Monday, June 10, 2019

More hospital memoirs


Life definitely got easier when I got the Most Unpleasant Procedure over with. The next day I got my drainage tube out, and THAT was a good day. No longer did I have it poking me all the time.

Now that I didn't have to think about all the extra appendages, I started to obsess about the wound more. As I didn't have stitching, did that mean there was just a big hole in my side? I didn't like to think about it.

That first weekend, my regular doctor had a day off and had suggested I get a dressing change with the doctor on duty. The Saturday surgeon poked his head in the room, saw that I was getting my IV meds, and told me to come find him for the dressing change. Ummm...okay? Come to find out, the doctors' lounge was wayyyy down a long corridor and I hadn't walked that far yet. On the way there I passed the kitchen, which meant I could technically fetch my own meals...more on that later. But it was so painful shuffling along and then I felt awkward entering the lounge in my pathetic state when there were professional people dressed in normal clothes, such as pants.

Speaking of clothes, Lesson #1 in socialist medicine: don't expect extras. And apparently hospital gowns are an extra. Remember how I had to strip naked before my operation? Well, I didn't have anything to wear afterwards either. I must have had underwear on, but I couldn't do anything like fasten a bra with the IV port in...so, sorry for the non-glamorous visual, but I was basically wearing underwear, a tank top, and a bathrobe from home that I couldn't close all the way when I had the drainage bag. Eventually Andrei did bring me some long underwear with an elastic waist. But, yeah..fashion was a challenge.

It was kind of an odd experience seeing other patients shuffling around in their clothes from home. You'd think it would feel homey, but it didn't. It felt awkwardly intimate. I didn't want to see everyone else's fuzzy bathrobe and slippers and dishes that they washed out themselves. It felt like summer (prison?) camp in some kind of twisted universe. Also, I really didn't need to see everyone else's drainage bags. But I'm glad my roommates (and husband) took care of me even though it was messy at times and they saw things they probably didn't want to.

So, the surgeon caught up with me at the Bandaging Room, took off the old bandage, did a quick swab, and slapped a new bandage on. Which had become unstuck by the time I got back to my room. Sigh. Did it really matter? Yes, it did...I had an open wound, after all. The doctor was gone, of course. I asked the bandaging nurse for a new one, and she said they "didn't have any more." Now, on Friday, after my drainage tube came out, she had carefully cut a bandage down to size and attached it with finesse. And now they had run out? It was time for Lesson #2: Buy your own supplies. When a friend was visiting that afternoon, she went down to the pharmacy for me and bought bandages...the same kind that had been used the day before. My roommate hobbled over and put it on for me.

From then on, I had Andrei buy bandages every few days so I always had a supply. Lest you think I was being taken advantage of, I saw plenty of other patients waiting their turn, holding their own supply of bandages. Sometimes the pharmacy downstairs even ran out and Andrei had to go elsewhere.

It doesn't seem like bandages are a large expense, but when the supplies end, patients buy their own. That's how it goes. And for many procedures, such as childbirth, it's expected that you will bring your own consumable items.



Friday, May 17, 2019

Little patterns


Hello! I got bored with my monthly survey, so I didn't do one for April, and in the meantime another month went by. I was reflecting on how we tend to rotate through different patterns of daily routines in our household. Of course there are certain patterns that I would prefer to see more often than others. But I thought I would share what a few of these are. Maybe I would describe a few of them as being "in a rut," but nevertheless there are certain seasons of life and setbacks that we can't always avoid.

1) The Stay Home/Productive Pattern

When Andrei is at work a lot and we don't have other plans, we sometimes stay home and do homeschooling and try to make a dent in the housework. I feel pretty calm on these days, and I think David would stay inside too if he had the choice. But sometimes we drive each other crazy, and throwing a little sister (who actually loves to be outdoors) into the mix can throw us into "cabin fever" territory. So a few days like that are perfect, but we definitely have to at least get some fresh air.

