When Ava's CT scan came back and showed she has pneumonia, I thought we were in for even more troubles. But it also showed her TB had cleared and the doctor was confident the pneumonia could be seen off with further antibiotic I.V. drips. At this point, Ava started to wonder if we could yet resurrect our UK trip. When pushed, the doctor said that yes, a minimum of three more days of I.V. and she'd be OK to travel. So another bottle this evening, more on Saturday and Sunday and we will be travelling to the UK on Monday afterall. We'll have to cut down our itinerary to allow more rest, but at least we'll be there. What a turnaround! Fingers crossed!
Spent another day with Jiajia in a ward of the Infectious Diseases Hospital. So far she's had 8 x I.V. drips, a CT scan, stool and urine analyses and 10 blood tests. Previous tests confirmed TB, but the latest expert in infectious diseases says that whilst the numbers do indicate a positive result for TB, they are still very low. Ava's are 67 - they usually send people home "cured" of TB when their test results drop below 300!? So they have put her on various antibiotics and are running numerous tests to see why she has been coughing for four months now. Our UK trip is well and truly cancelled now, of course (as has the Open Day for those who were planning to come). We await more test results tomorrow.
On one of our many recdent trips to the hospital Ava and I came across this protest. The cause seemed to be something about the mistreatment of a baby, but we didn't linger too long - foreigners tend to stand out a bit. Protests such as this are rarely seen in China, and are can often be broken up quite heavy-handedly. So it was somewhat encouraging to see the hospital security guards passively looking on, albeit with batons and riot shields discretely nearby.
Unfortunately, things took a more aggressive turn just as I was leaving, when one of the protesting ladies pulled up the road's central fencing and dragged it across three lanes, stopping all the traffic going in one direction. The bus drivers were not at all happy and, amidst beeping horns, I made a speedy exit.
Jiajia's been suffering from a hacking cough for over three months now and, despite two CAT scans and two courses of antibiotics, it remains as bad as ever. We went to another hospital yesterday for more tests - asthma and allergies this time, hence the amusing nose and mouth appendages! We returned for the results this morning, and a junior doctor said she thought it was a sore throat!? The expert doctor we had hoped to see (a friend of a customer, of course) was in a meeting. So back again this afternoon to see him and find out if it shows anything. As Ava said on the drive home "I don't think the doctors have a clue". I tend to agree.
P.S. Jiajia's been diagnosed with tuberculosis. That's put the cat amongst the pigeons in all sorts of ways. Watch this space!
Robert's School had their traditional end-of-year meal and party yesterday. Normally we have about a hundred attendees, but this year was over 300, swelled by foreigners studying Chinese, families of teachers and key students and their parents. After welcome speeches and food, there were performances, prize-giving and a raffle. For those that know it, I did the "Lip Family" monologue complete with candle. Cue bewildered stares from the largely nonplussed audience!
It was just last week that Ava told me she'd had toothache for a week or so and was finally ready to see a dentist (she hates dentists and never gets check-ups). Then, the next day, she was chewing on a prune when three teeth suddenly fell out! Yes, three! And none was the one causing pain. Unknown to me, my wife has a row of false teeth and so the following day we went to the dentist (a customer of hers, naturally, so free treatment!) to have the teeth refitted and a filling put in the painful one. Later, I asked her how she came to lose three teeth at once but she claimed not to remember! Hmmm. Biting off a beer bottle top perhaps or losing a punch-up? My wife is a woman of mystery.
I train a dozen of so western teenagers every six month to be "gap year" English teachers as part of the charity, Lattitude. Knowing I'll be in the UK for the month before the next intake arrive, I got my usual large box of resources from the school storerooom a few days ago. What a shock! One of the new secretaries had been asked to "tidy" the room and, in her enthusiasm, had thrown away all the resources I had accumulated, bought and made over the last five years.
I was gutted. I still am, to be honest. So I've had to start buying, finding and making them all over again. Dozens of items. Yesterday I re-made some and a trip to the toy shop is imminent. The toughest part is keeping JD away from them [see photo].
