Sunday, May 30, 2010

Can I really be un-sick?

After two days straight of sleeping and four days of fever, at 2pm today I became myself again! It was rather sudden. I could hardly believe it. For a couple days I was certain I had one foot in the grave. Alas, no!

I studied German, played with charcoals, washed all my sheets after I sneezed about 700 times on them, picked up the 6 million kleenexes on my floor, and decided I was a new person. I repainted my nails blue, and marveled in the wonderment of health. I'm unsure if the sudden recovery was related to the amoxicillin, soledum, sinus rinses, or 50 hours of sleep. One of those things...

I'm so excited to be alive, I've uploaded a few pictures.

First, Helga's garden. Helga, who is so sweet she came up yesterday evening at 7pm, to make sure I was okay, because they had not heard me all day (I was sleeping!) and they knew I was sick. (She was also sick.) Terribly nice landlords! I would adopt them if I could.

Ernst and Helga were trying to teach me the German names for the little garden accoutrements, as well as the plants. You can probably guess that I forget them all. Schieß!

A photo attempting to show you the endless rain from today and most days lately. I'm thinking about starting a petition to rename our town Regenwald (rainforest).

Returning to the charcoals, I'm quite in heaven. I think I'll create another wall of pictures. Just need to find some of that sticky tack stuff. Also here you'll see my little shrine. I thought I might light the candles and contemplate life periodically, but I think that's going to wait til the winter months when it's darker more often. Not so much of a thrill to light candles in the light...

Finally the blue nailpolish with un-sick me! I am so happy to be able to think and walk and clean and read and draw and wash clothes. Yay for life! By the way, this nail polish is a hit with everyone especially 6-16 year old girls. Yeah, I am immature. I was trying to show you how it almost matches my eyes. Not quite. Ok, it's closer to my car.

Also, I gave myself more layers about a week ago when I was sick of my hair. Mostly I am just damn happy not to be sick.

xxxx from Germany.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The voice of literature

"Literature speaks with everyone individually – it is personal property that stays inside our heads. And nothing speaks to us as forcefully as a book, which expects nothing in return, other than that we think and feel."

-Herta Müller, in her banquet speech for the Nobel Prize in literature in 2009

Friday, May 28, 2010

In jail at home

Slightly bad attitude, as I have my first experience with canceling a trip due to illness. I cannot leave the country since I can barely walk to the bathroom. No way could I drive to Munich to catch a flight.

I'm propped up on the couch, some semblance of sanity is creeping in again, after two days of 102+ fever. I was bordering on delirium, and also realised that I couldn't sleep with a temp that high, so it was hard to get better. I felt like crawling out of my skin. A creepy feeling, especially when living alone. I decided I should not lock the door, in case I died! :) Gotta think of those things.

Last night about 6:15, I realised I could barely walk 10 feet, my head was pounding in and out, like I might pass out at any moment. I called my assistant Rhodes, who's a smart and highly trained EMT. She said, you are dehydrated! Drink water until your throat is sore! (Hey it was already sore, but.) I also didn't even know where to go if I would've had to go in. I didn't know how to call in sick either.

I dug around and found some rehydration salts and drank those with more water and juices until I was pregnant with fluid. Rhodes came by later with Tylenol and more juices, so I took two and a few hours later my temp was back to normal, about 97. It has since crept back up to 100 but that's manageable. My poor body's working hard.

Despite my delirium, I was able to call the airlines, find out about rebooking, cancel the hotel room, call the guy who is buying my car to tell him that I was too sick, and what else? I discovered I now like grapefruit juice, something I used to hate bitterly. (Tee hee.)

New plan for the weekend: hold down couch. Oh well, that's life.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dialogue of a flu

Sudden exhaustion, on Monday, like you hadn't slept in weeks. Headache starts on Tuesday, which continues to worsen every day. Skin hurts. Whole body hurts.

Wednesday freezing with goosebumps at work while everyone else is warm. Wonder if you have a fever. At home, discover it's about 102. Yes, you are sick. Go to bed at 8.

