Friday, October 7, 2011

Our 1st Appt. with the Rehab Dr.

Yesterday, we had our 1st of many appointments to assess Mei Li's spine and foot issues. Dr. Charlie Law, who specializes in rehabilitating children (and adults) with special orthopedic (spinal) needs, gave Mei Li a thorough check-up. He first noted that there appears to still be a fatty tumor on her spine and in the next couple of months, we will be scheduled with a neurologist for an MRI of her spine at the Spina Bifida clinic. The concern with this fatty tumor? Tethering of the spine--which could cause paralysis and incontinence. We definitely don't want that for our Mei Li, so we hope to get that MRI scheduled as quickly as possible.

Secondly, he took a look at her little foot. Although there is a scar from a previous surgery done on her Achilles tendon while in China, they did not do anything more to correct the club foot. As the foot is currently, Dr. Law says it will be very difficult to brace. It turns in too much and is not very flexible. He said that he guesses that surgery will be required to correct her foot. However, he said he would not expect them to do any kind of surgery to correct the clubbing of the foot until her wound is completely healed. It is a pressure ulcer, caused by the plastic orthosis. This orthosis is a generic one just pulled off the shelf. He said that for Mei Li (and her foot's position), she would have to have a custom-made orthosis. The one that they had for her did not fit her foot properly--and would certainly cause that kind of wound. Then, he removed some of the dead tissue on her wound so that it could breathe and have a chance to heal. A pressure ulcer will only heal if pressure is removed. Her walking on it causes pressure. And the dead tissue causes pressure. Basically, in a perfect world, she should not walk on it at all. Ha!!!! Try explaining that to my little live-wire, Mei Li! ;-) AND, she weighs 32 pounds---a SOLID 32 pounds. Mommy's back and arms are not strong enough to carry her everywhere. Whew!!
So, he scheduled us to have an appointment with Dr. Corey, an orthopedic surgeon, this coming Monday at 10 a.m. Dr. Law says that it is possible that Dr. Corey may want to cast her foot right now to make it impossible for her to walk--to allow that wound to heal. We shall see. We will also find out if Dr. Corey thinks surgery is required to correct her foot, OR if she will be able to be casted and corrected.

Mei Li is doing great in her new home, and it is obvious she loves her family. It goes without saying that we love her too!!! And, she did amazingly well at her first Dr. appointment. We were lucky enough to have Shyenti (our Mandarin teacher and dear friend) go with us to the appointment, so she was able to talk with Mei Li and explain (in her language) what was going on. I believe that made a world of difference in keeping Mei Li calm and happy. We are ever so thankful for our friend, Shyenti and her sweet family!!! Her friendship is only one of the many ways God has blessed us on this journey.

I know many of you have been wondering about Thursday's appointment, and I will update again once we have our meeting with the orthopedic surgeon on Monday!! Have a great weekend, everyone!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Home with our Mei Li

Anna Grace (Jeh Jeh) and Mei Li (Mei Mei)
We have been home now for a full day with our Mei Li, and day 2 is looking great! The flight home went without a hitch, and Mei Li was a trooper!! The only drawback is that she was SO excited that she refused to sleep the entire 14 1/2 hour flight until the very last 30 minutes!! That made for a very exhausted Mei Li (and mom and dad!! ;) But, I'm telling you. . . this little girl was dancing around the airport pointing to planes out the window singing a song we made up about "fay-gee-luhs" (airplanes). It was funny to watch ! Geoff got video of this little dance, so be sure to enjoy it as much as we did! It should be appearing in the upper right window of "Our China Videos" as soon as YouTube processes it. Fingers crossed. ;)

We were awake for 31 hours straight from the time we awoke to get ready to catch our flight until we landed in Birmingham. We are still recovering from the jet lag. It is pretty wicked, right now. We try to catch a nap in the afternoon for an hour and a half and then go to bed at a good time in the evening to get back on a U.S. clock. Well, we find it is really difficult to take "only" an hour and a half nap in the afternoon (given that is night time in China). You tend to want to sleep all afternoon and into the night. And, when you go to bed at night, you only want to sleep a few hours. This morning, Mei Li awoke me at 3:23 ready to start her day! We listened to music, I taught her some new English words, we talked about her new pets (which have terrified her until today), and I told her about her doctor's appointment tomorrow to assess her foot and spine. It was fantastic bonding time, and I used my Jibbigo App. on my Iphone to tell her all of these things. She listened and nodded. I believe she understood the majority of what I was telling her. For my friends who are travelling overseas (to adopt or for business or pleasure), the Jibbigo App is a LIFESAVER!!! For $5, it is worth every penny.