2) The Nice Weather Pattern

Last month, we finally had a thaw and enjoyed long runs of sunny days. We got into the habit of going outside once (or even twice) a day, for 1-2 hours. I would take the kids shopping with me on foot, or to the playground, and we even branched out a few times and met up at a park with another family. This was good, and David made lots of discoveries that made it feel like we were doing something right. However, those times outside definitely take us away from other tasks, and after a few consecutive days of being outside, I end up having a meltdown from being behind. And if we go on a long walk, then I physically don't have the stamina to stand in the kitchen cooking or washing dishes. It would be nice if I could start with a clean house and then just go outside and enjoy the weather.

3) The Up-too-Early Pattern

Pretty much what it sounds like! The kids and/or my husband get up earlier than usual, and then we have to go into survival mode to get through the day. Although it sometimes results in more screen time, we also might be forced to go outside since Sophia won't nap and it's the only way to avoid constant melt-downs when she's overtired. Audiobooks are another secret weapon that I've discovered this year.

4) The Up-too-Late Pattern

This one tends to affect the adults more than the kids. Either we sleep in and get off to a late start, or the kids get to bed late. Then we stay up late ourselves and are dragging the next day. And then stay up late again because we got a late start. Can go on for weeks!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Friendship after 30 and beyond


Andrei and I got together with some old friends recently and shared our mutual nostalgia for our friendships in our 20s, and current lack of adult friendships.

At first I was thinking it was some sort of parent-life thing. But one couple at the table hasn't had children and is having the same issue. We were all (except for the husband from Moscow) in a small group together about 10 years ago, led by Andrei. Of course we remember it as a Golden Age. Was it? I'll have to peek at old blog posts and see if I alluded to anything. I do think it was a fruitful period of Christian fellowship and spiritual growth, as well as liking to hang out socially. Something about the combination of regular meetings+openness+many of us not married yet, seemed to foster deep relationships. Okay, they weren't perfect, but even just going around the circle sharing honest prayer requests, and following through...that was something we could count on at the time.

But attending a small group now? Although our current church has a small group, we aren't able to commute during the week at this point. You'd think we'd be hosting, like we did before kids...but after the church conflict, it's been hard to find the emotional energy to make those kinds of commitments.

"I don't want to go and waste my free time listening to everyone talk about something that isn't interesting to me," was one person's comment. It sounds cynical, considering we are talking about Christian fellowship! But when you take away the relationship, that might be a good point. I can think of many Bible study discussions where several people went off on their own tangents and in the end it felt like we talked about...nothing. So if I were a newcomer, I don't know if it would make me want to come back. But when it's a regular thing and you really want to be there, you don't look for perfection.

If we're forced to let go of past configurations, we have to find a new format. But making new friends is so...tedious. Why is it harder as an adult?

I catch glimpses on social media of friends attending Bible studies or other gatherings of friends. So clearly, some of my peers still have the hang of it. Or...are they just keeping up friendships from long ago? Or forming connections naturally with colleagues, neighbors, or fellow parents at their kids' schools? Does it ever happen easily?

Monday, April 1, 2019

March Survey/Selfie

Welcome to April. We have arrived! Looking back at my February posts, it already seems like a long time ago! We are over the hump now and on to Spring. We might get more snow, but the daylight is here.





What I've been...



Reading: Little Town on the Prairie (read-aloud), First Art for Toddlers and Twos (MaryAnn Kohl), The How Not to Die Cookbook, The Well-Trained Mind, Teaching Through Movement: Setting Up Your Kinesthetic Classroom

Watching: Still Jeopardy! Thinking about giving up Netflix. There are a few shows I would still watch if I had the time, but maybe not worth paying the monthly fee.

Cooking/Eating: Went on a veggie kick, making more salads and things. Hard to keep up. Made some veggie Vietnamese spring rolls a few times, yummy! Keeping up with the Asian theme, I also made a simple lemon ginger soy chicken recipe a few times, really liked it. Oh, for Purim we made Hamentaschen.

Listening to: John Michael Talbot (Come to the Quiet), Kids' Praise.

