...Just a Reminder...This story builds FROM THE BOTTOM UP...so if you're joining late, be sure to catch up by reading from the beginning...Thanks.

In case you're interested, we invite you to read Kyle's Story and Dylan's Story

Become a "Follower"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Pictures

Here are a few photos from the last couple of days...

The Boys had a chance to visit Ashley Last week...

Fun with Dad's reading glasses...

Despite all she's been through, she can still do this!!

The Original Spiderman (a.k.a. Dylan) - the one in the back is an imposter (note that he's running away!).

Ironman (a.k.a. Kyle)

At the Goddard School Party after the Halloween Parade

Hamming it up again; this time with Mom's Glasses!

Ashley was the hit of the CHOP Halloween Parade around the 4th Floor!

She really had a blast being a Bee!

I thought for sure that the headband would be on the floor!!
But she kept it on the whole time!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Morning - another day in the life of a CHOP Baby!

Happy Saturday and Halloween weekend!!

Ashley is awake and well this a.m. since 7:30 a.m. (after a long night for Mom due to her shared roommates not going to bed until after 12:30 a.m., talking on the phone loudly until then and talking to each other and their keeping their lights on all night!)  When I told the nurses that I needed the "spotlight" from their side taken off of the baby, I was politely told that unfortunately it was THEIR room (or side of the room) so they didn't have to change anything!!  Did I mention that we'll be really happy when we are able to be discharged?!!!

Now, that Ashley is back on solid foods, she continues to eat like a hungry football player -- she becomes very happy and smiley when she knows that the food tray is coming around!!  It's like a restaurant here; there's a 6-7 page menu of all items from breakfast to dessert and drinks.  Kids can have as much as they want pretty much any time that they want it.  Of course, as we know by now, with the food intake, Ashley's stomach begins to bloat like a basketball, so she'll be watched carefully over the day.  The food and bloat are definitely very related events. 

She had more blood work run this morning, had another weigh-in - gained a few more ounces (yeah!) and will have another flush-out later today (I am sure she cannot wait).  According to the resident that I spoke to this morning, we'll be here until at least Monday (and hopefully only Monday!)  Then we'll have some at-home procedural work and she'll be brought back in after a few weeks for biopsy of some additional areas.  Once the biopsies start, then we should have a really good idea of what is happening.  Unfortunately, with her condition, you have to run one test at a time to rule out things, before you actually can determine what is going on with her.

In the meantime, we had a cruise down to the playroom full of everything that you can think of (art supplies, toys, videos, games, blocks, TV etc.) and she is having a good time playing with the toy phone that I got her and looking at books with pictures of babies in them.  She also loves bubbles, as we discovered this morning! That was quite exhausting, so she is taking a short catnap before the next meal arrival.

Not to forget the boys, Aunt Rita was able to stay with Ashley for a few hours yesterday, while both Charlie and I got to Goddard to see the Halloween Parade.  Ironman (Kyle) and Spiderman (Dylan) had a great parade and after-party. They both thought that they should keep their costumes on to go to a restaurant (which we persuaded them not to do) and then play in them this weekend.  They are off to a friend's birthday party tonight (pumpkin patch and hayride) and then we'll do trick-or-treat with them tomorrow night.  Both Kyle and Dylan seemed glad to get back to school after almost a month off. 

Charlie is the picture man, so I'll have him post pictures (new of Ashley and the boys) later on tonight when he gets here. 

Thanks for all of the support and thoughts. We really cannot wait to get home soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Morning Update

Hi there, C here,

"It's 4 AM and All is Well..."

Good morning from CHOP.  It's very early on Friday and all's well in the land of nod.  Ashley's sleeping very soundly after eating and/or slurping her first semi-solid food meal since Monday.  She dined on a bowl of light broth, a couple of frozen popsicles, and a cup of blueberry water ice. She passed on the orange yogurt - don't blame her, I guess...the color was a bit "otherworldly orange"...it tasted fine but I don't think she could get past the color!  Her little tummy filled quickly and she rested for a little while lying in her bed before closing her eyes for the night around 9PM.

