Here’s a post for the record books! I’d be willing to bet that this is the first pleo-posting written from Lhasa, Tibet! (Anybody want to check with Kennon to find out?)
While Denver is Mile-High City, Lhasa is Two Miles High! 11,050 feet. I teach my Science 10 students that we live in the Troposphere, from sea level to roughly 10,000 feet. Above that is the Stratosphere, home of the Jet Stream, but very little other winds or weather. So I’ve just spent 4 days with my head in the Stratosphere and my feet on the ground.
And, yes, it’s hard to breathe. For one thing, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced drier weather. Anywhere. I came here with the tailings of a cold compounded by a 24-hour bug. Mix congestion with DRY, DRY weather, and you get a head with enough stuffing to make it truly difficult to breathe. Now add in oxygen deprivation caused by the altitude. And you get Mountain Sickness. Just a hint of a headache that won’t go away, a bit of dizziness, and heavy breathing when encountering even a single flight of stairs. Now go visit Potala Palace. A mere 100 meters of stairs, vertically. You know—like a 32 story building. Starting at 2 miles up in the air. My legs didn’t bother me at all. But I couldn’t go more than 24 steps without stopping to catch my breath. And it was 366 steps. Up. Then 345 steps down. And those numbers are deceptive, because there was lots of slopes mixed in there, too. While some of those steps were only 3-4 inches, I guarantee a goodly number were closer to 10-12 inches. So yes, it’s hard to breathe.
I’m glad we climbed it. But once in a lifetime is enough. It’s basically a mausoleum for all the Dalai Lamas (and other Tibetan Buddhist officials) throughout history. Combined with an uncountable number of idols covered in gold. Is idolatarium a word? Well it is now! I had to hurry through to keep from getting buried in grief at the sadness of it all.
We visited a demonstration room for how the Tibetan Carpets are made. And, yes, we bought a few. One of those once-in-a-lifetime purchases to commemorate a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
If you were reading carefully, you noted I said, “the first pleo-posting written from Lhasa, Tibet”, not “posted from Lhasa.” For I won’t get back online before we fly out tomorrow morning, back to Chengdu for a couple of days to see the Panda Research Station again. Getting online is limited (café in the building that opens at 8:30 am) and we need to leave the hotel at 8:15 to get to the airport in plenty of time for our flight.
Want a surprising bit of trivia to try on your friends and family? I was astonished to learn that here on the roof of the world, Lhasa only gets snow about once a year – maybe about a quarter inch!!!! Outside of Lhasa is a very different story, but here in the city…well I understand the appeal of putting a city here!!!
Good night from the roof of the world!
About a month ago my son and DIL went to court to adopt two foster sons. These boys had a rough 6 months before coming to live with my kids. Their adoptive mother (the boys are not biological brothers, but adopted by the same woman) learned that she had terminal cancer and asked her mother to take them and raise them. Grandma agreed, and they moved to her house in the summer of 2011, then she died unexpectedly in September of 2011. The older boy, 11 then, had to call 911, then watch as they stepped on his dog and carried his Grandma's body out. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, 2011, Mom died, and he, once more, had to call 911. He tells of being embarrassed as the EMTs "stared at them" while waiting to, in a deja vue, carry out the body of the only mother they had ever known. My kids were asked to adopt them, as social workers didn't want to put them "into the system". Being 9 & 11, they likely would have been split up, and would not have a good chance of adoption. I was so proud of my DIL's answer: "I don't even have to call my husband: The answer is yes!" They have given birth to four, then have adopted two other biological half-brothers.
I am bustin' my buttons at the committment they made to the boys at a party following their court date. I want to share it with you:
Mark and Noah,
Today, before God Almighty, our friends and members of the Lord’s church we declare our commitment to you. We promise to love and care for you as we love and care for all of the children God has given to us. Though we may not always give you everything you want, we will joyfully do our best to give you everything you need as the Lord provides. We will raise you in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and teach you the ways of God. As your parents we are fully devoted to you for as long as we live. We will be your biggest encouragers and your closest counselors. We will be there for you no matter what struggles you will be facing. We will always be there to listen, even when you have hard things to say. You can always trust us to tell you the truth in all matters. We will only ever discipline you for your good that you would always be right with God. We will only ever chastise you out of love for your souls. We will always believe in you even when you are grown. Today we assure you, you will always be Boswells. We will always pray with you and for you. We will never leave you or abandon you. From today onward, you are our children forever.
Oh, that every child would have this assurance.
I can't write, but I can repost:
via Todd Plumb:
"23 million out of work. 46 million on foodstamps. 16 trillion in debt. Yearly deficits over 1 trillion. No budget for nearly 4 years. No bipartisanship. Insurance rates increased by $2000 per family. Family income down by $4000. Cost of living up by 11% in 4 years. Mandated purchase of private insurance. NDAA. Continuation of the Patriot act. over 960 executive orders (900 more than any previous president), Benghazi, Fast and furious. Cash for clunkers. 90 billion in failed energy programs. Crippling increases in federal regulations. Unsupervised federal reserve backdoor policies. Worsening mideast turmoil. I could go on and on but I have the feeling that this was all overlooked because of abortion and gay marriage."
