In December of 2011, my Father suffered a debilitating stroke which left him with acute aphasia and paralysis on his right side. As part of his road to recovery, my Mother has brought him to The First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University where he, at the time of this writing, is undergoing extensive stroke recovery treatments. This is her journal...

July 2

Peter seemed in much better spirits today. Maybe he's adjusting to the routine. I thought he was supposed to start physical therapy today but it didn't happen. Don't know why. He's supposed to get an EKG this afternoon and Wong brings him to the treatment room. We wait a while but then the nurse came back and told us to go back upstairs. Evidently the doctor they wanted wasn't available. Tomorrow, they said. They have very different methods for doing these things. Trevor did have his today and came back with a white netting over his head with a bunch of wires coming out of the back. He looked like an 18th century patriot with a powdered wig and a ponytail. He has to wear it a few days, I guess, as he and his mom went out to dinner that way. Will Peter have that too? Probably. At least we won't have to wash sticky stuff out of his hair from electrodes.

Michelle went out with Pam and Adrienne this afternoon. Wong had gone to lunch so I stayed with Peter and we did a few of his aphasia programs on the computer. He's getting better completing sentences but still has issues identifying things. Getting out was good for Michelle . Except for our morning coffee jaunt and a few hours at the party, she's been pretty much stuck at the hospital. They took her to a fruit stand and she came back with bags of strange stuff. She gave me one measly little round something or other that when peeled looked like a leechy nut, but gleefully hoarded the rest. Hmmph, didn't want it anyway.

To add insult to injury, Ruth came by with her mattress topper. She screamed and laughed so hard I'm sure they heard her on the street. She bounced on the bed the rest of the afternoon, eating her weird fruit. My topper won't come till tomorrow so I've got another night of misery.

July 3

Peter is having his first real physical therapy this morning. 7:30 am!!!!!! Problem is, my mattress topper is being delivered at 9:00. I don't care if they have him flying, I'm staying here for that. It came right on schedule. Ah, rest!

Things are a little different here and some customs are pretty hard to get used to. In the elevator, coming to the 12th floor, I can't imagine what would happen if it got stuck. They cram as many people in there as humanly possible. When the doors open it is like a clown car at the circus and when you're in it you just pray it makes it all the way up. They will even crowd you to get a wheelchair added in when you didn't think even another skinny body could make it. Oddly enough (hallelujah) no one smells. Even in this heat.

Another loathsome habit is spitting. Yuch! It is considered extremely rude to blow your nose in public, but let it drain into your throat and it's party time. The hacking and spewing! It's disgusting.

Tomorrow is the fourth and all the Americans at the hospital are going to Hanks Bar and Grill. He's an American guy we met at the party at the St. Regis on Sunday. There will be a grill with American hot dogs and hamburgers and he's trying to get some fireworks. Don't know why he's having a problem with that. Jeez, they invented them here and most assuredly make the worlds supply.

July 4

Made it on time this morning. The physical therapy room is state of the art. First they put him on a table and stretch his right side for a while. Then it's off to the machines. Peter seems to enjoy it.

We made it to the fourth of July party at Hanks Bar and Grill. Turns out Hank is from Chicago. Bridgeport to be exact and boy, it shows. Big belly, direct gruff manner and old T shirt. He's a super guy though. Grilled us hamburgers and had a great display of fireworks. It was fun. There were 12 of us. Three in wheelchairs. Peter sat next to Christian who had the same kind of stroke he had. Neither could talk and it was sad because Peter kind of avoided engaging. He enjoyed the night as a whole though. Christian's stroke was a year and a half ago and he is walking. Not talking, though, which is a little scary. He and Adrienne had only been married a year when that happened. Can you imagine?She's a pretty amazing person. Very full of energy.

July 5

Walked the ten minutes to the hospital. It's so hot here. I brought my fancy parasol that I paid a fortune for from Amazon before we left. I use it all the time and don't stick out because almost everyone uses them here. And what a surprise: they're all just like mine. How did that happen?

They're replacing the carpet in the hallways today. About time, it was pretty disgusting. Everything's a mess and they're not allowing any of the patients out of their rooms. The floor is wet and a little slippery. "too danger". Peter is amusing himself with the newspaper and taking a long time to eat. That's ok. Hope they finish soon so he can go back to physical therapy.

