Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy to be breathing

Okay, I know it has been forever since I posted on my blog, but today I am feeling particularly happy to be alive and so I thought I would post a bit about what happened.

Yesterday was quite interesting, I am not yet sure what triggered the anaphylaxis (Severe Allergic Reaction), but it was definitely something I ate. Very soon after lunch I started having trouble breathing and I was coughing because my wind pipe was obstructed. When it continued to get worse I injected myself with epinephrine, which is a form of synthetic adrenaline and then went to the clinic. Luckily the injection made it possible for me to breathe so I didn’t pass out and possibly suffocate. I don’t know if my life was in danger yesterday, but I am glad I didn’t wait to find out!

I am fine today and am feeling specifically grateful to the company that makes the EpiPen as well as my doctor back home for insisting that I keep one on hand after a previous incident.

After realizing that it took over 30 minutes to get to the clinic here (there is no 911, and half the time people don't even move out of the way for an ambulance! I rode to the clinic in one of our company cars) I have replaced the one EpiPen I used with two new ones just in case I need a second dose before arriving at the hospital.

Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine I am alive and well and I plan to stay that way!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Jambalaya Kit

I decided to post one more thing before I head off to bed.

I wanted to make Jambalaya again before Josie gets home. Since she doesn't really like it, I figured I would make it early in the week and then I could have most of it eaten by the time she gets back. The only problem is that it takes quite a while to get everything together and get it made, and since I did not make it on Sunday, having enough time on a week-night is always an issue. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I play squash, so that would make it difficult, and Tuesday I have a meeting at church after work. So I came up with a plan, we will call it the Jambalaya Kit! After playing squash on Monday I did almost all of the prep work. This is the kit:

I cut up everything necessary and bagged it so that when I got home from my meeting tonight I could just dump it in the pot and get started. The preparation took at least an hour and a half, but the results are well worth the time invested! When I got home tonight I was able to get the whole thing put together in just about an hour. Also, because of a lucky find at one of the grocery stores, I found a sausage that actually works better than any I have found here. This is the best Jambalaya I have made in Nigeria. (far better than my attempt last week!...due to a poor choice of sausage, the whole batch was ruined in my opinion)

Doesn't that look DELICIOUS!!!!!

P.S. IT IS! I am going to enjoy this pot!

The Weeping Wall

In the old portion of the city of Jerusalem there is a structure commonly referred to as the Wailing Wall. Inside my flat, in our master bedroom in fact, we now have the weeping wall. There is nothing religious about it (other than me praying that it does not get worse), but it has become a feature in the bedroom that definitely draws the eye.

Wednesday last week I walked into our bedroom and was greeted by this:

So I marked the boundaries and decided I would wait to see if it was getting worse. This is what I awoke to the next morning:

And by that afternoon:

I have not taken a picture in several days, (if I remember I will take one tonight and add it) but it has certainly gotten worse. Thus far I have not seen them doing anything to fix it. If it continues I fear we may have to treat it like a boil and lance it. Drill into the bottom of the wall and try and drain the wall, I am just worried about how much water is actually in there.

Plumbing has been our worst problem since we moved to this flat, as any of you who have read Josie's post about the flood will no doubt recognize.

OK, I actually did remember to take another picture when I got home....take a look at this beauty:

I think it is starting to look like a Japanese character....maybe it tells a proverb about how water overcomes stone. That would be appropriate in this instance! I also got an email today that said this same leak is affecting at least 3 I REALLY wonder how much water is inside the wall!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Staff Buses

Today I thought I would tell you a little bit about staff buses. You might first wonder what a staff bus is. Well in a city where only a small percentage of people have their own mode of transport companies have to get their workers to the office, job site, etc. For this they use staff buses, but not all staff buses are created equal!

Here you have your very basic staff bus, although this one is pretty empty at the moment. I am not sure if these are construction workers, but that is what I would guess from the mode of transport. Here is a similar staff bus filled up.

But there are certainly nicer modes of transportation, and ones that are better to ride in when it rains.

This one would certainly be nicer when it rains! It seems like almost anything can be a staff bus, and some of them are actual buses, some of them are very nice. This one, while not a bus, I have to describe as one of the nicest staff buses I have seen. I saw it near our flat, but did not have a camera. So I ran in (hoping it would still be there when I came out) and grabbed my camera. I had to walk just a little bit to get back to where it was, but I thought this one was worth it.

