October 01, 2008

Smoking Ban in Geneva Temporarily Revoked

My brother pointed out to me that just as the voters passed the smoke-free referendum here in the Canton of Zürich, the Swiss Federal Government revoked the smoking ban in the canton of Geneva as not having been legally applied. Hopefully this is only a temporary delay in the new law coming back into proper effect.

However, it seems that in Zürich the new law against smoking in restaurants might not be applied until January 2010 or so! Oh well...as long as they're making progress...

October 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2008

Yippee - Zurich Restaurant Smoking Ban Passes in Vote Today!

You can't imagine how happy we are! Zurich voters today decided to ban smoking in restaurants and cafés here.

Voting on a Sunday??? This sounds weird to this American voter. But Wikipedia's Voting in Switzerland page confirms it: "Voting takes place over the week-end, with emphasis being put on the Sunday. At noon on that day ("Abstimmungssonntag" in German), voting ends." For a country which generally has no stores open on Sundays, this seems odd. But I guess if no stores are open, all the shopworkers can vote. Makes sense. Everyone is available. Indeed, I have seen posts by expats here asking desperately, "What can I do on a Sunday around here?" (maybe try worshipping with a church? :-) Resting? Hiking? Reading? Playing games? I could go on...)

But what my family really wants to know is, WHEN will this decision actually take EFFECT? We await that news with baited (fresh) breath! I can't find any more info on it yet. In the meantime, we thank God for the answer to our prayers. Fresh air, fresh clothes, fresh food, all with no tobacco smoke in them.

September 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 08, 2008

Small Medical Adventures in Switzerland

I've had a sore throat for five days. So yesterday I decided to try to find a doctor to whom to show my throat (hals in German), to rule out something on the more serious side.

This turned out to be harder than I thought. I was anticipating some language problems with German-speaking receptionists. However, what it ended up more being was language problems with Swiss-German answering machine messages.

A local doctor's office in our village, recommended by our kind Irish landlady, is closed until August 18th, as far as I can tell from the message. 11 days to wait.

I tried phoning another doctor, recommended by someone on the Families-in-Zurich yahoo mailing list, in a neighbouring town, and perhaps deciphered that they might have closed permanently as of this month? They said something about August, but maybe they just meant the whole month of August it is closed? But the verb sounded more permanent somehow.

Then I dialled another highly recommended physician in a lakeside town who apparently studied in the U.S. and whose receptionists purportedly both speak English, but there was a long Swiss-German message awaiting me there as well, not sure what that one was about (regular hours resume Aug 15th, possibly?).

Next I went for a doctor heartily recommended by the local expat family organizer lady online, whose message was the clearest yet. It only took me three repeat calls to get it all! It must have been actual high German rather than Swiss-German. Closed Thursday afternoons. Of course it was Thursday afternoon at the time. The U.S. Consulate website warns that this is the case with most doctors in the Zurich area, and now I believe them.

I started to think that maybe I was just not meant to go to a doctor that day or anytime soon.


BUT. But...my throat was really hurting. I didn't look forward to another night and another morning of wondering if I had Lyme Disease or strep or mono or something.

So I persevered a little more. Having clued in that every doctor in Zurich is either away on vacation in August or just not in the office on Thursday afternoons, I started to look up "clinics" in the Zurich area. And into play came Englishforum.ch, which is a cool resource for anglos in Switzerland. There was a thread about a drop-in clinic in the centre of Zürich, open from 7am to 10pm 365 days a year. That sounded more positive. Except it's far away from our house, with complicated parking, and people were going on about how long they had to wait (up to 3 hours for one person). I kept reading and scrolling down the page, when PRESTO, someone mentioned another clinic which is only 15 minutes from our house, in a shopping mall I've been to before and liked, with easy parking, close to David's office (directly on his way home in fact, whether by train or car). Öffnungszeiten: Mo - Fr 08.00 bis 19.00. Sa 08.00 bis 13.00. That is, opening hours 8am-7pm Mon-Fri and Sat 8am to 1pm. Better and better all the time.

