Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hello, My Name is Joe.....

....I have a wife, three kids, and I work in a button factory. One day my boss came to me and said, "Joe, are you busy?", I said "No." He said, "Push this button with you right hand" (repeat) "Push this button with your left hand!" (repeat) "Push this button with you right foot!" And so the ditty goes until all your hands, feet, and head are constantly moving! It's very similar to the "Father Abraham song. Then it concludes with the boss asking one more time if he is busy and Joe yells out an emphatic, "Yes!" If you were part of a youth group in the 80's or early 90's you probably have participated in this game.

So you are wondering, "Justine, what is your point?" Here is my point: This song/game comes to mind every time I start driving our manual transmission vehicle! It's ridiculous!

I know, I know, some of you are thinking to yourselves how wonderful a standard is if you are on rocky terrain or driving on some form of uncharted territory. But am I doing that? No. I just want to get out once in a while and go to the store buy a few groceries. I have no intentions of busting out in a four wheel drive! (I have no idea if that made sense I am basically just pulling out vocabulary that I have heard regarding driving!) LOL

Anyway, I remember when I used to sit in the driver's seat, press the brake, put it into gear and go...ahhhhh, those were the days! What do I do now? I have to think about every single step I take. What gear is it in? Am I pressing hard enough on the clutch? Am I giving it enough gas while I release the clutch? Am I pressing the clutch when I break? Am I on a hill? What do I need to do now? Am I in the right gear? Why won't this gear shift go where I want it to? And so on, you get the picture! Both legs and both hands are needed and I end up feeling like one big back spasm as I try to do this and maneuver through an ocean of vehicles, most of which are motorcycles that are turning with me, in front of me, and beside me at any given moment! Sheesh, it's enough to make this girl yell, "Yes!"

(Well, that lost some of the drama in trying to fit it in with my earlier story about Joe, but suffice it to say that I want to yell, "STOP!")

And mind you I have not even done all of this with other people in the car, especially those of the shorter variety that follow me everywhere I go! (Although one of those is already taller than me, you get the picture!) :) On top of all this I have one big fear....

The parking garage. (I tremor even now as I type this!) :)

Or most parking lots here in general. Do you know why? Because everywhere you park, you have to back in! Back in? Yes, back in, and if you try to just pull into the spot, one of the gazillion parking attendants will force you to "mundur".....yep, that's the world for "back in". That's the word that strikes fear in my heart. Have they seen me back in in a standard? Don't they want to live? Yikes, just writing this make me feel like I need to go in search of Calgon, which would be in vain because I would have to drive the standard, back in to my parking spot, and then the store wouldn't carry it anyway! What's a girl to do?

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful that our company has provided a vehicle for our use, there are others here who are not so fortunate. However, I just have to go on record and say (and I realize this statement can be polarizing because manual transmissions have die hard fans) that I cannot ever imagine choosing a standard over an automatic.....ever. Unless of course I lived in the Yukon or out in the jungle. (Where Barry sometimes has to go, but that ruins my whole theory so ignore that and just think of my plight!) Did I mention I have no power steering either? Yes, this is one big ball of fun, driving a standard, no power steering, driving on the "wrong" side of the road and shifting with my left hand.'s like a carnival ride!

Well, enough about me and my current crisis. On a positive note, Barry came home yesterday! Yay!! Out of the past 25 days he has spent 17 of those in the hospital here and in Singapore. He has received a total of 34 shots in his stomach. Needless to say he was ready to come home. For those of you not on FB, they kept him in the hospital in Singapore for 9 days, until they got his blood adjusted to the right level. His blood clot should be absorbed into his body eventually. He still has leg pain which they said could last for 3 months to a year or two. And while he has been dying to go back to Singapore since he lived there 22 years ago, this was not necessarily how he wanted to do it! The CEO has been so good to us and he has received such good care which has made all the difference. Just being able to communicate how you feel, and to be able to completely understand what the Dr. is saying made a huge difference. He said while he was in the hospital here in Folgers that he would get nauseous just trying to focus and understand what they were saying. Poor guy, he has been through a lot. We can never say thank you enough for those of you who lifted him up, it has made all the difference, and we are really grateful! Our whole family was encouraged by your notes, messages, emails, and skype calls.

The kids and I did well being on our own. That is not to say that it has been without its bumps, but overall we managed and are all still breathing! :) Thanks to Sara, Steve and Joy, I have been able to go where I needed to and get groceries, get the kids out to play at the mall, and have some interaction with adults! I started to teach myself to drive, changed the propane tank by myself (those of you who know about my dealings with electricity, don't cringe, it all turned out okay!) and handled all of the household affairs and paid all of the monthly bills. (You have to pay in person here.)

