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Some days are tougher than others……….

March 23, 2010

I often start these posts by saying how hard it is to really explain life here – but it really, really is. No really – it really is. It sounds exotic and privileged and fascinating and it is absolutely all of those things. But life here can be difficult to manage. I miss the conveniences and the independence. Never mind family and friends because that is another blog post entirely.

This week Flower has been pretty sick. She just got over chicken pox and jumped right into some unknown something or other that nobody can really seem to pinpoint. When your kids are sick in a third world country and you cannot exactly define what is going on, the adventure becomes a tad less appealing. I want to be clear that I have never felt she was in any danger (that is for the grandparents who read this blog) but it has been frustrating. Flower just really doesn’t get sick – so to see her really unable to get out of bed just stinks. And to have everyone just sort of shrug their shoulders with a “oh, this is normal, come back in a few days” attitude is just not what I am looking for in medical care.

Flower had her appendix out when she was 7. She was very close to it rupturing. In the emergency room, the doctor practically stood on her stomach. She had no reaction at all. He was walking out of the room, convinced that she was going to be just fine because there was absolutely no way that a child with appendicitis would not react to that kind of pressure, when the CT scan came back. We were in the operating room 10 minutes later – it appeared she did in fact have a very infected appendix.

She just doesn’t get knocked out. So to hear the doctor(s) say – she looks listless, but she just isn’t that sick – augh. I want to jump through my mommy skin and send them back to medical school. Isn’t the first thing they learn to trust the mother’s instinct? If it isn’t, it should be. Something is going on with her.

And of course, if we were home, I wouldn’t be so worried because the chances of getting Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Encephalitis, and all those other scary things are just a wee bit less.

Then if you add having staff working for you it gets so flippin complicated.

My cook knows just what is wrong with her. He has not even been to culinary school, much less medical school but he knows just what is wrong.

Francis: She has a fever?
Me: Yes
Francis: This will take a week – maybe 5 days
Me: Okay
Francis: But don’t worry ma’am – last night I prayed for her
Me: thank you, that was very thoughtful of you
Francis: Jesus will take care of it.
Me: I believe that
Francis: Jesus will make her better

Now, I want to be clear that I am very glad Jesus is on it. And I didn’t realize that Francis had such tight connections. But I am not leaving it to prayer – I have been doing that myself too – but we can also take some a.c.t.i.o.n.

One of the really nice things in India is that I do have the cell phone number of our doctor. So, I called her directly and made an appointment (yes that is crazy). She was able to make an appointment for us in half an hour (also insane). That means we need to leave right away.

However, our driver had gone out to get mosquito nets for our beds because Bear is getting eaten alive when he sleeps (and, yep, we have taken many precautions so that mosquitoes don’t enter our house – but they are persistent little buggers). He went to the market near us and felt that the nets were too expensive – so he decided to drive to a market that was quite a distance from our house to save us about 200 rupees (that would be $4). Nope, he did not ask first – just decided that would be the thing to do. So now he cannot get back quickly to get our daughter to her doctor appointment and the doctor is leaving shortly. Yes, I am frustrated. While I really appreciate the fact that he was trying to save us money – getting our daughter to the doctor is a m.u.c.h. bigger priority. M_U_C_H  B_I_G_G_E_R.

We ultimately figured it out. Hubby took Flower in another car with another driver and I met them at the doctor’s office. On my way, I got to hear all about the cost savings and the available colors of mosquito nets and all about traffic and how this vendor did this and that vendor did this and holy four dollars, batman. I was polite – but really – not caring so much about the whole story. Just. want. to. get. to. the. doctor. yesterday.

The doctor looked her over and really felt we needed to wait a couple of days to do any testing. See how Flower does. Keep her in a cool room. No school. Lots of liquids. You know the drill.

So Hubby took Flower home and I went to buy Gatorade. This involved 3 phone calls. You just cannot assume anything – in the U.S., I could tell you 18 places that sell Gatorade within walking distance of my house. Here – you better check first. So, I found out where I believed the Gatorade would  be. Went there. And they had it – yeah! And they also had the Starbucks coffee drinks that Hubby loves.

I thought I would get him a few. So I asked if they had the “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks.

Me: Do you have the “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks?
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Me: I see Mocha, Vanilla, and Caramel – but not Coffee – do you have that?
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Me: I want the “coffee” flavor – you have Vanilla, Mocha, and Caramel – see right here on the label (picture me pointing to the label) – I want the one that says “coffee” – I can see why it is confusing because they all say “coffee” but there are different flavors.
Him: How many
Me: I looked at all of the boxes here – I don’t see “Coffee”. Do you have “coffee”.
Him: Yes, how many do you want?