We've decided to take him out most nights to get him away from here a little bit each day. That's been working ok. We take Wong along whenever we can and let him order something we might not. Last night he ordered a chicken dish. The chicken was tender and delicious but THE HEAD was on the plate. Eeewww. Wong ate it with relish!

Double eeeww.

July 6

No physical therapy again. Still can't get out of the room although they're almost finished with the floor. It's not new carpet, but a sort of vinyl. Peter took a great interest in the stacked up rolls and inspected the material closely. Later, we snuck out anyway for dinner and went to a pretty fancy place. Wong joined us again but no disgusting head of a chicken this time, thank god. We also brought along another young girl who is here with her mother from Russia. Valerie. She's 18 and was in a bad car accident. This is her second trip to this hospital and she feels like it has been helping a lot. She's so sweet. She has difficulty talking but speaks English very well. Her mother, Lena, though speaks not a word. Still, they're fun to have around.

I'm hoping Wong can join us most nights. He doesn't make very much and he is so wonderful. Attentive, compassionate, knowledgeable and encouraging. He will do whatever we ask. He has Peter standing to strengthen his leg a few times every day. He had been giving Peter a soaking treatment with herb water every afternoon but I saw on the bill that they charge for it because normally the nurses do it. I pointed that out to them and from then on they've sent the nurses in. Sh........t. Screwed that one up. Wong did it with so much more feeling. It's routine for the nurses.

I know its not allowed and considered gosh to offer money so to get around that I told Wong that I would like to pay him for doing that treatment but he refused any money anyway. I'm hoping that by taking him out to dinner with us he saves a bit. He gladly accepts that though can't know if he thinks it's part of his job to come with us and that we're keeping him from his family or something. Have to find that out.

July 7

Haven't seen Adrienne and Christian for a few days. Pam said they both have some sort of bug. They're both coughing a lot with sore throats. Hope it doesn't spread. No one else seems affected yet, though.

Michelle was out all day getting her massage. She won it as a door prize at the St. Regis 4th of July party. I won something too. Haven't mentioned it yet cause its so ridiculous. I won a dental exam. Great, I'm rushing right out. They had two of those and the first one went to a kid. I was laughing at the notion of a kid winning a dental exam when they called my number. Had to go up to the front to accept it. I wasn't laughing anymore. Jeez, how embarrassing. I gave the certificate to Ruth who could either use it herself or give it to someone who could. I've seen the teeth around here. No thanks.

For Peter, no therapy yet again. They're really slow getting this work done. They are coming in for his other treatments so it's not a total waste. It's Saturday so only one acupuncture treatment but the soaks and Wong's massages continue. He doesn't want to go out for dinner so we leave to pick some up.

There are so many restaurants around here including a KFC, a Subway and a Pizza Hut. Pam and I went to KFC cause Trevor wanted a chicken sandwich. I though, ugh, fried chicken, but to my surprise they had all kinds of things. I got four dinners with grilled chicken, rice and a delicious sauce. It was cheaper than the stupid sandwich. 20 yuan which is a little more than $3.00. Cheap, cheap, cheap. We all finished every bite.

July 8

Skyped with David and Arthur this morning. Peter was in the bathroom when they came on and Wong had him walking to the computer. I had the camera turned so they could see that. Peter loved talking to them and laughed at all Arthur's antics. Sticking his finger in David's ear and getting his mouth close to the camera to inspect his lip and stuff. It really perked him up. In a little over a week I think the biggest change I've seen in Peter so far is that his gaze seems more focused. I think that's a big deal. David and Arthur noticed it too and wrote me later to say they were encouraged. I made them jealous by showing him surrounded by nurses.

It's Sunday, no physical therapy anyway and only one acupuncture treatment. Lazy day. Went out to dinner with Wong, Peter, Eugene and his mom. Michelle went shopping with Pam and the rest and would not be joining us. Eugene wanted to go to this Korean buffet where you cook your own food on a grill at your table. What a disaster. First, the selection of food was enormous but I didn't know what anything was. It was all raw. You had to take a big plate of raw bacon. This served as the grease to cook your food. You put it on the grill and as it cooks down, you can cook your food. The only thing I recognized was chicken so I took a lot of that. The rest was unidentifiable fish parts and god knows what else. The grill began to smoke immensely as I put the bacon on there. It was horrific. Not only that, but they expected you to put your cooked food on the same plate the raw stuff came from. Who does that?? I didn't care what they thought, I got clean plates. Its a wonder there are any Koreans still alive. The dumplings were good though.