Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Decking the Anxious Halls

A friend had asked if we'd attend ExPat night and so we caught a cab down to Zoe's for a meal and a drink. Brian's toe was still hurting (thus the cab) and he'd said he just wanted to have a meal, say "hi" to a couple of people and come home early. As it was, we ended up sitting at a table with 2 relative newcomers (they've been here 6 weeks) and Brian in his gregarious way got to enjoying himself. We talked about the prices of food in the indigenous markets compared to SuperMaxi and what was good to buy.

"Never let the ladies at the market pick out the fruit for you. They'll pick out stuff too ripe. Make sure you do it yourself" Shelley advised the woman.

This couple had only explored Cuenca so far, so we talked about Vilcabamba & Salinas & various other places where it was lovely to have a holiday but agreed we liked Cuenca the best to settle down in.

We said "hi" to several friends and ended up having 2 cervezas each before Shelley was able to drag Brian home. We took a cab to save his poor toe and upon arriving home fed him some aspirina (both for the cervezas & the toe).

The next day we only took Fredi on a walk around the block basically (again to save Brian's poor toe). Brian was pleased when we got home that his toe "only hurt a little" and predicted happily that he'd be able to go downtown on Sunday for our trip to the park & the market & his roast pig.

There was an unscheduled power outage on Saturday starting with a brownout at 2:15 or so. The fridge kept going on and off in cycles & the lights started to dim, then finally all the power went out.

"I like it better when I know when the power's going to come back" Shelley told Brian as they were playing crib.

The power came back about 2 1/2 hours later.

Sunday there was nothing happening in the main square but we found a bench and did our usual people watching people watching people, had Fredi admired by several small children and bought our fruit & a roast pig lunch for Brian (he never gets tired of it). Monday was chore day and we bought groceries, cooked, cleaned & generally puttered around the apartment. Tuesday Brian went for his biopsy.

What they told him would happen was that upon his arrival at the hospital at 8 a.m., they'd get him settled in and start with the general anesthetic around 9 a.m. The operation would take about an hour. It'd take another hour for him to come out of the anesthetic and then they'd want to keep him for at least an hour after that. Thus, we figured he'd be home around one in the afternoon. If he wasn't going to be home then, he promised he'd phone. They told us the results would be available in about a week. If the biopsy proved cancerous, then they'd do a CT scan to see if there was any spreading. If there was spreading, then things would happen pretty fast after that. If there was no spreading, then they'd do an operation in January to remove the cancer. If the biopsy proves benign, then he'll be off the hook for a year. We, of course, are voting for off the hook! Brian subsequently phoned at 11:30 a.m. and advised now that he wouldn't be home until around 4 o'clock. They wanted mostly to make sure that there wouldn't be any excessive bleeding.

"I'm just lying here in the Emergency using the Doctor's phone & staring at the walls" Brian told Shelley.

"Do you want me to bring you a book?" Shelley asked but Brian thought about it for a 10 count and then said it was "ok".

"Have a nap" she told him.

Shelley & Fredi stayed at home both fretting in their own way for Brian. Chores were done (dusting & windexing), Fredi was taken for her walk & then Shelley ventured to their storage locker to dust off the Christmas decorations they'd purchased last year. It's just 3 stylized cone-type trees, some covers for the pillows on the couch, a Christmas mug, some place mats, a table cloth & hot pads; nothing like the huge trees covered in home made decorations & the profusion of other decorations they'd had in Canada when the kids were little but still; something to mark the season. We'll be posting a bunch of creche pictures over the next couple of blogs, taken at one of Cuenca's art galleries last December & you'll note we got Fredi a hat to celebrate as well. Right now all the stores are decked out with decorations, artificial trees are everywhere dressed to the nines & soon the city will put up decorations throughout the downtown area.

Our power was out 10 a.m. - 1 p.m on Monday, is on all day Tuesday but off again Wednesday from 8-10 a.m. and Thursday from 4-7 p.m. It rained late in the afternoon on Monday; biblical, pouring, sheeting, tropical, can't hardly see through it rain (for an hour or so). The river is up just a little more and we've been told the power outages will end December 15th.

Brian arrived home at 3 o'clock with a tale of his experiences, 2 sets of different antibiotics ($45.69) and a list of 40 items, costing out every procedure & drug given to him (ranging from $0.30 to $20.00; totaling $206.80) as well as an itemized list of 5 doctors who worked on him ranging from the anesthesiologist to a cardiologist to a urologist costing from $40 to $140 each; totaling $370.00. As Canadians, we've never seen such a list before. A doctors visit produces no bill & a visit to the hospital produces a small bill if you've chosen a private room (for example) or a television. The lists were of course in Spanish but we endeavoured to figure them out. Fascinating! The only real hitch to the whole procedure was Brian showing up at the hospital by himself. They had no provision to take care of his wallet & clothes. Normally a family from 1 to 20 strong would show up with each patient. In the end the urologist kept his wallet & the hospital administrator kept his clothes. He came home with everything intact. His first visit to the bathroom produced blood but he was told this was to be expected. If he ends up running a fever, he's to get to the hospital right away, otherwise we're waiting until the results come in. At this point we're happy to wait and have a couple of days free from anxiousness.

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