Wednesday, October 17, 2007

China Day 26: The adventure continues...!

Every day in China is an adventure. Yesterday we went out to see Tienenman Square, which was exciting. We met a Chinese couple who spoke English and walked around with them for a while. They took us to the old Beijing, where there are no cars or bikes allowed...only pedestrians. It was pretty cool. They told us about the old buildings and that most of them were built during the Ming Dynasty. I'm not sure when that is, but it sounded super cool, so I was excited to be there. :) They took us to something called a Tea Ceremony, which looking back, we're sure was a hoax, since the people charged us an outrageous amount once they were done. We went into one of the buildings and they showed us several different kinds of herbal teas that the chinese use for different things....weight-loss, blood pressure, circulation, etc. Most of them tasted like grass, and I'm not a huge fan of tea, but one of them tasted good. It was fun anyway to learn about them and to taste them. I mean, you can't go to China and not have tea, right? Aside from the time it cost us, it was cool. Once we were finished, the chinese couple wanted to go with us to the Forbidden City (which is right next to Tienenman Square), but we wanted to get back to the hospital to be with Dan, wince we'd already been gone for a couple of hours. We hope to be able to take Dan and Heather to the Forbidden City and Tienenman Square when Heather gets here. I've heard there are a lot of stairs at the Forbidden City, but if anyone can handle it, Jeff can. Plus we'd like to see some places with Heather.

When we got back, Dan was in PT, and I stayed with him there while Jeff went back to the room to do some work via GoToMyPC. It's fun to watch the therapists work with Dan and the other patients. Dennis (another patient) has therapy at the same time as Dan. He's an old man who had a stroke and has trouble moving at all. He's here with his wife and daughter, and will be going home on Sunday. His daughter, Suzie, says his movement has improved very much...he can move his eyes and head faster and his leg that used to tremble all the time has gotten much better too. They have a care-taker...a chinese man who stays with them all the time, I think mostly to help lift him and get him around. Yesterday the caretaker brought Dennis in for therapy and I said hi. The caretaker seemed to be as pleased as a family member would be that I talked to him, and carefully combed Dennis' hair with his fingers. It was so sweet and made my heart happy to see his care-taker treat him so well. The people here at the hospital are all sweet and loving to the patients, who are mostly in much worse shape than Dan.

Nancy, the physical therapist makes Dan walk the length of the PT room without his leg brace, which REALLY freaks me out, even though he does well with it. Yesterday, she told him to raise his knees high and put the heel of his foot down before his toes, instead of putting the whole thing down at once. Since he has to bend over so he can bend his knees and prevent his leg from hyperextending, she told him he walks like an old lady. Haha.

Last night we went to a German restaurant for dinner with Renae and Susan. It was a truly multi-cultural experience. Jeff and Dan had Weinerschnitzl, and I had a bacon and potato omelet. We also tried Spatzl, which was very good. They had a chinese guy with a guitar and a microphone singing classics in English - the San Francisco Bay song by Eric Clapton, lots of the Beatles, even Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It was a good time.
I am more amazed every day by Dan's great attitude. This morning, while I was lying awake I thought about what it would be like to live the life he and LaNae live. I think it would be easy to wonder about the past and wish that the accident never would have happened, and to dream about what life would be like without the challenges and trials they've been handed. I suppose when something like that happens, you can go one of two ways....looking back or looking forward. Dan and LaNae have chosen to look forward. I've never heard an unkind word spoken about the person who hit Dan almost 22 years ago. I've never even heard a word of resentment about Dan's disabilities (unless you count telling him to hurry up or try to go to the bathroom before everyone else is headed out the door...haha). They live with it and look for solutions. They walk a high road that I don't think a lot of people ever find. It's a challenge for Dan to touch his right ear with his left hand. He grunts and struggles and breathes hard to do it as part of his therapy...but he does it and he does it smiling. It sure puts things in perspective for me.

Anyway, I think I'd better start trying to get these boys out of bed. It's almost 7:30, which means we should be up, dressed and eating by now...I hope we don't get fired...We love and miss you all! Can't wait to see Heather on Saturday!

Thanks for all the nice kudos, Kallie – it sure is great to have you part of our family! (--with all those nice compliments – you are a keeper!) I will only say one thing about attitude – I will not kid you, there have been times over the years that we have been down – probably me more than Dan – but I have learned that struggling over the question '”Why” did this happen to us, and wishing for our previous life only makes one bitter.... and being bitter doesn't seem like a whole lot of fun. So you have a choice to make when life hands you the unexpected curve... you can't change what has happened – so you just have to move ahead. Asking the questions “How” and “What” seem like more answerable questions. How will I get through this and what would you like me to do? I have read the scriptures and that seems to be what the great examples there seem to ask – so that seems like the best questions for me as well.
I look around and we are certainly not the only ones with struggles in life – it seems like life was designed with struggles, if only to make us grow and reach our true capacity. I have seen others face enormous challenges – like a young child that gets leukemia or is autistic, losing one's job or getting laid off from Corporate America, or losing a loved one... the list goes on. Pain and suffering are not new, but I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that this life is not the end all, be all. There is a bigger picture and we can be together forever in a Heaven where pain and suffering no longer exist. This is our anchor – this is what helps us move forward. We are so grateful for our religious faith that provides such comfort and strength during tough times. I don't know what we would do or how we would cope without it, for this is where we derive our strength.

Jeff and Kallie have some great pictures – I hope you enjoy them! They are doing a GREAT job of taking care of everything in China – and it looks like they have a little time for some fun too! I was looking at the pictures and I thought – I know that place – I saw that last week in Nathan's pictures... or the week before in some of mine!

Here is Dan getting a new IV. I don't know how many times they have 'poked' him, it is too high to count now...

This one is Dad walking across the room like an old lady for therapy, with Dennis and his caretaker in the background.

From Jeff:
These are the pictures of the frozen eggs that were in our refrigerator. They were really fun to play with. We peeled them and then thawed and cooked them in the microwave for breakfast. I had never seen frozen eggs before.

The next two are our little Chinese friends that we met at Tienenmen Square who took us to the ghetto… old Beijing. Their names were Tim and Betty…

This picture is of dinner with Renae and Susan at Schindler’s… the german restaurant.

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