She faded off the the sweet sounds of the the Stan Kenton Orchestra: "Portraits on Standards" - thanks for the music, Poppa from Michigan.  We pipe the tunes into the crib through a set of headphones that we hang on the side rail near the head of the bed.  If you set the volume at about 85% it winds up being perfect for her little ears.  Every time we do this, I have clear memories of doing the exact same thing with Kyle right after he joined us in China when he was trying to fall asleep in his hotel cribs in China.  Except that Kyle really seemed to enjoy the Vince Guaraldi Trio and "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  All of the kids also enjoy a collection of Chinese Lullabies by the Beijing Angelic Choir.  It's a wonderful little group of songs that's perfect for falling to sleep to.

It's one day at a time, for right now.  Ashley's test on Thursday (yesterday, I think...) was a positive (meaning "good") result, or so we're told.  It apparently didn't result in any of the doctor's rubbing their chins and saying "Hmmm, I wonder what THAT is?"  or  "Oh my Gosh, what is THAT.  Dr. Welby please come have a look - you've gotta SEE this thing!"  --  None of that.  This effectively allows a few things to be eliminated from the potential list of things it MIGHT be.

The next steps are additional tests that hopefully begin to zero in on what is bothering this beautiful little girl.  She was an absolute trooper for her last test, sharing smiles and giggles with M&D and the nurses on the way down to the testing room and on the way back to the room as well.

The Geges (Ashley's big Brothers) visited her last night here at CHOP.  Grandmom and PopPop drove them down in the early evening.  They had a great visit and picked up Ashley's spirits with a quick trip to the playroom on our floor.  They went home with Mom to sleep in their own room in preparation for their big Halloween Parade today at school - and to give  G'Mom & Pop a break!!!  They really did enjoy their sleepovers and are already wondering when they can do it again!  Thank you very much to Grandmom & Pop for looking after them - and feeding them new things!!  Dylan apparently LOVES fish sticks, Kyle has a fondness for Tilapia, and the they both apparently loved the liverwurst that G'Mom & Pop had as an appetizer the other day!  Who woulda thunk!

It's a little after 4:30 now and I think I'm awake for the day.  The room is dark and fairly quiet, but seems alive with the low, humming, mechanical sounds of IV pumps, the air conditioning, the cooling fan from the little netbook computer I'm using.  The semi-silence is punctuated by the reliable hissing of Ashley's blood pressure cuff as it inflates every 15 minutes to take a reading.  And occasionally, as just happened a moment ago, an alarm may go off on one of the many sensors/monitors tirelessly at work on Ashley and her roomie.  And finally, every now and then, we'll be treated to the light snoring of her bunkmate's dad, who has pulled the sleepover shift for last night.

The room is not so bad for sleeping (the pad on the couch/bed is comfortable but got a little sticky when I turned over in my sleep).  Beats the crap out of the hard windowsill and plastic molded chairs of the Queen Mary Hospital in HK.  There is ample storage space for overnight items, bags, backpacks and coats and a little lighted cubby / workspace for computers & such.

I visited the Family Resource Center yesterday to send a fax to HK and had a great conversation with Crystal who helped me dial out.  (Of course, the fax number they gave me rings endlessly without picking up!!! I'll try to get to the bottom of that next.)  In general, the staff has been exceptional here at CHOP and we feel very fortunate to be here.

So I guess that's it for now...as we continue our quest for answers and normalcy.

We'll keep y'all as updated as we can.
Thanks for following.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Few Ashley Photos...

Enjoying some yogurt at the "Large" Kitchen Table-  before our CHOP Adventure

With Gege Kyle

With Gege Dylan

Resting Comfortably (between pokes & prods) on Wednesday.
Love the hair!

Ashley with her "Game Face" On...
Winning over the staff, one by one, with the smile!
(This is on Thursday afternoon...)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"We're Goin' to Disneyland (Hong Kong)!!"

Wednesday Update

Hi there, C here,

It's been a couple of days since our last update...

So here we are again, in the hospital - however this time we are fortunate to be in the best children's hospital in the country & possibly the world.  We are very lucky that we have found ourselves associated with the wonderful folks at CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia).  We may have mentioned Kyle and Dylan's fondness for "CHOP Playdates" - that are held periodically by Miss Amy as part of the CHOP International Adoption Program.  They (and we) really enjoy the experiences that they've had with these playdates.

As for Miss Ashley...