Just a note here – Indians don’t seem to make 15 varieties of the same product – so I want to be fair that it is not their fault that Starbucks has complicated the simpleness of a coffee drink. But even in this land of “oh sure, they all speak English” sometimes it is very, very difficult to get your point across. Finally, after he took all the boxes off the shelf (and yep, he watched me do the exact same thing just moments before) and realized there wasn’t actually a coffee drink called “coffee”.

He disappeared around the corner and – wahlah – and after (quite) a few minutes – came back with 8 “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks. I am not sure when the understanding of what I was trying to say kicked in but hubby is glad it did. At least the guy did not promise me the drinks “tomorrow” or compliment me on being the “first customer of the day”.

Hubby also asked me to pick up a pizza. I was weary of this because the pizza joint he wanted pizza from is a more of a “by the slice” kind of place. But I thought I would give it a shot.

I went up to the window and there was a whole cheese pizza sitting in the display case. I think I actually let out a sigh – this is not going to be as complicated as I thought. Yahoo for me.

Me: I would like a pizza
Her: That will be 75 rupees (that is $1.50)
Me: Really, for a whole pizza?
Her: Oh, you want the whole pizza?
Me: Yes
Her: That is eight slices (with a completely confused look on her face)
Me: Yes it is – that’s what I would like
Her: But that is eight slices
Me: Got it – I would like a whole pizza puhleassssseeee – in fact this one in the window will do nicely
Her: No, we’ll make you a fresh one – it will take 3 minutes.
(Just another note – if you are thinking, “that is amazing – they can make a pizza in 3 minutes” – my dear friend, I have a lovely bridge I would like you to consider buying – you are my first customer of the day and I will give you my very best price – tomorrow.)
Me: Honestly, this one is good
Her: You don’t want a fresh one?
Me: Nope – pretty sure this one that is already done is just great
Her: We’ll add cheese to it
Me: It has cheese on it – can I really please just take this one – as it is – now?
Her: Do you want it in one big box or each slice in its own box

Here is where I faltered. I was thinking about all the trash that eight slice boxes would be. So, I opted for the big box. But that changes what they normally do – it threw them for a little bit of a loop. The guy working there climbed up a ladder and went into a very small ceiling compartment. He did bring down a box. A very, very dirty box. It was dusty and greasy – I’ll spare you the details – but let’s just say you probably wouldn’t spit your gum out in it much less use it for a pizza that you actually planned to eat – and feed to your already sick child.

Me: Yeah, that box is kind of dirty
Her: You don’t want this box
Me: I am thinking hell no not exactly – is there another one up there?
Her: Okay – we’ll get another one

And they did get another box. It was better. But I am not kidding when I say they spent 5 minutes trying to put it together. It was apparently a broken box – still better than a dirty box – but broken nonetheless. So they performed box surgery and taped it 18 different ways. All of which came loose before I got all the way to the car.

The bottom line in this is that it took me 15 minutes to get the pizza that was already cooked and ready to go. Of course, it was worse because I really just wanted to get the Gatorade to Flower. But sometimes it is difficult to accomplish simple things here. And it is hard to understand why it is so complicated.

I finally got home and now Bear’s mosquito net is up over his bed. My first thought was – great, now we live in a Tarzan movie.

We ended the day by taking Flower to another doctor just to make sure we should not be concerned about anything scary. He had a completely different impression of what was wrong than doctor number 1. And no, I did not pick up a pizza on the way home.

It was a long day of  complications. So, most of the time I am jumping right in and enjoying our experiences here, some days are tougher than others.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. sid permalink
    April 11, 2010 11:41 pm

    Oh please India is NOT a third world country!!

  2. Mama bear permalink
    March 30, 2010 1:40 pm

    Here is a list of powder form of electrolytes that are sold in India– this can be added to any form of liquid your kid like.

    Punarjal , Relyte , Electrobion , Electral , Speedoral , Coslyte are some of
    the brands available —

    They are sold at the pharmacy/chemists’ shop

    My kids don’t like many of the flavors found available in India, but adding this to homemade lemonade worked wonders for them.

  3. Jason permalink
    March 28, 2010 2:06 pm

    Are you kidding me with the complex pizza story. Youre in India! and getting Pizza! The simple fact that such a thing is even there should be amazing. And you’re complaining about the box and why they didn’t understand the piece vs whole system. Also the coffee? Again, you’re in India, when I lived there things like Pepsi and gum were just being introduced. You really shouldn’t feel entitled that somehow these people should just ‘know’ what you’re talking about. My god :/.