Wake up at 5:30, feeling a 100x worse. WTF? Walk into the bathroom and feel like you are going to pass out, head is throbbing in and out. Hold onto sink for stability. Wonder if you are going to die. Take cipro, excedrin, vit B12. Can't find anything else to take, so you go back to bed. Call mom. (Thank god for the time difference.) Feel better. Mom always makes you feel better.

About 7:00, get out of bed. Actually feel better and fever is breaking. Finally.

Shower and go to work, get sent home within 45 minutes. Stop at Commissary for OJ and other drinks and then head home. Run into Helga in the stairwell. "Ich bin krank," you say. She says, "Du muß viel Tee trinken!"

Totally exhausted and cold. Probably running fever again.

If this persists, you know Istanbul is not in the cards for this weekend.

PS. German lesson for the day- Mein Hals ist wund und mein Kopf schmerzt. Ich habe Fieber. (My throat is sore and my head aches. I have a fever.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

[I hope that some sadness does cross your mind...]

[I can't wait for you... I can't wait for you... ]
[Everything has changed.]

Express mailed signing docs to the states- trying to close on my house in North Dakota.

Sold the hooptie, but a wobbly ball joint is keeping it in my possession, part's on order... not as easy as I'd like it. Not enough hours in the day.

[I've worked for so long, just to see you mess around. What you've done. I want back the years that you took when I was young, when I was young. But it's done.]
[Oh take it all away. I don't feel it anymore.]

Credit fraud again and again and again. Never get robbed. Hours on the phone with banks. Every time a different person, so the story just gets longer and longer.

It's a three day weekend- I'm going out of town. Of course, it's the law. My law.

Still waiting on my taxes. Should be done this week. Overseas you have automatically until 15 June to file. I think tax assistance is really tax-waste-your-time- and-create-a-mountain-out-of-a-molehill-assistance.

Still cannot run. It is killing me. My foot. Damn-it! It's just not normal.

[I was fucked up when you needed me the most. ]
[Trying to starve myself to death.]

But it could be worse. Like my mom says, one day at a time, one step at a time.

[You can run. I don't think you can hide.]
[You are not what you were when you were young.]

At least I have William Fitzsimmons to calm me. And my nailpolish matches my car. And I have a shrine. And I can draw.

[I'm a slave to my indifference. I'm comfortable with chains now.]

Going to bed. It's 19:52.

[Every day just passes now. I can count them all.]
[Just another piece of pleasure. At least before I'm dead.]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

◊ Sunday demons ◊

"...and these sidewalks speak of demons
(there are demons all around me)
they are stepping on my toes
and my head just spins in circles
(I can't even stop this movement)
round and round it goes..."
"There are demons are all around me." Floating in from the other room.

It's dark except the glow from my screen, yet blue sky outside. Just. Streetlights bright.

Sunday. The day I slip in and out of this world. While awake.

The sky fades from pink just before six. I wait for the French press by my floor-length windows.

I can't seem to get dressed. Just sink inside myself, in the quietude. Alone. Wandering rooms, in and out of thoughts, music wafting, as usual.

The paper. Old movies. Space changes. Writing.

I study German for an hour. I told myself I would. I want to draw. While studying worry that it'll be too dark when I finish. But the days are longer. I'm fine.

I flip open my new sketchpad. Dig out the charcoals I haven't used since New Zealand. I have to draw. Black hands, grey paper. Dust and eraser shade the floor by the window. I want an easel but waited. Delayed gratification? Indecision?

Washing the black off in the shower. Cutting my hair in the mirror. Drawing again. Compelled.

Demons? Spinning? Life is this?

Sundays in Germany. The day I step between the cracks of consciousness.
"...Broadest road that I can travel
I am drawn by what I see
spirit living deep inside me
is fighting to be free..."
[Scattered by William Fitzsimmons]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Heute geht ich nach Nürnberg mit dem Zug

Es war gut für meine Deutsch üben. Ich wachte um acht Uhr und dachte daß soll ich gleich nach dem Hauptbahnhof gehen. Vielleicht Regensburg oder Nürnberg oder Rotenberg. Ich entschiede Nürnberg, meistens weil ist es nur eine Stunde weg.