After her initial emergency office consultation on Monday, Ashley was admitted as a regular patient yesterday to begin preparations for further evaluation and treatment.  It took about half a day to be able to secure a bed on the floor that she needed but we got it around noon yesterday.  Lisa spent last night at her bedside.  I was here late last night and I have been here since about 7AM this morning.  Things are going well and the focus is on preparing and strengthing her for any surgical procedure that may be required.

The boys are really enjoying their "sleepover" days with Grandmom & Pop - almost as G'Ma & Pop are!!!  They have been busy with activities all day and their behavior has been nothing short of excellent.  They slept 12 hours (!!) last night.  We are very proud of them, especially in light of what Ashley's been going through.  They are very supportive of their Meimei and always want us to say Hi to her and make sure we tell her about what they're doing!

Ashley seems to be in pretty good spirits considering what she's going through.  You can tell by her reactions and demeanor that she is somewhat aware of what's happening and has had some experience with hospitals and their routines.

The next big step is an important diagnostic test tomorrow morning.  The results of this test will determine her plan for the next several days.

So we're sitting by as Ashley sleeps off the effects of the "calming drugs" that she was given earlier today for the insertion of her PICC.  She has grown to be a bit of a favorite already among the nurses and assistants on her floor because she waves bye-bye when they leave and has had lots of bright smiles to go around.  Very encouraging for us...!  The CHOP staff has been very caring and considerate to us and to Ashley - THANKS EVERYONE!

We will likely be be relieved by AR this evening, who's offered to work the overnight shift for us, so Lisa can get a night at home.  AR is in withdrawal since she has been so close with Ashley over the last few weeks, but has not seen her in a few days.

In the meantime, we'll try to post some more photos of the boys from their excellent adventure with AR at Hong Kong Disneyland last week.

More coming soon...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back to the Hospital (again)

Hi all -

Just a quick post for tonight - all of us are still suffering from some sort of jet lag after 2 days of being home. 

We spent today rushing around a bit trying to get things organized and then we saw Ashley's Doctor at CHOP today and she is being admitted to the hospital (CHOP Main) tomorrow a.m.  She continues to weaken and needs immediate nutrition, so she'll go in to be strengthened, have further tests run and then determine next step actions.  Unfortunately, as Ashley takes in food, her condition worsens so it's a catch-22 that must be monitored very closely.  Hopefully, we can then get on a better road to recovery, as the poor little girl is just feeling horrible and not in good spirits. 

The boys will be with their grandparents in Philadelphia for a few days, while we determine a plan for the next several days, as we speak further with Ashley's doctor and her treatments.

We will keep everyone posted as we know more.

Thank you again for all of the kind emails and posts. We appreciate them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday on the Plane & Home

This part is an off-line post...
We're coming to you at about 35,000 feet on our way (about 30 minutes into the flight) from LA to PHL.  We have a few hours to kill, hopefully with naps, DS Games, etc...

This morning was a bit of a challenge, since Lisa had some trouble yesterday re-booking our flights for this morning.  We had to wait about 30 minutes at the ticket counter before they finally got it straight.

We grabbed some quick breakfast (coffee & Bagels) at the airport as we waited for the flight to board.  We were able to board right away - due to the kids.  By my eyeball, the flight is only about 40% full.  The baby is exhausted and has been nodding off in her huge (comparatively speaking) seat - we've got sweatshirts all around her so when her head bobs she won't hit the armrests.
Kyle just finished up with his DS game, and decided to lie down to rest (NOT SLEEP!)  Since the flight is not full, he was very happy to be able to move over and have the window seat.  Across the aisle, Lisa is surrounded by Dylan at he window (engrossed in his DS) and Ashley.

The past week in GZ, HK and LA has been tremendously challenging and trying as we juggled everything to make sure we're able to get the baby home as quickly as possible.  Our "family time" in southern CA will have to be rescheduled, but the boys were very understanding of this, especially since they had such a good time with AR at HK Disneyland.

As I think I mentioned before, Lisa and I are disappointed as well, since our few days of lower stress family time were very memorable for K & D's trips.  But our primary concern is Ashley.

It's hard to believe that this trip is drawing to a close.  As the events of the last week have unfolded, when we're in the moment, it seems like the time can't move fast enough.  For instance, each early morning hour on Tuesday morning when we were waiting for the first doctors to look at Ashley felt like it hung on the clock for three times as long.

