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Romancing the Kidney Stone

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The sonographer was Cuban. He was one of the few health care professionals that ever dared attempt to pronounce my very long Portuguese last name when calling me from the waiting room and the only one who ever pronounced it perfectly.

By the time I had the ultrasound of my kidneys, the stone I had been dealing with the week before had mercifully already passed.  He told me I was among 15% of people who pass stones with minimal or no pain.

I prepared to be on call the next few days for work.  At around 9:30am on the second day, I got the call.

Colombia.

I had not been there in at least two years. I have avoided going there because of the high altitude of 8,300ft (2500m). Memories of my last couple of trips there still resounded in my mind. On one of those trips, I was pregnant with my son.

Not a fun way to spend a layover.  I was thankful however, that this trip was on my schedule and not something more difficult.

I whisked the kids to the sitter, returned home to get ready, and headed to the airport in the afternoon.

I still remember the first time I landed in Bogotá. Upon exiting through the airport doors, the scene was exactly like what you see in Romancing the Stone. Mobs of people everywhere. You had to push your way through to make it to your car. I wished that we all had a rope to hold on to like in elementary school.

This trip, however, was different. I arrived in a beautifully renovated terminal. It was clean, well organized, and easy to navigate. Our time going through immigration was briefer than I had remembered, and there was no mob waiting for us on the curb.

I made it to my hotel room and took a little time to unwind before bed. Our stay would be brief so I needed to rest well.

I woke up one hour and a half before my alarm feeling completely drained. The lower concentration of oxygen in the air is difficult to adjust to if you normally make sea level (or close to it) your home.

When I moved to New Mexico for college years ago, it took about six weeks to adjust to the altitude. Until then, I coughed all the time with congestion in my lungs and had to come home to my apartment and rest after short periods of exertion.

I haven’t figured out the secret yet to surviving these short trips to high altitude locations. (Aside from being in great physical shape with regular exercise).  I honestly wondered how I was going to have the strength to get ready to go downstairs.

As I had heard that staying hydrated was key, I downed the entire of the large unopened bottle of water I had with me.

I prayed on the armor next. By the time I was through, I felt physically transformed. I felt strong enough to make all my preparations before heading downstairs for breakfast.

Ah breakfast.

I had no idea what awaited me downstairs.

As a Spanish-speaking flight attendant, I have seen some good breakfast buffets in Latin America, but never anything quite like this. In addition to the traditional breakfast ham and cheese, there was also turkey ham and chicken ham!

There was something called oatmeal smoothie. I was unable to discern what its American equivalent would be (I don’t think there is one).  Check out this great website for a recipe for this drink as well as other Colombian delicacies.

There was a separate bar area only for any type of sweet bread you could imagine.

There was a selection of fruit-flavored yogurts on ice as well as tropical juices.

There was an omelet station.

There was a large pot of creamy oatmeal.

There were several cereals available for the more gringo taste.

Breakfast meats such as bacon and ham. Chicken and mushroom pie. And a mixture of seasoned beef and chicken (my personal favorite of the morning).

Arepas, of course. I have had these in Venezuela, however, the Colombian version I had here was white, and with no seasoning whatsoever, just a deliciously tangy white cheese for dipping. As I savored all these brilliant assaults on the palate, I wondered if the average Brazilian would find Colombian food quite lacking in salt. Although the food was delicious and savory, it was not salty.

Arepas on the grill

Arepas on the grill-Courtesy Wikipedia

Then there was the coffee.

Although caffeine and I aren’t friends, it’s almost impossible for me to resist the mixture of fresh Colombian coffee mixed with piping hot steamed milk poured into my cup at the table.  In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t ruined it with Splenda.  I had come this far.  Why not put real sugar in it?

I was inspired enough to seek out some Juan Valdez coffee in the airport. Even my Brazilian friends rave about this stuff. I thought I remembered paying around $7 for it in the past; however, it is now $14. I skipped it.

I was relieved (as I always am) once we were in the air and headed home.  I am very grateful to have had the experience of enjoying Colombia and her people again.

I probably won’t seek out one of these trips in the near future. I will allow time to pass again so that I may savor each and every one of Colombia’s charms again next time.

Note: This has been a very tough week in the aviation family.  My heart and prayers go out to the loved ones of MH17, GE222, and AH5017.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Travel

 

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Dinner, a movie, and a kidney stone

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Rio 2 – 20th Century Fox

 

The kids and I have been working our way through our summer bucket list.  I was determined that this summer 2014 would be a fun one. And because I believe in saying things aloud and blessing verbally, I began blessing our summer long before it got here.

In case you haven’t read about it hear yet, I was ill for the latter half of last year and unable to do much of anything with the kids last summer.

One thing on our bucket list was to see the movie Rio 2. I waited for it to come to the dollar theater (which is now actually the $1.75 theater) and scheduled us to see it on a Tuesday (the day of the week when it is truly just a dollar).

Going to the movie theater with my kids was a big deal. Neither of them have ever been (they will be turning three and five soon). My five-year-old daughter has sensory processing disorder and had some learning delays so she took longer than most kids to enjoy a full-length movie.

We have the DVD for the original Rio movie at our house and the kids love to watch it repeatedly.

