Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 24

Woke up this morning and realized we needed some laundry action, so that meant only one thing...hotel, motel, Holiday Inn! (If you didn't get that, do yourself a favor and google Rapper's Delight. You're welcome.)

You know you've been somewhere a long time when you take a vacation from your "vacation". Since we're going to the Holiday Inn we of course make a day of it and hit up the very Western breakfast buffet, complete with pancakes and scrambled eggs. It's especially welcoming because all the staff knows us by now and they LOVE Price. He smiles = they all giggle. I'm waiting for a free meal out of the deal, but I guess it doesn't work that way over here. Once we're done with breakfast, we still have about 2 days to kill before we have to be back at the hospital, so what do you do In Qingdao when you've got all day to kill??? That's right, you walk to Walmart.

On the way we stop at the world's biggest empty shopping mall, a.k.a. the Powerlong Qingdao Super Mall. You can't fully understand it unless you see it with your own eyes, but pretend they built the Galleria and Memorial City and a couple other big malls all on top of one another and put an amusement park with a full-size roller coaster inside it and that will kind of give you an idea. Then also pretend it's 4 stories tall and 90% of the stores are empty. Very weird, very bizarre. But that's how the Chinese roll, built it huge, build it fast, and don't worry about it. Couple that one instance of excess development with the incalculable (here's to you Michael Scott) number of high rise condos that are halfway to completion and on hold, and you have yourself an nice little economic crisis on the horizon. That's China for you.

Price has been doing great. I mean, he was made for this kind of a trip. Price, I need you to go to this new place and sleep in this new bed and meet all these new people and eat this new food and do the same thing over and over again every day, and please don't complain. No problem. The guy is an adapting machine. He'll do whatever we ask him to, whenever we ask him to, just so long as we provide plenty of food and Blues Clues. And through it all he's had the best attitude anyone could expect from a 3 year-old little boy. He just loves life and brings joy to those around him. You're the man, Bro Bro.

Movie update, Holiday Inn version.

We've now spent a decent amount of time at the Holiday Inn and thoroughly enjoyed the free HBO. Here's some thoughts. Remember, don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in their shoes....

Megamind - Awesome.
Despicable Me - Also awesome.
Van Helsing - I'm sorry to say, it was not my first time to watch it in its entirety.
Honey - Watchable, barely.
Glitter - Tried but couldn't make it to the end. Mariah can sing, so that's good.

In the midst of all this mindless movie-watching, I am reading a really deep book on apologetics by William Lane Craig. The fact that I can watch about 3 movies with same brain power it takes to read 1 chapter of his book should tell me something. I wish movie comprehension had been a section on the SAT. Once I finish it, I'm going to read the book on Seal Team Six my friend from the U.K. left me before he went home yesterday. I told him he had to read Unbroken and Lone Survivor.

Snow Bai, our waitress at the Holiday Inn. She loves P and he likes her too.
Our trip to Walmart. P fell asleep on the way home.
Proud of himself for putting the lid on water bottle
Watching Blue's
Splashing in the itty bitty tub
Powerlong Mall...I think they should put one of these in front of Memorial City
Roller coaster and amusement park
The moats and boats. Smells like a Chinese sewer. Ugh.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blue skies and clues

**News on the home front is that we had quite an exciting last night. We had a security system installed and something happened in the middle of the night that caused the panic alarm to randomly go off. It is not a siren, and instead just a couple of beeps. Thinking it was just the new system acting up, I turned it off, and went back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, police were banging on my door and flashing their lights into my dining room window. I was half asleep and confused as they came in to check the place out, since I could have been under attack. I would have really appreciated that had that been the case. Next thing I know, the firetruck pulls up and they tell me the ambulance is right behind them. Too bad Street wasn't up. The fire truck would have rocked his world. Nathan's sister, who is spending the nights with us, thought one of the firemen was pretty handsome. Maybe we should get some cookies to the fire station as a thank you and see if he's single?

Now to Nathan's update...

I saw my first blue sky today since we got to China. They're not exactly into the clean air movement over here. To my point, I looked at the weather on my phone the other day and the current conditions were "smoke"... never seen that one before. But it's weird because they are very big into conserving electricity, so much so that they turn off most of the lights in the hospital at night. Makes things a little spooky but you get used to it. Another oddity of the Chinese hospital, family members of patients many times will sleep on the floor in the hallways instead of at a hotel. And here's the kicker...they make them pay to sleep on the floor!! Gotta pay the bills somehow, right?

The Chinese New Year celebration continues. I almost don't even notice all the explosions going off any more. These Chinese people love them some fireworks. Best part of the holiday so far for me and Price was the home made dumplings one of the translator's mom and grandmother sent us. Home cooking is the best even in China.

