THE ROAD TO BEIJING

A Journal
by
Mary Hauwiller

2006







China... Here we come!!


December 2

Kathy took us to Midway Airport by 7:30 a.m. Wow! What a crowd due to the snowstorm the day before.

Not many places to go to for breakfast. Packed at Harry Carey's. Went on to find a McDonald's that was not as crowded. Our plane was 20 minutes late in leaving. Made up time in the air; arrived at Los Angeles only five minutes late. Going over the Grand Canyon was super. All the way the weather was clear. Temperature on arrival: 80°.

Took a cab to the Hampton Inn. Since we didn't use the inn's courtesy car, we were given credit for our cab fare. As close as we were to the airport, we were never bothered by the sound of the many planes coming and going. We walked about a mile for lunch (supper again in the evening). Later in the afternoon, I took a 2 mile walk into Hollywood Park.


December 3

Today we paid an additional $45 to stay in our room until 8 p.m. Our flight to China does not leave until midnight. This morning we ate breakfast about 9 a.m. Sure had a variety. Bob's favorite biscuits and gravy. We are now in our room repacking our carry-ons. It was suggested that we put a change of clothing in a carry-on in the case of loss of luggage. We then go out for a walk and do some reading. We have two to three books each.


December 4

Left L.A. at 12.20 a.m. for our flight to Hong Kong. About 300 were on our flight on a giant 747 with two levels. Bob and I were in the middle of the plane having E and F seats. Each person has their own little TV with earphones. So everyone could watch what they wanted. We were served supper and breakfast. We would take catnaps, rather than a full night's sleep. It took fourteen hours to arrive in Hong Kong. It is now…


December 5

After our arrival and going through customs, we went to another part of the airport to board a plane for Beijing. We waited an hour for a 3 hour trip. We were served a type of brunch: shrimp/cream of wheat in a hot dish. I had eggs, ham and spinach. Not one of my favorite breakfast foods. They also served orange juice, fruit and a roll. These were very good. In Beijing, we were met by the People-to-People tour guides to take us to our bus. Only one piece of luggage of our delegation was lost. A man from Minnesota said, " It would be here by tomorrow or the next day." We were taken to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. What a wonderful place! A five star hotel. After 21 hours on planes, it was a welcome relief. We have a beautiful room with a view of the city of Beijing. The guide told us it was the capital city for bikes. Over one hundred thousand. They ride right on the freeways. A grand sight from our room. The buildings are very tall and many are decorated like Chinese pagodas.

Bob is taking a nap. I am enjoying the scenery. Then I am off to take shower. We lost a day coming over so this is Tuesday instead of Monday. This evening the tour group will meet for dinner and a briefing as to our schedule. We will stay in Beijing until Saturday. Wednesday the guests will go to the Summer Palace in the afternoon and then meet with the delegates for lunch and dinner.

The Chinese people, at least those in the cities, speak at least two to three languages. Their English is very good. They are polite and very gracious. In the hotel, there are flocked Christmas trees all over. At the entrance to the hotel, there is a revolving door and two parts of it have a small lighted Christmas tree that white with blue lights. Very beautiful. And the door keeps revolving,.

For room service, the hotel has various pizzas: ham, pepperoni, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, onion, capsicum with minted yogurt, homemade tomato salsa, smoked salmon, feta cheese, and black olives. There is one that sounds close to home: mushroom, spinach, tomato sauce, artichokes, mozzarella cheese.


December 6

There was some confusion that ended up with me staying with the delegates and missing the trip with the guests to see the Summer Palace, one of the imperial households. I didn't mind because I got to see the exchange of ideas between people from Beijing and American schools. The site of the exchange was the college of education of Beijing Normal University. The topic dealt with teacher preparation and school curricula.


December 7

... Bob spent the day at Beijing No. 123 Middle School - observing teaching and learning in classrooms, touring the building, and spending time interacting with middle school staff.