On the flip side, much of the time we spent sightseeing (between official appointments), like our day at the Big Buddha, seemed to race by, sliding into the history of the trip much faster than it should have.  Thankfully, we again have a full library of photos to look back on and relive each moment.  This time though we have TWO cameras full of memories, once through AR's eyes in addition to our own.

We're tired, we've run out of clean clothes, and we are SO looking forward to seeing our own home through the windshield as we round the corner after coming down the hill.  In a few hours, we'll be walking back up the Jetway, and back out of the terminal that we walked into just a few days ago (or so it seems).  As we started this trip and we were walking TOWARD our first flight from PHL to SF, that's what I told AR - that's the point where it hits me - how fleeting these moments (or weeks) really are.  I told her in "In about three weeks, we'll be walking the other direction, we'll have a new member of our family, and it will seem like it was yesterday."    We're home and it does.
Stay tuned for new photos from the tail end of the trip...

Thanks for following along...we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

From Home after our drive from the airport...

We made it home just fine, after being joyously greeted by Grandmom & PopPop ("the ones that live next to us") and Uncle Sean.  Thanks to them for having our car ready at the airport with the baby's car seats and the boy's boosters.

AR went to their house to fetch her car and drive home herself.  I hope she sleeps well tonight.  She deserves it as much as anyone.

On the way home, the boys were somewhat chatty and I'm sure Ashley was silently contemplating what type of hotel we would be staying in tonight!  And for the first time, Lisa and I were able to look in the rear-view mirror and see the whole gang together for the first time in our own car - it's humbling - we are so fortunate to have been blessed with three new little people in just under four years.  Our "dream team" has been thoughtfully assembled from three cities in three different provinces from half a world away.  Three stories...as unique as the children who've lived them...and five lives changed forever.

Had anyone shown me, on our wedding day 19 years ago, a portrait of our family as it is today, I would have likely said "I think you may have the wrong number."  But right now today, as we're all here, home at last, I can't imagine our lives any other way.

The house is silent, save for the occasional humming of the refrigerator, as I sit at our large kitchen table, I can't wait to have Sunday breakfast and see just how much smaller this table is with everyone here.

The boys are long asleep.  And Ashley is lightly sleeping, as she begins settling down into the rhythms of her new life here as part of our family.  I'm signing off now to go get some sleep...in our own bed...with all of us here.

(Except Murphy of course, who will be be added to the mix tomorrow when we see him at Grandmom & PopPop's for Sunday Dinner!)

Our story is not over...in many ways it's just beginning.

God night all.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Night - Made it Out of HK, Staying in LA, Leave for PHL in the AM

Hi there, C here,

We left HK on schedule, some time in the past day or two...it's all so confusing on such little sleep.
The flight was quite a bit bumpier than it should have been, but it WAS almost 2 hrs. shorter, due to substantial tail winds.

We are trying to get some rest before this final improvised leg of the trip.
We're in LA near the Airport (Lisa got us a couple of rooms here to bunk tonight).

I am typing this under AR's Nook Light (Thanks AR).  Lisa's unconscious and snoring (...though she'd likely disagree and even more, she'd object to me telling you that!).  It's the sort of a rest that you can steal when you're too tired for words and you know that the battle will rage on in the AM, and you really need to get some/any sleep to partially recharge.
She's certainly earned it.

The boys are in bed as well, but whispering and tossing & turning.  They can't help it though - their little bodies think it's the middle of the afternoon!  I just hope they crash soon.  They napped for about 90 minutes when we got to the hotel.

Meimei is in the stroller, seated right next to me at the desk, which is also next to the crib -- into which I hope to place her after she falls asleep. Assuming she falls asleep...

My prediction:
Ashley falls asleep moments after the boys finally fall to sleep (Estimate 30-40 minutes)
I wait about 20 minutes for her to reach REM sleep.
I gently reach into the stroller to scoop her up and ever so quietly place her in to the crib.
She senses that something is not right, realizes that it's me (not good).
She starts screaming (she has an excellent scream...loud, well pitched and piercing)..
Mom wakes up.  Boys wake up.  AR wakes up in the next room (I told you Ashley has a good scream).
Mom yells at Dad and says he should stop typing and go to bed.
Cycle starts again.
Just my $0.02 (or my $0.13 Chinese RMB).

