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Some suggestions for the trip to China

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    Some suggestions for the trip to China

    Well a few people have asked for a list of things to take so here are some ideas.

    A Chinese/English dictionary is a must. I carried it with me everywhere and it was such a help.

    The guys had mentioned before that you need to bring your own supplies, and you definitely need to bring everything. Anything you need in the coarse of the day you need to bring.

    There is a department store a few blocks away that you can buy many things you would need if you don't want to take the space in luggage. Bob (the American whose wife has ALS) didn't know to bring things so we went to the store. He bought the cheapest towels there and they were about $11 each in US money.

    Towels, washclothes, etc.

    Toilet paper. I took two rolls and wish I had taken more. I bought some from the convenience store across the street and it did the job but was certainly not the quality we are used to here.

    Hand soap, shampoo, etc., any of those kinds of things you want your own kind. The convenience store will have them but who knows the quality.

    Detergent to wash your clothes. There is a dry cleaners across the street and you can take laundry which they will wash also. BUT, they don't wash underwear or socks. I took a load over which had our underwear and socks in it and the lady took everything else out and pushed those items back to me with a look like I had three eyes for even wanting them washed. I pulled out my little dictionary to try and understand and and basically got out of it that it is bacause they touch our bodies too closely. I went to the convenience store and used my dictionary and got some detergent. When I washed these things in the bathroom sink there was no suds, and the sink was full of sand. The next day after drying on the radiator, I picked them up and a fine sand fell out of them. So Chris and I had sand in our beds from our socks after that. The next time I just used my shampoo to wash with.

    Either a shower mat or something to wear on your feet in the shower (for us caregivers). The bathroom is very small and very old. The shower sprays right next to the toilet which gets all wet during the shower. The water just sprays onto the bathroom floor which has a drain in it. The plumbing doesn't drain very well so our bathroom flooded everyday. It wasn't just ours, Bob and Jan had there whole bedroom flooded because they weren't paying attention to the fact that the water was sneaking around the corner of the bathroom door. Anyway I just didn't feel comfortable standing on the floor with my bare feet (I posted before that these are not conditions like in American hospitals) you may feel differently.

    One of the things the first guys didn't warn us about was the food. To put it kindly, the hospital food was pretty INTOLERABLE. Sorry. I had to vent. Maybe they were just being nice and didn't want to say anything, or they have really tough stomachs. This wasn't just our feeling, Bob and Jan, and Diedre and Paul felt the same way. Chris and I are pretty adventurous when it comes to food and we tried many things-once. It didn't take long before me and my neighbors were going out pretty much daily trying to find some food to eat and bring back. The Chinese food outside the hospital was much better, but we still got tired of not that. For breakfast the food offered each day was a boiled egg, fried egg or scrambled egg (which was usually dripping in oil), a bun (a plain hamburger bun) and a banana. If you like cereal or instant oatmeal I would highly suggest bringing something like that. The store across the street has a very limited selection of cereals so if you have a preference and can easily pack it you would probably enjoy that after a few days. They only serve whole milk also. Anyway, I would suggest if you could bring some simple kinds of staple things to snack on I'd do it. Things like nuts, beef jerkey, your favorite candy bars, whatever you might like along those lines. You will really enjoy a familiar taste when lunch comes and you can't eat it. There were a few things on the menu that were actually pretty tasty and we were happy on the days that those things were offered.

    Imodium and a prescription med from your doc if you can incase you get a Gi bug like Chris did. Maybe the doctors at the hospital would have treated him the same way, I don't know but I felt better being prepared.

    Pain medication. After the surgery and they took away the IV pain med, the doctors asked me if I had brought any pain medication for Chris. I hadn't brought anything other than a small bottle of Tylenol and Excedrin that I always carry with me, so they told me to give him some of that whenever he needed it. It wasn't strong enough to really keep him comfortable though. I had Vicodin that I could have brought from home if I had known. Maybe if we had asked for something stronger the doctors would have ordered it. Tim, Bob, Chris or Mike may have had a different experience with that and could tell you.

    Reading material. The days are long and not much to do. We took a lot to read but went through it pretty quickly. We didn't find a place to buy anything in English to read. The second two weeks we were there we spent watching t.v. (there is one channel in English) and playing on the computer.