All of the guests departed for Longevity Hill, one great part of the city with a panoramic view from the summit. We saw the 17 Arch Bridge, Jade Belt Bridge, and the Stone Pagoda. Had lunch at a very delightful restaurant. After lunch, we visited Hutongs, old Beijing neighborhoods. Went for a rickshaw ride now done by bicycle power rather that pulled by a man. Drove around and visited with a local artist. Tom Yang, our guide, translated how the man became an artist. He was nine years old and began watching a man draw and paint. Then he was asked, when in high school, to take the fine arts program. He studied both Chinese and Western art. Today he does both. He has his own art store. We had the opportunity to buy his paintings at a very good price.

We had tea in a teashop that allowed us to taste four different kinds of tea. They showed us how they grow all kinds. I picked up some jasmine and rose teas. They were supposed to make you sleep. It was a lot of fun.

Then we joined the others for a trip around Tian'anmen Square. What a magnificent sight! Many people come here for the raising and lowering of the national flag each day. Very quiet and respectful ceremony. We arrived there about 4 p.m. and stayed for about an hour. It was very cold and windy, and there were a lot of street peddlers. As it grew darker, all of the buildings lit up. What a beautiful scene to see in this part of the world.

The highlight of the evening was having dinner at a Peking Duck restaurant. We were given fancy Chinese dressy jackets to wear. Men got black and gold. The women, red and gold. It was a fun time. All sorts of dishes, including Peking duck, were served on large lazy susans. There were even baked scorpions - ugh! The two of us did not try them. Rather we sampled some of the twenty dish offerings. Various drinks were served including wine and 100 proof liquor that could take your teeth out.


December 8 - Cultural Day

This morning we enjoyed a walking tour of the Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace. Construction of the Forbidden City was one of the great feats of humankind comparable only to the pyramids of Egypt or China's Great Wall.

In the afternoon, we traveled outside of Beijing to see and walk atop the Great Wall of China, one of the world's most fascinating architectural endeavors.

In the evening we were on our own for dinner. Bob and I decided to stay in the hotel and try a Brazilian restaurant. It was the first time for both of us. I had a glass of Chinese wine and Bob had a Chinese non-alcoholic beer Then we dined on various meats brought to our table on a sword. We enjoyed a nice quiet dinner together talking about our week in Beijing. Went up to our room to pack for our departure to Xi'an tomorrow.


December 9

We woke up at 6 a.m. and Bob said he felt a bit sick to stomach and stayed in bed for half an hour longer since I was washing and drying my hair. At 6:20 a.m., he said "I'll stay in bed in bed till 8:00 a.m., no breakfast" He said that I should go down and have mine. I put the suitcases out by 7:30 a.m., then went to breakfast Upon my return at 8:00 a.m., Bob was very, very weak and said, "I can't walk." and he was throwing up a little at a time. So I put him in bed and ran down to the elevator to tell the People-to-People group leaders that we could not go on to Xi'an at this time. They called for a doctor; being Saturday, it took awhile for him to come. He suggested that Bob go to the hospital - the China-Japan Friendship Hospital. So they got an ambulance and off we went. They examined Bob and found that he had a cerebral hemorrhage. What a blow. He never lost consciousness, but had a slight headache. They put him in the ICU immediately and began procedures to keep him quiet. Tom Yang, our local guide for Beijing, stayed with us the whole time. He spoke English and Chinese very well.

Before they do any medical procedures, you have to pay up front. Tom helped me with this very carefully. Thank goodness for credit cards.

Everyone at the Crowne Plaza Hotel was wonderful. They kept our carry-ons and coats until I could return to get them. They would hold our room. After getting Bob settled in the ICU, Tom took me back to the hotel to get our bags. I decided to stay at hotel - HuiQiao Hotel - a 3 star hotel - near the hospital. The Crowne Plaza Hotel was 45 minutes away. So Tom checked out the new hotel to make sure it was safe, clean and proper. He got me a quiet room saying that I didn't need to hear city traffic. There is a big difference between the quality of the hotels, but I walk to the hospital each morning at 7:30 a.m. I usually get up at 6 a.m. Then I go to KFC for coffee, orange juice, and I bought some rolls to put jelly, on so I eat that each morning before going to the hospital. They allow me to stay in the ICU room with Bob all day. I leave before dark about 5:15 p.m. and walk back to my hotel. It is hard not to have someone to be with in the evening. I have used this journal each evening to let me collect my thoughts. From Saturday to Tuesday has been a blur.