I called, now my fifth try at getting an appointment with any doctor, anywhere, at any time: success! The receptionist spoke English, was very pleasant, and booked me in for a couple of hours later! I went in, was assured it is just some little viral thing that will go away on its own, got a prescription for an anaesthetic spray, and met up with David on his way home from work. There was a pharmacy in the mall, so I picked up the meds before leaving.

In the meantime, we have to wait four more weeks to get our health insurance cards - but have been covered since August 1st. It doesn't really matter about the cards, since we have to pay our bills directly, then file for reimbursement by mail. It was a nice arrangement in England where all the regular visits were "free" and the specialist visits and hospital were paid directly from the insurer to the provider. No messing around with paperwork for us. Fantastic. Ah well, we really appreciate things when they change for the worse, right!?

All this is actually very positive, though, as I found the clinic at the mall to be a wonderful place, and I really like the availability they offer. Not closed all of August, not closed Thursday afternoons, and so on. They have a big team of different kinds of specialists. The doctor was friendly and spoke English and seemed competent. Now I just have to get better to prove she was correct in her diagnosis...maybe this will become our family's doctor's office. Or at least a great known resource. So I am thankful.

August 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 18, 2008

No More Cough

Dear Everybody Who Knew That Emily Was Coughing for Six Months Straight,

She is Not Coughing Any More.

Thanks be definitely to God,
possibly to our Move from England to Switzerland,
and/or possibly to several weeks on the Seventh Medicine She Has Tried.

This deserved a post of its own earlier than this (she hasn't coughed for about three weeks, except for those couple of hours in Heathrow on our way back from the US while moving here), but as you can imagine we've been just a bit occupied.

YAY HIP HIP HOORAY ZIPPEDEE DO DAH AND ALL THAT!

Not to mention Halleluuuuuuuujah! Thanks for your prayers and concern and all your various ideas.

July 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 27, 2008

3 Weeks Post Surgery - Feeling Good

It's been 3 1/2 weeks since my benign lump removal surgery now, and I'm feeling great. Maybe 95% back to normal. Can sleep in any position, don't feel vulnerable anymore, scar is healing very nicely (but definitely a scar).

Emily is off on a field trip this week near Bristol: caving, rock climbing, orienteering, building campfires, etc. Sounds like fun. I'm praying for her whenever I think of her. She sounded like she might miss us a little, but I'm sure she'll have a good time.

Getting things back in place after our trip to CH (you may see this abbreviation a lot in the next few years, so you may want to memorize it now: Confédération Helvétique, which is a formal French name for Switzerland, and CH is the country abbreviation, like D is Germany, for Deutschland).

Planning to make crêpes for dinner tonight, by Jason's request (with ham, cheese, potatoes, crème fraîche, tomatoes, and maybe asparagus or broccoli). Maybe strawberry-banana ones for dessert, hmmm, perhaps with a little nutella added...yum!

May 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2008

Healing

A great product for the week after surgery when you can't take proper showers and have bandages that must stay dry on the upper half of your body, but still want clean, fresh-smelling underarms: L'Oréal Renourish Cleaning Wipes for Dry/Sensitive Skin. That's my product plug from this breast lump removal surgery experience. It made me feel so much better and was so convenient, quick, fresh-smelling without being at all overpowering, safe for my wound dressing, and felt great on my skin during and after the cleansing.

I had my big dressing taken off safely last Friday after a week, and got the results from the biopsy of the removed lump: a clean bill of health (just benign fibroid adenoma, as expected and hoped). Thank You! Then I got a waterpoof bandaid over the incision, to wear for another week, replacing as necessary in case of wetness seeping through. But real showers again! Hurray hurrah!

Now it's been almost two weeks since surgery, and I am finding I have to be careful not to overdo and pretend I didn't have surgery, because yesterday I did a double dose of baking (pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bread) and, along with dinner prep and dishes, that ended up being 4 hours straight standing up in the kitchen. I was wiped out afterwards and still feel more tired today. Also, the side on which I had the surgery is still tender and a bit annoyingly noticeable and vulnerable.

