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 20

Another Monday and Peter is starting off the week well. He's doing very well in physical therapy. Today they didn't have to tie his foot to the pedal. That's a big step forward (sorry). They put all the Americans in a row on the equipment. The girl in the middle is the new girl from Arizona, Ashley. She is 28 and had her stroke 8 years ago from the nuevo (sp?) ring. She also has aphasia, very much like Christian did. Understands all and can answer yes and no, but no real talking. She thinks she wants to go out but her mother, Esther, has been the scaredy cat. She told me today she is overwhelmed by the traffic, the noise, the crowds and the relentless chaos. They live on a farm in Arizona and neither had been to a big city before. She said she can't wait to get back to her farm and just listen to her corn grow. Ashley got sick the first few days and neither could go anywhere. She's slowly getting better. Poor bumpkins. Hope Michelle and I can make them more comfortable.

August 21

Peter is walking up and down the hall twice every day now. Still can't on his own, but he's getting stronger and stronger. I don't think he will need the wheelchair in the house when we get home. What a huge development that is!

August 22

Ken confided to me that tomorrow is Sue's birthday and he wants to surprise her with a cake. He asked if I could occupy her for a few hours in the afternoon so he can get his helper to take him to get one and hide it in our room. I took Sue shopping. The shops here are very cute. On the street level of many buildings are small, maybe 10 x 10 cubbies that serve as shops. They look derelict from the outside but the stuff is pretty good. We went in and out of almost all of them on just one block. There were dress, shoe, handbag, jewelry, wine, cigarettes and all kinds of other shops . It took over two hours. I figured it was ok to go back but when we got to our floor, there was Ken with a cake on his lap in front of our door. There went the surprise. Oh, well.

Went out for dinner with Sue and Ken to what has become Ken's favorite restaurant. The Sizzling Fish. It is in the lower level of the high rise across the street. They have most of the normal dishes we get but specialize in woks on the table. I am not doing that!!!! At the next table they were pulling what looked to me like fish entrails out of there. I don't think Ken saw that or it wouldn't be his favorite restaurant anymore.

August 23

Well, went to the police station today for my visa extension and the bureaucracy was awful. Stood in line for getting forms that had to be filled out. Liu, Ruth's assistant was with me again. She speaks no English so couldn't help me much to interpret them, but I just signed my name and date wherever there was a blank. Then, stood in line again for a photo. The lighting is awful and I'm throwing that awful picture away as soon as I can. Another line for another official. She looked at all the documentation, including the bank passbook that showed I wouldn't be begging in the streets. After a bunch of china china chatter between her and Liu, I could tell by her set mouth and slowly blinking eyes that all was not well. Indeed, it wasn't. Seems the passbook was not enough to prove I had money. Out and to the bank. I thought I'd have to add more but found out they only wanted a different form of proof. The teller at the bank was every bit as young and dour as the first one had been. She had a childlike mouth, and, like a petulant child, she wouldn't give us the document without a lot of other chatter chatter and more documents. Then, from out of nowhere, a guy popped up behind her and said in good English, "to get the certificate you have to pay 20 yuan" and disappeared. Where was he before and where did he go? I gave her the money and she proceeded to stamp all the documents. She slammed that ink stamp down just as hard as the other one had. We walk the three blocks back to the police station. This time the line was even longer and we waited......and waited. When we again sat down with the official (they're all young girls; what's up with that?) she made me write down that I would be leaving the country before 30 days was up. She said that in English. B....tch.

The day ended on a fun note with a birthday party in Sue and Ken's room. All the Americans were there including the helpers. We had the cake, and all three helpers sang happy birthday in Chinese. Peter and Ken joined in. It was a lot of fun.

August 24

Ladies, it seems ankle hose with dress shoes is all the rage here. Must be coming to the US too. Just FYI for those of you who like to stay on trend. You're welcome.

Took a walk in the neighborhood today. There is a small side street that leads to Carrefour that is closed to traffic. It is loaded with merchants selling their wares on the street. Everything from kitchen utensils to clothes to fruits and vegetables. Peter may start a trend of his own.

August 25

It's Saturday so no treatments in the afternoon. Ken wanted to go to the shopping center where there are huge crowds of shoppers. This is the mile or more of pedestrian strip lined with department stores and small shops. He sits in his chair and says Neehow (hello) to people passing by. He loves how they always smile and say Neehow back. The little kids especially. Peter gets a kick out of it too and waves at the little kids.

August 26

Sunday and another lazy day. Went to the Water Park late this afternoon and just vegged out for a while. It's a beautiful spot with lakes, pagodas islands and gardens. It's huge. A last chance to relax because Peter begins the hyperbaric oxygen chamber again tomorrow.