Friday, July 18, 2008

Catch Up Post - Week 3 - June 7 to June 13

Saturday June 7th: This week, it is all about waiting for documents so that we can all go home. I am very thankful that we are living in an apartment and not a hotel without amenities. We are at least able to function pseudo normally, like playing house, but well, not exactly.

Yesterday we discovered that Dylan has serious attitude when he has low blood sugar. For lunch we gave him a bowl of rice cereal and he stopped wanting it just before the bowl was empty. We got him to finish it but we both now realize that there was just not enough food in the bowl to start with. Little dude had one serious meltdown. Even with a bottle in his mouth he would cry. Slurp-slurp, WHAAAAAa-mutter-mutter-whaaa, slurp-slurp,WHAAAaaa-mutter,slurp. There was no pleasing the bugger. Finally after all sorts of holding, cajoling, and patience Dylan finally got enough food in him that he started smiling again. All of a sudden the devil had left Dylan and the little angel was back with us again.

A storm passed through Tokmok these last couple of days and the air became more moist and cooler than the last several days. Both Dylan and Charlie woke up with coughing with phlegm. OK, by storm, it was howling winds and just a little bit of showers, but the wind and lighting combined makes it feel really formidable.

We can't wait to get home for selfish reasons. We have had one heck of an experience here and overall, it’s not so bad. With our broken Russian and ability to use a calculator, we get by pretty well. The folks in Tokmok are nice and the Wrights are awesome. However, we are spoiled westerners and that is that blunt truth. We want our amenities. We want to be able to get things for Dylan, we want to feel more comfortable and we want to be able to email and surf when we want and not have to go two blocks to find that they don't have the computers set up.

The building we're staying in was built just before Peristroyka in the early 80's but it feels older and more worn. We have not seen a single mowed lawn – it just is not in their priority list. However, we did find that we had some local foliage growing around our landscaping that is "medicinal" in nature. Last winter was so cold many families put their dogs out so they wouldn't have to spend money feeding them or providing that much more heat. Now there are a bunch of stray dogs running the streets. Digging through the trash heaps that are in front of the residential building where people burn their trash. Yesterday Bill went to dump our bag of soiled diapers and there was a dead dog on the trash heap. We were concerned that it would start to really stink but when we went out a couple of hours later, it was gone. I thought for sure the Kyrgyz Animal Control truck had been there. Oh wait, I don’t think there is such a thing. When I later told John about it, he said, someone likely picked it up as it was dinner they otherwise would not have had. I guess you can call that Kyrgyz Animal Control.

The Deluxe Apartment in the Sky

Our local landscape

When is Garbage Pickup Day?

The Wrights run into so many issues where someone has one something unbelievable – like the father who tried to kill his wife to take his daughter as his next wife, or the oozing rotting corpse that is sitting in someone’s house because there is no money to bury the body. They do all they can to help folks who are caught up in this tribal mentality of the late 1400's and those simply are too poor. As well there are so many people here who look at the world around them and try to do all they can to make things better. We look at these folks: the Wrights, Sergei and Anya, Acel and Talent, Vlady and Tatyana, Jayne and David, and wonder if our hearts are capable of so much love and charity, as well as the ability to empower with the help that they give.

Vlady made Plof for a bunch of us tonight. We invited the Wrights, the Danners and Tatyana. All of us in a small two bedroom apartment – yeehaw. Vlady came over complete with the pot he uses and cooked us Plof. What a treat. The meat was a little tough, though that is no fault of Vlady. What a cool guy to offer to make this native dish for us. And the gathering was really fun. It is so nice to be so far from home yet feel a bit at home. But about the meat, in a country where meat is abundant, there is a lack of good cuts of meat. Trust me, there are no good medium rare steaks in Tokmok. Plus, with the electricity being so sporadic, it is really tough to trust that meat has been properly refrigerated.

Sunday, June 8: It has been so hot, and with Dylan and Charlie having their blowouts, we barely made it anywhere this week. We attempted to go to the park but didn’t actually make it there. We did make it to the internet café and the weather and tantrums prevented us from moving forward with our plans. I think that we are learning that we can no longer plan to do 4 or 5 things in one day. I wonder how I am going to do with this change once we get home.

Lazy summer day watching something on Mom's computer

Hanging out in diapers. I would have gotten scolded if we were still at the baby house.

Monday, June 9: Today, we actually did make it to the park, yes, the one with a pool and swings that are still working. With Kat and our stroller offroading the streets of Tokmok, we managed to get ourselves to the park where there was no shade. Charlie had an 'I am WAY too hot meltdown'. One could easily commiserate. Dylan surprisingly did ok at the park and even managed to enjoy the swing, cocooned in a blanket to prevent him from getting a sunburn. It was the major blowout while en route that caused him to have a meltdown. Becka said she saw us changing diapers on the side of the road. Yep, that was us, and yep, it was a full on clothing change kind of blowout. And yep, it was about 100 degrees outside. If it wasn’t for the fact that the adults are going stir crazy, no one in their right minds would punishing their poorly constructed, made in China strollers across the potholes, with their kids sitting in them.

