Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I'm Past Due


I am past due, way past due. Nope, I'm not pregnant. I am past due for a pelvic exam and mammogram. 

One of the challenges of moving around the world is having to find new doctors. Sometimes, in the midst of setting up a new life, again, I just don't get to it all. As this school year comes to a close I am realizing that I didn't have a checkup the entire time we lived in Beirut. That makes my last one three years ago. (I did think about doing it in Seattle, but my doctor moved and then we were changing jobs, therefore insurance companies - yadda, yadda, yadda.) I have even thought about it this year, going as far as inquiring with female colleagues. I knew which medical facility I wanted, but no one had a gynecologist recommendation for me. Yes, at that point I figuratively threw my hands in the air. 

Now, with the year wrapping up, I wanted to get as many things off my 'to-do list' as possible so I gave it one more go. I remembered that another teacher's husband is a doctor at the hospital where I want to be seen so I asked her if they had a recommendation. This should have been my move months ago!

Wasta kicked in and he not only had a recommendation, but had an appointment for me the next day when it usually takes a couple of weeks to get in. On top of that, he asked that I call him when I arrived at the hospital so he could walk me in, which he did. After the typical run around that a visit to a hospital in this country necessitates, I sat in the ladies only waiting area until it was my turn.

NOTE: Here doctors are almost all seen within hospitals. (The only exception we have ever had was G's pediatrician in Jeddah.) Even though you have insurance you still have to visit an insurance office and then a cashier and have all the proper stamps before you can continue with your appointment or testing. This is never a linear process, often going back and forth a few times between various desks, waiting your turn where this is no proper que, and as a female either being given an invisible bubble of space or ignored and shoved past.

Once the initial hoopla was accomplished I sat behind the partition for the 'female only' waiting area. One nurse called me back to take my vitals and then sent me back to the waiting area. Once it was my turn with the doctor another nurse came to get me, it was then that I found out they have no Pap smear kits available and won't have any for two more months. (I didn't ask how long they had been out.) For many of you this will be shocking to read, but for those of us here it is par for the course. 

It was not a waste of my time, however. I knew that I had to see a doctor to get clearance for a mammogram, which I obtained. I also was able to get some magical migraine pills. (You can get almost anything here without a prescription, but it also means you have to pay for it - though not much, while insurance will pay if you have a prescription.) 

One of my other goals was to look into where I am in the menopause progression. The doctor balked when I brought it up, but after telling him this is the age my mom went through menopause, and after he did an ultrasound, he seemed convinced that blood work might actually reveal something.

I left his office with an appointment for August 17th (the kits will be in by then, inshallah) and three sticker labels; one for the pharmacy, one for the lab work, and one for radiology. Now it was time for the scavenger hunt - could I be successful? It could go either way.

I first dropped my sticker off at the pharmacy so they could process the request while I searched the hospital for the various offices and tried to navigate the prerequisites for each department. Next I went looking for radiology. Upon finding the right reception I waited my turn only to be told I had to go to the cashier to open the file. "Lab work or radiology?" inquired the Cashier. "Both!" came my reply. After parting with 73 SAR ($19 and change) I headed back to join an even longer line at the radiology reception desk.

After a couple of people in front of me had been helped the man behind the glass recognized me and called me forward. (Yes, I was the only what woman gliding around in my abaya and one of the only women with neither my head nor my face covered - not hard to remember.) After some time poking around the computer he told me the female doctor (though I suspect lab technician) is out until July and asked if I minded having a male. "That is fine." We negotiated times and I chose next Wednesday as I am still here, but students are out of school so my class is not impacted.

Off on the next part of my scavenger hunt - time for blood. After a maze of hallways that started with entering the dental section, I found the ladies only room for lab work. The door was closed and there was no reception. A nurse happened by and after inquiring I was shown a number generating machine for that room that was further down the hall and on the other side. (So NOT intuitive!) As soon as the machine spit out my number it popped up above the lab door.

The lab door had a big "DO NOT ENTER" sign asking you to wait until someone comes out to get you. This makes sense as when the door opens anyone in the hallway might see the bare arm of someone giving blood. I sat down. I could hear people talking in the room and after about five minutes the door opened. No patient exited, but the two workers who had been chatting called me in. (Yes, efficiency is highly prized here...) More stickers were generated and viles set out and labeled. I told the girl (and she seemed like a teenager, but perhaps a youthful early twenties) that I would be fine as long as I never saw the needle. She sat me down and prepped my arm. I know I have good veins, but it still seemed to take her quite a while. I was prepared for the pain, but surprised when I didn't feel a thing. She was good! I praised her blood taking ability as she put the cotton and tape on my arm. I re-donned my abaya and headed back out.

This time a bathroom was my priority. That was another amusing scenario, but I will spare you. My final stop was to pick up my prescription. This should be my most straight forward stop - ha! I was send back to the cashier to have them activate this part of the file. (It is better to not ask why he didn't do it the either of my last two visits to see him.) Finally I was given six magic pills and pulled out my phone to get picked up.

Again, I will spare you the details of how Plan A and Plan B didn't work. Thankfully I only had to wait an hour for my husband to finish his meeting and come fetch me and thankfully I had wifi and a good book. What I will tell you is that while I was waiting I noticed the sleeve of my abaya was damp. I knew I hadn't gotten it wet while in the bathroom and was a bit baffled. It was the crook of the arm where my blood was drawn and I thought that perhaps something she had used to clean my arm hadn't dried and soaked through. 

