Saturday, September 26, 2015

Illness and Injury

Hmm...let's see. So they say things occur in 3's right?? I think we hit our 3 incidents. It started last week. I decided to get crafty in the kitchen and made some chicken stock from a carcass that we had. I was really proud of myself as I am not a wiz in the kitchen (I am aware that making stock is not rocket science but I had never taken the time to do it before)!

I strained the stock and took the remaining veggies outside to feed to the dogs. I spread the veggies in two piles and then turned to walk to the compost to dispose of the bones. No sooner did I turn my back did I hear Kirby and Jackson in a knock down drag out fight. I had to pull Kirby off of Jackson who was pinned down and screaming #1.

Jackson ran off injured. I found him in the dog kennel shaking and bleeding really badly. Freaking out that he was going to bleed to death, I took him to the shower. Brandon came in to find me covered in blood in the shower cleaning Jackson's wounds. He was bitten on the snout.  Research told us that the nose and ears bleed a lot on dogs. The only medical supplies that we had were 2 alcohol wipes and diaper rash cream but they did the trick. He was rattled pretty badly but he has recovered!

A few days later we decided to walk down to the community soccer field to play fetch with the dogs and so that Brandon could throw his "discs".  All was well. The dogs ran and Brandon was excited about finding an open space to throw some discs. We aren't exactly sure what Kirby ate (too much pineapple or too much lake water) or if he just was ill but he threw up for 24 hours after playing at the park.  Bam #2.  It was scary and again, I was worried that he was going to die. I stayed up with him through the night checking every so often that he was breathing. Around 2am he got up and drank an entire bowl of water. He then crawled into bed with Brandon...and he was back to normal the next morning!

The next day was #3. It was my second day going to help Marta teach at her home. It felt great to be going somewhere alone as almost everything we do, Brandon and I do together. Don't get me wrong, this is great, but at home I was very independent and I have been missing some of that.

As I came around one of the corners the road that takes you up to the village 2 puppies came out of the woods and ran up the street in front of me. Dogs are everywhere here and to our experience are harmless. They say that most of them belong to people but they don't wear collars and are usually roaming around looking for food.  The puppies turned left to re-enter the woods when an adult dog whom I am assuming was their mother came out of the woods. I walked by and as I did she bit me in the ass.  No, the back of my thigh. It did hurt a little and she tore my pants but it wasn't gushing blood so I continued to Marta's house for class. I took the long way home so I didn't have to walk by the spot where I was bitten.

I showed Brandon when I got home and we decided that I should go to the clinic in the morning to have it looked it. This turned into an experience let me tell you! The first clinic we went to was a community clinic run by an American doctor. He informed us that the clinic doesn't have many supplies and he mainly treats minor illness. He looked at my bite and encouraged us to go to the community health clinic in the center of town. He seemed confident that they would be able to help us so we stopped for breakfast on the way.

Coffee at breakfast

Ferns hanging above us during breakfast

After enjoying breakfast and reading up on if a pregnant woman should have a rabies shot (yes we should if we are at risk of rabies) we headed to the clinic. Here they again looked at my injury and told us (in Spanish so I don't understand a thing) that because I am pregnant we need to go to the hospital to see a specialist to make sure that the vaccine is safe for me to have. I am starting to freak out a little at this point.

There are 2 hospitals to choose from as we are standing on the street. One is a private hospital a 25 minute boat ride away that our midwife has encouraged us to tour as a plan B and the other is a government hospital up the hill 15 minutes by bus. We decide to kill 2 birds with one stone and head to the private hospital.  At the private hospital they took me into an exam room in the ER. The doctor does not speak English but one of the men from the boat came with us and he spoke both English and Spanish. They checked the babies heart rate and cleaned my wound and then told me that they didn't have the vaccine and that I needed to go to the government hospital.

At this point, the man from the boat is feeling that the doctor is being shady and finds an American volunteer in the hallway that he pulls in the room to assist with translation. She translates that the only places that have the vaccines are government run clinics and hospitals and that this doctor too says that I need to see a specialist because I am pregnant and I need to see this specialist at the government hospital. He writes up some "referral", we pay the equivalent of about $18.00 (because it was private) and get back on the boat. Not always smart to try and kill 2 birds....

Boat ride to private hospital

It is late in the day at this point and we know that if we head to the government hospital at this point we will be waiting until morning so we went home and headed to the hospital the next morning. Here we checked in and waited for only about 20 minutes in the "waiting room" until they called us back into the ER. This consisted of 5 beds separated by curtains. We were told to stand off to the side until a bed opened up. Meanwhile they are wheeling people in on was a strange situation as privacy and personal space are non-existent.

Yes, Brandon is losing a bit of his beer belly!  He was supposed to wait for me.... 

