Day 10: Just the medical stuff

KLT (taken intravenously)

Two bottles of chlorophyll solution (taken under the tongue)

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Day 10: One happy day (Mon 7 Nov)

First I’d like to give a big shout out today to the team at the Ethnic Business Awards (www.ethnicbusinessawards.com) whose awards ceremony is on in Sydney tonight. It has been a pleasure to work with Joseph Assaf and his team over the years and I am sorry that I can’t be at tonight’s gala event. Good luck to all the migrant nominees who help to make Australia’s economy what it is today. Don’t forget to keep an eye out on SBS for a two-hour feature show on the Awards in the next month or two!

Now, back to our regular programming….

Today was a good day. Our hospital visit sped by at almost the speed of light (just five hours). I had KLT and chlorophyll drops and was out of there by 3pm. No unexpected side-effects, fever or anything else. Hooray!

This morning was hilarious. Brad left the hospital to go and explore Walmart and buy me some new flannelette pyjamas, some bedsocks and a few other daily basics. So, without him there, the girls got talking… and gossiping!

My interpreter and I had a bet on the age of the ‘young’ doctor is who is attending to me. I said 32, and Allison said 27. Today my not-so-subtle nurse blurted out to the good doctor, “Jaye wants to know how old you are.” It was true enough, but I was planning to use more subversive means to find an answer to the question. He happily answered that he was born in 1979 and was therefore 32. I masked the reason for my question under the guise of needing reassurance about his competency and qualification to be able to save my life – but that was just a ruse. Really I wanted to know whether he might be a suitable companion for my interpreter who is just 25. Matchmaking is fun in any country and culture! I cleverly guided the conversation towards the Doctor’s cooking abilities, then segued into whether or not he has a wife. No wife! Jackpot!! At this point there was some discussion that I couldn’t quite understand but it seemed to go along the lines of whether I am in fact looking for a younger man to replace Brad, and whether I thought a Chinese doctor might fit the bill. We discussed it for a while then thought that since I’ve only just gotten engaged I’d really better stick with Brad J. Lol.

Slow and steady wins the race. I’ll make sure Allison and our young doctor friend have lunch later in the week. More soon.

After hospital we saw two more apartments, one of which seemed reasonable. It was very spacious compared to our hotel accommodation, with a clean kitchen and bathroom plus spare room for when I start to receive guests! We have to wait to see whether the couch actually comes as part of the furnishing for the apartment and whether they’ll accept a six month lease rather than twelve months to decide if it is worthwhile taking it or not. The bed is far, far worse than the one we currently have in the hotel. We’d actually have to buy a new mattress I think because I can’t imagine any number of soft covers would be enough to relax the concrete-like feel of the bed.

The last couple of posts have been jovial and they do reflect various occurrences in our days here. As each day passes although we’re more comfortable with the few people around us and with just being in our new surroundings, but it doesn’t make us any less scared. I have no idea if this treatment is having an impact, good or bad, or doing nothing at all. If the treatment is doing nothing, then I’m in trouble because the tumours are very fast-growing. If it is keeping them at bay, well, this is probably a better alternative than chemo but for the fact I have to be away from Australia. If it’s making my situation worse, well, enough said on that topic.

So right now we are really trying to simply have faith, hope and love.

Brad is a religious man and has found comfort in the following passage from the bible, all about faith, hope and love. I quite like a lot of it too.

St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

(ie. letter to the Church in Corinth, written in the first century probably around 70-80 AD).

1 Suppose I speak in the languages of human beings and of angels. If I don’t have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal. 2 Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains. If I don’t have love, I am nothing at all. 3 Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And suppose I give my body to be burned. If I don’t have love, I get nothing at all.

4 Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. 5 It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.

6 Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. 7 It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.

8 Love never fails. But prophecy will pass away. Speaking in languages that had not been known before will end. And knowledge will pass away.

9 What we know now is not complete. What we prophesy now is not perfect. 10 But when what is perfect comes, the things that are not perfect will pass away.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

12 Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.

13 The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

Day 9: Sunday afternoon fever (Sun 6 Nov)

Saturday night Sunday afternoon fever

We hit the hospital for a quick dose of P53 gene therapy and some KLT this morning. Our man with the drugs showed up and we handed over the 7400RMB in cash. By 3pm the infusions were nearly done and my temperature looked normal. By 345pm this was no longer the case. The shivers began and so the cycle of fevers continued. On the upside this fever didn’t seem as bad nor as prolonged as the last two. It’s 8pm now and I’m back at the hotel, so a four-hour turnaround isn’t too bad. Of course, it felt like hell at the time but there is a weird sort of intellectual component to it now so that we can estimate the stages of the fever (the shivering, the heating up, the overheating, the sweating and the cool down) in order to figure out our estimated time of escape from the hospital. I really surprised myself today with my inordinate ability to sweat. I’m not really much of a sweater, but I really soaked through my new tracksuit like a trooper. Nice.

Today they didn’t bother giving me an injection to move the fever along so we just rode it out. Well, mainly I rode it out, but poor old Brad sat there in the hospital for ten hours waiting for all the excitement to pass. In my feverish stupor I noticed that he was trying to get some practice in at Solitaire on the iPad but he still hasn’t been able to improve on my quickest time or fewest number of moves 😉 My indefatigable interpreter was there for the long haul too, even though she should’ve left early on account of her father being in town and her mother cooking a special Sunday night hot pot for the whole family.