Tomorrow will come quickly.  We have a 6 AM wake-up to leave for the airport at 7:45, to fix a reservations snafu for AR & Dylan (don't ask), and catch out 11:?? flight to PHL.

Everything's fine otherwise.  Thanks to our great friends at CHOP, Ashley is lined up for her appointments already.  She's making due for now but will need to transition to a more substantial diet soon, and her first appointments are the first steps.  Thanks again to the whole staff for their help despite the odd hours.  We truly appreciate you help and can't imagine even considering Ashley's adoption without your help, support and guidance. Without you, this trip does not happen.

Time to go now.  Don't want to wait too long to make the Ashley move and raise the inevitable he!! that will surely ensue.

Wish me luck - I will need it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More pictures from the past week

Our "luxurious and VIP" hospital room in Guangzhou 

This nurse is saying "just to let you know, this hospital makes you supply all of your own supplies - food, water, diapers, toiletries and don't worry about the roach that you just saw in Ashley's room,  he's harmless....

Ashley's "head doctor" in Guangzhou. Mr. Liu - very nice and caring man.

With our guide, Elvin, at the Guangzhou train station waiting for the train to HK/Kowloon.

Top and bottom shots -- Ashley's "new" bed at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong; she was hooked to many IV bags and catheters. She was on the pedatric surgery ward at the hospital - 3 large rooms of 6 beds each of kids ranging from premature babies to teens. The things on her arms were arm restraints, so she could not take the tube out of her nose or the IV out of her arm.

Pictures from the past week

At the US Consulate just before Ashley was sworn in

The Lockhead kids (at the Embassy)

Our spacious living room at the Garden Hotel

You know that you aren't in China anymore when your bed actually is not a wooden slab and the sheets and pillows are actually soft and fluffy!

Ashley and some of the nurses at the hospital in Guangzhou

Ashley loaded with IV fluid and just not feeling well at the hospital in Guangzhou (waiting to be admitted and for her XXL hospital garb)

Friday Morning at Marriott Sky City

It's now 6 hrs and counting until our flight departure time.  Weather - sea fog, a tad of sun and a few waves - hang on Typhoon Megi until we get out of here!  Now, who thinks that the airport will be a total zoo today with thousands trying to depart the Asian Trade Fair and leave the island?! 

Well, for some good news, Aunt Rita and the boys did make it to Hong Kong Disneyland yesterday; however, when they got there all of the outdoor attractions were closed due to the impending typhoon - I guess that they like to prepare a few days early! Anyway, despite that issue, they had a great afternoon riding the indoor rides, eating ice-cream, selecting Disney pins and getting lots of Disney character pictures (which I need to download from Aunt Rita's camera later).  Since it was also Halloween there, they got a trick or treat bag with a few goodies. It was nice that they could have some enjoyable down time. Both boys are all ready to set up another trip to Disney in the states! By the time I got to the hotel last night, both boys were talking non-stop about all of their great times that they had.

Also, a funny story from the other night when we hit HK after the train ride, which was a good train ride BUT if you have luggage in tow + kids - NEVER do it. It is way too hard to lug your own luggage up and down stairs, escalators and then up into the platforms. No one helps you so it was pretty challenging. Anyway, post leaving the train and going out towards the taxi line which was way too long, this man randomly appears and says "taxi?!"  Chal and I are like "how much?" while the cautious Rita was saying "Are you kidding me? Is he even licensed?" Now, we all had just watched Slum Dog Millionaire last week in HK and he sort of looked a bit like one of the movie characters, so maybe that made him a bit safer -- ha.ha. 

By that time, Chal and I didn't care if he had lost his license, so we all trudge behind this strange man who is leading us away from the train station in the opposite direction while he is on a cell phone.  He says "his friend" will pick us up. Now, most of you are probably having heart failure by now, but again, it's Hong Kong, he looked "okay" so we were "winging it."  His buddy soon arrives in a blue mini van and speeds us away at break-neck speeds (with no seat belts because they are optional here). We get near the hotel and his buddy jumps out of the car and runs off with his backpack while smiling widely and waving at us.  (Is your heart now beating faster?) Our "friend" soon takes the controls and has us at the hotel in no time flat.  He charged us much less than a normal taxi would have cost.  He actually was a transport driver, as we did get his card, but I think Rita thought that we had lost it by then.  As you can tell by now, we like adventure in our lives! If anyone needs "Mr. Ahmed" in HK, just let us know -- ha.ha.