So I welcomed my husband home with a huge hug and a kiss! I told him how much I loved him and appreciated all that he does for us and how very thankful I am that this did not turn anymore serious and that we love him more than ever. I told him that he is a treasured gift from the CEO and I am proud to be his wife, then with a grin ever so sweet I turned the car keys over to him and said that while I appreciate the oppurtunity to learn to drive, I will only be driving when it is absolutely necessary! LOL

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welcome Back Clotter

This is his bed, and for those of you who asked, yes it was too short, and no he did not wear a hospital gown, just his own gym shorts and tees! :)

One of the many snacks given through out the day. It deceptively looks like a "Jello Jiggler", but it's not!! Though it was a clever "Bear" shape!! :)

Okay so the post title is a stretch, but it was the best I could come up with in a state of exhaustion!! (Barry says I should be ashamed!! LOL)

So for those of you not on FB and for those who are but haven't heard the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey use to say, I am going to tell you about the past week which actually starts in November. When we were at our training in the capital city for those two weeks, Barry was not feeling well, and one of the things that was bothering him was his calf muscle (we thought). But it went away and so we moved on.

Which brings us to last week around New Years Eve he was experiencing quite a bit of pain in his leg and then we started noticing that is was swollen and felt like his muscle was knotted. So I begin Googling symptoms and of course you always get the extreme answers online so I proceeded with caution but we started fearing it may be a clot. Then his leg felt hot to the touch and was turning redder than the other so we knew we definitely had a problem. I emailed the company Dr. who lives in a nearby country and asked his opinion,it was the same as what we were suspecting and he told us to have it checked out locally since we have a decent, fairly new hospital here.

The next day Barry went to the ER and they told him it was a muscle strain. He said he was sure that it was more than that so they finally agreed to do a blood test. After the blood test they immediately wanted to admit him for a vascular problem. Later a specialist confirmed he had DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), a clot. As Barry likes to say, "Once we told them the diagnosis, they've done a great job treating me!" HA! So honestly, I was not keen on him receiving treatment here, it is not the norm, but with a clot, flying to Singapore didn't really seem to be an option and the treatment they suggested was what we were told they would do if he were in the States. The weirdest thing here is that the Dr comes and makes his rounds around 11pm to 1am!! So half of the time Barry was either in pain or in a sleepy state while trying to decipher what the doctor, who doesn't speak English, is saying. Therefore it has been a little tricky for me to get information.

Overall, they have done a decent job with him, here are a few funny examples of questions we asked and the answers we got:

1. Can you give him something for the nausea? Well, he needs to be eating and drinking his milk. You aren't eating. Did you drink your milk earlier? You need to drink milk. (MILK?! Seriously? Who drinks milk when they are nauseous? And if you don't like American hospital food, can you imagine what the hospital food is like over here!! YIKES! I kept bringing food up from home, he has rarely eaten it but it was there if he wanted it.)

2. He is having really bad headaches, can you give him something for it? Well, he is having headaches because his pillows are too high, better to use a flat pillow. (So after sleeping on his flat little mattress with his flat little pillow and taking the medicine which I am assuming gives headaches as a side effect, I brought him his pillows from home so he could be more comfortable, which they did not approve of....pretty sure the pillows were not the cause of the headaches!)

Anyway, that gives you a little run down of my life lately. The kids really miss their daddy and have been camping out in my room each night, which even though I am exhausted, has been fun. They have done really good staying at home with our helper and sometimes by themselves, even cleaning up a major leak that we had in our bedroom. They had it all cleaned up by the time I got home!! Loved that!

On an end note I have learned through this that I am pretty unprepared for an emergency here. I will be coming up with an action plan this week that will leave me more assured of what steps to take in different cases, just in case, because this week I have been reminded that we are "not in Kansas anymore Toto!" It has all been a bit daunting to do this in a second language, when we have never needed this type of vocabulary before. Fortunately our teammates have really helped us to understand and get things done when they are up at the hospital, that has been a huge blessing. Also, since I am not driving yet, they have taken time out of their day to take me back an forth from the hospital every single day even though they are very busy themselves. (We have a major island wide conference for the nationals here this week!) I can never repay them for how they have given of themselves for us!! We are blessed!!

There truly are not words for the gratitude that we feel in our hearts for your love and prayers! You have covered my husband, myself, my children, and the doctors in prayer and we can definitely tell! God has been so good to us and has walked us through a very stressful time. I have been so encouraged reading your little notes and messages on FB, emails, and skype calls! I have the best friends!! We have felt the love you sent our way!!

Stayed tuned next week when we hear Barry say ,"Ooh, ooh, ooh!!" (Sorry, just running with the whole Welcome Back Kotter theme!! Please tell me you remember Horschach? :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's Called Christmas..

Well, Christmas 2010 has come and gone. The decorations are put away and the music is back to the normal variety. Katrina has come and gone and despite being called a hurricane, we are left off better because of her disasters here (unless you count those cookie bars I made that turned out terrible because of the nasty chocolate I bought here! LOL) I have WAY to many pictures due to all of the activities that went on here but narrowed this down to Katrina's visit through Christmas. But stay tuned, more posts are coming!! :)

Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas wherever in the world you are!

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