Pooped out at the park

We decided we had to do something with this heat. After we came back to the apartment and hung out – tried to stay cool. We decided that donating a couple fans to an orphanage was just fine – as long as we use them first. Vlady came to the rescue and took all of us to the bazaar. We did some shopping for necessities like Pampers, wipes, soap, shampoo, and FANS. YES!! - FANS!! All they are doing is pushing the hot air around – but it still feels better than air that isn't moving. We also got two of them so we have one for each room for sleeping.

The internet place was connected so we sent emails with photos. I was able to catch up on emails with several people. However, when I got back and tried to set up to download photos from my camera to my external hard drive I realized it was not around. We searched around but realized that I left it at the internet cafe yesterday. I left it connected to the computer. ALL my stuff was on it, photos, movies, videos, documentation... everything! I grabbed my purse, shoes and Russian dictionary and sprinted to the internet café, heart pounding, hoping for the best but knowing it is probably gone for good. When I got there, I looked at the guy and tried with my best Russian to ask him if he saw my hardrive. I must have looked so panicked and he had no idea what I was saying until I said the work “hard drive”. At that point, he opens the drawer and pulls it out. I think I may have said “spaseeba” ten times in 10 seconds. What a nice guy. If were in Oakland, it would have been gone forever.

The Internet Cafe where the honest people are.

Chillin' with Dad at the Internet Cafe

Tonight we were just hanging out, enjoying the fans and this sweltering night. Karen called to check in about if Saule had called about our travel dates to Kazakhstan. I then called Saule who informed us that everyone waiting for Kazakh visas had to be in Bishkek th next day because the Kazakh Embassy would not give their visas to Saule since everyone was in Kyrgyzstan. They want to give the visas to each person personally. The only reason we found this out is because we called her. She said he lost our number. So I wonder what would have happened it we didn’t call her.

Once we got over the frustration, we called John and he again came to our rescue. (No, he isn’t our coordinator or travel agent, but he may as well have gotten a portion of the fee we paid). He arranged for a bus to pick us up the next day. And we figured that since we were heading to Bishkek anyway, we may as well make it a day of shopping. As a bonus, Vlady is also coming along as our interpreter. So I can’t say it enough, but we are so glad the Wrights have befriended us. We would have been so stuck so many times in the last few weeks if not for them.

It was so hot this afternoon at 4pm that we decided to move the fans into our bedrooms and take naps. At 7:30 Dylan had still not waken up. We needed to give him his formula so I just gave it to him while he was sleeping. He started drinking his bottle without waking up. Sound asleep this little boy had his hands wrapped around his bottle and was drinking from it. Sound asleep – he was holding onto his bottle and feeding. But when the bottle was gone he had a tantrum – still sound asleep. We refilled his bottle and gave it to him, not knowing hat else to do. Bill believes that he was sleeping and had no idea he was feeding – he was just dreaming something and having a tantrum is part of it. So Bill picked him up and tried to wake him. He blew on his face gently a few times and he woke up. It took a while for him to come around but he finally smiled and the demon was gone again. I was so thrilled to see his smile. I was so worried that Dylan would freak out all night or something. I held him for an hour after that and then Bill and I played with him some more.

Having Kat here with us has been helpful as far as going through our ordeal as first time parents. Kat has plenty to deal with having a daughter who wants to go home (I don't blame her – we want to also) and a new son who is testing his boundaries and getting used to yet more new people around. But she has been taking time to talk to us and ask us how we are doing with all this new stuff. She has listened to our fears and offered advise and words of encouragement. It is nice to have that available to us. It’s like chocolate covered cherry on top of the cake to acquire true friends through life’s trials.

Tuesday June 10th: Dylan has a rash on him that we believe is laundry soap related. The rash is on his belly and back of his head and a bit on his face. Where his diapers are he has no rash. So apparently we now have to use the baby soap and hand wash his stuff. I wonder if our clothes will make him break out too?

We are going to Bishkek today. We have had a lazy morning and are moving slow in attempting to get started. This morning Bill was on his way to the trash dump, (we can smell that they are burning it this morning) and he ran into a couple guys from this building on my way down stairs. It is 9am and they are drunk already. They met a woman and got in their car and drive away. When he Kat and me about this, I relayed John’s recent experience with a woman who they were helping by providing an apartment for her and her children, all expenses paid for 6 months, plus a job at the orphanage. She refused it because the deal was reliant on her not seeing her alcoholic boyfriend who is also father to her 3 children. This guy shows up every four months or so and cleans her out of food, money and emotions, then runs off again. Although I know it happens everywhere, I can’t help but feel sad for her children due to the choices she has made. Her decisions will probably cost her her children.

