First off, I would like to apologize for my months of blog silence, as I have recently been focused primarily on getting my trading career on track.
As it turned out, these months have been exceptionally interesting as well as successful, and I now have a clearer and positive picture of the future.
Presently, I am gearing up to move back to the United States at the end of May, when I’ll be relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina to live near my sister, Tiffany. For a quad to move her household anywhere is quite an undertaking, never mind half way round the world, so we’ll really have our hands full over here this spring.
In addition to working full-time in recent months, I have continued to go to the Kunming Tongren hospital every weekday morning for a rehab workout routine that keeps me in shape and generally maintains good health.
Saturday Lunch with Neurosurgery Leaders
Yesterday, Saturday, I was invited to lunch with Dr. Zhu, the head of the Kunming Walking program, and with Dr. Liu, Tongren Hospital’s top neurosurgeon. We drove outside Kunming to Dr. Zhu’s country home for a wonderful traditional Chinese lunch plus a tea-making ceremony + lesson.
Participating in a formal Chinese tea ceremony is a truly fascinating experience that reflects many, many centuries of tea culture. One does not just pour tea into a pot of hot water and then into a cup as in the western world. Instead, tea preparation is elaborate and time consuming, varying significantly according to the type of tea available.
The variables include what type of tea is on offer, how long to steep the tea in a pot, how to prepare the teacups and teapot and finally the temperature at which to drink the tea, with different cup types for different teas. I have included below some pictures from our Saturday outing. There are many online resources, including YouTube videos that set all this out in further detail.
When it came my turn to make tea, this turned out to be comical and painful at the same time. For I had to pour the tea with no finger movement, which involved me burning my hand, but I did not want to insult Dr. Zhu, so I decided to say nothing about several burns on my hands. Yikes! :-)
But the experience was somehow still fun, and the pictures speak for themselves.
Dr. Zhu and Ali
Dr. Liu, Dr. Zhu and Ali
Jenny Emma and Ali
Incredible homemade Chinese spread prepared by Dr. Liu
Sterilization of the teacups
Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony table
Dr. Zhu’s insane tea room
Cleansing of the teacups
Mom taking the lead in preparing the tea
Attempting solo Tea pouring mission… A painful one!
New Charitable Grant = Astonishing Offer for International SCI Patients
As we were enjoying our delicous Chinese lunch that Dr. Liu had personally prepared, (this hobby showcasing one of his many talents) he and Dr. Zhu informed me of an exciting – even astonishing — new initiative they have just launched.
International SCI patients are now being invited to Kunming for six months to one year to participate in the Kunming Walking Program, free of charge. Yes, you heard me right!
Free of charge for international patients, even including spinal cord surgery if required.
In order to promote the Kunming Walking Program, the Tongren Hospital has been given a charitable grant to invite multiple international SCI patients to join the program free of charge. The only expenses needed to be paid by each patient will be a plane ticket to Kunming and local food.
The hospital will cover accommodation, surgery (if deemed necessary), rehabilitation and participation in the Kunming rehab walking program.
While regular readers of this blog might have reservations about accepting such an offer, given a few of the mishaps I have endured, after two years here I have nonetheless come to the conclusion that a good case can be made for international patients joining the Kunming Walking Program:
- Many SCI patients do actually need further surgery, as it is common to suffer from spinal cord cysts and spinal cord tethering as well as multiple other issues that, for a variety of reasons, many western neurosurgeons are unwilling to deal with … or sometimes simply that most SCI patients simply cannot afford.As I have mentioned multiple times in this blog, from personal experience I do rate the Kunming neurosurgical surgical team very highly.
- Many SCI patients, especially quadriplegics, are stuck at home, living as shut-ins who have not developed regular workout routines and therefore do not get the structured exercise necessary to stay healthy. Participation in the Kunming program would address these issues head-on.
- Joining this program offers an opportunity to travel the world, get out of your house or city and experience new things, which too many of us never have the opportunity to do.Our family has come to the conclusion that Kunming is the most attractive major Chinese city and also one that offers an ideal temperate climate ideal for SCI patients.
Summing up …
I think if an SCI patient joins to this program without unrealistic expectations, then the Kunming SCI program has a tremendous amount to offer.
For example, you may not walk again or even regain other motor function, but rather you can be pretty confident you will increase flexibility, range of motion, build useful muscle mass, significantly improve adaptive behavior (like how I can raise my arms over my head without functioning triceps) and generally get back in better shape.
In this case, with realistic expectations, I think Kunming program is well worth the effort to come here and really give it your best effort.
As for potential need for corrective surgery, Dr. Liu and his team have a well-deserved international reputation for extraordinary competence and experience refined over many years and thousands of patients. They are truly remarkable.
Finally, maybe as an “extra” — there’s the opportunity to learn first-hand about Chinese culture and even to speak the language … well, China is fascinating and just has so much on offer!
All that said, I need also to point out that if a quadriplegic would like to apply to join this program, it would be important to bring over your own caregiver or family member to assist you, because Chinese caregivers, while excellent, do not speak English.
Apropos culture and language, Tongren Hospital does have on its full-time staff a charming Chinese woman (“Emma”) who is fluent in English and who is available to help international patients with translation and generally getting settled into the program. Indeed, that’s her main responsibility.
If you are interested in what is now being offered by Kunming Tongren Hospital, you’re welcome to e-mail me at Ali@Ingersoll.org and I will be happy able to make the introductions to Dr. Zhu Hui as well as to Emma so you can figure out if coming over to Kunming makes sense for you.
Summing up, I think the new grant-supported offer is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, both for rehab and surgery. And even if you do not regain any motor function, you’ll still have had an experience you’ll never forget.
Think about it!