Striving towards: Organizing papers.

Looking forward to: Spring, of course!

What David (6.5 years) is up to: Learning to sound out words, watching Wild Kratts, observing the ants coming out of hibernation.

What Sophia (2.5 years) is up to: Calling everything "mine," doing "ugga mugga" nose rubs like on Daniel Tiger (Mr. Rogers), changing her outfit every 10 minutes (often independently).



Your turn!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Hobby pruning


I promised myself that if I did some paper sorting I could do a new blog post.

Remember hobbies? When I got married I swore I would never let myself forget how busy I was when I was single. And by that I mean look down on unmarried men and women as if they had lots of free time on their hands. We all have plenty to keep us busy. And who made it a virtue to be busy, anyway?

But, I will say that I was SHOCKED to open up all my old notepads and skim through them. Detailed notes from sermons, grammar from studying several languages (mainly Greek, French, and Italian) for FUN as well as formal Russian courses. Notebooks full of Bible passages and questions that I had written down meticulously. A Calligraphy instructional guide along with several pages of my attempts. And of course there were all the notes from lesson planning for teaching English, and different ministry projects I was involved in.

Although looking at the notes made me jealous of my past self as if I had lots of free time, I know that isn't necessarily true. Obviously I had the time to study some subjects on my own, but I might have done that by waking up earlier, or using the time in the late evening. Although there was blogging and Skype, I managed to find time for other pursuits. And I was my own master, setting my own schedule.

It's interesting to think about why people have less time for study when they get married and/or have children. I think for one thing, there is always the possibility of work being interrupted. It may take longer to shut out distractions, and someone could need something at any moment. Our brains also fill up with the tasks that go along with caring for other people in the household. Intellectual (emotional? mental?) fatigue. And while I had plenty of late nights as a single person, sleep deprivation as a parent is just different. I still make foolish choices by staying up too late, but there are plenty of other reasons that parents don't get enough sleep. Just like with concentrating on work, it may take a while to get settled for sleep, and then you could get woken up at any moment by someone who needs something, so I'm not sure how deep the sleep really is.

Okay, that was kind of a tangent. I definitely miss devoting more time to study, but I'm looking forward to doing more activities as a family together as the kids get older. One friend recently posted a comment on FB to the effect of "poor new parents thinking it will get easier." I know each age has its difficulties, but I think the future is bright! I know it will make such a difference (both good and bad?) just having kids know how to read! Lately David has been more into puzzles and we've learned a few card games. And as he gets into school subjects, I'll be able to dive into learning again, too. Might have to sneak some of my favorites in there!

As for the fate of my papers, I threw a lot of them away. Do notes serve a purpose beyond a year or so? My first instinct was to save them because they represented so many hours of dedication, but to be honest, 1) I couldn't understand most of them without the original context, and 2) they had already served their purpose at the moment when I was writing them down-that was part of the actual learning process.

As I was going through my pile of Important Documents, a few actually went missing...including our marriage certificate! Ugh! How does that happen? You might think something could be lost in the piles, but in actuality I normally have a pretty good sense of where things are. So, not sure what to do about that. I feel like I've had many moments lately of missing things that have been purged, but that is a story for another post.




Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring cleaning /KonMari/ Changing seasons


This was going to be a short and sweet "everyday life" post, but it ended up taking me a long time to explain a few photos!

Do you do spring cleaning? There are always a lot of projects around this time of year.

Some of my projects aren't so fun. In my Konmari tidying (using the term very loosely), I'm done with my own clothes and books and need to tackle papers. I got all the important documents out of the cabinet and they're sitting there waiting for me, but tonight I decided to blog instead. :)

Maybe tomorrow?

Another category is old CDs. I already discarded some that required older versions of Windows. But I have to go through all the ones that might have files and photos, even though I probably have already copied a lot of them to an external hard drive. It's going to be tedious going through each one. I guess I'd better really discard the CDs this time so I don't have to sort them ever again! I'm keeping some music CDs for now, though.

Not looking forward to this, either.