Bishkek was fun but it was also very exhausting. We went to the Metro for lunch and ran into Saule and another PAP from Pennsylvania, Ann. She is on her first visit and here for only a couple days. She expects to return in July. I hope that works out as she expects. She has been emailing with Suzanne who we expect to be here in the next couple days. Suzanne is on her first trip as well so she wont want to go to the mountains with us as it will take most of the day. I am sure she would rather spend a couple hours with her little baby. I hope we get to spend some time with her but given that we are kind of sequestered in Tokmok, by the lack of immediate transportation and constant blowouts, I am not sure when we are going to be able to spend time with her.

The Metro serves American fare, burgers, fries, pizza, etc. The food was decent, Bill had a burger which was ok and I had spaghetti which kind-o sucked. Bill tried Ann’s pizza and said it wasn’t that good either. Olivia, Karen and Ted’s daughter had chicken fingers. They are shaped just like a human finger but larger. They seem to be very literal about this. I guess those were OK. I forgot to get a review from Olivia. After all, she is 3 years old.

Wednesday June 11th
After we went to Zum for shopping. We spent 3 hours there – way too long in Bill’s opinion. While we were on our way in, some of us had to buy soms outside of Zum. In the meantime, Olivia and Jia had a great time rearranging the numbers on the board that displayed the exchange rates for the day. That was hilarious because none of the adults realized what was happening at first. The people from the foreign exchange place weren’t amused, but we sure were.

All 3 hours we spent on the 3rd floor where the handicraft stuff are sold. Dylan now has a new felt hat and vest and mommy has a new hat. Daddy already got as hat from Saule on the first visit. I also ended up buying a beautiful designer scarf pour moi. And a bunch of stuff to bring home as gifts both for our families back home and for Dylan as he gets older.

Dylan had a total meltdown after 2.5 hours of shopping. Bill would have if he could have. Bill was actually glad for Dylan's meltdown – it got us out of there for 25 minutes. Not glad that the little guy was so hungry he had a tantrum – but glad he got us out of there for a bit. Let’s just say Bill and I are getting good at the stroller diaper changes.

After Zum we went to the Kazakh embassy to get visas. We were told to meet at 6pm. We were a bit late but that did not matter as the embassy folks were not open yet. There was a line of people out from waiting for visas. When they finally opened the door at 6:45 everyone just rushed the doors, so the line was a waste of effort. It was nothing short of pandemonium. I think it must be similar to what the day traders go through at the New York Stock Exchange. Saule pushed her way in and made sure we got through as well. All visas gathered we got back on the bus for the long ride back.

Thursday June 12th: Today the only plans we have is dinner at Megapolis at the invitation of Jayne and David Schooler. Dylan woke up at 5:30 this morning – I guess he is a morning person, which neither Bill nor I are, Bill less so than me. We waited until 5:50 to feed him and gave him a bit extra in his bottle. But apparently that was not enough and he started whining. Ivy gave him a little bread to calm him and it worked. But definitely noticed that Dylan has food issues.

Dylan has been getting better at sitting up – or at least saying in the sitting up position after we put him there. He can roll from back to front and visa-versa easily. He has the roll down but has not really moved onto trying to crawl or lift up onto his knees yet. He appears happy to either roll to what he wants or just do without. And he really is getting spoiled by attention, which is not a bad thing considering he has been living in an orphanage since birth. If giving him love is spoiling him, I guess we may be bad parents. In all seriousness, I am concerned about this but we decided not to worry about it until we get him home and settled.

We hung out all day. Kat, Charlie, Jia and Bill went up to the store and internet cafe. They were supposed to get Krack (this is their version of Pringles, which seems like it was all we ate for snacks these days), and yardbird at the Cmak and Mud (the label looks like “Mud” but it really says “Muf” which may not be better) for our clothes. The Cmak did not have either Krack nor yardbird and the store across from the Internet Cafe neither had Mud nor Burp for dishes. Oh the challenge of Tokmok living.

Dylan was getting more and more irritated and his rash got worse. Ivy and I did not go out to dinner with Jayne and David because we felt Dylan wasn’t well enough. We called John who gave us Dr. Tatyana's phone number. She was nice enough to come over and check Dylan out. She suggested we stop the formula and stick to rice cereal mashed potatoes and boiled children's milk with plenty of electrolytes. She also suggested Benedryl for the rash and asked us to stop using the honey salve she originally prescribed because he could be allergic to the honey.