ER waiting room (the boy is peeking into the ER)

Check-in desk at Government hospital.  There was a desktop behind there.

A bed opened up after about 40 minutes and so we moved to the bed where they told me to put a gown on. It was cold and felt a tad dirty so I put the gown over my clothes.  The babies heart rate was checked again and then we waited for about 2 hours for the doctor to come in, look at my leg, and then he has to call this specialist. The specialist finally arrives and his guy is no doctor but someone who again tells us that I need the rabies vaccine but that they don't have it. He writes up another form for us, tells us that he has called the community clinic and that they are expecting us. We head there thinking we have finally made progress...HA!

Hospital bathroom

Hospital bathroom

We arrive and are told that the hospital never called and that they are dumb. That we need to go back to the town where I was bitten and get the vaccine there. We (Brandon) explains the whole stupid story of everywhere that we have been and we sit while this guy and woman discuss something in the corner. It looks like they are calling somewhere but who really knows. The next thing we know a little girl is tapping Brandon on the shoulder showing us that woman is trying to get our attention. We follow her to a room where I am to be given my vaccine...but first Brandon is sent across the street to buy a syringe while my wound is cleaned again. We left with the instructions to return on 10/3/15 for my next dose. We are hoping that when we return they make good on their word!

Katie and Brandon

Sunday, September 20, 2015

House tour

The house we are renting was built in 2008 by a Norwegian couple. It is an upstairs/downstairs duplex setup with us inhabiting the lower level. This works well for us with the dogs being able to go in and out as they please. However, the view of the lake is non-existent from our patio. We walk to the edge of the yard for the amazing lake view.

It is an open concept space with three small bedrooms. Brandon believes the space to be about 800 square feels like less to me. We have electric hot water for showers that can get you about a 5 minute long rinse. We lucked out and the house does have a septic system (different than what we have in the states) so we are able to flush the toilet paper...this is a luxury here! Another luxury that we have is a water filter system on our kitchen sink. This means that we are able to drink the water versus having to buy large jugs of water. We also have onsite laundry and dryer for the wet season and fairly reliable internet.

With all of this, the space is definitely a simplification for us. One that we are enjoying. I do think that Brandon misses the yard work as he really got a "sense of accomplishment" from it. There is a full time Guardian on the property. He comes around 8am and leaves for home around 5pm and takes care of all the house/yard maintenance. There is also a woman who comes on Fridays to clean and to wash the linens. These things would have been amazing at home while working full time. Being here there is a sense of guilt about it...we really do have the time!

Things we brought from home that we are really glad we did:
1. Our own pillows.
2. Our king size down comforter and king size linens.
3. A projector to hook up to the computer or laptop for movie viewing on the wall.
4. A few dog toys (Kirby loves to pull them all out and prance around with them),
5. A bathmat...Ha! This was in Kirby's kennel as padding for his flight and we now use it in the bathroom!
6. Large beach towel. Another item that was in Kirby's kennel that comes in very handy when drying the dogs after a swim in the lake.
7. Brandon's large Packer's water glass.
8. 2 alcohol toilets (story on next post).

Things that we didn't bring that we wish we had:
1. A table lamp (the lighting in the house stinks at night).
2. A few hangers.  There were about 15 hangers here. I am using 9, Brandon is using 1, and there are 5 in the guest room.
3. A first aid kit.
4. Our own bath towels.

We were told that 60% of the worlds donated/unwanted stuff makes it's way to Guatemala. Literally everything that is sold around the lake is pre-owned (with the few exceptions here and there). This is not a place that you just run out to pick up something that you need or WANT.  This is a big shift for me especially. I notice here that when I am bored I will get the itch to go shopping just to kill time; something I did fairly regularly at home.  This is not possible now and is a part of my materialism detox. I am happy to report that the withdrawal symptoms are lessening with each passing day.


Katie and Brandon

Monday, September 14, 2015

Story I hesitate to tell…

A few nights back I was laying in bed with the dogs watching a movie on Netflix. Brandon was on the couch listening to the baseball game. It was a nice quiet night until…it felt like something fell into my shirt. I didn’t really think much of it until a few seconds later the creature started moving. I jumped up out of bed, looked in my shirt to find a 3-4 inch scorpion in my shirt! I screamed for Brandon who by this time was asleep on the couch. By the time he reached me I had shaken the creepy crawler out of my shirt onto the floor. Startled Brandon did not know what to do. I yelled, “Kill it!” He struggled to find a shoe but eventually did as I kept the thing corned with my kindle. It took a few good smacks to put him down. There were guts all over the floor.

I am not generally afraid of insects but there is just something about the primitive look of a scorpion that freaks me out! They are not poisonous here but if I were to have been stung they say it hurts like hell! They compare them to bees or wasps. We think he crawled out of the ceiling light above our bed. We are told that they usually stay outdoors but during the rainy season they can find their way in…it is the rainy season! For those who want to visit please do not let this deter you!

We did meet LindaBlue for breakfast this past Friday, a midwife from Kentucky who has been living on the lake for 8 years. We spent a few hours getting to know her and how she practices. Brandon and I both really liked and felt comfortable with her. We also really like the idea of having the baby at home and not having to travel a long distance.  I did inquire about her access to medication for bleeding should I need it. She said, “Oh darling, you just eat some of your placenta. It is full of Oxytocin.” I smiled and then asked, “and if I don’t want to eat the placenta do you have access to drugs?” She assured me yes, yes she does. She seems like a very colorful woman. 

After our breakfast she showed us around from her point of view. She really is knowledgeable about the community and we look forward to picking her brain as we get to spend more time with her. She is off to Uruguay this week to assist one of her friends with her birth. We will meet again sometime during the first week of October for the prenatal visits to begin!

 Brandon has been picking up unripe lemons from the yard because he doesn’t want them to go to waste…how sweet.                                                                                 

For the past two weeks Brandon and I have been trying to find basil in the market. I had been looking for the sweet basil variety that I was used to. We couldn’t find any and I was bummed because I want to make pesto and pasta sauce. Buying fresh produce here is very inexpensive but anything that is pre-made, processed, canned, or jarred is pricey. Cruz, the Guardia of the property that we live on showed us around the first day we were here making sure to show us the lettuce patch, the tomato plants, and the little patch of herbs. All he said about the herbs was “they are for cooking.” Well, Jodi Annis helped me to figure out that growing in abundance in our yard is Thai Basil! I made some delicious pesto!

We also have been playing lots of cards to keep busy in the afternoon hours.  I was on a winning streak but I think that streak has come to an end. I’m ok with this because Brandon was starting to throw fits when he lost.

It has been two weeks now and there are days that I think to myself “what have we done.” It is a challenge for me to have no responsibility or places to be.  I have said this a few times to some of you but I do feel as though I am detoxing from many different things all at once. I’m trying to stay present focused and to be patient with myself.

I just asked Brandon how he feels about our new life right now…he said “Fine.”  He went on to share that he does wish he could go play disc golf or stop at Walgreens and pick me up some chocolate. For him, he knew the sacrifices coming into this he says.  I knew them too…the feeling part of the sacrifices are stronger for me I guess. I also do have these crazy hormones rushing through my body.

Katie and Brandon

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Trying to find a rythm

Midwife update:

We connected with a midwife who runs a birthing center in Guatemala City. She is willing to assist with a home birth in Antigua (this would mean renting a place in Antigua which is 2 hours away from our home) or with me giving birth at the birthing center in Guatemala City (3 hours from our home). We are going to Antigua next Thursday to meet her. I also connected with an American midwife that lives at the lake. She informed me that she is available at the time of my due date. We are waiting to hear back from her regarding a day and time to meet. Everything is going to work out folks!

We are learning many little things about living here already:
1.     Put the dog dishes outside because they bring ants.
2.     Put all meat that we are not going to eat straight away in the freezer to prepare for power outage.
3.     The water filter does use electricity so we should have water in a jug outside of the fridge in case of power outage.
4.     Katie is not afraid of extremely large hornets (we had a house guest that Brandon wanted to experiment with…Katie ended up capturing it).
5.     There is a difference between a slow cooker and a rice cooker but you can use a rice cooker as a slow cooker.

Brandon with the rice cooker that we thought was a crockpot

      This morning the Guardian Cruz shared with us that the children in the village were having their school competition in the church square. We walked up to the village to watch what looked to us like a very raw dance competition (Brandon just informed me that it was a rhythmic gymnastic competition). I needed to rest multiple times as the walk up to the village is STRAIGHT up.

View from up in the village of Santa Cruz
     It seemed that most of the mothers (and a few fathers) where watching as the children performed. I      really wanted to clap when each performance was over but no one else did…so I didn’t.

As we were getting ready to leave I spotted Marta, a schoolteacher that I had met on the boat when we were here in January. At that time she had told me that she would like it if I could help her teach the children. I approached her and reminded her of who I was.  She informed me that she works at the government school in the morning and then teaches out of her home in the afternoons. The government pays for children to go to school up through the 6th grade. After that parents must pay. Marta teaches the children who’s families cannot afford to send them beyond 6th grade. She invited me to her home to help her teach. I informed her that I speak no Spanish. She told me that she will teach me Spanish and I can help her with her English. Brandon and I will go to her home for the first time this coming Monday.

Adjusting to this life continues to be a work in progress.

Katie and Brandon

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A few challenges.

This past Friday we made the boat trip to Panajachel to meet the midwife. We needed to pick up some groceries so we went early to the large Friday Pana market. We picked up everything on our list for about $7.00!

I’m really glad that Brandon speaks Spanish (even though he will tell you he is not very good)! He has been amazing at getting us what we need. I plan to find a Spanish teacher this upcoming week…I’m feeling a bit uneasy about my brains ability to learn another language at this point in my life but all I can do is try my best.

Not pictured: 2 lbs of black beans and 1 lbs of rice

We walked through the cobblestone streets to Daniela, the midwife’s home.  On the way we encountered a children’s parade. We spent about 2 hours talking with her and we fell in love. She is amazing! Problem is that she also told us that she has 2 other job opportunities that she is waiting to hear about and if 1 of them goes through she will not be here at the end of December when I am due. I did not cry when she told me this but I really wanted to. She provided us with a few other options: birth center in Guatemala city that is located 3 hours away, a name of an American midwife that she is not sure if she is here currently or not, and a hospital in a village about 25 minutes away. The hospital is the place that she uses for medical emergencies and so she would like us to visit it regardless. We left the meeting with the agreement that Brandon and I would tour the hospital, reach out to the American midwife as well as the birth center in the city, and that Daniela will keep us posted on if she will be here or not. She felt that she would hear from the other opportunities for herself in 2 weeks. 

If I am being honest with myself, I am freaking out internally. I am working to stay positive and to believe that this too will workout as it is meant to. Daniela talked about the birth being one small piece to this journey and that the resources really come from within me…working to focus on this but also remaining hopeful that she will be able to be a support to us during the birth.

And then…the power went out! We were very aware that this happens here, Frequently! It went out at 9pm Friday night. No big deal.   We just went to sleep thinking it will be back on when we wake up. Nope! This is when the pain of the news from Daniela really bubbled up. I found myself going to a bad place and wanting to go home. After a good cry (the kind where you can’t breathe) and a great hug from Brandon I felt better. And as soon as I was done the power returned! It was a total of 12 hours of no power but the world kept turning and nothing terrible occurred.
Solar powered light from Brandon's sister Leah...Thank you!

It was sunny outside so I decided to get our first load of laundry on the line before the rain came.  I took an hour nap with the dogs before waking to make dinner. We finished our Saturday night with chicken tacos and 2 episodes of Narcos on Netflix.


Katie and Brandon

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We arrived at our destination...Jay Xepoj!

Hello again.  It took us 3 days but we made it.

We picked up our rental car and left from my mom’s home on the morning of August 29th headed for Houston, Texas. We arrived in Houston around 6pm on August 30th. The drive was smooth with perfect driving weather; mostly cloudy the entire way! The only excitement we had was Brandon getting pulled over for speeding. He was given a warning and we were on our way. 

Our flight left Houston on August 31st at 9am. Dropping Kirby off at cargo was emotional as was the plane ride. Jackson took well to his medication and slept for almost the entire trip. Picking up Kirby was a huge relief. When I asked the man at the counter if Kirby had been taken off the plane yet and her told me yes, I then asked “Is he alive?" He laughed at me and told me “Yes."

Brandon and I navigated 3 carts of our crap to the curb where our shuttle was waiting for us. The 3 hour drive to the lake was interesting as the dogs calming medication was in full force. They were very drowsy…but this didn’t stop Jackson from checking out the scene.

We made it to the lake around 3pm but the private boat that we hired to take us from Panajachel to Santa Cruz was not ready so we stopped for take out Chinese food…no way we were gonna cook dinner! The boat was ready for us around 3:30pm. It is the raining season and the lake was choppy! After about 20 minutes of a wet and bumpy ride we arrived at our dock!

We spent our first night unpacking our bags and rearranging furniture.  We started to watch a Netflix episode but both of us were exhausted and we fell asleep at 8:30pm!

We woke up on our first full day early…5:30am. It was great to sit on the patio, walk through our gardens, listen to the birds and the boats go by on the lake, and just ease into this new life. It still feels like we are on a vacation…

The man who helped us arrange our transportation from the airport is from Colorado. He has lived her for 8 years. He and his partner Elaine stopped by around 10am to welcome us. They brought us a cell phone for local use until we get one of our own.

We played at the lake with the dogs and then took the boat to Panajachel for groceries. We went to 3 different stores to find everything on the list. The entire trip took 2 hours from start to finish. We came home just as the rain was starting. My plan was to make a recipe that I had found on Pinterest but the Internet was down the entire night. I made it up and it turned out ok! I have now learned to create a word document with the recipe for nights without Internet! Here is the recipe in case anyone would like to try it...

We finished the night with a game of cards (I was the winner!) and Brandon rocking out to what he calls “great music”…. In bed by 9pm!

Katie and Brandon