A few minutes later it seemed to be growing, but it isn't like I could unzip my abaya and take a look. I pressed my fingers to the spot and they came away pink. I abandoned my post by the entrance and went to find a place where I could investigate. I returned to the check-in desk for the doctor I had seen and asked for a tissue. When I pressed it to my abaya and it came away red the ladies ushered me back and into a room. Removing my arm from the sleeve I discovered that the cotton was soaked through and my arm covered in blood. I was in no pain so I was not alarmed and applied pressure. The ladies were concerned, though, and insisted I return to the lab.

With my abaya over my shoulder they led me back. Once in the lab room I convinced them that I just needed paper towels and a sink. I got cleaned up and mostly rinsed out my sleeve. With a fresh band-aid applied and abaya on once again I returned to the entrance and my book to await my pickup.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A New Twist On A Soccer Tournament



I am in pain, which is not unusual. A migraine has started and doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What is different about this one is that I am in the middle of a soccer tournament. I am on a huge field that has three games going on at once. I am trying to keep track of some kids. Everything seems a bit muddled and hard to track. I seem to have lost someone I am responsible for, but a ref stops me and says they know where they are. It is all very strange and then I wake up.

I haven't been to a soccer tournament since watching my nephews play at least six years ago. That should have been my first clue something was up. Unfortunately the pain part hadn't left when I woke from the dream. That's a first.

Yes, I live with pain often. I get migraines several times a week. In addition I have severe compression in my spinal column that also leads to periods of pain. I am not saying this to complain. There are many who have it much worse than I do. Most of the time I am able to live a pretty normal life while my ways of treating my pain keep things tolerable.

Why am I writing about this today? Even after the drugs have kicked in that dream lingers. The pain in the dream was real. My body had simply taken what it was feeling and spun a dream web around it. At least half of my migraines wake me up, but I have never remembered dreaming about them before. I wonder if this is a fluke or the start of a new pattern. Could be a fun twist to see how my mind tries to explain the pain. I'm going to have to pay attention.

Monday, May 30, 2016

What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Here are my May books...



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Set Free By Demands?!



I am realizing that the March Challenge is freeing.

What?! Kristi, are you crazy? How can having to write, and post, every day be freeing?

So glad you asked. Let me explain my recent revelation. 


In March, because you have to write and post every day, you are forced to really pay attention to life with a writer's eye. You are observing the world in which you live for something to write about. Some days you are struggling to notice anything that might begin to spark the words. Other days there are so many ideas you have to choose the moment you want to spend your words on. There is freedom in the notion that what you write one day might be 'bleh' because in the midst of life most of us aren't going to find/make the time to truly craft our slice every single day. There will be days that the writing comes close to being something special and maybe even occasions of writing of which you are proud, but the necessity of getting something on the blog each and every day allows for the freedom of 'first draft writing' (as Stacey once called it).

In the non-March times I have an entire week to observe. With an entire week I should be able to come up with something profound for each Slice. I should have grand inspirations. My writing should be elevated to a higher level than what I post in March, and yet...

And yet life still happens at a rapid pace. I do not live with the same writing discipline that I thrust myself into during March. Sure, I have moments that I think, "Wow! This is a sliver of life that should be explored." With more days there is more time. I should spend some of that time to see how I can share this moment in words. I could write it like this, or perhaps this way, or throw it all out and look at it from another viewpoint.

But I don't. I find Tuesdays coming to a close and I have nothing on the page. I remember that Tuesdays are my longest, most demanding days and that they are also the day for SOLSC. I berate myself for not taking time on Monday, my least crazy day, to plan for Tuesday - to spend some time putting words down and then revisiting those words to try and craft something worthy of sharing with the world. And the moments slip away and I choose sleep over posting and another week has gone by without a Slice.

Yes, it is May and I am ready for the freedom of March and having to post every day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Email Free Tuesday - Is It For Me?


Our district has taken up the idea that people should talk with another more. The idea is being implemented by having two "Email Free Tuesdays" per month. Putting an automated reply on our email accounts can alert people to the initiative and simultaneously let them know why we won't be replying.

In a previous life I worked in corporate America. I understand that there are times that an email is sent to the person 26 feet from your desk and that you could have walked over there instead of sending the message. Having a day or two set aside that you are not chained to your computer would be refreshing.

Picking up the phone has also been listed as an alternative. While these ideas make sense in an office environment, they don't seem to make as much sense in a classroom.

There are 24 other people in my room, whom I am responsible for. I can't simply walk out the door and down the hall when I am looking for feedback, confirmation, or support. (Even if the person I wanted to talk to didn't also have a room full of people for whom they are responsible for.) 

So what about communicating with people in the front office? When I have a prep period I can walk to their office. My room is two feet closer than than the farthest room. The walking is good for me! 

What about when I do have students? The suggestion is that you phone instead of email. Well, having 48 ears listening to what I am saying doesn't do much for privacy or learning. I can unobtrusively let the office know if there is a challenge without announcing it audibly and calling everyone's attention to whatever it may be. I can quickly reply to a parent email without disrupting student learning on the infrequent occasion something needs to be addressed in a timely manner. I do not feel that the computer is an extension of my job as a teacher, but it is the best tool for some tasks.

Conundrum! Go against the initiative or become a recluse. Other ideas?

Monday, May 2, 2016

What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Here are my April books...