Price threw the biggest tantrum of his life last night. His little brother would have been proud. It was pretty impressive, the nurse even came to our room to see if he was okay. I told her everything was fine, except I had to say it a few times because she couldn't hear me over the screaming. Like I said, pretty impressive. (I'm not sure exactly what set him off, but it had something to do with his Blue's Clues DVD not working. It's a love/hate relationship with Blues Clues, really). So what do you do when your 3 year old is losing their mind and it's close to bedtime??? You get them in their PJ's as fast as humanly possible and get them in bed. Since he was already blowing the roof off the place and it takes 20 minutes for the water to get warm in the bathroom, I decided to skip bath time, but I did go ahead and wash his hands and brush his teeth. Let me tell you how much he loved that. By this point he was almost spent but he was still doing that involuntary sniff jerk motion in between breaths they do when their running out of steam. I stuffed a pacifier in his mouth and turned off all the lights and waited for the end to come. There was some faint moaning for a little while, but he didn't last long. I was actually kind of proud of him for putting on such a show. We said we were hoping he would do at least one new thing as a result of us coming here. Well, not exactly what we were going for, but hey, we'll take it.

Don't worry, Price was back to his usual smiley self this morning. Praise the Lord.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese New Year

It's Chinese New Year's Day. It's like the 4th of July but way colder and with way more fireworks. It's one of 2 days a year anyone in the country is allowed to shoot off fireworks so they take full advantage. It's like a celebratory Shock and Awe. I now have a better understanding of what it sounds like to be in those places you see on CNN with all the explosions going off in the background behind the reporter. .

Price did great on the recovery after his most recent lumbar puncture. That's 3 down 1 to go. Everybody keeps asking if he's doing anything new, you know, like are the stem cells working. It's hard for me to say how much he's changed because the changes are probably subtle, and I've been with him every waking minute these past couple of weeks. But, that being said, his new tricks include crawling in and out of his stroller and, my favorite, he now manages to take his pants off in his bed every night. Now when I say to him. "Price, keep your pants on," I literally mean, keep your pants on.

There's a market here that would make a even the most ardent Shopaholics head spin. It's like the Galleria on steroids. And it's ridiculously cheap. Shopping is not really my thing, and it's definitely not Price's thing, but even we we've been compelled to go in there a couple times and do some damage. There's a secret store under lock and key that sells swords that a guy is supposed to help us get into so I'm looking forward to that. Our Scottish friend got a little carried away in there and ended up with a small armory. William Wallace would be proud.

There's been a lot of down time in China and I'd like to say that I've been reading lots of enlightening books, but that's just not the case. Left to my own devices, I'm much more of a movie guy. I guess I'm just like the rest of America...addicted to moving images and voices from a screen. That being the case, here's a list of my 10 favorites so far....

1. The Warrior. Awesome even for non-UFC posers.
2. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Russel Crowe sounds really cool as a British navy captain.
3. Fargo. First time to see it. A little rough but the lady that plays the pregnant sheriff was amazing.
4. Body of Lies. Seen it before a couple of times but I'm a sucker for espionage thrillers. Again, Russell Crowe is 2 legit to quit.
5. Ocean's 11, 12 & 13. All three are very entertaining. I actually like the 3rd one the best.
6. Hanna. Meh.
7. Margin Call. Pretty good but just because I like Paul Bettany and Kevin Spacey.
8. The Rise off the Planet of the Apes. Half decent.
9. Moneyball. My Ipad's video crashed about halfway through, but I was really liking it. I thought Ipads weren't supposed to crash???
10. Puncture. More technical difficulties. I started it and didn't finish it within 24 hours so it got erased off my Ipad. Thanks again, Apple. I really wanted to know the ending but I'm not forking over another $3.99 to find out.

Price's two favorite nurses, Lucy and April
Price or Darth Vader? Stimulating the vocal cords. Ellery liked this one.
Price's buddy Collin
Taking his pants off...again
Nurses and translators hosting the New Years dinner
Learning how to make dumplings
The feast

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Update from China

China is now a full-blown guys trip. Price and I are perfect roomates because we both like to eat lots of snacks and watch tons of movies. Fortunately for me, Price can watch the same 6 episodes of Blues Clues 20+ times and still laugh at the same parts every time. May God bless Steve Burns and his green-striped shirt. For those who know Blues Clues, you'll be glad to know Price is a Steve fan all the way,he's not big on Joe. He's a purist. When Steve goes off to college Price loses interest real fast. Outside the room, Price is a crawling machine. There are lots of long hallways in our wing of the hospital and Price goes up and down them non-stop. And of course there's a staircase in the lobby that he climbs and descends as many times as I'll let him. The floor above us is all Chinese patients and their parents so it's kind of an international trip for him. When he gets to the top there's usually a few Chinese moms who cheer for him and try to pick him up but he laughs and shakes his head and puts it in reverse and scoots away from them. He thinks it's hilarious. Needless to say, Price loves all the attention and everybody loves Price. Price has also figured out how to go down the stairs feet first, which is much less hazardous to his forehead.