The surgeon told me at the one-week check-up that it will take 3-6 months to have everything go back into a normal shape! This was news to me. I really was thinking this was a minor surgery and it was just one week of recovery before everything was as before! Silly me. According to The Free Dictionary, minor surgery does not include anaesthesia, therefore I did not have minor surgery (since I was under general). However, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary (clearly more reputable), minor surgery is "surgery involving little risk to the life of the patient; specifically : an operation on the superficial structures of the body or a manipulative procedure that does not involve a serious risk" - in which case that is what I had. It certainly seems minor in the scheme of things. But not ignorable.

I am so pleased that all went so well, but I do need to take care to give myself enough rest and leeway in this continuing healing process. A kind friend who has been through this same surgery at least 4 times (!!!) pointed out the exact problem here: the patient does not look in any way ill or injured after the bandage is off, but yet has a semi-disability for a while. And needs to say no to lots of things. I have already made my excuses for most of my regular activities, just lying low and trying to get the house and my desk and email folder back to manageable levels after being out of it for so long with guests & surgery & birthday & the other illnesses we all had.

Yesterday brought a major milestone in our move process - we received David's signed new job contract by Fedex. Most excellent. This means we are really moving to Zürich at the end of next month! (Subject to God's good, all-knowing plans, of course, in providing the work visa, the home to live in, and a helpful moving company.)

May 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 05, 2008

26 Other Blessings in the Hospital

- A friend amongst the other patients, in the room straight across the hall, for a few hours! That was unexpected and amazing. Via the nurses' station, I ascertained that a visit was welcome, and we chatted for about ten minutes. It was almost surreal, the timing and location of that. Neither of us knew that the other would be in any hospital that day, never mind that particular one, that ward, that hallway, and directly across from each other. I overheard her voice talking to a nurse, then checked the name on the door. I guess God really truly did ordain that Friday, May 2nd, for my surgery, in more ways that I realized.
- everyone in my family was JUST healthy enough to pull this whole thing off, after a week of various illnesses (including me); relief at that
- my husband drove me to the hospital, picked me up, and came to visit once in between, after my surgery, and cared for the kids between the driving
- private room
- peaceful setting, quiet for the most part
- my room was at the end of a hallway (next to the RMO's room, actually - I am guessing that is the Resident Medical Officer. I'm sure they weren't keeping any Rocky Mountain Oysters in there)
- a painting on the wall that looked just like the area outside Le Boulanger in San Jose at Camden & Union, with the palm trees (next to Albertson's, where a friend used to work; so I prayed for her).
- clean water jug constantly at my bedside, with a top
- dissolvable pain medication, for my non-pill-swallowing self
- cool moving bed (raisable head and knees)
- an open bedroom window during my whole stay, all day and all night, with fresh, cool air flowing in
- tree/sky view through the window
- purple flowers outside my window on a little hill (probably "ajuga" AKA "bugle", which is particularly fitting for a hospital groundcover as it is "also known as 'carpenter's herb' due to its supposed ability to stem bleeding.")
- I was officially allowed to send and receive texts on my mobile phone (despite the hospital brochure's statement to the contrary; it was a great way to keep David abreast (ha ha) of the situation)
- Gilchrist & Soames bath products in my bathroom
- Classic FM radio available via the TV
- time to finish reading my young author friend's novel-in-progress up to the last chapter given me so far
- time to keep up with my Bible reading
- time work on some modest creative projects (Mother's Day is coming, after all)
- time to finish another Francine Rivers Biblical history novella
- nothing I could do to help (this is hard to resist at home, I am finding; it feels wrong to have everyone working around me and me just sitting on the couch)
- I was able to sleep seven hours (in two chunks)
- hot chocolate made with milk
- the fun of counting ten different fruits in my breakfast fruit salad (plum, pear, kiwi, pineapple, red grapes, green and orange melon, yellow and green apples, orange)
- My surgeon was reportedly "happy" after the surgery; I was told that she also came to see me in the recovery room (but I don't remember it; I think I was still coming out of the anaesthesia)
- all of this paid 100% by insurance through my husband's company, billed directly to the insurance company. Amazing blessing and hassle-free.