In Nürnberg, hatte ich zwei Kaffees. Ich habe Papier gekauft, so daß kann ich zeichnen. Ich habe schwarze Hose gekauft. Und las eine Zeitung auf Deutsch, mit meinem Wörterbuch. Hoffentlich habe ich gelernt eine paar Worten mehr.

Am den Zug nach Hause, sah ich den Mann wem meinem Hooptie Auto gekauft. Er war mit seinen Tochtern. Vielen Menschen wurden in Nürnberg heute und am den Zug. Ich glaube, weil schien die Sonne, war alle sehr glücklich. Ich hatte viele Fahrrader auch gesehen.

Hoffentlich ist es Sommer jetzt.

(New goal is to study Deutsch at least 30 minutes a day.)


Today I went to Nuremberg by train

It was good practice for my German. I woke up at eight clock and thought that I should immediately go to the main train station. Perhaps Nuremberg or Regensburg, or Rothenberg.
I would decide Nuremberg, mostly because it is only an hour away.

In Nuremberg, I had two coffees. I bought paper, so that I can draw. I bought black pants. And read a newspaper in German, with my dictionary. Hopefully I have learned a few words more.

On the train home, I saw the man who purchased my Hooptie car. He was with his daughters. Many people were in Nuremberg today, and on the train. I think because The sun was shining, all were very happy. I had seen many bikes, too.

I hope it is summer now.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Comparing the numbers: optometrist

My grand total optometry exams over 2.5 weeks (during soldier readiness): 517
Average per day: 43
Average Army 8-hour day patient exams: 12
Average 10-hour Kaiser day patient exams: 20-22
Number of patients estimated over lifetime (since 2001, conservatively): 20,000+
Number days it takes to turn into a suicidal optometrist at 43 exams/day: 7
Number of years in school it took me to become an optometrist: 20
Number of years after graduation before I started thinking about going back to school: 3

Monday, May 17, 2010

Train compartment connections

Last Sunday, I spent the day alone, wandering aimlessly through Prague, sitting for an hour on sunshine-lit steps, cheering the marathoners, subwaying to a modern art place... thoroughly wearing myself out before heading to the train station.

Whilst I sat on the bench watching for my train track number to be assigned, I noticed a tall guy with a Kelty backpack and Teva sandals. I decided he was Canadian. Kelty was something my Canadian friends had owned and he was decked out in travel attire.

My train finally appeared on the lightboard. I stood up and headed to track five. The Canadian guy was there also. I asked him, "Are you Canadian?" He said, "No, I'm from California." Damn, I was wrong. We chatted and I discovered Kelty was from Colorado.

Next, we hopped the train and sat in the same compartment with a red-headed 15 year-old Czech boy and were joined by a red-headed Czech girl.

We all started talking (minus the shy 15 year-old). Discovered the girl was a pharmacist and the guy from California was a college student doing a double major in Film and the Bible, an interesting combination.

Conversation topics covered everything from our living arrangements, to school required to get certain degrees (6 years for pharmacy in Czech), to the question of whether life is directed by fate or chance. We shared photos and did a sound check for the California guy, who was making a documentary in Ghana.

The Czech girl was living with her parents in a small village outside of Plzen. She'd returned home after getting her pharmacy degree because she didn't want to live alone and she was single. The college student was attending school in Arkansas, but had just come off a three month study in Greece and was on his way to Ghana after a three week European train interlude.

She was the first to get off, along with the Czech boy in Plzen. Just before she left, I wrote my email on a receipt that I had in my purse. I asked, "Do you ever go to Germany?" She said, "I have not had much reason to." I said, "If you do, let me know," and wrote down where I live there, and my name, thinking she might think I was crazy, but who cares. Life is living, right?

The rest of the train ride I spent talking to the California guy whose last name was Ruecker. As I got off, he wished me a good life, and I wished him safe travels.

It was an experience. I decided I need to hop a train at least twice a month. Alone.

Just now, I opened my email and there was one from someone I didn't know. Ivana.

It was the Czech girl, writing the sweetest letter in her broken English. Inviting me to join her and her friends when they go on weekend trips in Czech. She also said that she had never met anyone from USA personally before, and then two in one day! :)

The world is small. Friends are everywhere. I hope to remember this next time I look at a "stranger."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why is it still always about being married with kids?

