Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Obligatory Spaghetti Shot

From June 2011

Why use utensils when hands are just so much more efficient?

Sunday, June 26, 2011


It's a good thing Lizzy is finally getting over her pneumonia because we added a fun addition to our household for the summer! A very sweet dog named Cocoa.

From June 2011

Cocoa's owners are on home leave for the summer, and we offered to watch her until they get back in August. The offer was two fold--number 1, to help them out. The second reason is because Lizzy Ann LOVES dogs. And cats. And anything else with four legs. Her favorite thing to do is to play to the "Animal Sounds" app on Daddy's phone. All she has to do is touch the screen and the current animal will say its respective sound. It has arrows for her to switch between animals. It entertains her endlessly.

Well, the sad part is that while there are many dogs around us all the time, I am slightly leery of letting her play with just any dog in the park. Vaccines are less common around here, and a bite usually requires a rabbis shot and maybe a flight to Hong Kong...not something I want to inflict on my toddler. We will probably get her the rabbis vaccination in August just in case, as recommended by our doctor.

So I'm very excited to have a furry little one for her to chase around of whom we know the history! Cocoa is still warming up to Lizbeth, but Lizzy is all for Cocoa...and Cocoa's food...and water...and bed...luckily Cocoa is very patient.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Living in a Cloud

Although the weather here has in general been very nice, the other day I looked out the window and saw this.

From June 2011

From June 2011

Luckily it only lasted a few hours. The strange thing is that it was only over our apartment complex. Separately Nathan and I took walks in opposite directions and it only lasted as far as the edges of our complex. Weird?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ingredients for health

Our daily routine for treating Lizzy's pneumonia.

One doctor visit to hear Lizzy's lungs.
One hospital breathing treatment.
Three doses of two pills each, diluted in water and dropper fed (only way she'll take it since she's sworn off any predictable eating and drinking), evenly spaced throughout the day, including a midnight course.
Three doses of Robitussin.
One at home breathing treatment broken up into two sessions since the at home nebulizer takes three times as long (about 45 mins)

Can I say we're tired? Hoping this is over soon. Thankfully Lizzy is back to her sweet and energetic personality and has started eating and drinking a little this afternoon! And no fever since last Saturday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Fun Camera and An Interesting Fruit

One of the more interesting fruits we have here (that I had never seen in the US but I'm sure it's around) is pictured below. For the life of me I can't remember the Chinese name, but I think Nathan calls it "litchee" in English. It has a hard bumpy shell, and inside a translucent, very sweet, very wet fruit similar to the texture of a grape. The very center is a pit about the size of an almond.

Well, I just got a fancy new SLR and I've been playing around with it. I'm very excited about it, my only regret is not getting it years ago! I'm totally a novice, so have patience with me as I put up my silly experiments over the next few months!

From June 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rooming In

Although we declined to admit Lizbeth to the hospital, we wanted to take her pneumonia seriously. Her room is about as far as you can get from ours, and I was a bit afraid of her having trouble in the middle of the night and not being able to hear her. In fact, the first night, before she was diagnosed pneumonia and we knew she was seriously sick, we put her to bed with Iburprofen and went to bed ourselves thinking we would hear her if she needed us. Well, I didn't wake up until she was screaming at 6 AM with a 104.7 or higher fever.

Unfortunately, we don't have a pack'n'play to easily put her in our room. We borrowed a friend's when she was small, and returned it to them when they had their newborn boy. However, one of the caveats of renting our apartment is using Landlord furniture, for better or for worse (a bit for worse since she has SO MUCH furniture, but most of it is actually pretty nice). Included in this is a futon in her room.

From June 2011

Yep, it's a strange brown zebra print. It's normally covered in a blanket, but for this picture I wanted you to have the full effect. Thankfully, it's actually REALLY comfortable (more comfortable than our guest bed, actually). And it's been kinda fun rooming in with Lizbeth. Certainly has made our every three hour fever check and medicine doses a lot easier!

By the way, she is doing a LOT better. Her high fevers are almost non-existent, and today she has been relatively comfortable and happy. We have a follow-up appointment tomorrow but we expect to have only good news.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Doctor, Doctor

One of the things I hate most, perhaps the thing I hate THE most, is when we have to go to the doctor.

Chinese modern medicine is about the level of the 50's in the States. Which means, antibiotics for everything (even viral), IV's whenever possible, and no gloves when they take blood...