Ashley has been discharged this a.m. with a full set of meds and directions (it is funny how Rita can get the nurses to work at break-neck speeds when they spent the majority of their time purposely ignoring us and another British family yesterday.  If you asked them a question, they flipped some serious attitude) But Rita was able to get the nurses and doctors "in line" today to get Ashley on her way, thankfully. 

While we are now waiting for them to come back, I'll try and post some pictures from the last few days of our odyssey.  Despite all of the odds and issues that we have encountered, we feel extremely blessed to be adopting Ashley especially since her medical issues have turned so critical over the last week. We are not so sure that she could have survived so well without the proper care that she will soon receive, and when she is happy, she is a very happy little girl.  She still adores the boys and even gave me huge kisses and hugs when we left the Guangzhou hospital the other day - probably because she was so thankful to have gotten out of there!!

Okay pictures to come and until LA..............we bid you adieu................

Thursday Update

Hi all:
Charlie, Ashley and I have all been at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong since 11:30 last night.  It has been a long few days to say the least.  Ashley was admitted quickly last night and reviewed by an intern or resident shortly afterward, but then we were told to wait for the Doctor that would arrive between 7:30-8 this morning.  Around 5:30 am, we were awakened (if you could call it that, since we only have two very hard chairs to sit on next to the bed, and the ward is very noisy with sick children) by a Dr. who turned on the overhead light to look at Ashley.  He then told me that he "couldn't answer any questions and that he would be back around later in the morning to speak to us!"  Not very comforting and by this time, I am at about zero on the patience meter.
As the morning wore on, no one showed up until 9 am and then we had a team of residents and another surgeon.  We have communicated to them repeatedly that we need to stabilize her and to get out of here - we have spent way too many days in hospitals with no answers, repeated tests with no results, and great language barriers.  The surgeon again released Ashley's initial blockage but still has concerns over her megacolon.  Once again, for no less than the 8th or 9th time, we have been told that she has no surgical scars, so her issues were probably never repaired.  It's very frustrating when they cannot understand why we don't have "full" and detailed records of her medical history.
Poor Ashley is not getting any food at this point, constant IVs and sticks and probes with needles. Her arms are in tie-downs so she doesn't remove her nose and catheter tubes, so she can really just lie on her bed.  The doctor thought she looked pale today and I wonder why?! She's been hospitalized for 3+ days now. 
This hospital is a tad better than the last - no bugs, cleaner, but no one really speaks to us (we are the only Americans), there are no TVs, no community areas, and a lack of food (we are not in a direct area of HK right now), and I feel that we have to always push and pull to get help, get answers, get actions.  Then we still have no tangible results.
As our trip has progressed so well in the last few days, we now also have Typhoon Megi to worry about. The Typhoon is set (as of today) to direct hit Hong Kong by Saturday.  Headline from today's South China Post Newspaper: "Powerful Megi to Unleash its Fury."  Lead: "Guangdong and Hong Kong prepared to face the fury of of killer typhoon, with Megi expected to smash into the coast by Saturday."  It is not where we want to be stuck with a sick child for another several days. 
The boys are currently staying with Aunt Rita in the hotel, while Charlie and I "live" in the hospital. They all were hoping to make a quick trip to Disneyland today, as that was one of their treats for this trip.
Right now, there is massive construction going on in the hospital, so loud drills and jack hammers are dulling any normalcy and driving the babies nuts. It sounds like it is right in our ears.  They started at 9AM sharp and have continued unabated since then.
To top it all off, everyone in the hospitals calls Ashley a "he" as I think that Jian can be a male's name in Chinese, too, so they just look at her paperwork (and not at her) and say "he does, he doesn't"!
*I had written this post this a.m., but just have a quick minute to post it tonight (as I am back at the hotel, while Charlie and Rita are with Ashley at the hospital), and it's been a very, very long few days. Ashley has to stay at the hospital until close to when we leave tomorrow, so that her body is properly prepared for the long flights.  As she still is very sickly, we are canceling our CA leg of the trip and will be attempting to fly directly back from HK to Los Angeles and then will try and catch another quick flight later that day/early next day to Philadelphia as quickly as we can.  I am changing some of the flight arrangements tonight. Once home, Ashley will need to be immediately re-hospitalized but at least we'll be under CHOP's care vs. some of the local hospitals that we have experienced.
Sorry the font is a bit off. The computer is acting a little strangely tonight at the hotel.
See everyone soon.
Lisa, Charlie, Kyle, Dylan, Ashley & Rita