The most pleasant surprise of the trip so far has been the relationships we've been able to form with the medical and other patients. The doctors and nurses and translators have all been awesome, making us feel right at home since we got here. It's a much different experience than you get in the States in that you get to see and talk to the doctors everyday, sometimes even several times a day. They are constantly checking in to see how we're doing and readily available if we need anything. The nurses travel in packs. They usually visit 3 at a time, and they love to sing to Pricey, especially when he smiles and laughs. You can tell all the medical staff really cares about the patients, and that makes us a lot more comfortable about being here. The translators are awesome. Without them we would be hopelessly lost.

There's an older couple here from Canada that we've been tagging along with some. They run a grain farm back in Saskatchewan and sell most of their grain to the Chinese. And they end almost every sentence with "eh?" Very Canadian and really neat people. There was a Scottish couple arguing over how to turn on the Xbox the other night which made for some interesting theater. I'm pretty sure they were speaking English but I have no idea what they were saying.
- Nathan

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jet-lagged thoughts

Today, Street pointed to a plane in the sky and said, "Bro bro."
Ellery ate breakfast this morning by herself at the table and said, "Breakfast is not fun by myself. I need Price here."
Last night, we skypped Nathan and Ellery broke out into tears and said, "This is so hard." I told her it is hard and it is okay to cry, but we have to be strong because the Lord said, "Go."
I am back to the weekly routine, but part of me is still in China (not to mention, my body clock still is too).
I miss the simplicity. I miss the relationships with people that are nothing like me. I miss the lack of technology. It's really all about people, isn't it? Loving people.
I told Nathan maybe we should live in China. He said that I should rethink how to bring our experience to where we live. To our home.
Price had a harder time with his second lumbar puncture. Some fever and vomiting.
He has his third one on Friday. Please pray for his little body.
Other than that, he is all smiles, according to his daddy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Last day

Today is my last day here in China. I have such mixed emotions. I
really am loving my time in China. (Even the muddy shower water we had last night wasn't that bad - I thought of it as a really luxurious body mask.) It has been somewhat relaxing and in some ways so simple. It's been quality time for the three of us. I especially have enjoyed meeting
the Chinese people here as well as the other families who are on
different yet in some ways similar journeys. We kind of have become a little mixed
family from all over the world. As soon as one family departs, another one is arriving.

I am, however, really ready to see my babies at home. I have missed
them like crazy, but the Lord definitely has supplied me with strength
and the ability to rest in knowing that they are being cared for and
very loved back in Houston. It will break my heart to not walk through the rest of this journey
with Nathan and Price, but I am leaving P in good hands.

Last night we took the translators out to dinner at the Holiday Inn
(it's a 5 star restaurant here in Qingdao). We had some good laughs,
great conversation, and the best food we've eaten since we got here.
They told us that Nathan looks like Tom Cruise and that I look like
the lady from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. That really made us laugh. I think
it's just because we are white.

Price is settling into the routine here, crawling and climbing stairs
constantly, and charming the nurses and doctors with his smile. He
especially loves riding in the taxi without a car seat and the
hospital elevator. We have had some ask us when we might expect to
see the stem cells at work, and the truth is that it varies with each
individual. Evidence of them working can happen instantly, a month
after, 6 months after, and even up to a year. And because Price can't
tell us what he feels or sees, it's harder to gage. We are trusting
the Lord with the outcome.

Nathan is going to send me updates from China for the duration of
their stay that I will post on the blog. I have pictures to post when
I get home as well. Please pray for safe travels for me and for my
boys that I will be leaving behind.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you
an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21

{excuse the weird formatting...don't know what's up with that}

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big day

Price had his lumbar puncture procedure about 4 hours ago. We were able to walk him back to the operating room and Nathan held him as they administered the anesthesia. I had to leave for that part. I am not a big hospital person as is, and let's just say the OR's in China don't look quite like the ones back home. It was a little scary handing over my boy to nurses and doctors who are speaking in a foreign language and wearing what we would call "shower shoes". At least our translator assured me that I am not the first mom to be a little concerned.