December 12

The neurosurgeon asked permission to do an angiogram to see where the bleeding had taken place. I was nervous about this, but Bob was listening and he said that it was necessary. So I signed and they did the procedure this morning. Thank God it was a small hemorrhage and has stopped bleeding.

Dr. Jing Gus did his residency at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago under Dr. Hunt H. Batjer. I felt much better after hearing this. They want Bob to stay in Beijing for two weeks - a possibility of coming home on Christmas day if all goes well. Please God let this be true!


December 13

Our family was notified...so many phone calls have been exchanged. My niece Cheryl's husband Russ called to talk to the doctor to understand what was done and how Bob was coming along. I really appreciated this. Bob's sister called a few times; my sisters and brother, who was away in Ireland, have called many times. All were asking what they can do for us. I've told them that the People-to-People program has had someone with me at the hospital in case something occurs so that they can translate for me. On Wednesday evening, I was invited to Ping's house. She is in charge of the tour agency that serves the People-to-People program in Beijing. A very delightful lady. There was a People-to-People delegation of English speaking people interested in Chinese cooking. I was picked up by a girl, Ada, who had a driver take us to a shopping mall. I needed face cream since I only had enough for 18 days. It was a lovely mall, very modern with the clerks all wearing Santa hats. They had Revlon, Clinque, Olay, etc. cosmetics. Found what I wanted and then we were off to Ping's home. She lives in a modern high rise, which she purchased about 6 months ago. Her parents live on floor 2, while she resides on floor 7. It is a beautiful apartment. She has it fixed up so well. The delegation was from various cities in America. One lady lives in the Villages in Florida where John and Jeanne (Bob's sister) live. What a small world! The lady who owns the Peking Duck Restaurant where Bob and I were a few days earlier told her story -about how five generations kept the restaurant going. She spoke in Chinese as a guide translating. The delegates all participated by preparing a dish. All the ingredients were measured and cut beforehand, so that speeded things up. They had wine and sweets beforehand. A grand time. Bob was happy that I got to go. He feels badly that this has happened. I told him as long as he gets better, that's all I want. This is an adventure no one else had. Three weeks in Beijing.


December 14

Today we received notes from the rest of the delegation of which we had been a part. They were truly concerned about us. I read all of them to Bob and we had fun remembering our five days with them. Some brought tears. A grand group of people.


December 15

Bob is improving each day. Perhaps on Monday, they will put him in an international ward or room. God willing.

The personnel from the tour agency for People-to-People are Frank, Ping, Tom and the girls -Shuli, Summer and Ada, who work with them have been grand. They gave us a cell phone to call them any time. Dawn Davis from Seattle is working on our flight back home. They will hopefully provide a medical person to accompany us. We will have 1" class arrangements. Bob likes to know he'll be taken care of. Will continue this tomorrow. I'm listening to TV - a program about Hillary Clinton being a rising star. Very interesting.

I keep telling Bob when we married that it was in good time and in hard times. We love each other and have had a wonderful life; so we will carry on as best we can.


December 16

Bob is improving each day. All systems remain normal. The hemorrhage has stopped. He is still on IVs. Eating soft food such as yogurt, bread and jam, orange juice. I feed him breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Very little appetite.

Ping came to visit Bob and me today. She brought a beautiful flower arrangement. [I had been at her house last week] She is the CEO for tour agency that serves People-to-People in Beijing. A very smart and delightful lady. Also Shuli, a sweet girl who works in Ping's office. She and I went to dinner together.

Each day I arrive at 8 a.m. and stay to 5 p.m. It gets dark about 5:30 p.m. and they don't want me to walk the ten minutes to the hotel in the dark.


December 17

Today I arrived at 7:30 p.m. The student nurse, Deng Lu, was finishing her care for Bob and she gave us a picture of herself. Then I took some pictures of her. She loved to talk English. They rarely get to talk to Americans. She was sweet. If Bob is moved to the International Hospital/unit this week, we will not see her. She loved rubbing Bob's hairy chest. Chinese men don't as a rule have hair on their chests. She taught us a lot about Chinese customs. They are very proud of their country.