Tomorrow, we take Mei Li to Dr. Charlie Law who is a specialist at the Spina Bifida clinic. He is amazing, from what we have been told. He specializes in both children and adults with special needs. We are eager to hear his assessment of Mei Li's back and her foot--and, he'll also let us know exactly what needs to be done for Mei Li's wound on her foot. Before we can correct her turned-in foot, we'll have to get that wound healed. It is a nasty pressure ulcer caused by the orthosis that was ordered for her foot in China. I have been very worried about this wound, as it is like NOTHING I've ever seen before. But, Geoff tells me he has seen this kind of wound in the hospital. It literally is a hole in her foot. The first time I saw it, I gasped. We've been cleaning it daily and using Neosporin ointment on it until we could get to a specialist in the States. I have been so worried infection would set in and cause bigger problems. Let's pray tomorrow will bring good news for her healing and recovery!! :)

The night we arrived in Birmingham with Mei Li (after 31 hours of no sleep), my family met us at the airport. Aunt Emmalie and Uncle Scott had a big bag of brand new clothes for Mei Li and pretty hair bows. Mom and Miss Kitty (our dear family friend) had a couple of dolls for Mei Li. It was like Christmas for her!! Of course, Mei Li has never experienced Christmas or a birthday or being showered with presents in any way. This was "HER MOMENT" that she had waited 4 1/2 years to experience. Little Ramsey (my precious niece) was so excited about Mei Li's clothes that she kept pulling them out of the bag for Mei Li to see. Her mama told her to stop and let Mei Li open her gifts. Ramsey got her feelings hurt and went to grandma's lap and cried. Immediately, Mei Li looks up from her gift bag and locks eyes on Ramsey. She drops her presents and walks over to Ramsey. . . wraps her arms around her and kisses her on the cheek. I still tear-up every time I think about this little girl who has never had any material things, dropping her treasure bag to run comfort someone she sees is sad. How about that? I think we could all learn a little lesson about life from this little one!! I know I am :).

Another sweet moment? Tonight, she was sitting at the table eating some Wonton Soup and some dumplings her daddy brought to her from the Chinese restaurant. She's happily stuffing her little mouth, and I'm at the refrigerator pouring some milk and I hear her say, "Womun jiah. Womun jiah". . . translated (Our home. Our home) . I sure do hope our Mei Li loves her new home. We are so happy she is with us!!

New pics coming soon!! Thanks for following :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

So Long Hong Kong, So Long China

We took the train to Hong Kong yesterday from Guabgzhou. It was a beautiful ride through the country very spacious (we even had a little table where we could play cards). After 36 hours in HK, we are absolutely ready to come home though. It has been an amazing 3 weeks in China that will stay in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives, but we couldn't be more eager to see U.S. soil!!! I just may make a scene at the Detroit airport and get on my hands and knees and kiss the ground. ;o)

Hong Kong has been an interesting stop on our journey, but after a 3 week tour of mainland China, and a little person who is brand new to our family, I would forego the Hong Kong stop if I were to do this again. The weather here has been less than ideal (typhoons off the coast), and it is confusing to get around if you're a newbie. To get where we need to go, there are subways and ferries and trams and taxis, and it seems there are at least 2 (if not more) transitions between different transportation modes for each trip out the door. To go to Victoria's Peak, we left at 10 a.m. and got back to our hotel at 4:00. Our day consisted of a taxi ride, a ferry ride, a bus ride, and a tram ride up to the peak. And, then the same thing back to the hotel. Masses of people everywhere! And, standing in line for the tram was pretty rough. The weather is steamy and the air was still and people were "wall to wall". It was hard to breathe. And, the line didn't move "at all" for probably at least 20 minutes. Anna Grace and I both began to feel dizzy standing in that mass of people. I'm sure it was a lack of O2 and all the carbon dioxide we were breathing in. Once we moved through, it got better.

I think Hong Kong most certainly has MUCH MORE to offer than we had the time or energy or resources to discover. If you choose to do Hong Kong, my suggestion is (especially if you have little ones who have bathroom emergencies or motion sickness), it is worth the extra dollars to pay for a taxi to get where you need to go instead of the "el cheapo" subway (which is much less $$, but if you are not familiar with subways and their system, can lead you on a wild goose chase and take MUCH longer to get where you need to go. . . and if you get lost, good luck finding someone who speaks English to help you). Without children, it probably is not so bad trying to figure out the subway. If you have a tour guide, I'm sure you will see and experience the very best of Hong Kong, with much less drama ;). And, if you can manage, try to go when there are no typhoons in the vicinity or it isn't a national holiday (this week second in folks traveling only to Chinese New Year we're told). This is the only city we haven't had a guide. And, I'm sure that's why we struggled more here.

