Bye Week post Round 5 (of 8)

Last week, treatment week, I was relatively symptom free.  But this week is markedly different.

  1. The B/P is totally out of wack.  Sometimes 165/95, other times 78/60.  So I have to check it night and day and take medications accordingly.
  2. My appetite is very poor because the food taste is altered.  I’ve also been regurgitating a lot, and the after taste is like ‘chocolate Ensure’ even though I don’t drink Ensure!
  3. I have absolutely very little energy, and I get short of breathe with any physical activity.  Cough a lot because of my mild asthma and COPD.
  4. Fatigue causes me to sleep a lot.
  5. I feel cold, and can’t seem to stay warm, no matter how many layers I put on.  Feel best under the heated blanket in bed.
  6. Finally, the lower GI system is totally irregular, with intermittent cramps, and a lot of gas.  Not a good week.  Need to get over this and prepare for Round 6 Monday.  Thanks for visiting.

ps.  After posting this last night, I had a good night’s sleep and awoke much more energized and feel like 90% normal today.  Thanks for all the good vibes you sent my way.

First Debate

In the fall of 1949, when I was six years old, I got into trouble in school.  I remember the incident in class when the teacher asked, “Do you know where you came from?”  I thought the answer was that we came from our parents.  But somehow the teacher was making a point in evolution and declared that we came from monkeys.  I went home and asked Mother how that could be true.  She said that we are Christians and we believe that God created us different from all the animals and we are to be stewards over them and care for the whole creation.  Armed with this information, I formulated a speech in my head for my teacher.  At the next opportunity, I asked to stand before the class and said:  “Teacher, you asked us ‘do we know where we came from?’  My answer is that I am created by God, different from and superior to all other animals.  I came out of my Mother’s womb.  Out of respect, since you are our teacher, I shall let you think as you wish.  But even if you believed humans came from monkeys, may I ask “who made the first monkey?’  God did!”  The school, now controlled by the Communists, contacted my Mother and told her I was a trouble maker.  When I got home, Mother shushed me and told me never to speak out like that ever again.

Daniel’s Conversion Experience

I am submitting the following article written by my sister, Elizabeth Chu Domahidy, to relate my father’s conversion experience and he subsequently was attending Hamma Divinity School at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio from August 1948 – December 1950 while the Communists ousted Chang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang and overtook all of China in 1949.

God’s Guiding Hand          by        Elizabeth Chu Domahidy

Do you believe in God’s guiding hand?  If you are skeptical that God pushes us in our life’s direction then perhaps this story may change your mind.  And by the way, God may not make it a gentle push as you’ll come to see in this experience!

This event is one of many stories in the life of my father, Daniel.  Daniel was a retired Lutheran minister (died 11/21/2013) living in a retirement community.   He was born in China on March 25, 1917.  One may assume that Daniel had spent his entire life dedicated to serving the Lord, looking after His flock and ministering to the needs of those looking for mercy and comfort.  But Daniel’s life wasn’t always about serving mankind.  In fact, during Daniel’s earlier years, he was more focused on how best to serve himself.

The setting of what I’m about to relay is post WW II China, year 1948.  China’s roads and railroad network had been bombed and destroyed.  Chinese family members living overseas anxious to care for their family members in China were sending remittances to their relatives living in China to help get them through the hardships resulting from the war.  Meanwhile, China was also desperately trying to boost its economy.  The currency presses in Shanghai were running day and night trying to keep up with the demand for the yuan (Chinese currency) to honor the demands.  But without passable roads and functional railroads, it was very difficult to transport the yuan from Shanghai to the cities throughout China.

Almost anyone with good credits traveling by air or sea could go to a bank in Shanghai and offer their services to help transport yuan.  The banks advertised that they would pay the traveler 15% of whatever amount of yuan the traveler could carry.  Daniel saw this as an opportunity to make fast money!  He decided to start small.  He carried a handbag of yuan from Shanghai to Amoy, a city on China’s southern coast, on an airplane.  The whole process went smoothly and sure enough he made a quick 15% profit.

After doing this several times, Daniel became greedy.  He decided to involve his wife, Shirley, and their three small sons.  The five of them would travel by ship to visit Gong Gong in Swatow.  Daniel’s reasoning was that a family of 5 would be entitled 5 pieces of luggage on a ship; with that number of suitcases,  Daniel could transport a lot of yuan – 150 million in yuan!  For that amount of yuan, the banks will pay 25% to the courier.  What an opportunity!  There is a downside to every “too good to be true opportunity”.  If Daniel loses the yuan, he would still be responsible to the bank for all the borrowed sum.  150 million is more money than Daniel could ever make in his lifetime, so if he loses the money, Daniel would lose everything.