Frank and Luci (our tour director) came back from Hong Kong. The tour was over for our group. She brought us news of our fellow travelers. There were two more mishaps with the delegates. Linda was hit on the jaw with card that an actor was throwing. She went to the hospital. Only a bruise, nothing serious. Keith, another traveler, injured his knee and there was difficulty in stopping the bleeding. He saw a doctor. He may have to stay in Hong Kong for a few days.

When Luci came to the ICU, she had tears in her eyes. This was her first tour. I told her she got all of the mishaps involving doctors and hospitals over with. She brought Bob a bouquet of flowers. They didn't have a vase for it, so I brought the bouquet back to the hotel. I put the bouquet in a wastebasket. There were two in the room. I'm sure the cleaning ladies will think I'm nuts. The flowers make me happy to have them. The flowers here are very beautiful, very different arrangements.

As I was leaving tonight Bob said, "Thanks to God for all the good things to come." He said when he was recuperating after the accident in 1998, he kept saying that phrase and it brought him peace.

Oops. Forgot to write that Bob threw up this afternoon, seemed the orange juice did not agree [not the juice, really having solid food too soon]. He had taken it for two days, but today it didn't stay down. Later he felt fine and ate yogurt and sautéed peapods. A very small amount. He drinks plenty of water. When I left at 5:30 p.m., he was doing fine. Thank God. If all goes well, he may be taken out of the ICU tomorrow [Monday] or Tuesday and be put in the international area [general care] of the hospital, easier. This will be easier in that the doctors and nurses all speak English [later found out this was not the case]. In ICU, only a few doctors and nurses speak English. I'm beginning to understand a few Chinese words. The people are very respectful; they consider us their guests.

I can't believe a week from tomorrow is Christmas. I pray we will be flying home. Each night in the hotel is very long. I arrive here at 5:30 p.m., listen to TV most times in Chinese; one channel in English with news/daily happenings. The lifesaver this week has to be "The Games" - a small form of the Olympics. They were great. I've never seen badminton played in competition.

Thank God for family-heard from Kathy today; Carol yesterday and Tom & Jeanne a couple times last week. Roxy called today; Tom and LaVonne tried but didn't catch me. I stepped out for coffee/juice at KFC. It has been my lifesaver. No chicken, just shrimp. Bob did not like the mashed potatoes. He said, "Nothing tastes right."


December 18

Today we should have been leaving from Hong Kong. Little did we know that we would be living in Beijing for three weeks. What an experience! Great medical care. Always someone to speak English when it came to doctors. All others spoke very little English. The student nurses that took care of Bob for 24 hours loved when I came during the day, so they could speak English. They can read it, but not speak it as well. So they said that I helped them. In my next life, Chinese will be my second language.

Around 11:00 a.m., they came to tell us that Bob will be moved to the international area of the hospital. So I packed the bags with his "goodies." They moved the whole bed with him covered in a large quilted blanket since we go through the cold corridors to the international area.

People to People sent Tom Yang to help with the transfer. We are in a large room with an extra couch that comes out as a bed in case I wish to stay. I have been staying at a hotel 10-15 minutes away from the hospital. But tonight they could not get an attendant to work from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. I had to stay the first night. I'm glad I did. Bob got sick to his stomach plus many bowel movements as they call them here. Needless to stay, sleep was not in the charts for me that night. Plus they continually came into check blood pressure and give pills. Bob and I talked it over and we think if I don't get some rest, I'll become sick. They were finally able to locate an attendant. So he will stay each night. Also the room is very cool. Bob's area is good, but mine is near the door; so it is not as warm.


December 19

Time is moving a bit faster this week since we know we'll be going home on Christmas Day. What a great Christmas present! Dr. Sixun Zhang (neurosurgery), who did the angiogram, said that we will not need a med person on the plane. There will be wheel chair assistance at both ends. Dr. Winter suggested that Bob immediately go to Christ Hospital, when he arrives in the Chicago area, to be evaluated. At this time. Bob is a "lucky dog," and, with follow-up care, he will be o.k. Thank God.


December 20

Heard from our dear friends, Adrienne and Nate. They tracked us down through my brother, Tom. It was good to hear their voices and to know all our friends are keeping us in their prayers.

