OK now that Minki’s been discharged, we’re decompressing and writing always helps me process. Wow, so many of you have asked about what’s going on, we’ve been really touched by your concern. So here’s what happened in December: our holiday health scare.

End November, Minki was having trouble breathing and then began experiencing chest pain. After two nights of sleeping upright, he went to see the doctor. Turns out he had pneumonia. As you may have seen, there’s been an upsurge of respiratory illness in China this season. After all, this was the country’s first full winter season since it lifted its uber strict COVID-19 restrictions in December last year.

Minki goes to the hospital.

Well, because Laini was preparing for finals so we decided the girls would stay in the states. But then both Minki’s lungs filled with fluid. He was admitted to the ER as Laini found herself in the middle of her finals.

We stayed in daily contact – Minki didn’t want us coming to visit when there wasn’t anything we could do. Meanwhile, hospitals were overflowing with respiratory illness. In fact, they were so full that his bed was placed in a public area – there were no rooms left. Check out the photo he snapped from his mobile hospital bed, while waiting for a blood test. There were 400 people queued in front of him!

Holiday health scare - 400 in line for blood test

And then, Minki’s left leg started to hurt. Our long distance runner wondered… shin splints? Turned out he had a blood clot in his leg, DVT or deep vein thrombosis.

 DVT image

This led the doctors to wonder if he had a pulmonary embolism because blood clots can loosen and lodge in the lungs. After a few scans, it turns out Minki had many emboli. This sounded pretty frightening and doctors encouraged us to get to China asap. Meanwhile, an ambulance brought him to Huashan Hospital, renowned for its Respiratory and Infectious Disease units (both of which Minki had).

 PE image

We urgently apply for expedited visas.

So in between Laini’s last few finals, we applied for expedited visas and booked flights. The day after her last final, we flew.

Upon arrival, I dropped Laini at a friend’s and headed to the hospital to spend the night. Our amazing chosen family had already been taking shifts for three days & nights, so the cot and bedding was all set up. Somewhat alarmingly, next to Minki’s IV hung a sign that said, “Absolutely no movement”. With all his blood clots, the staff was worried that any movement would cause more dire problems.

Holiday health scare - the hospital

Christmas hits Room 6… with enthusiasm.

Over the next few days, Laini and I brought food and water. We opened gifts, played UNO, and tried to make the space as comfortable and festive as possible. One nurse was baffled at why a large sock was hanging on Minki’s IV 😂

We just buried him in Christmas.

Holiday health scare - christmas comes

Hospital protocol was very strict and except for 3-7PM, only one visitor was allowed in the room at a time. Don’t ask how we worked around that one 😜. While Minki was still on a bunch of meds, we were pleased to see his appetite return – probably from losing all that UNO.

Wait… cancer?

We thought things were really looking up as color returned to Minki’s face… and then the doctor mentioned 癌症. I had to double confirm the Chinese – wait… cancer, really? What’s that got to do with all this? Turns out the liquid extracted from his lungs showed abnormally high levels of biomarker for lung cancer. So… back to testing.

This time, a PET CT, which uses radioactive matter to get 3D images for accurate cancer diagnosis. Today, we received the results, which are inconclusive. Turns out Minki has a whole string of pulmonary emboli, so it’s impossible to tell if there’s cancer. We can only wait a few months, keep taking blood thinners, and hope they shrink or dissolve. Eventually, we’ll look at what’s left and check for cancer again.

Two decades ago, Minki’s mom passed away from lung cancer, so it runs in the family. And yesterday, we suddenly remembered what she said in her final days – “I feel like the richest woman in the world.”

So much goodness.

Truly, Micha was the classiest woman I’ve ever known. She was generous and filled… no, overflowing with the fruit of the spirit. So when she got sick, all that goodness came back in waves, as friends loved on her and cared for her. Now in these few weeks, we were dazzled to see that same love poured out on Minki.

Dazzled, but not surprised.

You see, Minki is such a good human. He did the heavy lifting for nearly all our 17 Spare Room kids. In the last few years, he’s built a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the disabled community, featured in scientific papers and Maker Faire Shanghai, and supported by IDEO, Microsoft, UWC and so many others. So it’s no wonder all that goodness has come back to him. Simply beautiful. And so are our wonderful friends.

By the numbers:

Our holiday health scare in recap: 54 gifts. 39 delivered meals. 35 vials of blood. 29 visitors. 21 medical tests. 15 friends who rotated shifts in the hospital.

Here’s to a hopefully uneventful new year!

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Image creds: DVT, PE