Email to Andre Sat morning

Andre!

I saw your group message asking about my facebook account a while ago but don’t have the time to send you a note.

Don’t worry, nothing happened. It actually has been one of my new year’s revolutions for a long time. I don’t like facebook very much, but still need to use it, which makes it annoying. Sometimes, when I feel that I wasted enough time on it and wanted a break, then I would close it down a bit. I still check it some time to see whats out there. It’s for sure not very convenient without it, but I’ll see.

How are you these days? Anything special other than school?

So many stories on my side actually, I will tell you all, slowly :). Most of the stories aren’t lab-wise, I’m glad. haha. not much has been moved forward for lab, still same.

It is Chinese New Year this week, in fact, the first day was yesterday. The whole thing would last for two weeks, but people usually celebrate during the first couple days. The three days before the Chinese new year is also important. “- 3” day suppose to use special grapefruit leaves to wash the body and clean the house, implying that you will get every bad things in the previous year to be washed out, and start a whole new year. Either “-2”, or “-1” day, the whole family usually get together to have a big fest and huge dinner. The first day of new year, you will go visit each other’s apartment, and people who are married would have to give unmarried people “red pockets”. Those are just small envelopes with money in side.

I left lab to NYC on Tuesday night, and I will take the bus back in couple of hours. I have Christian to help me with cell culture during the weekday, but he doesn’t work on weekend, so I need to go back. My brother will come back later Feb, I would have another trip to see him then. It will be a busy Feb.

Since I only come home for three days, everyday is so packed. I never been this busy before, apart from tired, it also feel great that I’m too busy to touch the computer at all for the whole day. Somehow, I feel that I need to get my life back to normal, watching too much dramas :P.

I spent sometimes with my parents the first day, and went out for shopping with my mom. Got a new short boot :), just for causal walking without heels, because my sport shoes are having holes in the front, cold~~~. Oh… I haven’t told you about the heels. This linked to the doctor shadowing. I went for my first session of shadowing the past Monday, it’s very fun, I’ll talk a bit about it later. But I wore heels for the whole four hours, my knees hurt more afterwards. I already saw the general doctor, she recommended doing physical therapy first. I have the referral, only need to set the appointment. My doctor said, she thinks I can run again after the therapy, I’m quite happy about that.

oh, my driver license expired, I re-apply again in NY. The most rewarding, actually sad is my visit to Rockefeller to see my old boss. It might not be interesting to you because you aren’t connected to those people, but I need to tell you anyway. :P.

The trip itself is great, seeing all the old people, everyone greeted me. It is strange, that place might be the only social event or whatever that I feel happy to go to. Probably because it might be the only place where my ability is fully recognized and being well-respected by everyone. I guess I feel more confident there :).
When I chatted with my mentor, who is the wife of the PI of the lab, I learnt that the PI had a brain surgery the past September. This is what happened… That day, the couple took their youngest son to play soccer together. But after a while, their son noticed the dad was not responding to the moves, and he thought he’s very tired from work. So the son called it the day, and asked the parents to go back home together. In retrospect, his wife said, there were other signs indicating that he is very weird. She talked to him on the drive back home (that’s ~ half an hr before things happened). He is not responding, and he has this blank face, and wandering around when they get home. Like a robot, walk, stop, and don’t know what to do. Then he sat down in the a kitchen chair. His wife then helped the kid with computer, and wanted to ask him for help. She talked to him, and he was just starring at her, without a word. She actually described it as a scary stare, as if those in the movies where monster’s stare possessed by demons (~ 3 minutes before incident happened). Then ~1 minute before anything happened, he walked to the cupboard in the kitchen. Open it, don’t know what to do, then he starred up to the kitchen ceiling, screamed, and then the whole person flipped over, like head dropping backward, and then he had a seizure on the floor, and every holes in his head flush out blood. She called the ambulance immediately.
The PI himself is a neurologist, and he had taught many students before. By coincident, the neurology fellow in the ambulance is one of his students. So he got really good care at hospitals, and transferred to New York Hospital from their home hospital (which is in another city) where more people know him in person and more desperate to save him.
What he got is something called static seizure, which is one after another without stopping, so they had to put him into coma to stop the seizure. They took MRI of his brain and noticed there is a dark spot, which initially they thought it is a brain tumor. Since everyone treating him at the hospital are his friends and previous colleagues, they were really desperate to open his brain and do surgery to remove whatever in his brain that causes the problem. 
His wife on the one hand got very worried about the surgery, so she went over to one of PI’s well trusted neuron-surgon to ask for advice. And that friend suggested that they have to wait for him to wake up to do the surgery since that area is too close to the language processing region. So, his wife refuse to sign the consent for surgery while he’s in coma. And by doing that, many people got mad at her at that moment, including her husband’s parents, and she was extremely stressed.
In the end, they waited her husband to release from coma and did the surgery while he’s  awake. (Have you heard about this before? I learnt it from watching drama :D. For brain tumor patients, if the tumor is too close to important processing area, they will keep the patient with consciousness. They will use tool to press on the brain area and ask the patient to do a certain task. For example, they press their, and give them a note card and ask “can you read the sentence”. If the patient can’t do that while they are pressing the nerve down, it means that area is important for reading. The most interesting example I read before is there are separate regions for thinking to do something, and actually doing something. Like there is a region when being pressed, the patient would describe it as, I wanted to raise my arm, but I couldn’t. The brain is very interesting, and complicated. In fact, this is how people initially defined functions for each brain region. Sorry, I got too excited, you must be bored, you probably know about those already…). In the end, everyone praised her for doing the right thing, and appreciated her determination at the first place. If anything goes work with the surgery and they remove more parts that necessary, the PI could end up couldn’t speak etc.. Even now, he is still recovering. She mentioned that the week after his surgery, he has difficulties speaking, for example blueburry pie, he will say bu-bu-bu-bu-be-rrrrr—y.
Then, the final conclusion of what actually happened is that, they found bacteria in his brain which causes an abcess in that region. They are natural bacteria in human body, but just not suppose to be in the brain. There are two possibility that bacteria can got into the brain, one is through dental work, or the other is there might be lesion in the gut that bacteria get into blood and somehow escape to the brain. I guess it’s unlucky that he got this.
Haha…long story…sorry.

It’s actually getting late, I need pack and get ready to leave. I should have talked to you rather than writing, might be more interesting and quicker.. haha.

My parents made a lot of good food for me. I ate so much. They also made a two big jars of chinese snacks for me to bring back to people, hope they won’t break on my way. You probably could try it if your stay overlap with chinese new year next year.
I also bought a Mac book pro for my mom as birthday present, I couldn’t come back again next weekend for my mom’s birthday, that’s unfortunate. This trip is too short, I didn’t have chance to even teach her how to use the computer :'(.

Anyway, I got to go. Hope everything goes well for you. 🙂 Sorry, this is so long. I miss you, dear :*

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