My brother, Tom, is a real gem; calls every day and coordinates with Dr. Winter and seeks the best for Bob. Bless his soul. It took him 45 minutes to find us after they changed us from ICU to international. People to People are working on getting us a most direct flight back home...possible non-stop to Chicago. Not sure this is possible.

Our diet is very strange. Yogurt, rice cakes, water. Each morning I stop at KFC got coffee, orange juice, and then I bring a small roll. Then off to the hospital. If someone is here (like from People to People), we go to lunch together or supper. One has to be very careful which restaurants to go to. Tom Yang advised me to stick to KFC (clean and good food) and Beijing Tai Shu Xi Food. These places are right next to my hotel. They greet me at the door and seat me at cloth-covered tables. They bring three menus. I take only one thing -noodles with beef and veggies in a broth. It suits me just fine. One day Tom and I went to eat and he ordered green veggies; they were tasty. To me they looked like leeks. Sautéed green pea pods are excellent. That has been the extent of my foods since Bob became sick. American food is only served the five star hotels. The three star hotel I am staying in does not have American food.

They are making final arrangements for our flight home. The neurosurgeon came to tell us that he will get all the necessary papers ready. I have the disk with test results; now I need the cat scan and meds he has been given.

Now that we will be heading home in five days, I want to write down some of the funny and strange things that have happened. While staying in the ICU with Bob each day-the bathrooms are very different. No toilets like at home. There is a tiled hole in the floor with a handle to brace yourself. Ever try squatting down with your knees bent? Wow! After using it, the hole flushes. Unbelievable. After nine days, I became quite successful. Thank goodness the hotel and the international hospital rooms have regular toilets. But the international room toilet cannot tolerate toilet tissue. So after wiping, there is a basket for the soiled tissues. Ugh! The first night I took care of Bob with his three bowel movements I caused a back- up. They had to get a maintenance man; I don't think he was too happy. Although the nurse took the blame because she forgot to tell me about this. Since then all things are going quite well.

Got a call from Donna (AIG) to ask if we would like to upgrade our seats on the flight home. I said yes. I would be more comfortable for Bob and possibly better food. She said we would be reimbursed later.

They will meet on the 21st to discuss Bob's return. They faxed over the medical forms to be filled out by the doctors for discharge. I brought Bob's clothing to the hospital today since I went back to the hotel to pay for another day. Since I've been here, they only allow payments for one day at a time. As I came to the counter today, there was a girl. She asked how long I was staying. And she was able to let me pay for the next five days. All the other desk personnel would not allow it. Guess they did not know how to do it. No problem, no problem.. .as she looked at the three men. I'm sure she isn't too pleased that I had to go through this for 11 days.


December 21

My, my, my, first time mix-up about Bob's release. The head. Dr. Zhang, is about to discharge Bob on Friday (tomorrow) without talking to me or the neurosurgeon. Bob just started sitting up yesterday for 5 to 10 minutes on the side of the bed. He was extremely weak. He has very little appetite. We are both living on yogurt, rice cakes, jam, rolls. I've gotten Bob a soft ice cream cone each day from KFC. Water is his only liquid. I drink a good amount of tea. One of the nurses got us instant oatmeal. I got milk and sugar at a store. This will give him more energy. They told us today to have him take mini-meals. Maybe 4-5 times a day. So mid morning I gave him a few cookie wafers. Then at lunch, oatmeal and rice cakes. In the afternoon I'll get ice cream.

It was so good to hear from Jeanne and John, Tom and LaVonne. My brother, Tom, had to call them for us. They even tried the U.S. Embassy to make contact with us.

Adrienne and Nate called, also Carlene and my brother. Tom is our daily contact with U.S.A. He is a fox. It took him 45 minutes to find us in the international unit. My sisters are unable to call from Mexico. The lines are down. It really made our day to talk to family and friends. God bless.


December 22 - Friday

This morning Bob exercised by walking one step at a time by himself. He looks like a baby learning to walk. He feels it will take physical therapy back in the states to bring him to full working condition.

