September 24, 2015

City Kids

I grew up wanting to get out of the small town I grew up in. There was nothing to do there. For example, there were only two fast food restaurants and a small movie theatre. And yet, I kept coming back after every young adult adventure I had ... teaching English abroad, schooling, mission or whatever else I did after graduating high school. 

Tymon and I bought a house a couple of weeks before our wedding. Our family and friends helped us fix it up so we could move in after we got married. I love our town, our family and friends and the community. They've rallied around us whenever life was thrown in our face, as we've been able to do with others, too. There aren't many communities this supportive.

Twenty years after high school, there are several fast food places in town, which I now avoid eating in if I can help it. The movie theatre is literally an antique store and summer nights there are movies in the park. A city can grow and develop but that doesn't matter as much as the growth of the individual. There's no such thing as being bored. Bored people are boring. Creative people have fun any and everywhere they go. In a big city or on a farm. You make your own excitement. 

Even though we chose a tight-knit community for the first part of our family's life, I think that our life was a little too comfortable. And familiar. Sometimes, it takes losing something to appreciate it. Other times we know exactly what we have when it's in front of us. And either we choose a difficult situation or we're put in one by an outside force. Becoming an immigrant family was a choice for us. So I wake up smiling that we're having a little different kind of adventure.

Moving from a suburban/rural community to the largest city in South America: Jocelyn is an awesome city kid. We live on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Usually, we take the metro to get to and from her medical appointments. When we go places as a family, the kids like to ride in the front of the look out into the dark expanse. Actually, there are ads that light up the tunnels of some lines which are pretty cool.

So the other day, it's just me and Jocelyn on the train and she decides she wants to go to the front. Only thing is there is a guy standing to one side, one in the middle and two on the other side. Unaffected by the usual awkwardness that comes from squeezing in between random strangers twice your size with muscles bigger than your head, Jocelyn proceeds to sneak in so she can look out. And the young man next to her just kind of laughs. Because who does that?

Jocelyn does. And not just once. A couple of weeks ago we were downtown and she was walking next to a wall. Four young men, probably the local hoodlums, were in her path just standing around smoking and talking. Instead of going around them, especially because there was a ton of space to do just that, Jocelyn continues her path and walks right through the middle of their group. And they look down and see this blonde kid totally not inhibited by their monopoly of the sidewalk. It leaves me wondering if I've failed to teach her appropriate social interactions, or if she just doesn't care what the norms are. She's going to do what she's going to do.

Jocelyn's wound is healing well and has been completely closed for a few days. It looks better this morning than last night. We still have silver gauze left so I plan to use it until it's gone. That and I've started using doTerra's Immortelle blend for the scar reduction oils in it (frankincense, sandalwood, lavender, myrrh, helichrysum, and rose). In a few months we'll see how the scar looks and decide on whether or not we'll do a scar reduction surgery. I'm hoping it's skin colored and not angry red or bubbly like the 9/22/15 photo.

The kids go to a school with a pool where swimming lessons are part of the curriculum, which is pretty awesome and convenient. Super convenient. Yesterday, we went downtown to visit a doctor to get the kids' physicals. I'm still forming an opinion on what it's like to live in a place with  "free" medical care since we have only used private hospitals and clinics. So I'll leave that topic for another day but what I can say is that so far all of the doctors I've seen here speak English, though nurses and receptionists don't. And by don't, I may mean that they don't speak well enough to want to use it with me.

The collage below was taken from the 16th floor of the medical building we visited. It happens to be right next to a cemetery. The view was incredible. I've been wanting to go to a cemetery ever since I saw one about a week after we arrived. And so after our appointment we went. It was Evan's Angel Day, after all. I offered the kids cookies if they could find a grave with the name Evan on it. No pay out needed. Evan's not a common name here.

It looks like each family has a plot about 3 or 4 caskets wide. Many families build structures and statues or chapels on them. Some of the plots were open so we could peer inside. Then underneath they go deep and the cement boxes are on shelves of sorts. Some are full body sized and others have smaller boxes, maybe for cremated remains. I counted 12 names on one of the family plots and there were spaces for more. I suppose in a city of 20 million, you share space in death as well as in life.