Not to be deterred.  Daniel bought passage for his family on a ship traveling from Shanghai to Swatow (now known as Shàntóu) and make the exchange there with a Swatow bank.  But if anyone asked why they were going to Swatow, it would be to visit Shirley’s father.  Shirley and Daniel packed 1 suitcase with clothes for themselves and their sons and filled 4 suitcases full of yuan in large bills.  As someone once said to Daniel, “To win big, you have to think big!”  And that’s what Daniel was determined to do.

On a spring day in March, 1948, Daniel and his family boarded the ship.  Everything was going very smoothly.  Daniel carefully watched the ship hands load luggage onto the ship.  He kept a very close eye on his 5 suitcases.  He dogged the porters to make sure all 5 suitcases were safely delivered to his cabin.  Once the suitcases were in his cabin, Daniel finally was able to breathe.  The ship blew its departure horn and they were on their way.

Later that evening at bedtime, the little family of five knelt down and prayed to God.  They thanked God for giving them this profitable opportunity and asked for God’s safe keeping to Swatow.  As Shirley and the boys slumbered, Daniel mused about how easy it is to make money!  “Other guys just aren’t as smart as I am!” he thought.   His mother kept appearing in his mind saying, “Daniel, remember, you belong to God.  Your calling is to become a minister to serve His people.”  Daniel’s father was the first ordained Chinese Lutheran Minister in China.  Daniel’s parents never let Daniel forget that he was to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Daniel’s friend, Dr. Nelson, the China Director for the Lutheran World Federation, also encouraged Daniel to enter seminary.  But Daniel also remembered how his parents were always struggling financially to make ends meet.  Now Daniel couldn’t help thinking that his parents and Dr. Nelson were wrong and that making easy money was Daniel’s destiny!

Daniel finally fell asleep counting his money in his head.  While he was sleeping a storm developed.  The ship encountered high winds and seas.  Daniel woke up in a start as all the alarms on the ship were sounding.  The boys woke up crying and Shirley was scared.  Daniel rushed out into the hallway and people were running in all directions.  He stopped a steward and asked, “What is going on?”  The steward said, “The storm has pushed the ship aground and everyone needs to abandon ship!”  “Abandon ship!  What about our luggage?” Daniel cried.  The steward said, “Leave everything in your cabin.  We will take care of your luggage when we can.  But first, you and your family need to go topside and board the lifeboats!”

Daniel returned to his cabin.  Shirley was trying to calm the boys.  Daniel told her what the steward said about needing to go to the lifeboats.  Shirley said, “But what about our luggage?”  Daniel swallowed hard and told Shirley not to worry and that the luggage would be OK.

Luckily the ship was caught on an outcropping of rock and was not in any immediate danger of sinking.  But to be safe, the captain issued the abandon ship order and sent out an SOS.  The ship was very close to an island in the Quemoy island group.  So it was decided to transport the passengers to the island.

Daniel and Shirley dressed themselves and the boys, and packed a small handbag of supplies and personal valuables.  They threw one last worried look at their 5 packed suitcases and left their cabin.  They went to the deck of the ship and entered the pandemonium.  Women and children were being loaded down to the lifeboats.  When it was Shirley and the boys’ turn to board the lifeboats, Shirley went down first.  The wind was fiercely blowing as she climbed down the rope ladder to the lifeboat.  Then the ship hands made a make shift rope seat and tied baby Daniel to it and lowered him down to the lifeboat.  Next, came the twins, Franklin and Winston.  Baby Daniel watched as his brothers were precariously lowered to the lifeboat.  He was so terrified and screamed so loudly that he stopped talking for two months afterwards.  But the twins were safely placed into the lifeboat.  Once Daniel knew Shirley and the boys were on their way to the island, he went to his cabin and made five trips carrying his luggage onto the deck.  Daniel instructed the deck hands to make sure they didn’t miss his luggage when they got around to transporting the luggage.

When the lifeboats returned to the ship, the men boarded and were transported to the island.  Once on shore, Daniel could see the ship and he closely watched the activities.  Nearby was a man wringing his hands and muttering to himself.  Daniel went to him and asked if he was alright.  The man’s eyes were wild with fear.  He cried, “All my life’s savings are on that ship!”  Just as Daniel was about to reassure the man, Daniel saw a sight that struck terror in his heart.  The ship hands were throwing suitcases over the deck railing.  The larger heavier ones seemed to land into the lifeboats, but most of the suitcases were blown by the wind and splashed into the dark ocean.  Daniel looked at the frightened man and saw his own panic reflected in the man’s eyes.  Daniel quickly grabbed the man’s arm pulling him down to kneel.  Daniel said, “Let’s pray together and beg for God’s mercy and help.”  Daniel fervently prayed with the man and in that pray, Daniel said, “Lord, please let my suitcases be safe.  If you find it in your heart to forgive my arrogance and see me through this calamity, I will commit myself to you.  You have my word and promise that I shall immediately enter seminary and be a minister and be your faithful servant.”