Re: the supreme court justice nominee, Elena Kagan: what her mother said when she became the first female dean of Harvard Law.

Also disturbing are the questions of her sexual orientation. Whether she is gay or not, married or not, with or without child, it should not matter. What matters is can she do her job well?

Sometimes this world is dumb. I sure have been on the receiving end of ALL those questions in my life. So inappropriate. As if it matters. I guess it matters to the person who is asking the question.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

News: Christi Himmelfahrt, Dave the Irish lad, SRP wrap up.

Heute (today) ist Vatertag und Christi (Christ) Himmelfahrt (sky-travel). It took some talking with Helga and her daughter to confirm it's Ascension day in the church and Father's day. In ten days comes Pentecost, called Pfingsten. I figured that out because of the ten day difference, being the good little Catholic girl that I am. Pfingsten doesn't translate into anything useful, just "Pentecost." Still, it's another few words.

This morning I got an email from David, the Irish guy who bought my registration. He said he did the marathon in 3:23 and the other two lads who were with him also secured registration and did it in 3:14 and 3:15. All much faster than I would've done. I'm sure the race people appreciated the improvement in time I offered by selling my registration. Thanks, foot! As always, there's good with bad- it was nice to get a note of thanks from him- makes me trust in the goodness of humanity.

Finally, the week is wrapping up and slowing down. The last few days, I've nearly been propped up at work. I've longed for Grandma's long-gone and never-used motorized cart at times! I've been going in at about 7AM every day, missing lunch and staying late to help get more soldiers through their exams, in exchange for an extra day or two off in the future. I've requested June 14th, an important national holiday, and my magnificent entrance onto earth. (Thanks mom!)

I will post the grand total exams after tomorrow. If there was a Guinness book for optometrists, I think I'd have a chance.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I believe.

"No matter what he does,
every person
on Earth
plays a central role
in the history
of the World.
And normally
he doesn't know it."
- Paulo Coelho

Monday, May 10, 2010

And then after 4 months of training, I couldn't run the marathon

The Damn Left Foot. It was not to be. No cooperation; still not normal, so I knew there was no way a 26.2 miler was in my future.

I went to Prague anyway, and met up with RnD. (That's Ross and Dee.) Hopped the train.

Found out Friday that I am the "Hot Ginger" and Amber (Captain Carlson) is the "Hot Blonde." She thinks of herself as a redhead and I think of myself as a blonde, but I think the soldiers are more correct... Tee hee hee.

The arena/hall where we went to pick up my marathon packet. I figured I may as well get the t-shirt since I paid 75 Euros for registration. Does not look like any arena I know!

The arena inside, where the magic was... After I picked up my packet, I saw a sign that the marathon was sold out. The website stated registrations couldn't be transferred... but I asked and they said I could. So I just stood there a while. About 15 minutes... and then a group of four Irish guys came up looking for registration. They all said, let Davey have it! Day of entry registration was 100E but I sold it for 75E. I figure it was better karma to do it that way. He was delighted and kissed me on the cheek. After his friends called him a "dirty old man" he kissed Dee too. They said, "What about dad?" (Meaning Ross.) He didn't get a kiss. They were all sweet. It was a good experience, and boded well for the rest of the weekend.

Alleyway just by RnD's apartment. In old town.

The 5-level dance club that's been there for years. We went here in 2001! Crazy shit.

Praha's famous clock.

Here's where I would've started the marathon. I watched it instead. It was mass chaos as always, and then a gunshot, the release of blue and white balloons, and Bedrich Smetana's The Moldau filling the square. It was so perfect, I almost cried.

I don't know what this is.

Oldtown, and that's the clock on the left.

Oldtown at night.

That's the castle on the hill. I didn't get up there. Was too lazy, but will next time. I was there in 2001...

Charles Bridge early in the day. (Note the lack of hoards of tourists...)

Where I got my second coffee of the day.

Sculpture of keys.

Water station that I didn't have to get water at... I'll admit, watching the runners made rather happy that I hadn't had to drag myself through the entire 26.2 miles.

Adorable car.

Neato windshield wiper.

They have commie buildings here too!

Waiting to leave... I was soo tired. And sore feet, being relegated to my knee high boots, which are not so kind to the bottom of the feet.