I have tried to figure out why I haven’t been able to update. You all definitely deserve to know what’s happening. And it’s all good. At one point, I mentally described what I’m going through as a “functioning funk.” I’m going through the paces of life, but not feeling creative enough to even write a short communication.
This morning, it occurred to me what’s happening. My SIL has told me that when her mother died, it was about a year before she could write again, because her mother was always at the heart of her target audience. For over 7 years here in China, I would get up in the morning, which is supper-time for most of you, and check my ‘puter to see if I had an email from my Mother. These last few days, I’ve found myself doing that every morning, only to be hit, once again, with the reality that there won’t ever be another email from my Mother again.
I’m functioning in day-to-day life, but I’m grieving. And that has for the time being taken away my creativity, necessary to put words on a screen to express myself.
So, my apologies to all of you who are caring, and praying, and asking about James and Joanne. Tears are rolling down my face as I type this, but I’m going to try to keep going long enough to let you know what’s happening.
The surgery day was a hard one, for all of us. They told her she would leave her room at 7, go into surgery at 8, and be back in her room by 10 am. They came for her at 8:20, took her into surgery at 8:40, and nothing was heard from the OR until 12:30. Apparently there is in info screen in the family waiting room near the OR. At 12:30 she was posted ‘out of surgery.’ But still no one came out to talk to them, and she didn’t appear. As I began my 2:20 class, I told them what was happening, and that I was going to violate a sacrosanct rule and be checking my phone for text messages during class. And I began the class. At 2:40 James texted me: “Thank God! She’s coming out!” I read it to my class and the whole class cheered! So a surgery and recovery of two hours turned into an almost 4-hour surgery and a 2 hour recovery. Later the doctor gave the opinion that her general health is low from being on IVs for 3 weeks with no normal nutrition. Another doctor thinks the wound is healing a little slowly for the same reason.
A week after surgery, and 4 weeks after the accident, last Thursday morning, I got a phone call from her. This is unusual, because usually we text one another rather than call. “I need your help.” Ok, what’s up? “My mother washed my hair this morning, and now I have a huge knot in my hair. How can I get it out?” It seems Mom didn’t brush out her hair before washing it. After 4 weeks on her back, there was quite a tangle back there, and washing it just tightened it up. I told her it would require washing again, but she needed something to make it slide so it could be combed out – perhaps some oil. At noon I texted: “How’s the hair?” “Nothing changed.” “What have you tried?” “Just some lotion.” “How did that work?” “It didn’t. OH, I WISH YOU WERE HERE!” “Maybe you need to try oil, like I suggested.” “What kind of oil?” “I’d try cooking oil or mineral oil.” After school: “Any luck?” “Nothing new” “OK, I’m coming, but it will be a couple of hours before I can get there.” “Is there something besides oil we can try?” “I’ll google it.”
The internet recommended trying conditioner. So off to the bathroom I went. I figured out what characters must mean shampoo, and checked thru her bottles till I found a bottle of Dove-something that didn’t have those characters. I grabbed an old bath towel and a wide-tooth comb, and headed across town.
I found a really tight knot, bigger than my fist, about 2 inches out from her scalp.
I saturated it with conditioner and started working. After 45-50 minutes, with her holding the roots to keep from pulling, I decided we both needed a break. I had probably combed out about a third of it. I got up to stretch, and Mom sat down and started working, giving Joanne no break at all. For the next hour, we tag-teamed it, each working for 10 minutes or so before trading off. After almost 2 hours, J started grimacing from pain in her ‘stomach’ and we decided she’d reached her limit. The knot was down to about the size of my index finger, still about 2 inches from her scalp. Mom says, “Let’s just cut it out!” I laughed, and said we might still have to, but let’s not just yet.
Joanne asked if I wanted to see the bed sore. Surprised, I said, “Sure.” She slowly rolled to one side, and reached back and released the edge of a 6x6 inch bandage. I didn’t see it at first, and thought it was elsewhere. Then I saw a pretty pink mark, similar to a smallpox vaccination scar. Whoa! No dead tissue there! Almost completely healed! I then left pretty soon, as it was nearly 10 pm.
Friday morning James texted me: The hair is good now, and J is feeling good. It’s getting better!”
Realizing the time is coming for her to be released from the hospital, we texted back and forth about what might be here at the house that she might want in the next 2 months. On Sunday Larry and I went to visit, taking a big bag of warm robe, bed sheet, warm shoes, etc. We stopped 3 blocks before the hospital, as I had promised her a SubWay sandwich when she could eat again. When we arrived, we found her in the other hospital bed. I assumed that they had moved the beds, but she told us, with a mile-wide smile, that they had put the two beds together and she had scooched from one over to the other. She was WAY more mobile, rolling one way, then another, stretching and basically doing isometric exercises, using her muscles far more than she had been.
