Hospital Blues: My Week of Unwanted Mommy ‘Vacation’

The past week has been a total whirlwind. I don’t know where to start.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned a few posts ago that Paloma caught a bit of pink eye and I thought it had rubbed off on me. After about a week of eye pain, I went to the eye doctor in my town to get it checked out. After a quick but thorough exam, the opthamologist sat me down and told me I had what she thought was optic niuritis and should head to the ER right away.

I honestly thought she was exaggerating but decided to just heed her advice and get rechecked just incase. Carlos and I left the baby with my parents, we made dinner plans and thought we would be home by bed time. No big deal, right?

Wrong. Within two hours I was checked in and on a corticosteroid drip to ease the tension on my optic nerve and a team of doctors checking me on all fronts. The first doctor told me I should expect to stay at least three days. The next doctor told me five. And the next one told me seven. I was a wreck.

I remember looking at them and saying, “No, I’m sorry you’re wrong. I have a two year old at home I need to get back to. You’re going to have to find a way to fix me in the next few hours.” I realize now how dumb it is for me to have thought that but in that moment my only thought was PJ.

The doctors started spouting medical mumbo jumbo at me; optic niuritis is a condition that happens when the optic nerve becomes inflamed. It can cause temporary partial blindness and intense pain. And at its worst it is commonly seen as a precursor to multiple sclerosis.

Hearing that I was stunned. How did we go to an inflamed optic nerve to MS? I’m 25. I’m generally healthy. I exercise, I try to eat right, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I swore the doctor was joking but considering his next plan of action was a lumbar puncture I was pretty sure this was pretty serious to them.

After several painful attempts at collecting the spinal fluid, the doctors had everything they would need to run their tests. Our main job would be to sit and wait. Sit…and wait.

I spent most of my days telling Carlos to stay home so that PJ wouldn’t really notice my missing. The ladies I shared a room with would pity me, whisper things like, “I can’t believe they would just leave her alone like this. Poor girl.” But of course my main priority was making sure PJ was okay. I would try to FaceTime as much as I could just to see her laugh and play but it would kill me.

Can I point out that you never actually realize how fast your kid grows until you’re forced to NOT be there? I came home and this kid was running and jumping and saying things like “NO!” and putting her toys away before bed on her own. Crazy how much kids grow in just a week…

I’ll spare you the boring details but just know that the tests all said I had a massive inflammation of the optic nerve which caused my temporary loss of vision (duh) and that I tested NEGATIVE for MS. I can’t tell you the immense weight that was lifted off my shoulders when I heard that. The doctors feel positive with how I responded to the medication and are planning on keeping me on the steroids for a bit along with biannual check ups with the neurologist.

I’m feeling pretty rough on the meds and the after affects of the lumbar puncture but obviously happy to have my vision back and a relatively clean bill of health.

But moments like this always bring on the awareness of ones mortality, don’t they? I started freaking out picturing what my marriage would look like in the future, my daughter having a ‘disabled’ mother, a diminished quality of life for all of us. Then you feel guilty for thinking things like that, knowing that you are one of those people that always thought it happened to other people but never to you.

I’m feeling blessed/lucky right now that everything turned out the way it did though. It really made me think and reevaluate how I’m living my life, how I want the rest of my life to turn out. I need to start focusing on the future. Set goals and try to make them happen.

Change is coming. I don’t know who, what, where, or when. But I know that I need to shape up.

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Going green: Camino Verde

Oh Uruguay! When it rains, it pours. We are on hour 13 of nonstop rain. Parts of the country are completely flooded, it’s cold and the idea of going outside is unappealing.

It’s been like this on and off for the past few weeks but this past weekend we were blessed with a break from the wet weather. Our not-so-wet weekend just so happened to coincide with the Camino Verde fair in Montevideo. What’s that? Well, there’s two different parts to Camino Verde. The organization itself serves as a platform to connect merchants and consumers interested in environment friendly products. They also promote healthy living through affordable cooking classes, events for children, and a blog full of clean eating/living information. For my Spanish speaking and reading friends you can find more information here.

The organization puts on fairs every so often to easily connect buyers and sellers. We hadn’t had the opportunity to attend one of the fairs before so I was really excited when Carlos agreed to go. It was a muggy day but overall no rain was to be expected. We packed the car and Paloma with us and headed for Montevideo.

La Molienda food stand. Very friendly and very delicious! Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.
La Molienda food stand. Very friendly and very delicious! Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we arrived but was very pleased to be greeted by lots of green. As you can imagine the majority of the stands were dedicated to food: organic fruits and vegetables, vegan baked goods, chocolates, organic condiments, and amazing food stands. They also had stands dedicated to urban farming like vertical planters, repurposing furniture for planting and stands dedicated to composting.