Back at work today, soldiers galore. I expect much of the same the rest of this week...

If you have not heard the Moldau, I hope you listen to it now:
(I first heard it in a music class at the Univ of ND, and have never forgotten its beauty.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Freitag... auf dem Heimweg

Ich weiß, was wurde ich tun nachstes wochenende!

Hoffentlich werde der Truck nicht mein Auto zertrümmern.

Ich war sehr müde. Etwa 250 Patienten über 7.5 tagen.

Friday... on the way home.

I know what I am doing next weekend.
Hopefully the truck won't smash my car.
I was very tired. Approximately 250 patients over 7.5 days.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Businesspeople making decisions;
short people with numbers, tall people with power;
they don't care.
Fix the numbers--
make it look better.
No commendations for caring
or hard work.
Fix the numbers--
save money.
That's all that matters
to someone, somewhere, with no health care training;
without a hippocratic oath.
With money as god,
the patient will not win.
HealthCARE is a farce.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mulholland Drive... strange as.

As the week progresses and my exam count mounts, I've become a nighttime couch-holder-downer. Tonight, I'd rented, okay, checked out from the library, Mulholland Drive, a David Lynch film from 2001.

I've never watched a David Lynch film. Heard about him but had no preconceived notions of what to expect.

All I can say is, it was an odd film. Odd, in a very strangely intriguing way. The sequences were shot in odd orders, like dreams, or life, and it's hard to know what really happened or what the point was, but, it made me think...

Especially since this morning I woke up wondering where I was, almost wondering who I was, laying on my cushy grey sheets, mouthguard in place, checking my watch to see the time. It was morning, before the alarm. I was still in Germany, and I knew I had loads of patients to go.

The days have stretched and my total exam record has been broken as each day begins anew. Today, with 50 exams, I was strangely calm, catching things like pigment dispersion, possible Horner's and an old paintball injury. Okay, so that last one wasn't really a catch.

Each day, there's been about 3-4 patients who really needed the full eye exam. I could just be doing glasses refractions- that's all they said I need to do. But I went to school to be an eye doctor, not a refractionist, so I'm still doing the full exam, even if it means losing lunch, staying late, not being able to feel my head at the end of the day and wondering who I am when I wake up.

I'm doing my best- it's the only thing I really can do. But I have a feeling after two and half weeks of this, the calm of a regular schedule and normal life will be strange as...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Averaging five an hour or more

What, you ask?

Exams. I say. Eye exams.

Isn't that a normal rate? That's about one every 12 minutes. Enough time to speed through a history, refraction, quick health check, order glasses and chuck 'em out the door. Your best efforts from Dr. Sara and Uncle Sam.

The patients are troopers. I go to the waiting room looking girly in my skirt and grey boots (they're the only shoes I can walk normal in since injuring my left foot) and ask, "Who's here for optometry SRP?" Six people sitting. Five raise their hands. The other's wearing glasses and just trying to be funny. They're all waiting for me. That's how it's been for the last two days, and I expect it'll be the same until the final day of our SRP, May 14th. (SRP is "Soldier Readiness Program.")

I was hired to be part of the surge team, those who prepare soldiers to leave and welcome them back upon return. This is where they really get their money's worth. This is where I'm really happy to have nearly ten years experience in my field and a background in HMO optometry. I know how to crank it up when I need to, and still remain personable. (Thanks, Kaiser!)

My patients are good sports. One of the history questions I'm required to ask is, "Are you in any pain today?" (Thanks to the folks at HEDIS.) I must then qualify, quantify and investigate it if they report anything. So far I've heard about back pain, tooth pain, big toe pain, headaches, foot pain, sinus pain, BUT NO EYE PAIN.

Today, I was asking the dumb question again, and my patient said he didn't have any pain. I said, "Thank god, I never hear anything relevant anyway." He said, "Well, my big toe kinda hurts." I laughed and said, "Someone told me about their toe pain!" He said someone told him to tell me about his toe pain. So apparently they talk to each other. I'm going to take that as they're having an good enough time in their twelve minutes with me. Enough to make a slight impression.

Hopefully they all come back safely in a year and see me again.