Yesterday, after arriving in HK, we went (blindly and without a plan) out to find the Outback Steakhouse. Yes, I said Outback!!! ;) Haha!!! After 3 weeks in mainland China eating every form of Chinese food possible, a good steak from back home sounded like HEAVEN!!! In a city that has an Outback, surely it will be easy to find!!! HA!!!!
We decided to take the subway (how hard could that be?? Right???) Well, I'm sure all of my NYC and Chicago friends will laugh at us, but for those of us who don't use the subway regularly (or ever), it is a learned art form! :D And, we had to learn it on the spot where most everything was written in Chinese!!! So, we stood at the ticket machine trying to figure out how to purchase tickets for the 4 of us, and how much HK $$ for an embarrassing amount of time. Finally, we figured it out (after several attempts). Then, it was time to put our tickets in the turnstalls. I put mine and Mei Li's in and went through (with Mei Li in her stroller)---bad idea!! We got stuck in the turnstall. I'm horrified and embarrassed, and Geoff had to come around and help unstick us. ;) Haha!! Then, it was time to go down to the trains. The signs are in Chinese and there are two different tracks. Which way to get to the area of town we needed to get to??? Thankfully, a very nice Chinese man who spoke English helped us to know which train to take. We got on and rode a while, had to get on another subway to get to our destination. Then, the hike began to come up to street level and find the Outback. Masses and masses of people!!! We walk and walk and no Outback. We're looking at our map and trying to read street names and figure out where to go. And, between the crowds and our cluelessness about where we where, we were just wandering for a good little while. We asked several people for help, but no one seemed to know how to help us. And, apparently, Outback is not a place the Chinese people of Hong Kong frequent much!!! Go figure!! ;) Finally, we ended back up at the subway and went under the road to come back out the other side. The winds are HOWLING!! There has been a typhoon that has passed Hong Kong about 24 hours before we arrived, and another one off the coast. So, our hair is literally standing on end as we're walking the streets on our Outback quest. OH!!! And, along the way I get pooped on by a passing pigeon. Yes. . . I wasn't even aware of it until Anna Grace came up to me and rested her cheek on my arm and pulled away saying, "GROSS!! What is that on your arm?" Poor child put her face in bird poo!!!! Hahaha!!! After what seemed an eternity of walking, and howling winds, and bird poo. . . we FINALLY came to the Outback. Let me warn you, it is more expensive than in the U.S. The Victoria's Filet is about $28 U.S. dollars at this one (about $10 more than back home). But, as tired and exhausted and frustrated and STARVED as we were, it was the most delicious food we had tasted in weeks and worth the extra $$.
While we were eating our dinner and watching the trees bend sideways out the window in the gale-force winds, we made the decision to say "to heck with the subway!!" on the way back. We hailed a cab!! :) The cab driver was an interesting man, as soon as he began to speak, he reminded me of a cross between the laughing hyena from Lion King and a Chinese Jeff Goldbloom look-alike!!! He had very thick glasses, had bad acne scars and had a hard time reading the address of our hotel we handed him. He looked at it and said "Sorry, know little English...hahaheeheeheeheehee!". He was truly a character, and at first I thought, "What have we gotten ourselves into?? Is this guy going to get us back to the hotel?" But, he did!!!! And, he was a happy soul. . . and I was SOOOOO thankful for him and his cab!!

SO, the take-away for all of my friends to follow in our steps to Hong Kong:

1. In our opinion, the taxi is worth the extra money if you're a newbie to subways and if you are traveling with small children.
2. Hiring a tour guide OR travelling in a group will be less stressful and less confusing if you can manage
3. If you do venture out on your own, do some homework and have a plan before you just step out into Hong Kong! :)
4. Guangzhou is a "kid friendly" city with much to do with children. Hong Kong is a big city and doesn't seem to cater as much to little ones, at least where we went.

Okay. . . gotta get some mouths fed!! And pack for tomorrow morning's flight to the U.S!!! Woohoo!!!

China, you have been a beautiful blessing to our family and we have loved meeting you, but our own homeland is calling to us and awaits us. We are very ready to be back home again. :) Geoff said he hears Dr. Peppers calling his name.