    Duct tape. Whoever the next person to go over is, you might want to take this. The shower chair that carecure members sent over when the first guys went over is still there and what a joy it was to have that to use. (Thanks to all who were involved in that.) Anyway, one of the four tabs on the seat is broken off so it doesn't stay in place. I don't know if that was broken when the other guys were there or if the hospital uses it regularly with other patients now and it got broken with one of them or what. But it's broken off so the seat keeps wanting to slide while you're sitting on it. I had a thin velcro strap that I had packed just because, and tried to strap it around to keep the seat in place. It wourked a bit but I had to redo it everyday or two and we still had to be very careful so Chris didn't fall through if it moved. If any of you guys that were there before saw this then maybe you have a better suggestion on how to fix it so that it stays in place, but the concensus of everyone there was that we needed duct tape.

    Chinese currency. Aside from what you might spend while you're there, make sure you have about 300 Yuan left when you go to the airport to return home. There are some things you'll have to pay for before you board. Airport tax was 90 Yuan each, then there were a couple of things I was handed a paper for to pay and I still don't know what it was for. We also paid a guy inside the airport to help us through. Our agreement was 50 Yuan and he would take us through the places we needed to go and get us to the boarding gate. He was a life saver.

    Well those are the things I thought of while I was there, of coarse you need all of your supplies for cathing, bowel program, etc. I hope that helps some.

    I want everyone to know that the hospital staff was absolutely wonderful, and tried to accomodate us in every way. You have to be a bit tolerant of the fact that you're not in America so the surroundings may not be what you're used to. But, the doctors and nurses were so kind, and went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and at home and welcome in their country. It was certainly an experience and we would gladly do it again.


  • #2
    Food was one of my main concerns going over there. I had the luxury of having a friend along who would bring us food from McDonalds, KFC, Hard Rock Cafe, TGIFridays, and the Outback Steakhouse. Pizza Hut would deliver and we'd order extra to heat up in the microwave. I hardly ate any of the hospital food.

    There is a pastry cart on the second floor that is pretty good. We bought Coke, M&Ms, Hersheys, and Snickers over there. They also have Budweiser and Heineken for those that are interested.

    There is a water cooler in each room that has hot and cold water. We were glad we brought some Tang with us. The water was hot enough for instant coffee, which could be purchased over there(but you may want to take your own).

    As for entertainment - the internet was cheap and DVDs were very inexpensive. The laptop was great to have with us. There was a bookstore with books written in English near the hospital, but bringing your own is a great idea.

    I'll post more as I think of it.


      Great list. Please tell us about any problems with the airports, the flight and transfers to and from the hospital. Also would you share your cost summary of this procedure. How do you pay DR Huang and the hospital?
      (credit card, travellers checks, ect)
      How much other cash should one take along?
      Thanks for any information.


        Chris & Kitty, welcome back to CA!

        Thank you so very much, Kitty, for all your posts, your great take-along list, & for relaying info to & from Dr. Huang about our arrival date.

        Matt talked to Chris @ PW yesterday, but I was @ work. Matt is at the USC game tonight. This spring, a spectator -- last spring, a player on a championship HS team. How two seconds can change your future!

        I just read a post by another member who longed to have his "old life back." How often I have heard Matt say that. What can we who love you say, except "Hang in there, keep the hope & faith, & we'll be here for you."

        (And we'll pray for miracles and vote for compassionate leaders.)

        Also a BIG thank you to CJO & Handibob for some helpful suggestions on the things that helped you travel &/or make adjustments to the hospital environment.

        We are leaving Feb 8 & will be glad to provide the duct tape for stabilizing the shower chair! We are still waiting for our ADA bathroom @ home to be completed, so we are used to roughing it @ bath time. We boldly graduated from bed baths & have made a few awkward attempts to get M into a shower chair that is 1/3 in and 2/3 out of the shower stall in the other bathroom. But we do have the luxury of a washer & dryer for laundering the dozens of towels we use to mop up the flood afterward. I am looking forward to a bathroom that a shower chair will fit into. Will the nearby laundromat do towels & soiled sheets or do they only reject "personals?"

        (Will stuff a suitcase with chux & another with cath kits & TP)

        We were in China a couple of years ago & found the people to be most gracious & friendly. It is a beautiful country, rich with history. We traveled all over by train or by taxi in the major cities, with the help of concierges in hotels (even if we were not staying there) & a couple of good travel books from Borders. It will be a different story trying to get around with a power chair.

