Typhoon Dujuan

It was four years ago when Typhoon York struck. I spent the unexpected holiday trying to get on top my Rotary work and among other things wrote a letter. Since then, I always feel the urge to write when a typhoon strikes.

We had a few already this summer, but they were nothing compared with Typhoon Dujuan, or so the weatherman has warned. As I was typing away, I learnt that the No. 9 warning signal was up. By the time you read this, Dujuan would probably have gone inland. One only hopes that the damage caused would not be too severe.

I think I have left you too long about the condition of Rosita. Friends have been asking for updates and I thank all of you for the care and concern. The bad news was she became very weak: she could not eat, was always tired and increasingly irritable; her cell counts continued to fall and she needed blood transfusion. By mid-July her kidney function was such that the doctor could not continue with the chemotherapy. He asked us to discuss alternative regimes. Let me quickly tell you the good news: Rosita is well, very well. She is having a normal life; she can cope with the day-to-day household chores; and she has stopped all drugs and western medicine. Let me elaborate.

Shortly before Rosita was due for the fifth treatment, in a series of six, a friend introduced us to a qigong master. There was nothing to lose, we thought, so we went. The master is a soft-spoken and Putonghua speaking gentleman. He speaks with conviction and authority. When he is less serious, he laughs heartily like a child; and most interestingly, he is a chain smoker. Apparently, he has a great following of students and patients, including some rather well known local figures.

It must be her karma or Fate. The master has since been giving her prescriptions and treatment weekly. He has been very supportive and convincing. Rosita regained her strength after a week and her constitution has continued to improve. It was at this time Rosita and I went to see the doctor to discuss the way forward. The doctor was not averse to her following a treatment regime based on traditional Chinese medicine. He was frank about the options open though. There were not that many anyway, and in any case, Rosita having taken on three courses (well, almost) of chemotherapy, he would not put the efficacy of any western drugs or treatment beyond 20 to 30 percent. The bottom line seemed to be, he had no silver bullet. “There could be new drugs coming on stream,” he said and suggested a combination of other drugs.

But even as he was making the suggestion, he did not sound too sanguine. “My other patients did not respond well to the drug,” he conceded. It was when Rosita asked him whether she could go away for a few days to Taipei that he brightened up, “Oh, yes of course, traveling is the best therapy, if you are strong enough.” His mood was drastically different from the time he saw us the first time, slightly over three years before, when he prescribed Rosita the first course of chemotherapy. He was very confident at the time.

In any case, Rosita would not subject herself to the drugs in the few weeks following when the children would be around. She wanted to be mobile, feel the children and so on. The doctor agreed. By the same reasoning, he further recommended that she deferred the scan scheduled until we came back from a planned river cruise in November.

So Rosita put behind her dreaded drugs and has been seeing this qigong master every week. The children came back, separately. Stephanie had planned to come back for two weeks. In the end she stayed for three. We went to Taipei together to visit our sister club, and we had many dinners together, in Taipei and Hong Kong. Stephanie met up with her old time friends and mates, and in between, we tried to learn more about each other as mother and daughter made up for lost time. At night we stayed up to watch a marathon VCD serial based on the early Qing Dynasty. It was yesterday once more.

Stephanie has just gone back to school again, with the Veterinary School of UC Davis. In time, we would find out how much time she could spend with us, but she is a big girl now and will no doubt have her priority. Separation makes the heart grow fonder may not necessarily apply between parents and children, not always anyway. As parents, we would do what we can, when we are asked or when we are in a position to, including providing them refuge whenever necessary. Except for the very gifted or fortunate, we all get hurt along the way. Friends often hurt each other and nurse each other’s wounds. Parents can often do a good job and are naturally placed for such, but only if they know.

Lawrence signed up two summer courses and took the next flight home to see his mother. He stayed for nine days in all, barely had time to warm his bed. He complained that Baguio was a bit off the city center he knew and where he spent most of his time. I think the young man has figured out what he wants and has been improving on his social skills all the time such that he would not be as forthright as his sister in some circumstances. If all goes well, we would watch him graduate next May.

Now that the children have gone back to their separate lives, Rosita and I are left to our own devices or vices. Oh, by the way, we failed to cope with the maid we hired in June. It was a miserable failure. We learnt somewhat more about each other and ourselves afterwards. Thanks to another friend, we have hired another. So far so good.

I hope you spent the time gained from Dujuan profitably. Talk to you soon.

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