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Wednesday Update: 05/28/08

Greetings once again from China.

Matt and I are just hanging out, waiting for supper to come and then may make our nightly rounds to visit other folks...or just hang out here, we haven't decided yet. Today was another interesting day for me, another routine day for Matt.
Have I mentioned how happy he is to be going home? How ready he is to be done? Well, that would be the understatement of the year, possibly our lifetime. Matt is very ready to be ending this experience and get back to life at home in the new house. We've spent a lot of time talking about things, including the many things which have annoyed him over these past few months, and how happy he will be to leave them behind. I can't say I blame him...you'd be pretty overwhelmed with it all too. Matt was elated to say bon-voyage to Bob on Monday...and I can't blame him for that either. While Bob did a good job of keeping Matt safe, he also did a good job of driving him nuts. Matt said this is his time to vent to me about it, and then when we get home, he doesn't want to talk about Bob anymore. So, what about Bob? Nothing...it's in the past. Matt is moving on! I wish I had kept track, but I'm pretty sure that every nurse, doctor, and hospital or China Connection worker who has seen Matt these past few days has commented on his lack of facial hair and how GOOD he looks...which of course I agree with. They've also said how much younger he looks too. Matt says he doesn't want to look younger...that he has a baby face...but they all think he looks great. I'd also have to agree there...although he is in bad need of a hair cut. I'm sure I'll be commissioned to do that when we get home. This afternoon I ventured out to Culture Street, a local tourist/shopping district, with Mary and Debbie, one of the other patient's wives. Debbie and her husband Michael are from Perth, a large city in Western Australia. She's in the background looking at movies in this picture.
The architecture on Culture Street was much more traditional Chinese than most places I've seen in our time here. It was neat to wander the streets and check out the small shops and all their wares. There was a lot of jewelry (pearls and jade), Chinese pottery, teas, scarves, and bags...many, many bags. It was a girl's dream!!! The fun part of shopping here is negotiating the prices...VERY fun! Debbie and I were a little apprehensive, but Mary was an old pro (having filled a suitcase already with bags), so she showed us the ropes.

Nothing has price tags on it. You'd have to ask the clerk how much. Then they'd either say, or put on a calculator their starting price, which was always way too high. Say 400 RMB...of course Mary would scoff at that and type in a much lower figure on her calculator...like 100. They'd say no...and then 200. We'd say mmm...how about 150...and eventually after much pursuading they'd agree. Or, if we say never mind...they'd chase us saying 'hello, hello...150 ok' They all claimed to have 'much cheaper' and 'best price' and would point out all the designer labels...'Gucci, see REAL leather'...'Prada'...'Chanel..is very nice'. It was quite amusing! Then, when they see you're a serious looker, they'll open a secret door in the back of their store to show you the REALLY nice stuff that is 'much cheaper'. It was hilarious...like we were conducting some super secret exchange in the back where no one could see us getting our 'much cheaper' deal. Then if you gave them 200 for your 150 purchase, they'd try to sell you something else for the extra 50 RMB. I ended up getting a Chanel bag and wallet for 200 RMB...which is about $28 US with the current exchange rate! I also got suckered into a big Coach bag and a few other goodies which I thought would be good gifts. It was fun to wheel and deal. Mary also bought another bag and Debbie got 3! We had a good time exploring and working our magic with the vendors.
When I came back Matt was having his afternoon acupuncture, and then we've just been hanging out ever since. Matt has been working on a few different techniques for calming down the tremor, which do seem to help temporarily. I video-taped a little bit of it today and will post it online. Just search for Karwoski blog on YouTube.com and you'll see them. It was still a little active the first time, I think because I was filming, but the next time it worked pretty well. He feels pretty good about how he can calm it down and doesn't think he'll go back on any of the medications he was taking for it before. Right now he's feeling pretty good and figures why bother taking the pills. It'll be interesting to see what Dr. Struck thinks of the tremor when we see her next.
While it's hard to put a measure on Matt's progress here, I do believe there are tangible changes already, and I do think there will be more to come in time. The doctors here are very pleased with his progress including; his ability to calm down the tremor, his ability to walk better with only one helper (he and Bob would walk up and down the hallway daily), his standing balance, his strength, his voice quality, etc. Matt has noticed less stiffness in a few fingers on his right hand, as well as a few other differences in the way he eats, swallows, and chews. Occasionally food would get stuff on the right side of his mouth, and that no longer happens. He has increased mobility in his right wrist and can move it back further than before, as well as the ability to move his arm up and behind his back with no pain. I think his face seems a little more even when he's talking, and his smile is just as contagious as ever...Matt is totally one of those people who smiles with his eyes, as well as his mouth...and that little something in his eyes is pretty irresistable to me. While I'm sure there will be other things to come in time, to me one of the most important things is that he's come through this experience with a good attitude and appreciation for all he does have and has accomplished. I know that he will go home, and embrace all that life has to offer him. I know that he will go back and continue to hope for healing, and put forth an effort to keep up working for it. I know that he will go home and love living in our new house together. I know that he is better for having had this experience, and again I want to thank everyone for helping make it happen. For those who helped us financially afford the expenses of the trip, for those who helped take care of things at home while we were away both times, for those who sent cards and packages to Matt, for those who lifted us up with prayers, e-mails, and hugs...we are so very grateful...forever grateful for that support. We could not have endured it all, without the loving support of our friends and families, and even a perfect stranger here and there who said the right thing at the right moment. If there's one thing that's been made very clear to me throughout this experience, it is that there are no coincidences...we are not on our own...there is a purpose, there is a plan, and we are not in control of it all. I truly believe God places people and experiences in our lives at just the right times, for a reason...and we have been so very fortunate to have been touched by you.

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