Briefly, some facts on the very small, light, and momentary drawbacks of this operation, for completeness:
- The IV port in my hand started out "vaguely annoying" and by the end nearly drove me crazy, after only one night! That was my highest priority the next morning - to get it taken out as soon as possible! It bothered me more than my incision & bandage! This was partly because when I flexed my wrist, the needle seemed to dig farther into my flesh.

- Had to wear anti-embolism stockings the whole time in the hospital. They were very tight (that's the point, no room for blood clots to form), and open at the toes, but only enough for two or three toes to peek out, which felt very odd. I was super-happy to take those off, but I felt like there should have been some warning about not injuring oneself while trying to get them off! Between the incision on my left side and the sore hand on my right side from the IV port, I felt like I had no top-shape hands with which to contend with the removal of the very tight stockings. I eventually managed it, with a sense of triumph.

- And now, at home: I woke up this morning tired of trying to go back to sleep. (There's one of my weirder sentences for the day.)

Nighttime is my least favorite time of the recovery period - left alone in peace and quiet with my "disability" - however mild and temporary. The limited sleeping positions get to me a little. I even prefer "shower" time to the sleep time, and that's saying something - showering is a maneuver of three separated stages (lower body, head, and spot cleaning of the middle section).

But I know this is all so brief and worth it - only one week of disruption, and surrounded by wonderful loving people who help. That's why I prefer the daytime, so I can be with them! They're much more interesting than the dark.

P.S. here's a nice page with 216 html hex color codes easily viewable.

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 03, 2008

17 People Pampered Me At the Hospital

I enjoyed my trip to The Runnymede Hospital, overall.

Here are the seventeen fantastic people who helped me from check-in to check-out (that's my hotel speak for admission to discharge):

1. The Receptionist Lady: gestured in a friendly way at the comfy chairs to wait in

2. The Hotel Manager Type Guy: showed us to my room and explained where everything was and how to use things

3. The Admitting Nurse: checked me in in my room and explained what I needed to do, and wheeled me down to the surgery prep room and back again.

4. The Menu Pick-Up Man: took my choices for the meal after surgery that I was eager to eat (having fasted for 9 hours without even water)

5. Another Nurse: was around and checked on me.

6. Orderly/Aide Guy in Green: carried my pillows and blanket to surgery for me.

7. Prep Nurse: made sure they were operating on the right person and the correct side of this person (always helpful).

8. Ms Sunita Shrotria: my surgeon (they don't address them as Dr. here, rather Mr. or Miss! Quite strange to me). She looked so pretty and was so kind and confident (as always).

9. Dr. Vora: my anaesthetist. Highly competent, nice. He came to see me in my room beforehand as well and verified that I was well enough after my cold to proceed as planned.

10. Recovery Nurse: was around as I was coming back to consciousness with my oxygen mask on, chatted with me as she made sure I was okay.

11. Another Nurse: saw me back in my room and gave me permission to take my own Children's Motrin imported from the U.S. (I can't swallow pills, and it is the best-tasting liquid pain med I know of). She called me "my love" and remarked on my progress in recovery: "Well done, you!" Such a nice friendly lady.

Hospitalsalad12. Food Delivery Maiden: oh yum, finally something to eat! Mediterranean Vegetable Panini and a cute salad in a tiny white ceramic cup.

13. Water Delivery Woman: making sure I had what I needed for the night.

14. Night Nurse: named Divine! Pronounced Divina. One last check of my vitals before undisturbed night.

15. Newspaper Delivery Man: Next morning (after Divina gave me more pain meds and an oatmeal cookie on request in middle of night), paper with an impossible British crossword (hardly any letters intersect!).

