being a little adventuresome! I also got some bananas, hangers, liquid soap and a hair dryer that works on 240 volts (I am really sure that you wanted to know all of that!)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of therapy-- we are looking forward to that!

We are also greatly saddened to hear of a neighbor and friend that lost her husband today in a house fire that collapsed on him while he slept. Sometimes life just does not seem fair, but I know that through all of the pain there is a glimmer of hope as we are consoled from Above. I am grateful for the times that I have grown through my pain and become stronger through my trials. I pray now for this dear sweet friend that she may be comforted and lifted in her time of need. Please say a prayer for our friend, Catia.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 2: Sunday in China

Today is Sunday in Beijing and we were able to find a branch of our church here and attend their services this morning. It was great to be able to meet new friends and fellowship with others of our same faith in a different part of the world. It was kind of tricky finding the place to attend as the information that we got from Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City listed the Branch President's home address, rather than the address of the church service! Luckily we were able to hook up with some of our cousins (Melanie Clark) friends here and they were able to get us the correct address and directions to the church in an email. it was nice because they sent a diagram written in Chinese that we just had to print out and give to the cab driver. Getting back to the hospital was a bit trickier... we took a brochure of the hospital that had the address on the back and a diagram. The cab driver took us somewhere else first, but then he looked at the diagram closer and we finally ended up at the right place!

The language barrier is very difficult. Most people do not speak English at all! It is hard to get around due to the language barrier. I am not sure what they are going to do when the Olympics come to town, as it will be a challenge for people to get around. The exchange rate works to our favor, however, and so far we think that we spent $5 on dinner last night, probably .70 on breakfast, about $5-6 dollars on the cab ride to and from church.

Dan thinks the hospital is a bit restrictive --- we have a room that the door locks and we have to get permission to come and go. It is probably a good thing, as they are watching out for us and our safety while we are here. We need some pictures to put up on the wall so that it is a little friendlier atmosphere. We are EXCITED and HAPPY to be here -- just a few differences to note from our home sweet home... Dan starts his program in the morning. We will meet the doctors then and they will develop a customized program for him. It will be exciting to get started. He will have the operation this week to take his bone marrow - but we do not know which day that will happen. Therapy and Chinese medicine will also commence soon. We will keep you posted!

Many, many thanks for all of your support to get us here!

Dan & LaNae

Saturday, September 22, 2007

China Day 1: We have arrived!!

After a very, very long flight - we have arrived in China! We didn't go to bed at all the night before (tieing up all the loose ends) and then off we went to the airport between 5:30 - 6:00 a.m. to catch the airplane at 8:51 a.m. Everything went smoothly with the flight, with the exception that it was really, really long... and then we were asleep and we missed our last meal. Dan thought he didn't get his full monies worth out of that flight! ;-)

Wendy (the translator) and a driver met us at the airport and brought us back to the hospital. They knew Dan's age (almost 50!) and so when we came through the doors, they didn't think it was us because Dan 'looked too young...!' We were able to hook up anyway and are glad to have safely arrived at the hospital.

So far they have checked Dan's temperature, given him a quick once over and an EKG. We will get started on some blood tests first thing on Monday morning, and meet some more doctors. They will assess Dan's condition and then work to prescribe the detailed treatment plan for him.

The hospital reminds me of a military hospital (somthing that might come out of South Pacific!) It is stark and functional, but not much ambiance for hominess. We have two twin beds in our room and a fold out cot. Thre are a couple of small cupboards to store the clothes in and a private bathroom connected within the room.

We are pretty exhausted now, but will give more impressions later. For now, we just wanted you to know we are safe and happy to be here!

Thanks for helping us get this far!

-Dan & LaNae

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thanksgiving in September

We have so much to be thankful for. We give thanks to our family and friends that have been so good to us with their donations. We are truly humbled and have such deep gratitude for your support. A few short weeks ago, we were still wondering how we were going to make it all work -- but everything has come together now for us to start this journey. A special thanks to our friends at Nu Skin Enterprises for their generosity. We are on our way to China this morning! Thank you all for making this dream a reality!!

We had a 'Thanksgiving dinner' last Sunday, complete with turkey, dressing and yams... it was a wonderful occasion to celebrate our blessings and a symbol of our gratitude. We feel the Lord's hand in opening doors for us and providing another miracle in helping us reach this goal. How blessed we are!!

Now it is up to us to move forward and do all that we can to help Dan recover. We hope that you will join your prayers with us in this great effort. This is not only a journey of medical advancement, but also a journey of faith. We feel your support and prayers and it helps us have the courage to press forward and the determination to do all that is required to receive the blessings we seek. Thank you all again for your support!!

Now -- off to the airport and on to China!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Check out

Surprise! This is Dan. I wanted to make sure you know that the NEW Website my Sweet Wife has created is up.

The Blog will keep you updated at home of what's happening while I'm there in China.

Thanks for your support and prayers.