Even when I do go, I find I always second guess them, often choosing not to use the medicine they prescribe (not appropriate for babies, doesn't work on viruses, ect).

Luckily, we have an International Clinic which hosts two American doctors, a western taught Cantonese doctor, and a semi western trained Chinese pediatrician. The two American doctors I LOVE (but only work a few half days), the Cantonese doctor is pretty good, and the Chinese pediatrician...well, the verdict is still out, but she tends to be more traditional (over prescribing) than I would like. She's also a little hard to communicate with since English is her second language.

So when Lizbeth woke up from a nap with an out of the blue 104.4 fever on Tuesday afternoon, I didn't know what to do. The two American doctors only have morning hours, and couldn't it just be viral? We decided to wait it out.

Our friend, an RN, gave us suggestions for things to look out for and ways to keep her fever down, but by Thursday, it was still raging (101 half hour after Iburprofen or Tylenol were given and 103-104 three hours later). I decided to go ahead and take her in, though the only available doctor was the pediatrician. I was happy with her though, she ran a blood test to determine it was bacterial before prescribing antibiotics and overall was very helpful.

But when Lizbeth deteriorated the next day (still raging fevers, clingy, and a terrible cough), I was really hoping to get in to see the American doctor in office. If nothing else, just to get answers to my questions. What kind of bacterial infection? How long before she should show improvement? What do I do about her not eating or drinking? No luck, he was booked solid.

And when the Chinese doctor diagnosed pneumonia and immediate admittance to the hospital, how do we know what is best? On the one hand, we completely do not trust this hospital. What if she got something worse while there? In the past year, there have been so many problems of mistreatment with our friends, we knew we REALLY didn't want to do that. Not to mention hooking my very active and hates to be held daughter up to an IV would no doubt be traumatizing. On the other hand, what if it is really needed? Wouldn't I hate myself forever if something worse happened and we chose not to?

After consulting with our friend the nurse again (who also has had extensive experience with this hospital) we decided not to admit. The X-ray showed only slight pneumonia, her blood tests were actually showing improvement, and we only live 3 blocks away if we have to return. Two hours later, with a limp and miserable toddler fitfully sleeping on my lap, I was questioning my decision.

PTL, just a couple hours after that, her fever miraculously broke, she woke up, wanted to eat and drink for the first time that day, and got down to play. Her fever has been gone since then and she seems to be improving! We're still monitoring her closely (we slept in her room on the futon last night), but praying that in this case, we are able to avoid the hospital.

What's most frustrating about this, is the decisions we have to make with a very limited medicine background (and by that, I mean none). If we were in the states and they wanted to admit, almost without fail I would trust them. If nothing else, it's common practice to ask for a second opinion if we really questioned them. Here I'm trying to balance cultural tolerance (not offending the attending doctor), with common sense and my own medical values. The thought has actually occurred to me to carry rubber gloves with me to request them to use before drawing my daughter's blood. Can you imagine what they would think? On the other hand, I'm risking my daughter's health here, with possible lifelong consequences.

Like I said, my least favorite part of living abroad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


A few days before returning to China, I was lamenting the idea of having to spend an overnight in Korea by myself with Lizzy. I knew that there wouldn't be enough time to do any touring, and also that I would have to uncheck my huge 50+ pound monstrosities. My first idea was to just stay at the hotel in the airport, but at $140 that just seemed too expensive for a single night.

Then I remembered my tickets were flexible return. And I had a brilliant idea. Could I extend my stay in Korea a few nights, and how much would a ticket for Nathan to fly over cost? While it took a little convincing of him (how much fun would I really have touring Seoul while jetlagging, anyways?), a few phone calls, and an hour on the internet trying to choose a hotel, only a few hundred dollars later we had ourselves a mini vacation in a country we had wanted to see while we are here in East Asia. His ticket only cost $275 round trip (we can't even fly Texas to Oregon for that much!), and it only cost me $18 dollars to change my ticket (not really a fee, just a departure tax from Korea since I was staying longer than 24 hours).

I hate posting links instead of embedding the pictures for you all, but there are just too many to share. We had a really nice time, although I was tired. My only regret is that we didn't have enough time to contact any of our students to see them, but there's always next time! We'll have to see what other countries we can arrange a free layover in :-)