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Saturday Update: 03/08/08

Greetings from Iowa!!! I am sooo happy to be back home!!! Of course, it was a bittersweet feeling, wanting so badly to be home, and yet not wanting to leave Matt. I didn’t take the time to post before I left, there were many details to square away and I just wanted to have some time with Matt as well. I did get the new videos up on YouTube though…one of the ‘wound’ doctor coming to check on Matt’s knuckle…and one of Matt having acupuncture treatment with Professor Shi. Professor Shi (pronounced Sure) is kind of like the guru over there. He designed much of the program and all the other Professors and Doctors study under him. He places needles in areas which no other doctors do. The woman doctor with the long straight hair, who gives Matt most of his acupuncture treatments is Professor Bian, who is one of Professor Shi’s protégés. Doctor Shen is Matt’s main attending doctor who has performed most of his cupping treatments and attends all his acupuncture treatments and follows up on Matt many times throughout the day. It is so great…he pops in probably 5 times a day. Have I mentioned how attentive and caring these doctors and nurses are? Truly, they are 100% devoted to the patients, their care, their comfort, and their well-being. It is very reassuring to know that!

Matt’s helper Wong showed up shortly before Matt’s first acupuncture treatment in the morning on Friday. Of course, he speaks very little English…and by that I mean he says hello. Matt has decided to call him as Bob…since he can’t speak English and won’t know the difference. As all the doctors and nurses funneled in for Matt’s treatment they all took turns talking to Wong/Bob explaining what they were doing to treat Matt and what he could do to help him throughout the day. Professor Bian told me (through an interpreter) not to worry, that I could go away and they would take good care of my husband. It brought tears to my eyes…I was so touched that she wanted to make sure my mind was at ease. I have no doubt that the nurses and doctors will do their best to be sure Matt has all he needs and will take good care of him.

Right after treatment, when I would normally sit and hold Matt’s hand…Bob sat down and held it. He massaged his fingers and held his hand. I was worried Matt might be uncomfortable with that and wasn’t sure what he’d think…but after just a few minutes Matt’s hand relaxed, the tremor stopped, and I could see he was fine. Later, Matt told me that Bob really helped him. I was so relieved!!! We also had an interpreter stop in to help us convey things to Bob. Right away we could see that he was eager to help, and very gentle and caring. He has had experience helping others in the past, so I’m pretty sure they’ll work out the kinks and do fine together. He is planning to be there at 6:30 every morning and will stay until around 8-8:30 in the evening. If it gets too late though, he’s always welcome to stay overnight.

Matt also had his first massage treatment on Friday and I did get to see it. The doctor came in and she also explained some things to Bob. She worked on Matt’s right arm for 15 minutes, then 10 minutes on his leg, and 5 minutes on his back and shoulder. Bob sat on the right side, to help as well.He said it hurt a little bit as she worked down his back to his butt…but otherwise didn’t feel too bad. He will have this treatment every day except Sundays.

When we told people we were going to China for treatment, they always seemed shocked and disbelieving. We often shrugged it off as no big thing…yeah, we’re going to China. But now that I step back and think about it…I can’t believe we went to CHINA!!! Nor can I really comprehend that I am home and left Matt behind for 3 months. Our goodbye was quick – the man who came to take me to the airport and Bob standing by waiting. I held back the tears, forcing myself to stay strong for Matt. As I turned to wave goodbye and close the door I had to bite down hard on my lip to keep it from trembling. The nurse waved goodbye from her station as we made our way to the elevator, and with that I was officially on my way home…alone.

It wasn’t until I was aboard the plane that the tears started to come. I think I had forced myself to hold them back while getting through the madness of the Beijing airport. I sat in my seat, anxious for all the passengers to board so that I could be sure the seat next to me would remain empty. I turned on my Blackberry once more to check the time and there was an e-mail from Matt: ‘Well I just got done with exercise. It was at 2:30 today. I had to lay on a table like thingy with my feet up. I think they thought I wasn’t well. I’m getting along with Bob just fine. I hope you found your Diet Coke. I love you very much. Talk to you tomorrow. Love, Matt’ That’s all it took, the tears began rolling. I can’t tell you the wave of relief that washed over me, knowing that he felt he and Bob were going to get along just fine. While we had a few hours with him to go through some things, of course I worried how they might work alone together. I’m just so proud of him – to be so open to this experience. I just know that his positive outlook and attitude will take him far and the possibilities are endless!!

I made it home safely last night and was able to call Matt and check in. It was shortly before lunchtime on his Saturday. He said Bob ended up spending the night…and that he had gone down and visited with Tim and Mary a bit after supper. (I was tickled to hear he had ventured out and about on his own!) He had already had his massage treatment and acupuncture and was just having his herbal soak when I called. He said Professor Shi performed his acupuncture again…this time with him sitting up in bed. He placed needles in the back of his head, so Bob sat on the bed with his back up against Matt’s to help stabilize him and make it more comfortable. I am so glad that he is so caring and helpful. I think Matt will get spoiled with them all taking such good care of him!!! It is a good feeling to know, that’s for sure. On Thursday night, Matt got sick in the night. I had to call the nurse about midnight, as he started throwing up. They were so concerned, two nurses and a doctor came running in. They patted his back and tried to sooth him…and of course take his blood pressure (blood pressure is a big thing over there). After he was done, he said he felt much better and lay back down in bed. A few minutes later Chen Hong (one of his favorite nurses…the one in the picture doing the herbal soak a few days back) came in with a chewable tablet…kind of like an Imodium or something to help. She wasn’t sure she was pronouncing chew very well, so she wrote it on the palm of her hand and showed it to me. She is so very kind; Matt calls her a sweet heart. In the morning he felt just fine, but each one of them stopped back in individually to check on him…that’s how attentive they are. I think they were still worried about his upset tummy, which is why Matt wrote that they took it easy on him in exercise. It just shows you how devoted they are to each patient. I can’t say it enough…that kind of attentiveness is hard to come by in these neck of the woods!!

So, Matt is getting along well with Bob. The treatments are going well – and he’s already had some signs of improvement. The food is good – he’s found several items he likes. The weather has been great – sunny and in the 50’s each day (nothing like here…where it was 10 when I got home!). The doctors are very attentive, and the nurses are sweet and very much devoted to taking the best possible care of our Matt they can. I think the next few months are bound to be great for him!

I know that his positive attitude and outlook could not possibly be what they are without the love, support, and prayers from all of you. Each morning, after breakfast, we would gather around the computer and check e-mails. Each one like a tiny burst of joy in our hearts. Truly, having those messages means so much to us both. We even received one from a couple we’ve never met. She happened upon our blog one day and started reading it. She said she quickly realized it was no accident that she found our blog…that she believes God intended her to find it that they might pray for us. So, they have been. They shared our story with their Bible study group, and they have also been praying for us. How amazing is that?! To know that there are people out there…people we don’t even know thinking of and praying for us…it’s just so humbling, wonderful, and such a huge, huge blessing. That e-mail brought us both to tears…Thank you Kim & Todd – you touched our hearts. And to all our families and friends – thank you as well…you are the fuel that helps keep our fires going. You lift us up each day and remind us how blessed we are!!

Here is Matt’s address if you want to send him mail:

First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin
University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Foreign Affairs Office – Attention Matt Karwoski
No. 314 An Shan XI Road
Nan Kai District
Tianjin, China 300193

I will be calling Matt again on Sunday evening (his Monday morning) and checking to see how the rest of his weekend went. I will post another update then. I have video of my crazy car ride to the airport, but won’t be able to upload that until after we move…so I’ll keep you posted. You’ll definitely want to check that out!

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