So today was largely uneventful but I did manage to be a little bit cheeky. That is, cheeky in the Aussie sense of the word. I boldly and openly took two Panadol to help the symptoms of the fever along. Yep, I didn’t even try and hide it. What’s more, no one in the hospital tried to take the drugs off me or lock them in a cupboard so that I couldn’t get my hands on them. Ahhhh, there is a lot about this place that is quite refreshing compared to both the public and private systems in Australia.

Day 8: First day off (Sat 5 Nov)

I woke up at 8am sans alarm and felt pretty good. Tried to sleep for a while longer but to no avail – technology called. I thought I had Skype installed on my laptop already but apparently not. I desperately tried to download it because it will be easier to use via computer rather than iPad. The firewall here is pretty tough so I haven’t been able to get it on to my computer yet. Also having a lot of trouble with Facebook. My VPN crashes every time I try to open it. Might try another VPN, other than that, not really sure what to do. I can’t keep using my Blackberry on global roaming to check FB; I’m already too scared to see what my bill has amounted to and I’ve only been here a week!

I have spent a couple of hours touching base with everyone and keeping on top of my messages through various electronic means. Reminds me of the hours I used to spend in GP3 when email was brand new in universities. Oh how far we’ve come since tartarus!

There’s a part of me that wants to seize the energy that I seem to have today and head out to see the terracotta warriors which aren’t too far away. But I know that my energy levels could flag at any moment so I’d best save that day trip up for *when* I am a bit better and can handle a day without a nap. I’m going to wake Brad up soon so that we can at least catch the brand new Xian metro and head into the downtown area. We literally haven’t ventured beyond one block in this entire week. Admittedly it is a pretty damn big block, and its features include hospital, hotels, the never-to-be-mentioned-again massage place, department store, supermarket, laundry, KFC (no, we haven’t had any) and various other of life’s essentials. But enough’s enough. Time to go and see what else this little village of eight million people has to offer.

The metro stop is a short walk from our hotel so we got there and managed to buy ourselves a ticket from the self-service machine (complete with English translations) as well as figure out in which direction to catch the subway. There were pats on the back all round. Knowing which direction to go at the other end was a bit of pot luck. I insisted that we should “follow the crowds.” Um, yep. Since there were crowds as far as the eye could see, this wasn’t a particularly helpful suggestion. The subway had more helpful red flashing signs indicating the direction to the Belltower (famous icon in Xian), the shopping plaza and a few other bits and pieces. We got ourselves to the shopping plaza across the road from the Belltower (we weren’t in the mood for doing the touristy thing today) and thought we’d buy a few essentials; another tracksuit for me to slouch around the hospital in and a backpack to carry our daily needs between home and hospital. We went in to the shops which looked like any ordinary David Jones store, only about four times bigger. We didn’t want to get too carried away with shopping since this was meant to be more of a relaxing recon mission to suss out the lay of the land. We flicked over price tags here and there and things started not to add up (or should I say, they really started to add up). We were both dumbfounded to find that whatever kind of mall we were in had prices over and above the already ridiculously inflated prices of Perth. We’re talking $50 for a Hanes t-shirt, and $800 for a fairly plain looking men’s lightweight winter jacket. The Samsonite luggage was $350-450 a pop, much like home, and the tracksuit gear was about $80-90 a piece. I was starting to feel very poor.

We got out of that place as quickly as possible, but very bemused about who exactly is buying all this Western-priced merchandise. Surely not people on Chinese wages? I will park this musing for another day.
Further along the street we found a pedestrian mall with a variety of shops. My eagle eye for a bargain spotted a second-level Adidas outlet store, so I got a few new tracksuit pieces to keep me going. It wasn’t exactly “cheap” as we Westerners might imagine China to be cheap, but the stuff was priced similarly to what we might find in a discount outlet shop at home.

Thank you McDonalds and 7-Eleven

I must make a special thank you to the McDonalds Corporation and to 7-Eleven in this edition of the blog. I am indebted to the global conglomerate, and probably not for the first time. You see, I neglected to mention earlier that Brad had been up most of last night with… how shall I say it… loose bowels. A sort of Bali-belly, Chinese style, if you will. Of course I showed the requisite concern this morning after I had slept like a baby and he was tired from being a jack in the box between the bed and the loo. But my turn came. And it came when I was in the middle of the mall. There was of course no time to waste. As “that feeling” came upon me I knew what had to be done. First, find a loo. Scan the area… McDonalds. Ding. Public toilets in China don’t have toilet paper. Scan the area… 7-Eleven. We hightailed it there, bought some tissues, then headed over to Mickey Dee’s. Brad went off to twiddle his thumbs and I waited in the queue. Oddly, the queue had very few people in it, but it was probably one of the longest waits I have had for a toilet in a very long time. I have no idea what those women were doing in the toilets for soooooooo long. After a few knocks on the doors by me and the other woman who was waiting I finally got my turn. I navigated the squat toilet with as much precision as I could muster and got out of there as quickly as possible. Crisis averted. So, like I said. Thank you McDonalds. You may not sell real food, but you definitely provide a valuable service.