During the night Dylan started crabbing again and we did not know what to do for him until we noticed he had a diaper full of squirt. The poor boy has diarrhea as well as a rash and fever. His tummy must be aching. So we are focusing on getting him fed every 4 hours of cereal and electrolytes and changing him every 20 minutes. He blew out 3 diapers in 20 minutes last night. Today he has gone through 4 diapers and it is only 8 am.

I arranged for the group to go to the Burana Tower and the mountains, a similar itinerary to what Karen and I got to enjoy on our first week in Kyrgzstan. Vlady took care of the shashleek, John arranged for the bus, and I ran some errands to buy cookies and bread for our picnic. It was a really fun day. I didn’t go up the tower this time because I was holding Dylan and I wanted Bill to be able to go up the tower. I got to walk up the mound at Burana with Dylan in the Ergo carrier. He was asleep the whole time. I collected a couple of rocks for Dylan.

The picnic at the mountain was nice. It was great to get out of the heat for a day. Julie said this is the first time she has gone where she did not have to watch over others. Usually, she is there taking the kids from the orphanage for an outing so she is camp mom. She held Dylan while we fed him and then guess what? Dylan had a major blowout and we had to change all his clothes as well as wash myself in the stream. It was real messy. The shashleek was really good, best meat we have had in Kyrgyzstan. It is a welcome change to have grilled meat. Vlady also made a special cake for us. It is made with layers of cake and then a condensed milk based filling in between the layers. Yummy! Bill said he was more from this meal than he has been since arriving in Kyrgyzstan.

I like Miss Julie!

Cell phones don't work in the mountains. Oh well, I'll just eat it.

Friday June 13th : 7 sleeps and a plane ride meaning ****one week and we go home****

Last night Dylan pooped his pants 4 times – once was a complete overhaul it was so messy. This morning the poor kid is suffering. We think they may all have giardia. We don't have any medication to deal with it. We are just suffering through, just waiting to go home and have western medicine help us.

We were scheduled to go back to Bishkek to show up at the U.S. Embassy with Saule, as a gesture, more than anything. At the same time, we should be picking up their Kyrgyz passports as well. Ted and I were scheduled to go when we got the call from Saule this morning. She told us that Dylan and Charlie's passports are wrong so we have to wait an extra day. She does not think this will cause us to miss or reschedule our flights but we will be tight for time. The Danners will be on schedule because Claire's passport is fine. It turns out that after she waited a couple of hours, she was able to get it all straightened out and none of us have to go to Bishkek after all. When in Kyrgyzstan and with Kyrgyz adoption in general, I have learned not to rely on Plan A, or Plan B, for that matter. I think we must be on Plan W by now. So we are back on track again whatever that track may be.

We are all exhausted and Ted and Paul, Karen’s nephew, came over and volunteered to go diaper and food shopping for us. What a sweetheart. He went to Narotni the new western style grocery a few minutes away and restocked our diaper supply as well as our fridge. Again, how nice to be here on this adventure together. On multiple times, we really have been each others support. Here is just another example of that.

Our well-used diaper station

I had a really hard realization today. It seems we were starving Dylan without knowing it. We are giving him too little liquids and too little calories. We were fortunate enough to speak to an American doctor today about Dylan's condition and she told us what to look for and what to do. We need to feed Dylan at least 48 ounces of formula in 24 hours and alternate electrolytes between feeding. He is dehydrated and he wasn't getting enough calories. Coupled with what she thinks is a virus, this is how Dylan ended up being in bad shape. For the next several days, she was adamant that we need to focus on nothing else but rehydrating and feeding him religiously and round the clock. I can't believe we did this to our little guy. I can't even begin to look at myself in the mirror right now. He is VERY sick and regardless of how we fed him, he probably had a stomach virus, but limiting his intake wasn't helpful whatsoever. How could we have known??


Suzanne said...

Oh my God, what a post! That was the week I was there. I wish I could have done something to help you guys.

First, you're right, how could you have known about Dylan's needs? You did what you were told. How could you have known??? He made it through though. And he's home and healthy now.

Second. the food at Metro does, indeed, suck.

I can't wait to see you next weekend!


Maria said...

I really have enjoyed reading this post. It felt like I was there with you. Don't beat yourself up over the food/virus thing. I remember stopping breastfeeding Josh when he was 6 weeks old because I go the flu. Turns out, had I kept b/f-ing he wouldn't have gotten the flu, but the antibodies. I essentially made sure he got the flu. I felt horrible -- sometimes, we just don't know. I know Dylan's great now!! Thanks again for sharing this!!

Margaret and Tom said...

Wow, I read every bit of this post, thanks for back posting, all of this is so amazing to read! Now I see why they have us stay in Bishkek mostly and drive to Tokmok everyday for our first 2 week trip! Dylan is so cute, sick or not...I love those shots of him in the mountains, especially that one of Bill holding him by the waterfall :)