The procedure took about 30 minutes and then they waited for Price to wake up before wheeling him out to us. The nurses loved him and told our translator that they were in love with his beautiful eyes and long eyelashes. They also said that he was smiling and laughing at them when he was waking up. I think to say Price loves the Chinese people, especially women, is an understatement. I think the Lord knew what He was doing when he gave us his sweet physical therapist Irene, who is Taiwanese, 2 years ago. He has definitely gone before us.

Price was groggy when we got back to the room and motioned for his bed. He has now been sleeping soundly for about 3 hours. We have 3 more to go before he can sit up, but so far so good. Thank you for praying. This boy is precious to us.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

Monday, January 9, 2012

First Treatment

Good morning from Qingdao! It's a smoggy one here. Yesterday, Price had his first full day of therapy and treatment, and it was a success. After our doctors came to meet with us around 9am, Price headed to the OT room to do wave therapy and then a Chinese cupping therapy. The wave therapy consists of the doctor putting electromagnetic pulses on Price's brain and then on his legs. This is made to stimulate the nerves. Price tolerated it very well, in fact, it practically put him to sleep. He held the teddy bear that Ellery made for him and was perfectly still. He then had the cupping therapy which consists of the doctor putting warm glass cups on his back like a suction. It's different and strange, but kind of like everything else we have tried, we say bring it on if it could possibly help. If you want to, google it. It's pretty interesting.
The nurses came in to place an IV in Price's hand after OT to get him ready for his stem cell treatment in the afternoon. The nurses are great. Picture three young Chinese nurses with the old school nursing hats on singing "Twinkle, twinkle little star" in Mandarin.

Fast forward to the afternoon. We had to drag Price out of bed to get him to the IV room, where he received a drip of stem cells. He has been pretty lethargic this trip so far due to the time change, and the IV gave him a surge of energy. He perked up and was crawling around the entire floor at the hospital. He has a little buddy named Collin (from Scotland), whose dad is here receiving treatment.

Price slept well last night and woke up rested for his day today which will be another day of therapy. He will receive the electromagnetic wave therapy, accupuncture, and then physical therapy and standing therapy in the afternoon. This morning we boiled eggs for breakfast and plan on making beans and rice for dinner. I've got to make sure my boys get plenty of protein. I also have clothes hanging up to dry.

Tomorrow is Price's lumbar puncture. He will have the procedure around 2:30pm our time, which is 12:30am Houston time. He will go under general anesthesia. He has to stay completely still for 6 hours after the procedure, which might be difficult for Nathan and I to control considering we have not been able to stay awake past 7:30pm.

Nathan and I are submitting our plans, our hopes, our dreams to the Lord. We just ask that He glorify Himself in and through us for the duration of our stay. We are also thankful for the relationships we are establishing with the other families and staff here.
Thank you for continuing to pray.

Stem cells

Wave therapy

Sunday, January 8, 2012


This weekend has been full. We've been adjusting to the time change. Price has been waking up at around 2 or 3am every morning but this last night, he woke up, I gave him some melatonin, and then he went back to sleep until 5:30am. He's been falling asleep at the dinner table every night too. We will eventually get there.
Our translator took us to a supermarket type store on Saturday and it was a crazy experience. It was so crowded (a little more so than usual he said because of the weekend and the fact that Chinese New Year is approaching) and barely anything was recognizable to us. Things I had never seen before too - pig heads, feet, livers, hearts. Quite the experience, to say the least. We purchased a few things so that we can possibly cook a little while we are here. It's hard because there is some "unsafe" food and the Chinese don't regulate their food quite like the USA. We are better off just sticking to cooked or packaged food which pretty much goes against what I enjoy buying back at home. Nathan tells me to relax, and that it will do for 30 days. I have never been more thankful for the food and quality of food that we consume back home.

Today, we walked to the WalMart here. It was much easier to manage and I think Nathan will do the majority of his shopping there once I am gone. We will be doing our own laundry (old school soap and water and drying on a line) and so purchased what we needed for that, as well as some better pillows, and a bath mat. The hospital room is a little rough, but nothing that we can't handle for 30 days. Ellery is going to send some pictures to help spice up the room a bit.
Tonight, we are planning on taking a trip downtown and doing some sightseeing. It's right off the Fushan Bay, and we have heard it's beautiful.

Nathan has a new buddy, Peter, who is a translator here. He's awesome and really giving us so much insight on the Chinese culture. I'm so thankful for him and the companionship that it will hopefully bring Nathan once I'm gone. Peter loves Yao Ming, and thinks we are pretty cool being that we are from Houston.