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Night / Thursday Morning

We made it to HK from GZ via train earlier this evening. Tough trip with luggage and tired boys. Both slept soundly during the trip. We had a nice full meal at the Hotel. After a 10 PM Skype with our great friends at CHOP we decided to follow Dr.'s orders and get Ashley to a Peds Hospital - quickly. She is sill apparently sufering from some sort of obstruction.
t's 2:45 AM and Lisa and I are sitting bedside with Ashley. She has an IV drip in along with a couple of tubes She is lying with both arms outstretched (so she doesn't pull out her nose tube) and she's as helpless as can be.
Good sign - a nurse just woke her up to get a drop of blood from her heel and she came right out of her sleep and was really feisty - kicking vigorously. She's got a tough streak - she'll need it to compete with K & D.
Lisa just put her head Dow to get some rest. That's really not working...

Anyway, we'll know more on a few hours.
Gotta get some rest myself. Lots of calls tp be made tomorrow with potential travel plan juggling.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another update from Tuesday afternoon

Okay, so the coordinator arrived today around 9:30 and the Dr. finally arrived around 11 a.m.  After many people speaking to us in Chinese all morning (like we actually understood what they were trying to tell us), we were told that Ashley needs an MRI.  Unfortunately, they told us that the hospital was so booked, that she cannot have an MRI until "maybe" Thursday.............well, that just doesn't work, since we are set to leave Hong Kong on Weds. afternoon!!  So basically, when we switched off at the hospital today around 12:30 (leaving Rita with Ashley and Charlie and I circling back to the hotel with the boys), we told the hospital that we would need to leave without the MRI and hope for the best.  As of earlier this afternoon, Ashley will again stay at the hospital tonight and continue to get IV and vitamin drips, then they'll try and take an Xray first thing in the a.m. (what first thing may be is anyone's guess!) and then we'll have to be cleared to fly out later this week. 

It is a very trying experience to be here right now. It took Rita and the boys 2 cabs to get to the hospital this a.m., as the first cab driver got them completely lost. Then just as we needed him, our guide's cell phone battery died for a few hours.  The nurses keep putting Ashley's diapers on wrong (not sure why) and then she wets the bed, so they have changed the bed 3x as of this a.m. alone (but they don't change the bed, only the sheets, so gross!!) The word "urgent" and "immediate" don't really seem to be in anyone's vocabulary here. I guess we work at faster, more aggressive paces in the US!  The workers like to mop the floor a few times a day in the room, so they practically mop you if you don't move your feet fast enough!  We got another 20-30 bars of Edelweiss again this a.m., too.

The boys are getting nervous and worried, so we spent a little down time with them this afternoon having room service, resting and watching TV. In a few hours, we'll grab a quick dinner to take back to the hospital and then I'll stay the night alone or Charlie will come back, depending on how everyone is doing. 

We'll try and post again later tonight or tomorrow. Wish us the best to trying to make it to HK on the train no less tomorrow night!!

Tuesday Blog Post - Things NOT to have happen why you are in Guangzhou

Hi all:

Lisa here. Charlie and I are sitting with Ashley at The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical College!

Things that should not happen when you are in Guangzhou:
1) Your child gets sick
2) Your child continues to get sicker and you take her to the Can Am Clinic at the Garden Hotel
3) The Can Am Clinic is so concerned that they have you take your child immediately to the above hospital!

After the clinic visit by Rita, Charlie and Ashley yesterday, the clinic was concerned about her stomach and indicated that there was a blockage in the tummy (per Xrays that they took). They allowed all of us to leave to go to the US Consulate so she could be sworn in as a US Citizen, and then we all immediately took her back to the clinic where a coordinator met us and took us to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 5:30, which is a pretty scary place when you don't speak any Chinese at all. Our guide and coordinator speak some English but it's not entirely clear most of the time and it's very hard to go back and forth when you are speaking in medical terms.