I am feeding him five times a day now in order to get his strength back. Chinese food has not agreed with him. He ate oatmeal at 7:30 a.m.; roll at 8:00 a.m. Lunch will be yogurt, rice cakes. Middle of the afternoon KFC soft serve ice cream. Supper back to yogurt.

At 10 a.m., Summer from People to People will come to check with the doctor about our discharge and how the payment will take place. My brother is working on insurance with Dawn and the AIG Company. She is in Spokane. A very delightful person. I can't be more grateful for the People-to-People program a Star PP here in China. They have been most gracious and concerned for Bob's recovery and getting the best medical care. We should hear today when our flight will take off on Monday. We leave China on Christmas Day and will get to the U.S.A. on Christmas evening. We are getting very excited. It will take 20 hours. Bob will have a wheel chair at both ends. Upon our arrival, our niece, Carlene, husband Joe, nephew, David, or my brother, Tom, will be there to greet us. God bless family, friends who care about each other.

Nate and Adrienne gives us news about friends whom we have met through them and the Red Hat friends. They are all keeping us in their prayers. To know that has given us the strength to carry on.

A story came back to us about the People to People delegation we had been a part of. In Xi'an, they went to a Buddhist shrine. There some of them prayed for us and lit sticks of incense. A couple of them got mixed up and placed the still burning stick in the money collection box rather than a box for trash. This created a bit of a commotion. They had to use a fire extinguisher. Luci, our guide, told us this story when she returned. The group laughed and said, "Well, we got our prayers answered right away for Bob's recovery."


December 23 - Noon

Today being Saturday, things are less hectic. The amount of staff is limited. A few speak English. Regular doctors are off for the weekend.

Dr. Xang (neurosurgeon) came in with a disk containing hospital information. It can be used on a computer. He also gave us a letter that indicates when Bob came into the hospital, what was done in the emergency area, the ICU, and his condition as of today. We still have Sunday and part of Monday before leaving for America. This information will help the staff at Christ Hospital.

My brother called with all the details for our exit. There is a difference in how you pay in China...usually up front. Bob and I can't believe the cost for two weeks. An estimated bill was given to me today for $5,000 American. We still have Sunday and a half day on Monday. They said no higher than $8,000 to $10,000. Had this been a hospital in the states, the amount would have exceeded $100,000. Our Cigna supplement covers us as travelers. My brother called them and he was told that we were covered. Thank God. So Cigna is primary and AIG Travel is secondary.

Talked to LaVonne, Carol, Kathy, Russ...from Minnesota to Mexico. It was great hearing their voices.

Bob took a walk to the bathroom and was able to use the toilet. Isn't it amazing when you consider that as such an accomplishment! He did it on his own taking baby steps with me guiding him with a chair, but he never had to touch it. Yea!

On Monday, Christmas Day, we will leave here on United Flight 850 at 5:25 p.m. in Beijing and arrive home in Chicago at 4 p.m. Christmas afternoon. We are told it will take 12 3/4 hours. Unbelievable. We thought it would take 20 hours. Being a non-stop flight, they will fly over the North Pole and in through Minnesota, then on to Illinois, going around the sphere. We are not sure where we will be landing - O'Hare or Midway. I'm almost positive it will be O'Hare. Then the limo will take the medical nurse and us to Christ Hospital. My sister Carol's children will meet us at the hospital, so our luggage will be taken to our home. I'll probably go with them once I get Bob settled. This has been a long two weeks and two days. My concern and worry is about Bob and trying to understand what was going on has been a real challenge. Progress has been made with his walking today. He once again made it to the bathroom, read for about 20 minutes, watched TV for another 20 minutes, then walked independently back to bed.

For lunch we tried KFC for something other than ice cream. Got a small order of French fries, a breast of chicken. So far, so good. Chinese food for breakfast doesn't agree with him. One of the nurses suggested instant oatmeal. So that has been wonderful. We shared the chicken breast and fries. Also got a chocolate sundae to celebrate Christmas. I think I'm going to ask for a bottle of wine once we are on the plane (only kidding). I'd probably fall flat on my face since our diet has been very mild.


