Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some more pics

Might be the last post for now!  We fly to Hong Kong late tomorrow night and then home to Indy on Thursday!

  Riding the zoo train.

 Alex loves bathtime!
 Lighting incense to call to the Buddha who protects mothers and children at a temple in Guangzhou
 Two of my three boys along the Pearl River in Guangzhou
 Painted porcelain on the roof of an old building in Guangzhou that now houses their art museum
Happy boy!

Play Days

Alex is back to his happy self and we've had a few days in Guangzhou to sightsee while waiting for our visa appointment at the US Consulate, which is this morning (Tuesday). 

Since we've been in Gzhou, we've been with two other families from our adoption agency.  They are wonderful.  One couple is from southeast Michigan.  She teaches first grade and he is a state trooper.  They have a 5-year old son who is traveling with them and is a great kid.  They adopted a 14-month old little girl with a cleft lip and palate.  The other family is a woman traveling with her 5-year old daughter that she adopted from China two and a half years ago.  She adopted a 4 year old little girl this trip.  The sisters are precious and this woman is a rock star for traveling by herself for the last 2 weeks.  It's really nice to have their companionship.

On Sunday, we went to the Chimelong Safari Park.  Knowing how awful Chinese zoos treat their animals, we were a bit hesitant until we read some positive reviews.  So, off we went, and it was pretty incredible.

Alex was a bit unimpressed, but Nick and I loved it.  The first section was an open area with several animals (non-carnivorous ones) roaming freely.  Our train had to stop several times to allow an emu or water buffalo to cross our path.  They had an amazing tiger exhibit, including the largest group of white tigers anywhere. Nick was able to feed some white tigers by throwing them chicken pieces.  The tiger center was amazing.  They have a breeding facility and we saw several cubs playing together as well as babies so new that they were still in incubators.

My favorite part was the koalas.  I've never seen one in person.  We even got to pet one (photos to come, we ran out of space on the camera so one of the other families took pics for us).  They also had a great panda exhibit and lots of babies.  The other highlight was feeding giraffes leaves, even Alex did it.

Yesterday, we were on a guided tour of Gzhou to some traditional sights that our guide recommended - a temple, a beautiful old building that they've turned into an art museum and their pearl market (which was a huge bust).  We've also spent some time on Shaiman Island (which was where I was hoping we were staying).  It's part of old Canton where many of the Westerners first stayed when it opened to the West.  It's less China and more New Orleans, with quiet streets, a Starbucks and nice shops.  It's also where many adoptive families stay.  That area is only about 6 blocks from our hotel and is a welcome respite to the loud streets where we are staying.

I need to hop in the shower to get ready for our appoinment this morning, but will try to post photos later.

Two more days and we're headed home!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Never ever go to a Chinese hospital if you can help it (not ever)

Sorry for the lack of posts, but we have had our hands pretty full.  Alex had a low grade fever since we got him last Sunday night.  The fever got much worse on Thursday night and he started vomiting (I am probably one of the few moms in the world who had never had her child throw up on her, until now).  There was a health clinic at our hotel, so as soon as it opened Friday morning, we took him in.  He still had a fever and was throwing up - the doctor said he had a "cold."  She didn't have any medicine that would work for him, so advised us to go to the hospital. 

Now, Friday was a pretty critical day for us to continue moving paperwork forward.  Our guide had to meet with the police that morning to get Alex's passport paperwork completed and then we all had to meet that afternoon to sign some more papers and get his passport before flying to Guangzhou.

Nick has warned me about Chinese hospitals before.  He went to some when he worked in Shanghai and always said that if one of us got really sick, that we needed to get on a plane to Tokyo or Hong Kong as soon as possible.

I knew it would be challenging, to say the lease, when a block before the hospital, traffic was at a standstill - it was because all of the cars were trying (unsuccessfully) to get to the hospital.  So, we hopped out of the car and walked the rest of the way.

I don't think I ever quite understood the term "sea of humanity" until I saw the droves of people trying to get into the front door.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were crowding every inch of space.  The best I can describe it is as Black Friday fior healthcare.  If you were able to get to the front of the line first, you would get seen, even if it meant pushing your way through (which I quickly learned). Penny guided us back to the emergency area so that we could be seen quickly.  We walked past some very, very sick and injured people on our way, very disturbing.

Finally, we made it to the room for pediatric emergency.  It was about an 8ft x 10ft. room with about 20 people and their sick children inside.  I couldn't quite see what was going on, but everyone was crowding around one small area.  It was the doctor sitting at a desk and one chair.  She examined each child as everyone else huddled around her and waited their turns.  To say that it was chaotic, is a little bit of an understatement.