The man and Daniel helplessly watched the suitcases fall from the ship and after what seemed like an eternity, the lifeboats began making their way to shore.  When the lifeboats reached shore, they ran to the boats, along with many other passengers.  Daniel frantically checked each suitcase.  He spotted one of his suitcases and grabbed it.  Then two, then three, then four!  After looking through again, he could not find the fifth suitcase.  But to Daniel’s great relief, he recovered the four suitcases of money and only lost the suitcase with clothes!  The man Daniel met also found his suitcases.  The Lord is indeed merciful!

At daybreak, a rescue ship arrived to take the passengers and luggage to Amoy.  While in Amoy, Daniel delivered the money to a bank and collected his 25%.  The family then continued onto Swatow to visit Shirley’s father and to tell him about Daniel’s plan to enter seminary.  Once hearing the whole story, Shirley’s father agreed that entering seminary was the right thing to do.  Daniel returned to Shanghai shortly to finalize his affairs, and returned his loan.  Shirley and the boys stayed in Swatow for a month.  After the family reunited in Shanghai, Daniel contacted Dr. Nelson, and told him that he was ready to go abroad to attend seminary.  He left China in August, 1948 began Daniel’s life in His ministry.

My father went on to serve mission congregations in Hong Kong and Malaysia where I was born.  We then immigrated to United States in 1955 where Daniel served congregations in Ohio, Michigan and Washington until he retired in 1984.  Of course he has many more stories to tell, but this particular one is my favorite.  Through God’s guiding hand, this was the turning point in Daniel’s life and the life of our family.

Chu Family’s Lutheran Heritage

My paternal Great Grandfather, a weaver by trade, and his whole family were converted to the Christian faith in the 1890’s by an American Norwegian missionary named Daniel Nelson, Sr. from Iowa.  Pastor Nelson healed my dying Great Grandfather with western medications and prayers.  My Grandfather, Chu Hao-Ran, (YeYe,) was raised in the Lutheran faith and around 1915 he graduated number one in the first class of the newly established Lutheran Theological Seminary in China.  YeYe was the first Chinese trained and ordained Lutheran minister in China.  (Years later, he retired as Bishop Emeritus, having served as the first Chinese President of the then united Lutheran Church of China.)  YeYe’s biography is recorded in a book, Faithful under Fire: the Remarkable Story of Chu Hao-Ran, Native Lutheran Pastor.  After ordination, YeYe returned to his hometown, Sinyang, Henan and began preaching at the church established by Daniel Nelson, Sr.  YeYe and Grandmother (PoPo) became the laughing stock of the region because this Chu family, worshipping this foreign Christian God, had 3 daughters and could not even produce a “son” to carry on the family name!  So Grandmother prayed to God asking Him to end this ridicule by granting them a son, and she promised that they would dedicate him to His service.

Grandmother’s prayers were answered with the birth of my father.  He was named X ue’ San, which means ‘Learn to be Holy’.  His English name was Daniel, in honor of the American Norwegian missionary.  (Following Daniel came two more daughters before PoPo and YeYe had three more sons to round out a family of nine children.)

Daniel was raised with expectations markedly different from other children.  Once he learned to read, while other children played, he had to be memorizing Bible verses.  He was expected to lead the family in giving thanks before meals and it was always his responsibility to lead family and church devotions.  Of course, Daniel rebelled furiously.  He loved playing ping-pong, tennis, chess, cards, etc.  Even if he sneaked away to see a movie, the incident would quickly be reported home before he ever got back!  He blamed his mother for putting this ‘curse’ on him.  Finally, at the age of 15 he ran away, vowing that he’d never give up his life and freedom to follow his dad in the Christian ministry, rather he would pursue other paths, become very rich and then support the church abundantly.

