15. Smallpox vaccine and The Deadly Enteritis

In those days smallpox was still passing around the China. All babies must get Smallpox Vaccine before 4 months old to avoid being transferred by smallpox. Syau Wen did not get the vaccine until she was almost five months old due to her health condition.

When Yu Wen watch the doctor cut the small X on You’s skinny arm. You Wen’s crying tearing her heart. She saw with the same knife the Docter cut the X, he applied a little creamy liquid over the cut. Then the doctor with two hands cruelly pull and push the cut to force it open more to allow the white liquid more saturated into the cut. You Wen horsed her voice with horrible crying. Yu-Wen wished if she could take the vaccine instead of for her poor girl!

Ever since the cowpox planted in the little X cut on Syau Wen’s left arm, Yu-Wen always kept her eyes on Syau Wen’s vaccine area. She watched the entire process from the skin around the X turn red and swollen. Then it became a pustule. Until a pustule dried out. She saw a dry pustule starting to lift! What a relieve to Yu Wen. Because the doctor told her there will be a scar after a pustule dried. But, if a pustule popped before it dried out, where ever the pus go, the area it touched will become a new pustule. That means there will be more scars left on the skin,. It would look bad, especially for a girl when she wears sleeveless! Yu-Wen wants to make sure Syau Wen will have only one lovely round shaped scar on her arm.

But there was not much time for Yu Wen to be happy.  Syau Wen got measles! Yu-Wen was shocked. Could her poor emaciated baby make it? Could Syau Wen be survived after she been abused by measles!?

With tears, Yu-Wen brought Syau Wen to the pediatric.

After the doctor looked over at You Wen.  Yu-Wen was almost fall unconscious when she heard what he said: “My good heavens! How could it happen to this child?” Yu-Wen thought Syau Wen was going to die.  She burst into cry.

“No! No! I’m sorry that I’ve scared you.” Quickly the Doctor said.”I’m just too excited! Being a podiatrist all these years, This was my second case. One out of 10,000 babies maybe will get it. It’s very rare. Which means the measles came when a dry pustule starting to lift. After the child recovered from measles, this child will be immunity against any kind of dermatosis all her life.”

“But during the measles period, we have to be extremely careful, this child is too fragile!”

Under the care of the doctor and the love of a mother, Syau Wen survived.

After that Yu Wen forgot all about what the doctor had told her “immunity against any kind of dermatosis for life”. Until in Si-An the whole family caught scabies but Syau Wen.

When Syau Wen was about eight or nine months old. Dz Yun haired a housemaid to help to take care of Syau Wen. So that Yu Wen could have some break.

Sometimes the maid would give Syau Wen some toys to play with, as well as coins. It was the time for Syau Wen put forth teeth. Whatever she grabbed she would like to put it into her mouth. Just anything!  The maid didn’t know the copper was toxic.

Syau Wen began with diarrhea. Yu-Wen though it was some poor digestion problem and treated her with some common baby medications over the counter. Instead of getting better, Syau Wen’s diarrhea got worse and worse. If the watery excrements wet some part of the skin, the skin would be blistered. By now Yu Wen realized how serious it was. She took the unconscious baby to the several hospitals, but the doctors told her the same thing: “Sorry! It’s too late.” Yu-Wen wouldn’t give up. But no matter how hard Yu Wen begged the doctors to save her daughter’s life, there was nothing the doctors could do.

After Yu-wen came out from the last doctor she could have. Disappointedly, filled with hopelessness she got into a Ricksha with her dying baby in her arms. Not too long she will lose her beloved daughter.

rickshaw-A small vehicle with two wheels used for carrying one or two passengers, that is pulled by someone walking or running.

The driver of the rickshaw heard Yu Wen sobbing behind. While he was trying to calm Yu Wen down and found out her baby was dying. He suggested  Yu Wen to take the baby to see a Chinese herbal doctor.  Maybe they can help since there is no other choice. He told Yu Wen,: ” I know there is an old herbal doctor lives right at the end of the alley where you live. Maybe he has some secret recipe that handed down in their family for generations.”

Like a drowning person in the ocean grabbed a piece of wood, this could be the only hope for Yu Wen. She took Syau Wen to visit that herbal doctor right away.

The white hair white beard old herbal doctor looked so kind and friendly. After he touched Syau Wen’s pulse, he got up from his seat. He opened several small drawers on the cabinet on the wall. He took some dried grass out from each drawer. wrapped up with paper and handed over to Yu Wen. And said: “Take these home and cook them right away and dump the soup into her mouth. Wait after finish one burning joss stick time.  If you can see the tip of her nose starting to get wet.  Your child will be saved.  Come back to get some refills. Otherwise, prepare for the funeral.”

a burning joss stick time – An old Chinese traditional way of counting the time.

After the herbs were cooked after Yu Wen went home.  When she was ready to give to Syau Wen the soup, she realized why the old doctor told her to dump the soup into You Wen’s mouth.  Syau Wen was not able to open her mouth and could not swallow anything at all. With Dz Yun’s help to open Syau Wen’s mouth, Yu-Wen dumped the soup into her mouth slowly.

After the soup all dumped in, both Dz Yun and Yu-Wen sat right next to Syau Wen They watching over Syau Wen with all attention. You Wen’s face looked was so pale and woodenly with slightly closed eyes. That one burning joss stick time seemed like a century. Finally, they saw Syau Wen’s nose tip starting wet, Gradually the wetness became tiny waterdrops! Yu-Wen was almost cry out for joy, but quietly tears running down her cheeks as streams. Dz Yun hugged her tightly and gently patted her back.

After several follow up packs of Chinese herbals Syau Wen was recovered from that deadly diarrhea. Yu-Wen wanted to thank that Heavenly given doctor who saved Syau Wen’s life. But that white hair, white beard friendly kind old doctor was not there anymore. The neighbors told Yu Wen his son took him back home because his son thought it is inappropriate for his old aged father live along so far away from home.  Where was his hometown? No one knew it.

Yu-Wen told her children, later on, she often regrets that she did not ask the old doctor for the prescription. Otherwise, She could have saved some other baby’s life.

Within the first two years in Syou Wen’s life, she had much more tough days than those same aged children. Likewise, Yu-Wen had worked much harder, and more painstaking care her this immature birth child, a baby given by God. Yu-Wen from an inexperienced mother, step by step she grow up with Syau Wen. Every step was a surprise, a new discovery, and joy. Together She grows up with Syau Wen’s learning to sit up, crawling, tooth growing…….

— to be continued —

–16. Happenings on Marco Polo Bridge– is on the way.


Offset with crochet flower

C-33. I am An Iris

Yu Wen went on, “As life would have it, both my mother and her sister-in-law gave birth to a girl. Sadly, my cousin, the peony, died before she was 3 years old. I, the iris, continued growing!”

Yu Wen recalled her worst childhood sickness was the measles, free from any serious illness. She told the artist, “I’m so very grateful and fortunate that my mother chose the Iris!”

World War II and the following political change in China each contributed to the total loss of contact with Yu Wen’s mother. There was no way to find her.  She also lived with an added sorrow from never having a picture of her dear mother.

Yu Wen began thinking…, if I can crochet some irises as a loving memento to my mother…? She called upon her memories of the irises of her youth and began creating the crocheted Iris Bonsai Tribute.