        CJO, I appreciate your suggestions about gate- checking your power chair. I am wondering how you got from the hospital to visit Tianamen Square. Is there any form of transportation (other than Dr. Huang's kind staff) that can take you out & about in a power chair?

        We are really excited about re-visiting Beijing & appreciate all the preparation tips.

        Many thanks for blazing the trail!


        "...suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us."
        --Paul, in his letter to the Romans


          I know of someone who would be delighted to pay for and ship a new shower chair to China for use by anyone who might need it. Can someone give me some advice to make this a reality?

          I have no idea what would be involved in shipping an item to a Dr. Huang in Beijing -- so any way to avoid red tape and see that the chair gets to it's intended destination would be appreciated.

          Thanks in advance.


            lovesbeach, that's very kind of you. It's just one of the tabs on the removable seat that is broken so a new seat is all that is needed. I had planned on looking into it after I got home but have been taking care of so many things around here I haven't done it yet.

            Susan, you don't need to provide linens for the bed, they do do that. They will also provide pajamas for Matt if he wants. Chris wore pj's for a few days after surgery then he just wore his regular clothes everyday. And yes, the laundromat will wash towels.

            Stew, we didn't run into any problems at the airport that were unusual. Chris's wheelchair wheel got broken during the flight to China when it was put in baggage. On the way home I insisted that it be put in the cabin and they were very accomodating. His wheels come off and the back folds down on it. I don't know how you would deal with a power chair. I highly suggest that when you are at the airport you find someone who can help you inside and pay them. It's a small amount for the amount of frustration it will alieve.

            They way to pay Dr. Huang seems up in the air. We took over traveler's checks, but then we were taken to a bank where we had to exchange them for Yuan. There was a 7.5% fee for doing that. So we paid that fee as well as the fee here to get the checks. We did this about two weeks after we got there, then the night before we left a lady came in and gave us money back, in Yuan. I haven't figured the exact amount but it was under $17,000 for the whole stay. This included hospital, surgery, food, everything as well as my staying in the hospital room also.

            I think the only other expenses related would be your airfare, passport and visa.

            I took over about 3700 Yuan which was $500 in U.S. money. This lasted me pretty good for spending on incidentals, i.e. food, laundry, etc. I did use my charge card for things in the department store and wherever I could so I didn't use up my Yuan.

            Hope that helps


              lovesbeach, that' a great offer, the information is here, give me a while to track down, i'm sure it will be needed.

              drop me email if you like.

              "All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
              Gandolf the Gray

              2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member

              "You kids and your cures, why back when I was injured they gave us a wheelchair and that's the way it was and we liked it!" Grumpy Old Man

              .."i used to be able to goof around so much because i knew Superman had my back. now all i've got is his example -- and that's gonna have to be enough."


                Hi Lovesbeach, the info. in this topic should be up to date.


                  Thanks Seneca, Gosh if you weren't married!

                  2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member

                  "You kids and your cures, why back when I was injured they gave us a wheelchair and that's the way it was and we liked it!" Grumpy Old Man

                  .."i used to be able to goof around so much because i knew Superman had my back. now all i've got is his example -- and that's gonna have to be enough."


                    Leo, Seneca thanks.

                    I've heard that a new chair isn't necessary, just a replacement to the seat tab that Chris' Mom mentioned.

                    [This message was edited by lovesbeach on 02-01-04 at 01:24 PM.]


                      Susan & Matt, you should be there by now, hope all's going well and am anxious to hear from you.

                      "All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
                      Gandolf the Gray

                      2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member

                      "You kids and your cures, why back when I was injured they gave us a wheelchair and that's the way it was and we liked it!" Grumpy Old Man

                      .."i used to be able to goof around so much because i knew Superman had my back. now all i've got is his example -- and that's gonna have to be enough."


                        Thanks for supplying a list of thing to bring. I have a scheduled appointment in 2005. The question I have can you put extra money(pay in advance on your credit card)or do you have to bring cash. Do the rates vary according to injury ( I'm aT-12 L-1 incomplete) or is there another way, travel checks,etc to do it. Can this trip be done just 1 person?