Daniel left home to live with his oldest sister Sheila who was attending college in another part of Henan province.  He finished high school, tested into college and enrolled in the study of linguistics.  Daniel had learned some English growing up with the Nelson boys and other American missionaries.  In 1937, after his third year of college, Daniel was caught up in the patriotism fueled by the Sino-Japanese War and joined Chang Kai Shek’s Kuomintang Army.  Daniel determined that if he were to die fighting, he’d be freed from having to run from God anymore.  His military role was similar to the FBI/CIA — intercept and interpret messages from both the Japanese and the newly forming Chinese Communist Party.  From time to time, he provided Generalissimo Chang Kai Shek translations of “breaking news.”  After about three years, Daniel told the authorities that he’d be a more valuable asset if he went abroad to study and improve his English.  He was given a leave of absence, but later changed his mind and stayed in China.  Instead he joined Daniel Nelson, Jr. serving the newly arrived American GI’s at the American USO in ChongQing.  They also flew necessary supplies to mission shelters and refugee establishments throughout central China; Daniel was convincing himself that he was doing God’s work.  Chronologically we are now in early 1941.

I’ll stop here and skip how he went to Shanghai, courted and chased after Shirley, a 15 year old premed student and convinced her to marry him on December 24th, 1942.

Round 5, treatment 10 completed

I was in yesterday and had an uneventful treatment session.  New discovery for me was that before they start my treatment each time, they prepped me with 10 mg of Decadron, that’s an equivalent of 120 mg of prednisone if I remember correctly!  No wonder I get hyped up so much the next day.

Anyway, not to waste your time for checking in, I spent a little energy writing about the Chinese New Year which will be here February 8 this year.  It is posted on the Biographical Thread, please check it out.

Thanks for visiting.  Gong Xi Fa Cai.

p.s.  Dear friend Dr. Wetzler jolted my memory that the rule of thumb for equivalency  is 4 mg dexamethasone = 30 mg predisone.  Therefore 10 mg of Decadron is closer to 75 mg of predisone, still a lot !

 

 

Early Decision

When I was a little over 4 years old, we paid a visit to my maternal grandfather, (Gong Gong), Dr. Liu of Swatow, Guangdong province.  I was carried on the shoulders of my mother’s nephews, running all over the town.  Everywhere we went, people asked, “Who is this kid?”  The answer was “This is Dr. Liu’s grandson.”  I sensed the great honor and high respect all the strangers had for my grandfather and I knew I wanted to grow up to be just like him.  I learned from Mom that Gong Gong was a medical doctor who healed people when they were sick; I decided then, that I would also become a doctor when I grew up.  I never wavered from that choice.  In retrospect, having chosen a career goal early in life actually simplified a whole lot of angst in decision making later.  The course of studies was pretty much mapped out, and luckily I was able to follow and accomplish that goal.

Language Development

As the WW II wore on, the Japanese invasion into China continued relentlessly.  We retreated to Chongqing, capital of Sichuan province to join the rest of the Chu family.  We lived just outside of Chongqing until I was just past three years old.  Here, I learned to speak.  My father was from Henan province and at home all my Chu relatives spoke Henan dialect.  My caretaker was native Sichuan and taught my twin brother Winston and me Sichuanese, thus Sichuan became our language.  The parents and others spoke to us in whatever dialects they used, and we’d always answer back in Sichuanese.

In late 1945 or early 1946 we moved to Shanghai.  We started preschool and learned Mandarin, taught in all Chinese schools (except in Guangdong province and Hong Kong) because Mandarin has always been China’s national language.  Of course, living in Shanghai, we also learned Shanghai-nese.  I was the first born among all my cousins.  My father was the first male of 9 siblings, thus I have over 20 cousins.  In most Chinese families, especially ours, cousins are all considered siblings and I am the ‘Big Brother.’ Even though Winston, 30 minutes younger, was a little bigger physically than I, whenever we came upon a closed door, he’d ask, “Big Brother, would you open the door for me.”  Slowly and steadily younger cousins came along, including my younger brother Daniel, born in March 1946 in Shanghai.  Because I was leading them, they all learned Sichuanese.  Eventually in December 1950 when I was 7 years old we left Shanghai to join my father in Hong Kong.  Years later when my cousins all immigrated to USA, at one family gathering I found them all speaking Sichuanese.  I asked, “why do you still speak Sichuanese, few of you have ever even been to Sichuan!”  They all said because I, the ‘Big Brother,’ taught them!!

In Hong Kong, the language used in school was Cantonese.  (To this day, I still recite my multiplication table in Cantonese.)  I completed 5th grade, top of my class, before I suffered a concussion and amnesia.  So, before my concussion, when I was 9 years old.  I spoke Sichuanese, Mandarin, Shanghai-nese, Cantonese, certainly understood Henanese, and a little Swatow dialect, my mother’s native tongue. Researchers can spend all their time and energy studying the plasticity of the neural system in language development and propose theories whether it confuses the brain, etc., personally I can testify that as a child, there was absolutely no confusion in understanding or switching from one to another.  My experience is probably not too unusual to most Europeans; it may be unusual only to Americans born and schooled here in USA.