PJ devouring a blueberry and pumpkin seed muffin.
PJ devouring a blueberry and pumpkin seed muffin.

We only stayed for about an hour but it was definitely worth the trip. I bought some organic coconut oil–normally very difficult to find outside of Montevideo–and some goat cheese. I’ve already had a lot of fun experimenting with the coconut oil. My favorite so far has been putting a teaspoon of coconut oil along with two or three drops of lavender oil in PJs bath water. She comes out silky smooth and smells so good afterwards.

I wish I would’ve taken pictures but I forgot when I stained my favorite jeans with synthetic paint. We sat down to eat on some chairs they had in the dining area and I guess whoever put them out didn’t realize they were still tacky and when I got up the paint was stuck to my thighs. It. was. awful.

Overall we had a nice afternoon as a family and got to learn more about organic and eco-friendly options here in Uruguay. I’m really excited to see how fast the movement is growing here. Can’t wait for us to start farming!

Flyer for event. Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.
Flyer for event. Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.

Until next time…

The past few weeks have been busy with flight preparations and tying up loose ends. Closing bank accounts, cell phone transfers and avoiding our feelings at all costs. It wasn’t until our last day together that it even hit me she wouldn’t be there the next. For the first time in my life I don’t know when I’ll see my sister again. Continue reading Until next time…

The five things I didn’t think I’d miss…

1. Gallon milk

At this point I just miss milk that comes in a jug. And that’s that I don’t even drink milk. But having a 17 month old and a husband who is obsessed with milk in his coffee have made me miss it so much. In Uruguay, as I’m sure it is in other parts of the world, milk comes in a bag. Sure, they have pitchers for you to place the bags of milk in but seriously it’s just such a pain in the butt. You gotta worry about accidental spills and if something icky touches the bag while it’s waiting to be opened. It might just be me but seriously I hate it.

2. The Home Depot

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re currently remodeling our house in Uruguay. Our contractor does all the work but asks us to go buy the materials. No problem, right? Wrong. The way construction supply stores, also known as “barracas,” work in Uruguay is that you take a number to be attended. When your number is called you go up to the person attending and tell them what you need. Here is my problem. You are not allowed to view the product you are ordering. If you don’t know the different brands they have they’ll just give you whatever you want. You might get the most expensive thing or the cheapest thing depending on who the sale person is. Obviously I’m not a contractor or a construction worker. I don’t know what I’m asking for but if I have a list and it is in Spanish and you salesperson are working in a construction supply store SHOULD know what it is that I’m asking for. Don’t give me a blank stare when I say, “Hello, this is an itemized list of what I need. Thank you.” I miss being able to just walk along those aisles, staring blankly at a bunch of stuff I don’t understand wishing that someone would help me but in the end being on my own. Because honestly if all you do is stare blankly at me and are unsure on how to answer my questions then I’d rather shop on my own than deal with your sub-par customer service. My failure in picking the right thing pisses me off a lot less than having to deal with your crappy service and haphazard disinterest in dealing with an “extranjero.”

3. Shopping

I miss shopping without depending on someone for help. I’m not talking about the normal greeters when you go into a store. I’m talking about everything you want to look at is kept behind a counter and you need to interact with people to see what you came for. What if I don’t exactly know what I want to look at? What if I just want to window shop? Are you going to take the time to show me every item behind the counter? I don’t think so. (For more complaints about shopping and dealing with crappy customer service I refer to read #2 again.)

4. Mail

This is probably the most ridiculous thing on the list but seriously I miss going to the mail box and seeing a huge stack of junk mail waiting for me. I miss Saturday mornings at home drinking coffee and perusing through the weeks advertisements and magazines. It could be that we haven’t lived here long enough to really receive mail but from looking at my neighbors I’m guessing that mail in Uruguay is strictly reserved to packages and bills. Magazines are something you just buy at the newsstand and even then Uruguayan magazines aren’t the same as American ones (obviously when your population is coming in at nearly 4 million you don’t have the capital as one would when trying to reach let’s say ~100 million).

5. Driving automatic

When I first learned how to drive a stick shift I was SO EXCITED! It was one of the things on my bucket list and it took me about five months to accomplish it (I took driving lessons once every two weeks so it took me awhile). However, after about a year of driving I can honestly say nothing annoys me more than driving stick shift. I hate how sore my legs get after driving in the city. I hate constantly using both feet to stop and go, stop and go, stop and go. What I would give to just be able to put the car in drive and not have to worry about anything else except not hitting anyone or anything.