Evan's Angel Day hit me harder this year than last year. I didn't leave my room until noon as I couldn't hold in the tears and I didn't want to make the family we're living with feel awkward. Oh we see our share of crying with 8 children in the house, but parents usually don't walk around the house with tear streaked faces. So I strummed my guitar and tried to learn the chorus and bridge of See You Again by Charlie Puth.

Incredibly moving to me were the actions of those who went to Evan's grave. Those who ate messy donuts. Those who left flowers. I'm thankful to see these photos. Thankful for silk flowers so that Evan's grave won't look bleak while we aren't there to care for it. But most of all, I'm thankful for those of you who reached out to us and remembered. Sent us virtual hugs I even got a real one. Thank you for remembering our boy for a moment and sharing in our sadness. I know you were also reflecting on your own loved ones.

In case you were wondering, I bawled when they played this at the end of Furious 7 and have loved it ever since.

September 13, 2015

This Miracle's Name is SILVER

We've had a ton of rain and wind this week. We lost power for over 30 hours. That was tough. Especially the lack of electronics. Cooking in the dark was quite a feat (reminded me of camping) but we have a gas stove...just needed to find the matches. I'm incredibly grateful we still had water. Not having water could've made the challenge intense.

Wednesday, the power was still out but Tymon's business partner Caleb took all of our phones, chargers, laptops, etc over to his in-laws house to charge them up since they had electricity.

After he returned, Jocelyn and I set off on our grand adventure to the city center in Sao Paulo to go to the complex wound center at Hospital Sirio-Libanes. We took a train in from the suburbs (Osasco) where we live and then transferred to the metro. I had my fully charged phone and back up battery charger with me. 

Unfortunately, I used most of my phone's battery trying to figure out where I was when getting out of the metro since side streets weren't labeled well. We ended up circling around the block, on the opposite side of the main road as we should have been on. Then when we had 12 minutes left to get to our appointment, we got into a taxi to take us a kilometer away. I'm pretty sure if we'd known where we were going, we could've walked faster than navigating the one-way streets and lights and heavy traffic, but whatever. We made it.

Grilled panini sandwich at the hospital.
Jocelyn's wound is healing marvelously under the care of Dr. Marcus Ferreira. He's a complex wound care specialist and he speaks English. Last week, after we first saw him, and he cracked a joke about why we left the United states as soon as we got Jocelyn out of the hospital (who were we running from), he advised me to stop doing the alginate dressings which we'd got in the U.S. and to instead do dressings with silver in them.

Silver is the miracle wound healer. After one week of alginate, Jocelyn's egg-sized wound improved some around the edges, but the crater remained. After two days of silver, the crater had lost most of it's depth. We continued with silver as it has shown the fastest progress in healing.

After the hospital visit, we ate our way back to the metro station. Stopped for corn from a street vendor and ice cream from McDonalds. Except we couldn't find our metro stop. So we walked a bit and then took a chance at some stairs leading down under the street. Turns out the train we found is connected to the metro and we were on our way...along with tens of thousands of other travelers. The escalators were shut down. I can only imagine that with so many people it was too dangerous to have them running. The crowd wouldn't have been able to part for all the new people coming down at regular intervals on the escalator.

So, my phone died and though my texts to Tymon about when we'd be back in Osasco appeared to me to have gone through, they didn't. So we waited 35 minutes on the curb of the train station for him to pick us up. It was dark and getting cold. Then I figured if we were going to find our own way home, we should get to that task. It was almost 8:30pm. And I can barely speak any Portuguese. But I think I know the name of our neighborhood. The name of my street is a little harder.

We tried to get a taxi but to no avail. I considered getting on any of the busses I saw...but instead decided to go to a grocery store before continuing our journey. Maybe they would have an outlet I could charge my phone in...or at least some candy to tide us over.

As we were walking toward an entrance to the store, Tymon and Caleb drove by. They stopped in the middle of the street (it was a red light) and picked us up. They hadn't received my messages and I hadn't responded to theirs. They thought that perhaps I'd been mugged and was lying on the street somewhere. So they came looking for us. Without a clue of where we would be after having taken a run around the station and not finding us. Nope, we weren't mugged. I was just annoyed Tymon hadn't seen my texts. And glad to see him. Especially glad for that.

Just to put to rest some of the fears about personal safety I know my family and friends have mentioned to me: I have never felt threatened here. Even in the city. At night. I'm not saying for one moment that crap doesn't happen. It does. But thus far, everyone I've met here has been kind to me.
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