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...

August 6

The days are becoming monotonous and routine. It is hard to be away from everyone for so long. Thank you to those who send emails. Please keep them coming as they make me feel like I'm still connected. Peter reads them too. I think he's is in a slump also as he hasn't wanted to do as much. It's Monday so back to the usual. I think Adrianna and Pam leaving are affecting me. Ken and Sue are still here but Ken got very sick and they had to put him on an IV.

August 7

Ken seems a little better and is off the IV. Pam is still here and Ruth has invited us to a jazz concert tonight. It is on the grounds of a mansion in the bao de dau district, the historical part of town.

The concert was amazing. There was a female vocalist with a wonderful voice and the music was a welcome diversion. Plus, more wine. That helped too. Peter couldn't go because of his wheelchair. He said he didn't mind and Michelle stayed with him, but I wonder. Some of Ruth's expat friends were there. I had met them before when we all had lunch with Hensley, the Dutch guy. One of them is the general manager of that venue and gave us a tour. It is the mansion of the last head Eunuch of the last dynasty that resided in the Forbidden City. The mansion is exquisite. Built in 1927. It's hard to imagine such opulence, but then he was a eunuch so had to compensate somehow, I guess. They didn't have little red sports cars back then.

Had another surprise too. James Cameron, the director, was there. He is in Tianjin scouting locations for an upcoming movie. We didn't get to meet him but we saw the back of his head through the glass of the private dining room. Elena, the GM gave him the same tour and had her picture taken with him. She told us he was there and that she was going to shake his hand. I made her shake mine first.

August 8

It is Wednesday and we are exactly half way through our stay. I can't say it's flying by. Peter is in a better frame of mind again and is progressing but it is so agonizingly slow. I know he is a lot stronger now than when we came but still not walking on his own. It's hard to see the small increments when you are with it every day. There is a joke I heard on an English language channel told by two newscasters. They said that if you have a bad finger and you go to a western doctor he will amputate it. If you go to a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, he will give you acupuncture and herbs to soak it and in a few months your finger will fall off by itself. Ha Ha.

August 9

My walk to the hospital every morning gives me a good picture of everyday Chinese street life. Here are some examples.

August 10

Well, Pam and Trevor are gone so besides us the only Americans here are Sue and Ken. They are fun to be with as Ken has a quick wit but they're a little older and don't have the same energy. On top of that Qinningbo isn't around either because he's between semesters and went home for a few weeks. Bummer. We did hear that there is another pair due this week. A mother and her 28 year old daughter from Arizona. The daughter had the stroke. What's going on with all these young people?

I have to get my visa extended. They only gave us 60 days initially. The hospital can take care of Peters because he is an inpatient and Michelle got another 60 days when she returned from the states so that leaves me. There is a bit of tension between our state departments at the moment so I have to jump through a series of hoops. I have to open a bank account to prove to them that I won't be begging on the streets. Then, in a few weeks, go to the police department and politely tell them that I love their country so much that I would like to stay another 30 days. What horsesh..t.

The bank was a trip in itself. Liu, Ruth's Chinese assistant went with me. The bank is one big room all marble, but very stark. We took a number and when it was called we went up to the window where the teller was sitting behind a wall of glass. There was a lot of bird chattering going on between Liu and the witchy teller and I was asked to hand over my passport.. She was young but very stern faced and never cracked a smile. She had steely eyes and was scowling at a computer screen that I couldn't see. She would glare at me from time to time and talk grimly to Liu again. It was unnerving. Finally, form after form appeared from under her writing surface and shoved through the hole for me to sign. She had at least eight different ink stamps and each copy of each form got stamped with each one. Took forever. She was tiny but wielded those stamps with enormous angry force. What a little authority can do! WTF! I'm giving YOU money for christ sake. It was finally all done and I was handed my passport and new passbook and allowed to leave. Sheesh. Can't wait for the police department.

August 11

Before Pam left, we went to dinner in a German restaurant in the Italian district (still can't figure that one out) for her last night. She has relatives in Germany and wanted to do that. Poor Wong was so lost. Wienerschnitzel, really? He looked at the menu and just threw his palms up in desperation. We ordered pork with mushroom sauce for him and it came with spatzle, which I think is a potato type pasta or something. He ate it all but the next night he told me on the translator "very expensive and not tasty". The prices were about what they would be at Chilis or Applebee's, but the Chinese restaurants are so cheap that he was appalled. To top it off, they had entertainment of Chinese singers in lederhosen. Ridiculous. Got a shot of them arriving.

August 12

Again just a half day of treatment so went to the shopping district in the afternoon. Ken was hellbent on finding a replacement for the waterpick he fried because it wasn't dual voltage. We went to Walmart (yes, they have them, ugh) but no one had ever even heard of waterpicks. Walmart is in a huge shopping area and it was nice walking around there. Wong had a unique way of transporting Peter.