I had everything planned to a T. We were going to go to the 2:30pm show. I fed the kids lunch at 11am and put them down for their nap early. This part of the plan came off without a hitch. My son awoke from his nap at 1:30.

We got ready to go and left the house 40 minutes before show time.

Then we hit a snag.

Construction on the local main road caused a traffic standstill. I made a U-turn, and then followed the route less travelled given to me by my phone’s GPS to get to the theater. I made good time despite the setback and we arrived ten minutes before the movie started.

We had to park far from the movie theater (not a good sign). I shuffled the kids out of the car and had to arrange everything I was carrying (purse, diaper bag, and golf umbrella because of the forecast) to be able to hold two little hands in that busy parking lot.

I saw lots of other families with kids headed towards the entrance.

We finally made it through the doors when I could hear the concessionaires shouting “Rio 2-sold out!”

I felt tears well up in my eyes. I had worked so hard to get to this point. It wasn’t just about getting a diaper bag ready and making sure my son had a nap before we left the house.

It was about overcoming a physical incapacitation that had left me unable to do things like this with them last summer.  It was about taking my kids to experience something they have never been able to experience before.

I could have burst into tears right then. The kids were very anxious and ready to watch the movie.

How would I explain to them the concept of “sold out”?

I herded the two of them over to the concession stand line, resolved to buy tickets for the next showing.

I would find something for them to do to kill time until we had to come back. The kids were hungry and I had not packed a snack (having counted on popcorn).

I used my GPS to find the closest Chick-fil-A and headed there. I explained to the kids in the car in the simplest terms possible that too many people wanted to see the movie at the same time as us so we would have to come back later.

As I drove into the parking lot of the restaurant, I was a little disappointed to see an outdoor playground there. It is the middle of July. In Georgia.

Oh well. We’ll just make the best of it.

My almost five year-old daughter’s main sensory issue is auditory. Loud noises bother her a lot. She began having meltdowns in Chick-fil-A bathrooms as a young baby due to the loudness of the toilet flushing.

To add to the fun today, my body decided to start passing a kidney stone. They run in my family and I found out last year through imaging tests that I have them. However, I didn’t start passing them until this year.

I now know how to recognize the signs that I am passing one and could feel the great discomfort in my bladder all day today. If this event had not been so well planned out, I would have cancelled.

Passing a kidney stone for me means frequent trips to the loo, so there we were.

My daughter kept her hands over her ears the whole time we were in the ladies’ room. I assured her that this toilet didn’t flush by itself so she could relax a little and I would tell her when I was going to flush.

After eating some chicken and fries and playing for a while on the outdoor playground, we headed back to the movie theater almost a full hour before show time. I didn’t want to go through the same stress of crowds and long lines that we had experienced at 2:30pm.

I had already bought the tickets for the 5 o’clock show so all we needed was to buy some popcorn and candy. We stood in line again. My kids were quite hyper and antsy. They were also getting on each other’s nerves.

We headed towards our theater about twenty minutes before show time.

My daughter already knew I had headphones for her. She needed them as soon as we walked in. Even the advertisements were bothering her ears.

I put the headphones on her, however she still complained. “It’s too loud! It’s too loud!”

Meanwhile her and my son are both clamoring for some of the popcorn and chocolate I just bought them. I alternate divvying out handfuls of Nestle buncha crunch and poured popcorn into two plastic containers I had brought with us.

It didn’t take long for one of those containers of popcorn to be poured out onto the floor (by my almost three year-old).

I chose a row of seats in the middle and all the way to the back. One brave person came and sat next to us. I warned her that she might hear my daughter complaining about the noise a few times.

There was another mom seated in front of us who had a few older kids with her.

An older couple came and sat in the row in front of us as well. It was only the previews; however, after hearing a few comments from my son, they decided to find other seats. J

My daughter was having a very difficult time with the noise (or the anticipation of it), so she came and sat on my lap. There she stayed for the rest of the movie, leaning back against me, hands covering the headphones that were covering her ears.

My son alternated between standing up and sitting on my other leg.

During a quiet time in the movie, my son all of a sudden yelled out “I wanna watch Jake!” referring to their favorite pirate show. A few people in the audience laughed. He was my little commentator during the whole movie.

My little boy had a major speech delay (similar to his older sister), and has had a language explosion recently. I have noticed that as we drive in the car somewhere, he loves to point out whatever things he knows the word to. “Truck!” “School bus!” “Railroad track!”

I knew it would be next to impossible to muzzle him during the whole movie so I tried to be affirming and occasionally said to him “Let’s whisper”.

When I looked at my watch and saw there was still 30 minutes left in the movie, I was ready to go home. I asked my son if he wanted to go home (I knew what my daughter’s answer would be). He said he wanted to stay and watch the movie. I said OK.

He then proceeded to repeat his desire multiple times and rather loudly for all to hear.

We made it all the way through the movie. Daughter on my left leg, son on my right, and a sea of popcorn crunched under my shoes on the floor.

I’m glad we got to have this experience. I’m glad we got to cross one more thing off our summer bucket list.

I think we’ll watch the next movie from the comfort of our home.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Parenting

 

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