August 31, 2015

Brazil: First Impressions

Our family is officially living in Brazil. We are sharing a home with Tymon's business partner and his family. They have 3 kids so we are a family of 12 now. I think we've got the chores set up so everything will run smoothly. Tymon and his partner are still trying to solidify details on a location for the trampoline park. There are ups and downs on that path. Mostly frustrations. They've been in negotiations with several landlords since last November. We didn't expect this part of the process to take so long.

Here is a photo of our home. We live in a gated community with guards at the entrances/exits as well as in stations within. I feel safe, but also a little trapped. I like to get out and go somewhere every day. And I don't mean the back yard. Ha ha. But what I love best are the many trees with flowers on them. They look and smell beautiful.

Notice the garbage bins in front of the house...the garbage people come three times per week. Why three times you ask?

Have a look at our toilet. Not only is the shape you'll fall in if your not careful, but the pipes are small. So you can't put toilet paper in the toilet because it clogs easily. 

You've got to put it in the trash next to the toilet. Yes. Used toilet paper in the garbage. Number one, two and three. So you see having the garbage picked up thrice a week is imperative to sweet smelling commode. On day one, I was 50/50 for remembering not to flush my paper. Since then, I've been golden.

I was a bit confused when asking Tymon about what types of outlets they used in Brazil and what kind of adapter I would need to have for my Vitamix...the only appliance I brought. He said I'd be fine. What he meant was that there is little standardization in outlets/appliances. I bought a Brazilian lamp for my Brazilian desk the other day and found I couldn't plug it in the Brazilian outlet. Today I went to Walmart thinking that finding the right adapter would be simple. NO. Not simple. I spent 20 minutes in front of a bin of adapters texting Tymon to send me photos of the lamp cord, the outlet next to the lamp, the Vitamix cord, the outlet next to it, etc. What the heck?!?! In other news, I've never seen so many adapters so cheap in all my life.

Our boys have been in a Brazilian school for the past month. Jocelyn and Kira will start tomorrow. One thing I like is that the kids wear uniforms. No thinking about what to wear. It's already decided. They also ride a private school bus. I've seen some others around town today. Some were original VW busses that seat 8-10. Others were of varying degrees of quality. This bus is the fanciest I've seen and comes complete with a lady to carry Jett's bag for him. That may change with Kira riding the bus tomorrow, though. I think her back pack is bigger than she is.

Traffic-wise, it's a bit crazy here. At some point, (maybe this week?) we'll buy a car. Driving around a new car makes me nervous about putting a mark on it. And I think it's highly likely one or both of us will put a dent in it. And it's only because I don't fully understand the traffic when is it appropriate to stop at a stop sign and when should I run it? Or when to stop at a red light? Doing the wrong thing (even if you think you're right), can get your rear-ended. This morning, I thought we were going to witness a 6 car crash...but it all worked out and no one hit each other. Truly amazing.

I'd like to take a driving class...just to know how the rules are officially taught. Then maybe I'll open up an Offensive Driving School...just got to get the hang of the driving culture here. The traffic lights here have counter lights to the side of them that count down to when the red light will turn green or the green light will turn yellow. Seems ingenious...until you realize that Brazilians shy away from any standardization. That means some lights move between the counter lights quickly and others very slowly. Part of me likes the quirky-ness.

August 29, 2015

Jocelyn's Bite Update, Warning: Graphic Images!

So, I thought the worst of Jocelyn's dog bites was healing nicely...until it wasn't. The stitches were supposed to remain in for a week, so I was planning on taking Jocelyn in on Tuesday...the day before we leave for Brazil to take care of that.

Only it didn't look very good starting Monday evening. Then Tuesday morning it was horrific. The stitches busted open. I took her to a clinic. They told me to go to the hospital as there is a wound care unit there.

This is my first experience with an actual wound. We throw that word around like we know what we're talking about. But we don't. We truly don't. And a regular doctor's office doesn't really know how to handle wounds. Crazy, but true.

Dr. Sisk works in at Evergreen Monroe in the Emergency Department. I've seen him twice with Jocelyn and once with Elliott...I'm beginning to wonder if I saw him with Jovana, too. He's the nicest guy and I trust his opinion. He brought in the wound care specialist for us and we ended up staying all day Tuesday in the hospital so Jocelyn could have her thigh cleaned out. The poor girl was starving and couldn't eat anything because of the anesthesia she needed to have to do the surgery.

I contemplated not going to Brazil for a few weeks. There is pulling power for staying and ultimately more for going. I want to do what's best for Jocelyn as well as what's best for our family. I prayed for guidance and felt conflicted no matter what decision I thought about.

Honestly, I still feel conflicted. Did I do the right thing? I don't know. Likely I won't know for a while.

I went to bed on Tuesday at midnight. I hadn't finished packing one bag. But my 18 hour day needed to come to a close. Being a single parent is difficult enough in and of itself. But throwing in the stress of an international move, complex medical decisions, cleaning up the house, painting and getting ready for renters has a high physical, emotional and mental toll. We also finally closed on selling our old house (sold in 3 days but took all summer to close) and got some humidity control going on in our basement (which had several delays itself).