As JD was born in China, he is considered a Chinese citizen by the Chinese government. Therefore, as China only allows people to have one nationality, JD's British passport is not recognised and he has no valid passport to fly abroad. So we recently had to apply for a temporary Entry/Exit Certificate from the local PSB (People's Security Bureau), which came through last week [see above]. We'll use JD's Birth Certificate for the internal flight to Beijing, switch to his Entry/Exit Certificate to leave and return to China, and then switch to his British passport to enter Britain. That's one troublesome little boy (or country, depending on how you look at it)!
My school is gradually being upgraded. Some nice cultural pictures went up along all the corridors last month and this week sees the completion of a new entrance, which is heaps better than the iron grating, paint peeling, wires-showing previous hole-in-the-wall. We are promised newly decorated stairwells next, and the installation of a cafe in the reception area. All bodes well.
"What do you want for Christmas?" my wife asked me a month ago. "A new office chair" I hopefully replied. The various pieces arrived just after Christmas Day and I valiantly tried to assemble it. There seemed to be three screws missing - isn't there always? After some to-ing and fro-ing, Jiajia got the company to send more screws. After a week, new screws arrived - different colour but still the wrong sizes. More angry online exchanges. Finally, the correct screws arrived yesterday and my chair is finally built. Sit down, relax, enjoy.
With neither Ava nor I needing to work today, we decided to take JD on the local train once again. His last trip was when he was about 7 months old and he was more interested in toddling up and down the carriage than enjoying the rail experience. This time though he was much more aware of being in a train, waving at people outside and begging food off other passengers! As usual, the train was about 20% full and, at 20p each way for the 1½ hour round trip, a total bargain!
Off to MoJiang market this morning, where they specialise in pigs, and pork barbecues. JD enjoyed the former, while I enjoyed the latter (especially after having had gristly goat and cabbage stew for three meals running!)
This was JD's first visit to the countryside, and he had to endure more than the usual amount of staring, shouting and touching from strangers. He coped well, waving and saying goodbye when he'd had enough interaction, and fascinated by all the sounds and sights.
The drive back to Kunming was a more reasonable 4.5 hours, mostly in daylight. There are some crazy Chinese drivers out there though!
A rather surreal day today started in the "Twins Park". MoJiang claims the highest proprtion of twin births of any town in the world and makes of that what tourist potential it can, from hosting a International Twins Festival each year (attracting twins from around the world, they say) to having a park dedicated to all things twinly. They claim that the water in the park's wells (two wells, of course) are what give mothers-to-be a better than average chance of having twins. The statues of a pair of twins urinating and vomiting into the wells didn't inspire confidence, however! [oh, and doesn't that urn in background of the photo above look like a cat!].
MoJiang's other claim to fame is that the Tropic of Cancer runs through it. Thus, everything in the south of the town is sub-tropical, while everything in the north of the town ...well, isn't. The inevitable park shows the Tropic of Cancer line climbing over a mountain. Each level of the stairs is dedicated to another country through which the line passes - quite a few, as it happens. On the far side of the mountain, the line passes through a replica of Stonehenge. Not sure why.
With all the talk of cancer, it was ironic to find this toy in a nearby toyshop. "Benign Girl" must surely be cancer-free...
I've spent New Year's Eve in many ways, but have never before driving down an unlit motorway, through tunnels and over bridges, weaving between trucks, as one year passed into another. But this year we joined a couple of families for a 3-day trip to MoJiang, a town about 300km away from Kunming. It was supposed to take 3-4 hours to drive there, but an accident tailback and a food stop led to a tiring 6-hour trip, arriving 1.30am. Friends of one of the family had been waiing for us to arrive for hours so, after checking into a hotel, we drove to their house for a huge Hani ethnic mnority meal of baby eels, snails and forest foilage, all covered in hot chilli and sour root vegetables. We had already eaten on the way and it was 3am - I wasn't really in the mood! But they had cooked so much for us and had waited for hours - we had to show willing.
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