December 24

Christmas Eve has arrived. Tomorrow Christmas in China and U.S.A. For Christmas Eve, we had a visit from one of the student nurses. It was a great visit. She was able to speak and understand English. I was going to KFC for our delicious Christmas eve meal. She came with me and instead of going through the hospital, we took another route that took us through a park adjacent to the hospital. So I got to see a very pretty, but barren area. She said, "It is lovely for three seasons." Winter here is just like Illinois, Minnesota, etc. There were many pagodas, shrubs, odd-shaped trees. During warmer three seasons, this place must be outstanding. Many brides come here for pictures. After getting two small pieces of chicken, two small fries, I treated her to an ice cream sundae. She came back and we all ate together.

Bob and I were talking together later and couldn't help but think of the grand meal we would have had at Kathy's and Joe's home. Then at LaVonne's mother's on Christmas. Such a different Christmas. We are thankful for his recovery and our safe trip home.

Christmas day will be very hectic since I've got to get the packing done before I leave at 6:30 a.m. to get to the hospital. The attendant leaves at 7 a.m. Then I'll feed Bob and do exercises. Around noon, I'll go back to the hotel to get our luggage. They are going to provide a van with the help of the Star P.P. tour agency people. Frank will come to straighten out the payment. What a difference from the states! They want it up front. What a poor system! It is harder getting out of a hospital than it is to get out of jail back home. But we have been treated well. I do wish to note that the people here consider where Bob has placed to be deluxe. Ha! This is plain, ordinary. Amanda told me this today-it's for the rich people: Americans, Indians, Japanese, and some Chinese. My, their standards are different when it comes to deluxe. As nice as it has been, there is no place like home. God bless America.

Merry Christmas to our families and friends, God bless.

Received calls from my brother, Tom, and Bob's sister, Jeanne. Seems like all systems are ready for take off. 4:30 p.m. December 24th. [On Christmas Eve, Mary went out to a Hilton hotel for a Christmas Eve celebration with Ping and Luci. Bob met with the medical assistant who will accompany us on our trip back to the states. - Matt]


December 25th - 7:00 a.m.

As Bob and I wished each other," Merry Christmas." We thanked God for our families, for their love and support. Many, many thanks for all your love and caring. The phone calls meant so much. Also the prayers said by family and friends. [The people from the tour agency and the medical assistant became part of our departure scene dealing with some last minute arrangements for oxygen, hospital discharge papers, critical medical documentation, how the passports were to be handled, getting the wheel chair arrangements set up, the van transporting us. In the afternoon, we made our way to Beijing airport, departing about 5:30 p.m.]

Going through customs was easy. Our med person, Matt, took care of everything. A first time going first class. Never realized that the airline would have a wheelchair that fits down the aisle. Bob was transferred to this at the entrance to the plane. Great legroom in first class. Bob got situated with the assistance of Matt, a young man 27 years old, of Dutch descent from Amsterdam. He took excellent care of Bob from Beijing to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn. Kept checking his oxygen level, blood pressure, and gave him his medicine according to China time. A limo was waiting for us at O'Hare to take us to Christ Hospital.

We arrived at Christ Hospital and Bob was taken immediately to the emergency room for evaluation. Matt stayed with me until my niece and nephew (Carlene and David) arrived. He then took off with the limo to a hotel near the airport since he was returning to Hong Kong the next morning. We said our good byes and thanked him for his great assistance. I was so glad my brother insisted that a medical person come back with us. I would have worried by myself the whole trip if it wasn't for Matt.

Since we were in first class and it was Christmas, they served champagne, wine, and Bailey's Irish Cream. Needless to say, I didn't refuse. I thought for sure I'd sleep like a baby after all the liquor. No such luck. Upon arriving home from the hospital in our condo in Palos Park around 9:00 p.m., I felt exhausted and thought I could sleep. No such luck. Jet lag set in. Was up until 3:00 a.m.

Barb and Dennis Legenski called about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the 26th. They were up at the hospital with my nephew, David. They told me to take my time and not to rush up there. Bob was down for tests, and they would wait until he returned. I was grateful since I had bills to pay immediately and had to go to the bank for U.S. money. Our condo was filled with bags of mail. Our great friend, Pat Clair, took our mail in each day. Bless her kindness. She even picked up a package that we had sent from China. It beat us home.


Mary H.








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