They still haven’t gotten her upright, and I’m not clear how or when they think that will happen. But on Wednesday about noon her dad will get that van again, put a bed in the back again, and his friend will drive them all back to HongHu. But this time James will be sitting up. He is doing VERY well. He has graduated from his turtle-shell, and is able to lie down and get up with virtually no pain. He’s quite pleased to be able to return to his home-town in an upright position - he grins from ear to ear about it.
So, like I said, it’s all good. Again, my apologies for the long silence. I can’t promise it won’t happen again. I don’t think this stage of grief is any where near over yet.
It’s been a long week. The first week of classes in a semester always is. And add in trips across town, and it’s even longer. I haven’t mentioned that I’ve been leaving school as soon as the final bell rings to go to a nearer hospital for a traction treatment 5 days a week to treat a crushed disc myself. So it’s been a crazy week.
The surgery still has not been done. But it is scheduled for 7 am on Wednesday. (That will be 6 pm Tuesday, CDT)
On Thursday, Larry and I met at home and went together to the nearby hospital for the traction, then across the street to use a 50 yuan coupon at Papa John’s for supper before starting out across town to see Joanne. She is in good spirits, but, as always, ready to get this show on the road.
On the way home, in the dark, nearly to our door, Larry fell. Going down 4 steps, he missed the last one, thinking he was already at the bottom. He rolled to his back, took a moment, then got up and went on inside, with scraped knees and elbow.
Friday, we took the evening to have dinner with friends, and with a colleague of Larry’s who had a baby almost a year ago, whom we had never seen. We then went to the friends’ home to watch comedy videos which were pretty good.
Saturday, I ventured out to go see J by myself. Being a Saturday, I decided to try the buses, as there was not a taxi in sight. Two hours to go 10 miles. Need I say traffic in this city is crazy? I had a good long visit, and we had opportunity to have one of our good long heart-to-heart talks. I also found out that her father, brother, and fiancé were coming the next day to give blood. I asked her to find out if I could donate, and specifically if there was an age limit. The nurse assured us that there was not. So I left, telling her that I would be back on Sunday to do that.
Sunday afternoon I took a taxi, stopping to pick up Robert, an acquaintance who wanted to go visit, and headed back out. Traffic is normally lighter on Sundays, but this particular Sunday is the day before university students have to start classes. So this city of 53 universities (!) was crazy again. By taxi, however, it only took an hour to go the 10 miles. We said hello, and immediately were ushered downstairs to go outside and around the corner to the blood unit. Of course my presence caused a stir. My translator, the acquaintance whom I had picked up, got one of the questionnaires and got flustered.
One of the problems with a non-alphabetic language is that you can’t sound out the words. In English, you might encounter a word you’ve never read before, sound it out, and recognize that word by sound. I once asked J to read my motorcycle manual and summarize the maintenance, etc, that I needed to know. She came back in a few minutes, saying, “I can’t read this. There are too many words I don’t know.” In English, one can sound out ‘carburetor’, ‘alternator’, and so on, for the listener, even if the reader doesn’t know the meanings. Not so in Chinese.
All that to say, the questionnaire was, I assume, the standard “Do you have any of these conditions/symptoms?” before giving blood. It was as dense as a 2-page legal document. He sat down beside me and said, “There is no way I can translate this. I don’t know these words.” I got the idea he couldn’t even answer for himself, as he didn’t know many of the characters. I said, “I’m healthy. Just put good, good, good, all the way down the list.” The chair at the desk became empty, and he told me to sit down. I did, and the first question was my age. Apparently there is a limit of 55 for blood donations, so all the rest became a non-issue. I was mildly disappointed, but I had achieved my goal, that of showing the family that I was willing to give blood.
Going back upstairs to J’s room, I visited for a few minutes before Robert and I left. She told me that she has developed a pressure sore (bed sore). I had warned her of this, so she knew what it was when it happened. Problem is, what can be done? All the sites I googled just say to change positions every 2 hours. And she can’t. Foam under the pressure points isn’t an option, either. If anyone has, or can get, any info on this, I’d REALLY appreciate knowing. She is only 2 ½ weeks into a 3-4 month time on her back. What are the options?
I told her I wouldn’t try to come back Monday or Tuesday, but I would be there as soon after school on Wednesday as I could. I asked her to call me just before they take her down on Wednesday so I can reassure her that I am ‘talking to Daddy’ and all will be well. I’ve already spent some time reminding her that He is in control, and that He cares. He has protected her amazingly so far – it would have been such a little bit more that would have resulted in her paralysis. I told her that even if something goes wrong in surgery, that He will direct her life, even if it is in a direction she hasn’t imagined. That He can use her even if she cannot walk. And, if she doesn’t make it through the surgery, she will just get to heaven before the rest of us! She gave me a huge smile, and said, “You are SO optimistic!!!” So I have done what I can.