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Zhou Lin Keeping Busy in the Hospital
July 18, 2006
Brecken Swartz
We received some good news and some bad news from Zhou Lin's doctors this week. The good news is that her left foot stump is looking better. The bandages are off now so that her sutures can get plenty of air, and she's getting ever more comfortable with her stumps. The bad news is that her bones have been discovered to be so soft and osteoporitic that it would be dangerous to send Zhou Lin back to China at the end of August, as originally planned. If she were to start to try to bear weight on her feet and walk before her bones are fully strengthened, she would be at grave risk of stress fractures in her leg and ankle bones. And because the medical care Zhou Lin can receive in her home town is not the best, the doctors here have made the decision to keep her in Boston for the next three to six months. Zhou Lin's mom and her teacher, Xu Lan, will indeed need to go back to China at the end of August, though, so we are looking for a foster family for Zhou Lin here in Boston to get her through her autumn months of therapy. Her visa expires on December 4, 2006, so she'll definitely need to head back to China by then.

In the meantime, all efforts full speed ahead to get Zhou Lin's bones strengthened enough to bear her weight for walking. Although she's a very picky eater, the Cantonese cafeteria ladies have been doing their best to get Zhou Lin nutritious foods that she likes, supplemented by the bottles of Ensure she has to drink every day. An endocrinological team from Mass General Hospital has been called in to look at her bloodwork and bone scans, and we were told today that her calcium levels are starting to look good.

Zhou Lin's physical therapy exercises are ramping up now, too. She's doing sets of leg exercises with weights each day, and she's continuing to strengthen her arms by doing push-ups from her wheelchair, which is impressive to watch. Zhou Lin's physical therapists have been coming by to do wheelchair push-up competitions (both for duration and number of repetitions), and Zhou Lin has been winning every time, hefting her 70 pounds of weight fairly easily with grace and stamina.

Zhou Lin has also been spending more time in the Shriners Hospital playroom these days, and is really enjoying some new artistic endeavors like sand painting. A friend of mine at Harvard, Baoyan, also brought her roommate by this weekend to teach knitting, and Zhou Lin did an amazing job, resting one needle up on her shoulder while she did the stitches. The hospital music therapist also recently asked Zhou Lin if she would like to play an instrument, and she chose guitar, so the music therapist is rigging up an adaptive way for her to play. She's also continuing her English lessons and math lessons, and making definite progress on both subjects. She can almost read Dr. Seuss' "Hop on Pop" on her own now! (And "Go Dog, Go" is coming along pretty quickly, too.)

Zhou Lin's perineum surgery that had been scheduled for last Friday has been postponed, so we are hoping to find out in the next few days what the surgical and rehabilitation schedule will be for the rest of the summer (and fall). In the meantime, we could really use some prayers to help find a great host family for her.

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