Several nurses came in to check her and they had us take her temperature using a mercury thermometer under the arm pit for 10 minutes! (Who takes a 10 minute temperature?) Anyway, the head doctor finally arrived about 2 hours later and several doctors and nurses proceeded to do a procedure to expel some of the air and bloat in her stomach. The head doctor luckily speaks some English that is fairly clear and he appears to be the #2 guy at this hospital (per pictures on the wall).
We are supposedly getting "VIP" treatment here, which means we have a private room and I guess alot of attention, probably because we are Westerners with a very sickly adopted child.
Some interesting observations include:
  • No TP or Soap in the bathroom (I guess it's bring your own, but thank goodness there is a Western toilet vs. squat!)
  • You need to supply your own diapers (luckily, we had 3 or 4 in a bag with us)
  • 1 bar from the song "Edelweiss" that was played no less than 150 times last night - (I almost went mad)
  • 3 sticks of a needle to get Ashley's blood - one for each arm and then into the leg!
  • A worker started speaking repeatedly to the boys in Chinese (who were sitting alone outside of the room as we were in with Ashley during her procedure). When I went out to see them, Kyle says "that man keeps speaking to us, especially Dylan, but we have no idea what he is saying!" They get too shy to tell people that they can't understand them.
  • All of the medical personnel wear masks on their faces at all times. All of the nurses are dressed in pink with white shoes; our head doctor had on sandals last night and another doctor had on high heels this a.m.
  • We have pots of water in our room, but they need to be boiled, so what's the point and there's no way we are drinking from them! (Luckily, there is a McDonalds around the corner).
  • No children's hospital gowns, so Ashley is dressed in a small man's top!
  • Last night, the head doctor asked me if I thought that it was "appropriate" that Ashley had been given 8 shots at the clinic on Sat. I said "appropriate?! We can't get out of your country without getting these shots even though I spent an hour arguing with the medical clinic about them. " Now, this is one of the top doctors at the hospital telling me that it was not safe to have had so many shots -- go figure!!

Charlie and I got to share a luxury twin bed last night with Mickey Mouse sheets, a tiny pillow and a wooden slab for a mattress (I guess we should be happy that we had something).

Now, we are waiting for the Dr. that supposedly was coming at 9 (it's 9:30) and then the coordinator who is supposedly coming back at 10 a.m. Most likely, Ashley will need more tests on her stomach to find out what is really causing the blockage, so it can be temporarily fixed until we can get better medical care in the states. It seems that Ashley might not have had the surgery that she was supposed to have had per her paperwork, or that it was much more minimal than they originally stated.

Ashley, when she woke up this morning. A mini version of Ed Grimley!

The boys have been with Aunt Rita overnight and we are going to try and switch off as we wait out the day. Maybe we can get checked out (hopefully) later today. Please keep us in your thoughts.

Still MORE Pictures...

I already feel sorry for all of those boys out there who are unfortunately destined to have their hearts broken...

"Kyle, I don't think that he's going to give you a double high five.
He has short little flippers...not arms"

Dylan and Kyle industriously gathering leaves to feed to the Giraffes.
(Before that mean lady grabbed the last of them!).
Luckily they were able to feed most of them to the Giraffes.

Lunch: Hot Dogs on Sticks.

SHARP Sticks, lots of fun for the little ones as they run around the park here in GZ.
...Great Idea...(Not enough RMB in the budget for buns?)

Hamming it up...

On a trip like this, you don't want to miss anything, so you tend to have the camera always at the ready.

And, after you take some pictures, you think to yourself,
"Why did I take that?  That won't be a keeper.

I'm glad I took this one...it is.

This was in the van on the way home from the GZ Safari park.
Ashley was exhausted and was nodding off, but wanted to make sure Mom would be there if she fell asleep.

Ashley did...and Mom was.

Welcome to the family, little one.

More Pictures...

Yep..."Big Mess".
Thank God Mom brought the stain stick - I've gotta wear these duds tomorrow!

K-Man feeding a GIRAFFE- up close & personal!
They sold the branches for about a buck or so.
Some of the kids picked up some stray leaves from the trees around the exhibit (which the Giraffes also like to eat) but the lady who was selling the branches wasn't pleased - as this was cutting into sales - so she ran over and grabbed them out of their hands (didn't get a shot of that unfortunately).

Look at the size of that tongue!!

A young elephant was allowed to get very close!

That's Dad's hand - I recognize the ring!

One of the members of the largest collections of Pandas in the world.