Born a twin preemie


It occurs to me that of the many friends, and family visitors of this website, www.franklinnea.com, we have crossed paths at various aspects of my life.  It’s safe to say that not even my Mom, who has an extremely keen memory, knows all of what I have lived through.  Thus, I have decided to write a thread called “Vignettes of my Life” for those who may be interested.  Much deserved Grateful Thanks go to my nephew, Daniel Jesse Chu, my WebMaster, who helped me make all this possible.

To begin, how many know that I was born a preemie twin, less than 3 lbs?  My 18 year old mother and my 26 year old father were living through the invasion of the Japanese in QuJiang (KuGang,) Kwangtung, China.  They were married on Christmas Eve 1942.  He then got a job teaching high school English near Mom’s hometown Swatow in the war torn area.  I was about 3 lbs and my twin weighed slightly more.  We were named by Grandpa Wei Zhong and Wei Wah, patriotic names honoring the country of China.  The international gurus at the time were President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, thus our given English names were Franklin and Winston.

My mother was young, sick, and totally inexperienced.  My father was older and a know-it-all, but really knew little, especially about caring of babies, let alone preemie twins!  Fortunately there was a woman available who just had cared for a set of twins for a foreign couple.  She continuously provided our nutrition by feeding us mixed powdered milk through nose-droppers!  We survived and thrived!  I count this as one of my many blessings, being born in rural China.

In medical school at Johns Hopkins, I took care of many preemie patients my age, some much bigger at birth than 3 lbs.  These patients all had many physical and mental challenges, more severe of which were mental challenges and  almost total blindness.  Why?  In 1940’s there was the break-through invention of incubators and the ability to provide oxygen to save preemies.  Later medical science learned that because of the not yet fully developed retinal vasculature, the overdose of high oxygen exposure actually caused scarring of these vessels and retinal tissue leading to “retro-lental fibroplasias” now known as blindness caused by “retinopathy of prematurity”.  I and my twin had no access to the “modern practice” of incubators and oxygen so we escaped with perfect vision and little mental deficiency.  Thanks be to our Creator.

Round 5 of 8, or 9 of 16 treatments completed

After all this time, we think we are finally on board with the proper nomenclature.  The cycle of treatments of Monday, Monday, bye, is considered one round.  Whereas, we have been counting each Monday treatment as one session.  The math works out the same, but we confused the staff when they asked us what treatment are we on, we say #9, they say round 5A. Little details!

Anyway, I tolerated the chemo infusion well yesterday, and especially with the routinely added dexamethasone, I feel very energetic today.  They did ask me for any new symptoms and signs.  Two significant ones deserve some details.

  1. Last Thursday, (about 9 days after the last infusion) I began to experience mild hyperesthesia, (excessive sensitivity) in my finger tips, and one day later my L toes were involved. This symptom was an awareness, but not troubling except applying pressure against objects.  Dr. Picozzi said to carefully monitor these, if persistent or worsen,  he may need to decrease my chemo dose.
  2. I have had High Blood Pressure for 30+ years.  Without medication, and without cause or warning, my BP can run up to 190-200/110-120.  But, with very minimal anti-hypertensives, I have been easily controlled in the 140-80 range.  After first diagnosed with the Pancreas CA, the pressure was running higher and I asked my doctor to prescribe me an extra dose, and that I would monitor my B/P before taking it.  Well, this routine worked very well and allowed me to have a good charting of my blood pressure, taking a pill morning and night .  About three weeks ago, I noted that often times in the AM, the reading I was getting ranged from 68/58 to 80/62 !!!  I would skip the morning anti-hypertensive, and by the afternoon, my B/P would be 140-150/ 92-98.  Then taking my medication would get it down it 120/85 by bedtime.  I suspect that the Ativan, (anti-nausea sedative) I often take at night has a little anti-hypertensive effect, causing the AM hypotension.  Dr. Picozzi confirmed that the Chemo can do this and that by monitoring, I am doing the right thing. What do the less medically savvy people do?
  3. This Thread is under the Category “Medical”.  I now have set up a separate Thread under the Category “Biographical”.  I am writing a few ‘Vignettes of my Life’ under that Category.  At the top of the entry, just select between the two Categories to follow my current “Medical” journey, or “Biographical” to read what I deem interesting ‘Vignettes of my Life.’
  4. Keep Visiting and Submitting comments.   Thank You All for your continual Love and Support.       💜💜💜💜💜