A Job Offer and Low White Blood Cell Count

Our plan to emigrate to New Zealand is going pretty well. Michael got his offer from Landcare Research this week and he’s really happy, it’s just we will be leaving Shanghai end of this summer, a bit sooner than we expected. I have to say I will miss Shanghai for so many things. We won’t have as much help or possibly none at all after we move, now my aunt comes over Wed to Sat, our Ayi comes over Monday to Saturday (one more day than before) for two hours, making dinner, feeding one baby and cleaning up, once Michael starts working remotely, our Ayi’s friend will also be here Sun to Wed for 4 hours in the morning. I don’t know how we will be able to do it without these help but I guess we will have to figure it out one way or another. However, it is for the best of the babies to live in a very clean place and we will be able to have a more self-sufficient lifestyle there for sure.

Michael’s new job will be focusing on sustainability, and the project is funded by New Zealand government, he’s taking a big pay cut but the average household income in New Zealand is only about 30K USD a year. If you look at whole picture, we will probably be better off, because there are perks such as universal free healthcare coverage. It is ranked #2 for moms to raise children, and the government pays each family with kids every fortnight. Tax rate seems high at 38%, but no local state taxes, etc. so overall it’s no worse than the tax we pay in the US. There are only 4 million kiwis (for the whole country of New Zealand), and I am sure we will have a hard time making the adjustment from living with 25 million fellow Shanghainese to 81,000 in Palmerston North. Well, it is another adventure but I am really hoping this move will give us some permanence. At least it is far from radiation, so maybe we will get back to eating seafood again, and if we get really bored, we will just have to fly out somewhere. However, the most important thing that attracts us, is that it is one of the last places where people have a very strong sense of connection with nature and environment. Culturally it is less about money but real resources, and I am glad that Michael will be working for a company that does just that to ensure the place is kept clean and sustainable. I was very impressed when I visited in 2008, it was such a beautiful country. We really think it if ideal for what we desire.

I have to say the immigration process seems to be very very easy (or maybe no one really wants to go there to live???), it takes only about 3 months with a job offer. Compared with the 7.5 years with USCIS, it is really a breeze. That’s why it hit us big time when I got the call on Thursday that Michael’s blood test result came back with a problem. My aunt went with us in the early morning (on June 23) to Parkway Health at Shanghai Center, they checked the boys without any testing, Michael and I had to take urine test, blood test and Chest X-Ray. Boys weighed 10.9Kg each (24 pounds) – still 90 percentile – and their height was 75cm (I think they might be a bit short, I need to look into this more since I never really measure their length, when they were born they were long 20.5 and 21 inches). They were already walking a bit so the doctors and the nurses spent more time playing with them than checking them. We went to Din Tai Fung for lunch downstairs and then went to the City Castle Club House for the boys to play for a while. I got the call when we were getting ready to get back to Shanghai Center to pick up the reports. The doctor said Michael’s white blood cell count was low, only 2500 (normal range is 4000~10000). We were really surprised, they said he had to go in and take another blood test since this one won’t pass for sure.

Michael has been feeling tired lately and we wondered if his problem two weeks ago could have affected his blood test result. So I took him to Shuguang Hospital where we could see a doctor practicing Chinese medicine. We were lucky that we didn’t have to wait for long to see a specialist, she ordered another blood test and his WBC count went up to 3500 already, and there were minor deviation of other indicators showed that he had a viral infection recently, but it was not critical. The doctor said we didn’t need to worry about anything, she then asked if Michael uses computer a lot. We were also given some Chinese medicine to take home. On the way back, we thought the reason that his low WBC count was probably due to all the gadgets he has, he always had his Nintendo 3DS with him, and he always had the wifi turned on, so it was constantly broadcasting to search for other Miis, he also had his cell on all the time with the radio on. So these radiation might have caused the low WBC. Anyway I am giving him multi now, and asking him to eat more (he loves the food in Shanghai) and rest more too. One other thing that we were happy about was the bill was only 23USD (160 RMB) for everything, there’s really no reason paying for healthcare in China.

Recently Michael had a panic attack (at least that’s the closest thing I can think of), so stressed out about the baby crying. Once he starts working remotely, he will be better. It was very difficult for both of us, even though it only lasted a few hours, I did feel hurt. But we understand that is a normal thing parents, especially with twins, have to go through and I am happy that we were able to avoid confrontation against each other and were able to address the problem and find solutions for it. Michael is going back to his exercise routine, going to the gym couple of times a week. We hired another ayi so he can focus his time during work hours in the other room, and we are taking the boys to the kids pool and play room at the club house every Saturday. We also got back on our Wed/Sat yoga routine, what a great way to exercise, it’s hard work but relaxing in the same time. It also helps release the stress, as a matter of fact, I fell asleep today in the last 5 minutes of the class.


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