16. Morning Nurse: Olga.

17. Breakfast Lady: yay, eating again.

Seventeen people all serving little old me. Quite the rush. It reminds me of how going to the dentist can be relaxing for a mother of babies/toddlers - someone is attending to her, instead of the constant other way around.

It was a good thing that I stayed overnight at the hospital, because I thought several times of the stuff I would be tempted to expend energy doing at home: comfort Emily with her rash, encourage Jason with his tons of weekend homework, worry about bothering David with my constant shifting between the only two feasible positions in which to sleep (neither my preferred, which is my left side). And this was proven by the first thing I did when I walked in the house this morning: I saw some syrup on the counter (the kids had helped clean up from David's special waffle breakfast he made them, b/c he was picking me up), and without processing what I was doing, I just started to wipe it up. I was there, I saw the thing that needed doing, so I did it. But I didn't mean to, or intend to, or try to - and I had to laugh. David shooed me upstairs to bed before I could finish the job. I proceeded to take a one hour nap.

Now I have to keep this dressing on for a whole week without getting it wet. That makes showering rather difficult. I am looking forward to getting it off already!

Thank You, Lord, for wonderful hospital staff, both professional and personable, and a safe and successful surgery.

May 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 02, 2008

Oh so much news

This post will have to be like a table of contents page for future posts.

1. Emily has Fifth Disease (two links there). Sounds scary, but the other two names for it sound even worse: Slapped Cheek Syndrome or Erythema Infectiosum. Actually, it's a harmless and rare virus usually in under-12's which requires no treatment and will go away by itself in about a week. She has a hot red rash on her cheeks and red spots on her arms and legs and trunk, and had a fever, headache and runny nose/sore throat for the three days beforehand.

2. I'm scheduled for minor surgery today to remove a small benign breast lump. We'll see if they still want to operate given all the illness we've had in the house this week. I'm supposed to spend the night in the hospital. I'm looking forward to the rest! I know hospitals aren't supposed to be restful places, but compared to my house this week I think it will be. The doctor said that they recommend that patients with a housewife at home go home to recover, and patients who ARE housewives stay in the hospital! I see the logic. Well, that's not exactly what they said, but that's the gist.

3. People keep wanting to come tour our house to see if they want to live here after us (hasn't been the best week for this), because...

4. We are moving to Zürich, Switzerland at the end of June (did I catch you by surprise on that one? Those of you who didn't know already, that is). Same company, an internal transfer for David. Back to the country of my youth! Mountains! Nearby authentic hiking and skiing! But also...learning German and Swiss-German! We have already started with the Rosetta Stone computer program, which is fantastic and worth every one of those many pennies. Are you ready for the 30-Second Blog to take on a new country? It's about time. Oh the blog fodder we will have. I've just added a new category next to the "Moving to France" and "Moving to England" slots...

Yesterday I drove twice to the school, twice to the doctor, twice to the pharmacy, and once each to the orthodontist and the grocery store. Oh, and we're getting a new dryer today. What a crazy, crazy week it's been.

I have been feeling God's gentle hand of peace on me in the midst of all this. He has helped me especially with two images lately:

Jesus in the boat with me in the storm. There's no way I am going to drown - He will calm the storm with a word at the right time.

God as my Strong Tower, where I can run and be safe.

May 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 26, 2008

Cough, Sneeze, Gravel, Ache

We will be ALL well by Friday, I am praying, and certainly by the following Sunday, for various good reasons.

But for now,
Emily is coughing (mais bien sûr, cela fait 112 jours),
Jason is sneezing and sniffling,
I have gravel in my throat and just took a 2-hour nap (I "never" nap),
and David is achy and tired.

Stay away from our house this weekend.
We're resting up and healing up.
God willing. Please.
Thanks.

Because next weekend, the Parade of Grandparental Spring Visits begins. We WILL be well! :-) (that's why we started on these illnesses early)

Outside in the back garden, however,
innocent, white blossoms festoon the tall tree at the far left,
saturated, fierce red fireworks shoot from the azalea bush,
and a new, cheerier, more jovial birdsong competition has been running.

April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack