I look at my previous post which was in June 2013 and think I wasn’t very productive on my blog writings this year. Prior to that I was trying to get at least one quilt top done each month. Actually at the beginning of the year I did accomplish that and even managed to do about 3 in one of those months. But–with the Conrath School’s Centennial looming over my head my summer suddenly was overwhelmed with getting this place in shape for that celebration which took place on Labor Day.
Some people thought we were biting off more than we could chew with having the party here and especially opening our home to the public. My reasoning for the Open House was for a variety of reasons. #1 I know how I’d feel coming back to the school I had attended when I was little…..of course, I would want to ‘tour’ those old hallways and rooms. I knew that others would want to revisit this school. #2 There were people that had asked for a tour in the past and I wasn’t prepared for that or had been put on the spot to give tours of a cluttered and/or dirty house. #3 There would be people taking a tour with or without my permission so decided that no one would be put on the spot if we just planned a tour to those interested in doing so. Well, that decision was a good one but it was a LOT of work so I did get sidetracked from my monthly posts on Xanga…. but then Xanga had some issues of its own to take care of during this time. And I do plan to backtrack and do a blog on the Centennial Celebration WHEN my life gets back to an even keel. Right now, that looks to be after Thanksgiving unless something else comes up.
And yeah, the quilting machine has been sitting idle…..
Then my life got derailed soon after the Celebration when suddenly I was writhing with pain with a kidney stone caught in the tube just above my bladder. I have gone through painful experiences in my lifetime: tonsillectomy, 3 jaw surgeries, D & C, 9 deliveries, 2 of which were face presentations and one of those with a hand beside the face also, and 1 C-section where the epidural didn’t work and I could feel the actually cutting and delivery, removal of a gallbladder, and a liprotripsy, a wreck where we rolled a couple of times that made me think it must be like being in a cement mixer to mention a few….all these experiences where I thought was painful.
When this pain hit, I was in AGONY with capital letters. One attack lasted 7 and 1/2 hours solid backstabbing, excruciating pain. I ended up in the ER in Chippewa Falls and had a CT scan which revealed the stone. 4.5 mm in a 1.5 mm tube. The dr asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest pain. I told him it was at least 20. I was told it was almost through so they sent me home with a little strainer to urinate through so that I would know when it finally passed. Also with a prescription for a stronger pain med than the Dr. had prescribed a couple days earlier. (The dr. had prescribed a blood pressure medicine to cause the tube to enlarge so it could pass easier. Unfortunately, it also enlarged the veins in my head and caused tremendous headaches…..I quit taking that as I felt I could handle the back pain better without the headache.) Well, thanks anyway…..at least they tried.
I was supposed to take the pain med “as needed”, but unfortunately, it took an hour to take effect and only lasted 4 hours and I was only allowed to take it every 6 hours. Eventually, I found that Ibuprofen worked better than anything so eventually ditched the other pain killers.
About 2 weeks of this pain and all the home remedies meanwhile besides the gallons of water consumed and the unhandy-ness of hauling that strainer wherever I happened to go, that stubborn stone refused to pass. The doctor and hospital recommended surgery to remove it. We started with Immugruen (or whatever its called) and contacted a hospital that gives a cheaper rate to Mennonites. I was told that the hospital cost would be $6,000-12,000. I didn’t even continue to find out what the doctor or anesthesia would cost.
Instead we started thinking about going to Guatemala for help. Our daughter-in-law there contacted a Urologist in the City and we called him. He said he could remove it for Q5,000.00 (exchange rate: $1 – Q7.8) which included the dr, anesthesia and hospital!
So, that was a no-brainer. So, Vernon and Jonny started looking for tickets. The going rates were over $800 each from Minneapolis but suddenly there was one for $470 each from Chicago. The glitch was that we needed to go on the 1st of Oct. instead of the 3rd! This was 10 PM on Sept. 30th. By the time we bought the tickets and packed our bags….we packed light (too light) and got to bed it was about 1 AM. We could’ve used more time but it didn’t happen.
We left at 8:15 for Chicago and beat it down there, stopping off at the hospital for a copy of the CT scan. Later we had to make a stop in Mauston to look for a parts store to buy a new battery for the car.
Once at O’hara airport we checked our baggage and Vernon went to park the car in the long term lot but couldn’t find it and I was eating nails (figuratively) while waiting for him and hoping he’d get back in time. We barely made it to the gate in time, they were paging us and when we arrived we heard them announce to the plane that we had come and to put the ramp back up the plane! A shave too close for comfort.
We had a good flight stopping in El Salvador where another attack started but passed quickly once the Ibuprofen took effect. Now I didn’t bother taking that little strainer along on the trip so what happened next will remain a mystery.
In the meantime, Kendra Lily, had called Mennonite Air Missions (MAM) headquarters to request a room for her parents. She thought it would be fun to surprise Tim and Rhoda Korver who are houseparents and also very close friends of ours. She told Rhoda that there was a couple coming from the States for medical reasons and would need a room. Since Benj contacted one of his friends to pick us up at the airport no one needed to pick us up there. Rhoda called KL back and asked if this couple had names and if there were children along.
KL skirted the question by saying no children and she thought the last name was Martin, so Rhoda was very anxious to learn who was coming.
When we disembarked in Guatemala City and had gone through customs we had no idea who was meeting us. We exited the building and scanned the crowd, seeing no one we knew but was glad to see a sign that read ” Don Vernon y Dona Kim Martin”. We didn’t know the man but we knew our names so we went with him. It turned out to be someone from El Novillero where we had lived for 13 years. Don Nayo left us off at the mission with the promise that he would have a car ready for us the next day so that we could be free to do our own thing in the City.
We rang the bell and Rhoda was right there to answer. She opened the little window in the door and looked out, finally able to satisfy her curiosity. Her mouth dropped open as recognition dawned and she exclaimed “Vernon and Kim Martin!” She went on and on about how KL had played a fast one on her. Finally I asked her if she was going to let us in or was she going to be a “Rhoda”…as in the Bible. I could tell she could hardly stand it that it was nearly 11PM and she couldn’t tell anyone! Tim was already in bed and asleep, but Larissa Good and Harold Kauffman was still up and so she did get to tell them. After we got done hugging and catching up a little we went to bed.
I didn’t sleep well that night because someone was using a sewing machine…..it sounded more like a serger…..most of the night. Next morning I asked who was up all night sewing and soon discovered I was hearing the sewing machine in a mattress factory on the other side of the wall.
After breakfast and devotions, we called the doctor to set up an appointment and then we walked down the street with Rhoda to a mall to buy a few items from Walmart. Since we had left home in such a hurry, we needed some shampoo and we wanted to buy some packages of Hershey bars for hostess gifts.
The car that was supposed to be for our use was not yet available as it was in the shop so Craig Martin took us over to Zone 10 where the doctor was located. We were an hour early for the appointment so we walked few blocks to a mall and did some window shopping. It took me a little to get used to seeing big numbers on the items. I had to keep reminding myself to divide that number by 8 to get a ballpark figure of the real cost. A coffee mug for example might display a price tag of Q75.00 or a picture frame for Q62.00 even so, it took more than my mental calculations to get over seeing a lovely velour dress that I wanted to buy for my newest granddaughter for nearly Q600 or a knitted sweater for Q750! Dear me, I could knit a dozen sweaters or dresses for that price. I decided right then and there that I’d do just that but now that I am home, I am going to have to get on the ball if I am going to follow through with that.
When the time came, we met with the doctor Ricardo Tercera who looked at the CT scan which was all messed up. He decided to order an Xray since it had been awhile since the scan was taken. We went down a couple of levels and got that done. When it was done, we took the Xray back up to the Urologist. He couldn’t find the stone!
He told us he thought the stone was gone but to be certain he wanted me to go to a Lab the next day for more tests. He told us to go at 6:30 AM otherwise we’d be in the lab until noon.
Nayo brought the car to the parking garage while we were at the drs so we picked it up and left for the mission. This was my birthday and we thought it would’ve been nice to have gone to a restaurant but we had not been able to change any money in the city that day. We had changed $100 at the mission before we left for the drs. It took most of that for the doctor, the Xray and the laxative the doctor had ordered so that my bowels would be clean for the next day. Vernon did buy a dozen roses for me at a traffic light. They were only Q20 for the dozen but oh so beautiful. Anyway, the traffic was thick and so we headed back to the mission. Vernon stopped to get Q50 of gas for it and then our troubles really began.
Suddenly the car began to splutter and cut out and die. Vernon would coax it back to life and we’d go a little further and it would die again. Weird…..but after a LONG time, we finally made it back to the mission where Rhoda served us some supper and cake and ice cream.
Then Tiana called and the family in El Chal sang Happy Birthday to me. Then little Sue got on the phone: “Grandma, it was my birthday today, too.” Oh no, I felt like an idiot. My first granddaughter was born on my 50th birthday and I had gone all day and hadn’t thought of it once!” Talk about feeling about 1/2″ tall…..not only that but it was also my mother-in-law’s birthday. I’ll bet she had not forgotten little Sue’s birthday. Oh well, I had had a lot on my mind that day.
(Cake made by Larissa and Rhoda) ( See my birthday roses.)
I took the laxative which was powder that I mixed with lemon-aid. It was saltier than Lot’s wife. I really think it was Epsom’s salt but didn’t look to find out. I already had diarrhea due to the high powered antibiotics that I had taken in the States for my UTI and I think I permanently damaged my intestinal system with this stuff. Joke.
Anyway I did manage to sleep a bit better that night inspite of my frequent trips around the corner to the bathroom. At least the sewing machine was quiet.
We got up early and left the mission for the Lab. We weren’t down the road more than a mile or two when the car started having fits. Each time Vernon got it going again…..I love having a mechanic husband. Once it stopped in the middle of the highway with no pull-over spot available so me and a motorcycle cop pushed it out of the way. The cop wanted to give Vernon a ticket and asked for his driver’s license. Vernon gave him his Guatemalan one that had expired about 10 years ago. The cop did realize it was out of date so he gave it back and didn’t give him a ticket either. The idea of ticketing someone just because his car broke down….Like we did it on purpose.
Finally, after the 4th or 5th time, we had had enough so we pushed it into a side street and parked it in front of a church, locked up and set off for the lab on foot. We had to walk about 10 blocks and arrived there about 7:30 I think. We had to take a number which was #46. We sat down to wait for our number to be called. After an hour or so it was and Vernon took the lab order up and paid for the services, which was about Q700. (less than $100)
Later I was called and they took blood and left a port in my arm for the Xray tests. Also a urine test. The laxative was still doing it’s job making for a miserable time for me. They started a series of Xrays. The first one was plain, then they injected something in the vein and took 4 more every 5 minutes. Then told me to tank up with water until I had to go really bad then come back for the next one. So after 2 bottles of water I quit drinking to let it settle but the diarrhea was more urgent than the bladder when I told them I had to go really bad…..I figured what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them or me either…so they let me have my next Xray a little sooner. They sent me to empty my bladder for the final Xray. Pun: I was gladder that my bladder was flatter.
By this time it was creeping up on 2 PM and my stomach was rubbing my backbone! Now we knew why the dr had recommended us to go at 6:30. The lab didn’t open until 7 but the sooner you got a number the sooner you could leave.
Since we had to leave early that morning, we didn’t have money for the lab, Tim K. kindly loaned us some from the food kitty before we left. We walked back to the car, stopping at one of our old “haunts”, a little cafe tucked in near where we used to ship our sweaters.
The car was not too far from there but it still refused to run. Vernon was sure it was a loose connection because of the way it was acting so he tried finding the problem to no avail.
Finally we gave up and walked another long way (about 20 city blocks) over to the place where we used to do our money changing. We wrote a check and they gave us a check to cash at a bank in Zone 4. This time we got onto a bus up there and back.
When we got back to the car Vernon called the owner of the car and he called his mechanic. Before the mechanic arrived the car started and we went over to Montufar Paiz (the grocery store we used to frequent when we lived in Guatemala.) Bought a few items, including a birthday gift for Sue. Then waited for the mechanics. When they got there the car acted normal. They decided to take the car back up the the shop in Zone 1….where Vernon and 2 of them tried to locate the problem to no avail.
Since the car had run perfectly fine up to the mechanic’s and they couldn’t find anything wrong we decided to risk driving back to the mission. Did ok until we crossed the ravine on the Periferico. We had just gotten off the bridge and started up the hill when the car died. Fortunately there was a pull off there so we coasted back into that cul-de-sac. It had begun to rain so Vernon was glad for the umbrella he had bought at the Paiz. He tinkered with it some more but still could NOT find what was wrong. So finally the owner called a roll back to come and pick it up. So much for our own wheels in Guatemala City. Anyway, we sat there in the dark and rain, glad for the dry vehicle in that respect until the roll-back came and winched it on.
On the Grua….or rollback
Then the driver took us to the Roosevelt Intersection where we got out and hiked down to the bus stop there. Got on a city bus with a very decent driver. One thing I thought funny was the bus boy got out while we were still moving at a crawl, walked on the front bumper and began to move the wiper’s. Then he tried to clean the windshield with a bucket of water. All the time the bus was creeping along. Only in Guatemala….or maybe not, but NOT in the US I’ll bet.
See the bus boy on the opposite side of the windshield from the driver? He managed to really smear it up so the lady behind the driver gave him a tip of what to use to get the windshield clean. I forget just what she recommended but think it was vinegar and water or something of that sort.
It was still raining when we were let off and we slogged the rest of the way to the mission, looking like something the cat’s drug in. That night I was tired enough that I slept like a log!
–to be continued