We are anticipating Price's first treatment tomorrow. Please be in prayer for our boy. We are praying that his body accepts the stem cells well and that he has no side effects. It is so surreal that we are here, but we are thankful for the Lord's mercies and peace every step of the way. We are hopeful.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

View of Qingdao from our hospital room

Made it to Toronto

Watching Blues Clues from the airport lounge

The Lord mercies

The hospital

Look what we found!

Having a hard time adjusting

Happy boy

Friday, January 6, 2012

We are here!

Hey everyone! It's Paige, Kristen's sister. Unfortunately blogger isn't available in China, so I will be helping Kristen send her updates to friends and family.

We are here!

We made it to Qingdao, China. Price was a complete stud and did so well on the 26 hours of traveling. He slept like a champ, unlike his mom, who is still quite jet-lagged. Today was our first full day at the hospital and we met with Price's doctor, physical therapist, and several of his nurses. He had his blood drawn this morning at 8am and the three Chinese nurses sang to him in harmony while taking his blood. He barely shed a tear. He has also completed an EKG and x-ray. We have a couple of translators that are showing us the ropes and have been so helpful and nice. We are probably such pesky Americans asking so many questions about Chinese culture. We just really love hearing about their lives here.

We ate our first meal out at none other than McDonald's, which if you know me makes me cringe a little. Price had his very first McDonald's cheeseburger and thoroughly enjoyed it. I must say it all tasted pretty darn good. We get lots of looks out in the town. Must be the cute boy with the blue eyes and blonde hair.

The doctors we met with were very positive and although they said that they can't give Price a diagnosis (I mean...who really can?), they said stem cells could possibly help. We have met several families (from South Africa, Scotland, and Maryland) already who are at different stages of treatment, and everyone's experience has been a positive one.

We will have the weekend off and then on Monday Price will have an IV stem cell injection. Hopefully, his little body will take well to the stem cells and then he can start the lumbar injections Wednesday or Thursday. He will have a busy schedule of physical and occupational therapy, accupuncture, and some electric wave therapy (which I need to learn a little more about).

I have to say the first night we got here I was a little sleep deprived and whiney but the morning brought so much joy. Thank you for your prayers. We have felt them.

"Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:0-31

Sunday, January 1, 2012

China 2012

Happy New Year! We spent last night just hanging out with some of our best friends. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to welcome 2012. Ellery rang in the new year with us for the first time too, which was fun.

I have never made New Year's resolutions, but this year I have 4 areas that I desire to make some adjustments/improvements. Spiritually, I will read through the Bible in 2012. Chronologically this time. Physically, our family is on quite a health journey. I have always been one to ask why and challenge the status quo, and so researching is a natural role for me. I want to dig deeper this year and hopefully blog about it as well. As a mother, I want quality time with each of my littles. I want to joyfully take the time to sit with them, play with them, and converse with them. I do this already, but want more of it in 2012. Our lives seem to get busier and busier. And finally, some goals for our marriage as well.

We are starting 2012 off with a bang with our trip to China. Here is our specific list of prayer requests. We would be grateful if you would pick one or two and pray for them as the Spirit leads.
(oh, and just to add, there will be someone at our house at all times while we are gone. so this is not an invitation to plan a break-in. sorry, that was part of my fear in posting our trip online.)

  • Trips to and from China

  • Nurses, therapists – everyday caregivers

  • Doctors who will make decisions on treatment

  • Doctors who will perform the anesthesia and lumbar puncture procedures

  • Days of lumbar punctures and the recovery – 6 hours of lying still post op

  • The actual stem cells that will be used (divinely selected, safely harvested and stored, properly administered in procedure, etc.)

  • Effectiveness of stem cells once they are in Price’s body (that they would be accepted by his body, that they would find the problem(s) and HEAL, that they would make their way to his brain)

  • At least one new motor skill and improvement of all existing skills

  • Relationships with medical staff and other patients and their families

  • Decision making while in China, clarity of thought, unity

  • Being apart as a family

  • Living conditions and attitude while in China. Lots of down time in hospital and cut-off from friends and family back home; time change

  • Street and Ellery’s time at home (protection, health, etc) and for our families taking care of them

I had a moment of maybe this is a bad idea/we shouldn't go. That same morning Price fell flat on his back or on his face literally 5 times in an hour. He was desperately trying to keep up with his brother and explore, but it's just plain harder for him to do so. He would pull up on something and then lose his balance, cry, cry harder when I applied ice on yet another goose-egg of a bump, and then get right back up and go at it again. He is one determined boy and deserving of a just as determined mom.

Thanks again for journeying with us. Happy 2012!

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