    • March 29, 2010 7:10 am

      this whole experience is amazing and I welcome you to delve into more posts to find out how I am mostly enjoying this journey. I am afraid you missed the pizza delivery on this entirely if you think this is about pizza. My daughter was sick with something unidentifiable in a land where a lot can go very wrong very quickly. Luckily she is fine now. But throw in pizza being complicated and it just isn’t what you think you need to deal with. And yes, we are very thankful that pizza is available. Just as I am more thankful that my daughter is ok. It’s been an adventure of a life time – truly.

  4. Tottsmom permalink
    March 25, 2010 12:41 pm

    Hope Flower is feeling better.

  5. March 25, 2010 6:48 am

    Oh my …. so many things i could say … but I’ll leave it at just “hope today is an “upswing” day for you!!

    Glad she’s feeling a bit better … and hope it continues!!

  6. March 24, 2010 10:01 pm

    HI KNOW exactly what you are talking about. Hope she is better Love MM

    • March 24, 2010 10:30 pm

      everyone here totally gets it – and that really, really helps! you know how it is – the highs are way up high and the lows are way down low! 😉 And thanks, she is feeling better

  7. Sands permalink
    March 24, 2010 2:32 pm

    Hope Flower is doing better now. No one gives a sh** to mother’s instint in hospitals, it must be so hard to know that something is going on with the child while doctors aren’t ready to listen!
    We are in US and I took my 5 year old to the doc, she had the usual cold and fever and we wanted to check for strep. I told the doc that she is drinking lot of water since last night and guess what the doctor has to say “I am thinking diabetes” !!!!!! I just wanted to punch her in the face and wanted to tell her to never be near a child again. My husband literally had to steer her out of the room, 🙂
    in India, they aren’t ready to do any tests and here they want to do all the tests …..

    • March 24, 2010 9:54 pm

      Hey there – have not heard from you for a while – I hope all is well – doctors visits can be frustrating no matter where you live. 😎 It is just so hard not to be heard as a parent who really knows our children better than anyone!

  8. Nancy permalink
    March 24, 2010 1:51 pm

    This one makes me miss you more. So sorry about little one. What did doctor #2 say exactly? Thinking of you.

    • March 24, 2010 9:52 pm

      I miss you more! Flower is doing better. The doctors all had different opinions – heat exhaustion, virus, mono, dengue – really we will never know what was actually wrong.

  9. girlsmom permalink
    March 24, 2010 11:59 am

    These are the frustrating days as a mom. Hope Flower is doing OK. I can imagine how scary it is to have a sick child with out your usual support system. And I hate those days when what should be a simple task turns into so much more. You are in our thoughts. (still love your writing and how I can identify with all those emotions and frustrations)

    • March 24, 2010 9:51 pm

      one of the hard things is to isolate out what is India and what is just normal. It’s easy to “blame” India but some of it really is just what happens to kids. The implications of sickness here are just so much more intense and I have a hard time admitting that part of this experience really does expose them to greater health risks. Augh.

  10. March 24, 2010 7:10 am

    pls dont worry but if the child has high fever then just sponge her with cold water and follow whatever the dr says’ I know how frustrating it is for mothers when their children are ill, just keep calm and do deep breathing and if possible ask flower also do some deep breathing just to relax

  11. Seema Sophia permalink
    March 24, 2010 4:01 am

    Hi, I feel your frustration, and want to share my story. It might shed some light on your experiences and frustrations.

    My parents are Indian, but left India in 1966 to begin a journey in a land of opportunity in the US. I spent the last 36 years living in California.

    Much to my surprise, I also ended up in Delhi recently.

    I have spent the last 4 months asking myself what was it that attracted me most to India. I suppose being Indian, I naturally decided to come to India. I had a great job opportunity with a amazing boss. ” Wow” , I told, myself, “I can now work and live in India”!

    I also felt since my parents had their roots here, I would need to leave behind some footprints.

    I am missing the simple things in life that I often took for granted living in the US. Going to the market and buying fruit is a task, wait, communication with anyone and getting anything done is a constant battle! Going to the doctors and getting a straight answer about my diagnosis….

    I often find people just starring at me trying to figure out if I am even Indian or not..

    Long story short, I think I am going to stick this one out – It’s a journey I have started and want to finish. This is my true test, I tell myself…

    When I am troubled with adjusting here, I just go out and venture around town, and remind myself how blessed I really am! Yes, some days are tougher than others.. I just take a moment at at time.. and embrace the Universe..

    Life is a journey, Live it.. Love it..:)

    • March 24, 2010 9:49 pm

      Wow – what a story – and I’ll bet you have some adjustments going on. I have several friends here who were born in India and left for quite some time then came back. It is challenging sometimes for them – the whole “how Indian are you really” test hits them hard sometimes. Good luck in your adventure!

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