Did I mention I threw my back out last Monday? Luckily I found some stretches to do that help and saw my chiropractor and got a massage. While I'm still sore a week and a half later, at least I can move. But to say I've felt out of control and powerless, would be the understatement of the year.

Wednesday morning, I got up at 4:30am and started cleaning out my closet and sorting what I wanted and didn't want to bring. My spotless bedroom became a staging area. By 7am, I got most of my closet situated and had mostly empty suitcases all over the floor. I called my parents and brother crying. I need help. Now. The goal is to get out of my house by 9am (I built in time to stop at my office for half an hour on the way to the airport). I went to the office on Tuesday night so didn't have to do that Wednesday, so we got everything I needed to do done and we were on the road by about 9:45am.

When I think about the last week of my life, I get emotional. A few good friends stepped up and helped me pull my house together...even took charge when I was in the hospital with Jocelyn. I love them so much and am indebted to their kindness and generosity.

Wednesday we flew to Brazil. Thursday we arrived. Friday (yesterday) we took Jocelyn in to the best hospital in our area of Sao Paulo (Osasco). In short, I got the distinct impression after watching the nurse pack/bandage Jocelyn's wound, that they haven't seen wounds like hers before. The doctor recommended we go see the plastic surgeon in the suite upstairs and was mentioning skin grafts and surgery. I'll be honest. I got nervous.

We decided to take Jocelyn to a different hospital in the center of Sao Paulo. One of the best in Brazil reputation-wise. Unfortunately, it's not quite as convenient as the first one. That's okay, though. We'll manage. Crossing our fingers this will be a good fit. They have a specialized wound care facility and the doctor is also a plastic surgeon. Jocelyn's appointment is for next Wednesday. While a J shaped scar on Jocelyn's leg would've been cool, a crater doesn't seem as appealing.

August 19, 2015

That Bites - Warning: Graphic Content!

Jocelyn is really into skating these days. I took away all access to electronic devices for a week and she put on my roller blades and went to town. Well, not really, just around the neighborhood. I took apart a broom and gave her the stick to use as a cane, of sorts and she persevered in learning. She can stand up straight and move and not fall down. It's impressive, really.

I didn't think anything of it yesterday when she skated over to the neighbor's house to play in the afternoon sun. It was hot out. They went to the house to get a drink. Didn't realize the dog wasn't in her kennel. Chaos ensued. I heard crying from across the cul-de-sac. "I want my mommy!" I started walking over. I thought she'd fallen down on her skates. The neighbor used a strong voice to stop Jocelyn from moving. Uh oh, that's not a good sign. I started to run. Another neighbor was running toward them, too.

My neighbor was sitting on the ground with Jocelyn in his lap and hand pressed firmly on her thigh. The dog had attacked Jocelyn. Ripped a chunk in her leg. Blood everywhere. She calmed down to a whimper when she saw me. And saw I wasn't going to move her. Or change the pressure that was being applied. I called 911.

So Jocelyn got her first ride in an ambulance. And she didn't even have a good time. The firemen were really nice, though. Even though they cut her shorts to see the bites on her bum.

I have some majorly mixed emotions. This is the same dog that bit the girls a year and a half ago. Her name is Lightning...because that's how fast she strikes. I don't know what makes some kids safe and then others (mine) turn into play toys but Lightning's days are numbered. I wonder if her doggie sense can feel that.

I explained to Jocelyn what it meant to put a down to sleep. That's a nice euphemism. But I thought in explaining what would happen that Jocelyn would be upset. She wasn't. She looked at me and said, "good." Now when we talk she thinks it's a little sad Lightning will sleep forever.

For me, I'm sad that Jocelyn is hurting. I'm sad for my neighbors who are losing a pet. I'm happy that Lightning won't be able to attack anyone else. Her breed isn't known for violence. Quite the opposite, really. Many are service animals. Lightening's in quarantine for ten days in case Jocelyn gets an infection and they need a tissue sample from the dog.

The little neighbor boy came over this afternoon to check on Jocelyn. I hope he understands what it meant to open that door yesterday. And that Jocelyn will grasp that adults have rules and give warnings for valid reasons. I know she now believes that doctors are here to help people. Although her favorite saying last night (whenever anyone touched her) was "you're killin' me here!" Just like the "you're killin' me Smalls" line in Sandlot.

Jocelyn had the emergency room staff in good humor, even when they were killin' her. She did well after they got some local anesthetic in her. But sticking a needle into an open wound several times at different angles didn't produce the most ideal sound. I'm sure people heard her in the parking lot. And all I could do was help hold her legs so she didn't thrash around.

I'm not sure how many stitches she got. Maybe 11 or 12 in her thigh. Makes a nice Y shape. She kept her focus on her glove balloon peeps and the Temple Run game on my phone and didn't holler at all when getting them. I sent a plastic surgeon in Seattle photos of the bite and sutures, we can see what can be done to minimize scarring in 9-12 months.

Not exactly the complication our lives need when we're moving next Wednesday. But alas, it's here. Anyone wanting to come help me attack my To Do list is welcome to come over. I'm slowly figuring out the difference between what needs to be done, what needs to be done by me, and what doesn't matter. Sometimes, it's a fine line. Jocelyn's been watching Netflix all day and hasn't once complained of soreness or hurt. Amazing.

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