Alex and I went down a "quieter" hallway to wait while she and Nick got in line for the paperwork.  He was freaking out because of the noise and all of the people, and I was ready to, too.  Unfortunately, they don't shut doors in Chinese hospitals because Alex and I were sitting outside of a "transfusion" room that looked like something out of a 1960's mental institution (or what I imagine it must've been like).  There were poles with hooks that dropped down from the ceiling where the bags of fluids were hung.  People sat below staring into space while their treatments were being done.  I'm not sure if these were blood transfusions, chemo or what, but I was keeping my distance.  Imagine all of the germs (Jakie and Keri McGrath - I thought of you two the whole time)!

About 10 minutes later Nick and Penny grabbed me and said we could go in the pediatric room to wait our turn.  We think that being foreigners actually worked in our favor - Penny said we got in more quickly that normal.  But, now we had to push our way through to the doctor.  From living in both Japan and China, I have a unique ability to work my way though people traffic, so I put those skills into action (meanwhile holding a 30 lb little boy and trying not to have either of us breath in God knows what germs).  I nosed my way up to the chair where people were seen.  A mother was holding her infant who had gauze around her head.  She was so tiny and I thought about how sad it would be to think that this was the only way for your child to be seen by a doctor, even with what appeared to be a fairly serious condition.

Knowing that we had to get in and out quickly, as soon as the mother got up from the chair, and seeing a father and his child ready to pounce in the seat, I hooked my foot around the leg of the chair, pulled it toward me, used my large American hips to jump in and sat down.  The doctor was stunned, but continued to examine Alex.  She took about 3 minutes looking at him, gave him a prescription for Ceclor (a wonderful antibiotic made by Lilly!), B6, and what I think is either Tylenol or Ibuprofen. 

So, we ran out of there as fast as we could (while we were sitting there a mom and her toddler daughter came in and the little girl had an IV bag hooked up to her arm).

Nick and Penny went to get the Rx filled and I made my way outside to get away from most of the people.  It was crazy!

My guess is that he had something similar to what a lot of the kids in the US have been getting lately. I've seen several FaceBook posts from friends with vomiting kids and fever.  It was probably exasperated by the stress of the transition to being with us.

We made it back to the hotel in time to pack our bags and meet the police officer with Alex's passport.  Another family (from Salt Lake City) was waiting with us and about two minutes before the police officer arrived, he threw up all over the two of us.  We rushed into the bathroom and Nick had to run downstairs to find an extra change of clothes for me. 

And so began one of the longest hours of my life.  Since our flight was just a few hours away, and we had an hour drive to get to the airport, we had no choice but to leave.  Alex cried the entire way, but luckily, his fever broke during that time and he was actually pretty happy by the time we got to the airport.

Our flight was delayed so we had to kill three hours at the airport, but we finally made it to Guangzhou in one piece.  And, Alex has felt great and had no temperature since.  Thank God.

Yesterday (Saturday), we had our medical appointment, which we need for his visa to the US.  And, as crazy and "Chinese" healthcare as it was, it was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.  The medical center is where all of the Americans, Australians, Spanish and Swedes (the four nationalities who adopt the most Chinese children with the US adopting more than the top five combined) take their kids. At any one time, there had to be about 30-40 families waiting to see three different doctors - and, every single child had a special need.  We saw several cleft lips and palates - boys and girls - as well as a myriad of other minor and major medical issues.  All of the people we saw were Americans and we really enjoyed each other's company while waiting the 2 hours to be seen.  It was incredible to see the diverse families adopting the kids.  There were young couples, older couples who brought their other older children with them, an alternative couple with dyed hair and tatoos, and couples who had already adopted internationally and had their kids with them.  Truly, it was all I could do to not cry every 10 seconds at the love and compassion in that room.

We made it out and went to Carrefour, which was one of the big supermarkets that I used to go to in Shanghai.  My favorite moment of Carrefour besides seeing several other adoptive families searching for Oreos and milk, was when I tried asking a young worker where the diapers where.  I acted like I was putting on a diaper and pointed to Alex.  He quickly directed us to a section of the store.  We went down there with another family that we're traveling with only to discover that it was ADULT diapers!

More later.  Today and tomorrow are mostly sightseeing days, and we will try to get more pictures up soon.  It's been a challenging few days, but Alex is feeling much better, and we are counting the days until we're home!