Just the fact that this one has nice comfortable (looking) seats puts it above at least most of the Semi-trailer versions. Most just have wood benches lining the walls. A lot of employees depend on this kind of transport, and it benefits companies to provide it. Especially when the area many people work in is only really accessible via two bridges. This kind of company transport can save a lot of headaches in the long run.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Exotic Places - Exotic Allergies

One of the joys of going to different places is experiencing new things. Well, when you are me, one of those things is discovering other things in the world that you are allergic to! Back in Oklahoma, I know generally what I am allergic to and when to expect problems. That is in Oklahoma, and I am not. One thing that I have discovered that causes me problems is fresh mango. Now this is where it gets interesting, usually when I eat something I am allergic to I get hives and my lips swell. When I eat fresh mango there is a completely different effect. Something in the mango apparently reacts in my stomach and it makes me burp, something in the burps actually cases my sinus cavities to swell. when it is in full effect my eyes swell nearly shut and I cannot breathe through my nose. I can still breathe, so it is not life threatening, but it was rather amusing to see Josie fussing over me when it happened!

However, mango is not the only thing that I react to here, but unfortunately it is the only thing we have identified. There is something that happens between the dry season (harmattan) and the start of the rainy season. I think it is something that blooms, or pollinates. The effect looks like this:

Ignore the hair, I woke up looking like this. I knew there was a problem when my eyes would not open. As it turned out basically my entire face was swollen. When you wake up looking like this there is only one course of action. I sent an email to the office informing them I would not be in, took Benadryl and went back to bed!

The next day I showed this picture to the guys I work with, they told me they were certainly willing to go track down the guys that beat me up and pay them back. Co-workers are such good helpers!

Even with all the allergic reactions I have had in my life so far, only one has had the possibility of being life threatening: I hope it stays that way, since we still don't know what caused that one!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Just for Fun

Today I want to just make a quick post to answer a very simple question:

How do you transport four tires without a car or a truck?

For those that think this must be a rare sight, I can refute that. Unfortunately I did not have my camera on the way to church on Sunday, but let me try to describe what I saw. Between the driver of the okada and the passenger was a rolled up mattress. Not an air mattress or something like that. A full size bed mattress, it stuck out a couple feet on each side of the bike. I was disappointed that I did not have my camera, but it will not be the last time I have a chance to snap a picture of something like this, I assure you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Logistics Problem

When I explain the situation in which we live here in Nigeria, the responses I get tend to border on patronizing. For example when you tell people you have a driver, you usually get responses such as "Must be tough!" or "that would be nice". Now don't get me wrong, there are many aspects of being driven everywhere I go that I quite like. For me it is especially advantageous since I do not enjoy driving cars, I have never really liked cars! I can ride for hours on a motorcycle and be completely content, but driving an hour in the car needs to have a good justification to entice me to do it. This dislike of cars in general also partially carries over to riding in them, so you can imagine my profound joy of dealing with the Lagos traffic. Tuesday night was a prime example. I was at a meeting out at our church building, which is about 11 kilometers from my flat. To go from the church to the flat took two hours and five minutes, and most of that time was spent on about a two kilometer stretch.

There are other problems as well, which brings me to the events of last night. After I left work I decided I was going to go watch a movie before going home. The traffic was terrible, as it has been almost every night lately, and so to get to the theatre on time was already going to be a challenge. I also wanted to go by the flat first to drop off my laptop. It took 40 minutes to travel most of the three kilometers to the flat, when we were within a reasonable distance I hopped out and walked the rest of the way (which, based on recent events, did make me a bit nervous). I was able to get up to my flat and back to the car before my driver had been able to move more than five car lengths. At least this allowed us to head straight for the theatre instead of getting out of traffic and having to fight to get back in. We hit more traffic every direction we tried! Finally I had to jump out again and walk the last little bit to the movie theatre. At this point it seemed all was going well, but I need to add some background before I continue.

Aside: Last week my driver had a problem with his personal car while he was on his way home, it stalled and had to be pushed out of the roadway, a couple of guys helped him push it over to the side of the road, after receiving this "help" he realized that his phone was missing. The phone is provided by my company, and they have not yet managed to replace it.

When I entered the theatre I found that the movie I wanted to see had already sold out, I immediately went back outside to locate my driver, and of course he was nowhere in sight. Expecting me to be in a movie for the next two hours he had gone to get some food, well obviously I could not call him since he has no phone. I tried calling our central radio room to get them to contact the radio installed in the car, he was not in the car. I stood just outside the mall while I waited for them to track him down. After about twenty minutes I received a call from the radio room, they were not able to get in touch with him, but another driver was in the area and would come by and pick me up. After another twenty minutes, because of the traffic, the driver arrived and took me to the flat. Once I was back home, I called the radio room back and asked that they continue to try and contact my driver until they managed to reach him. I expected that this would be the end of the story, but alas, no. Just after 10 o'clock I received a call from the drivers supervisor asking if I still needed my driver to hold at the mall. I explained the situation and told him he could tell my driver he was done for the day. Ten minutes later my driver called to verify that I was actually at home and not still in the mall. Apparently he was waiting around in one of the other residences with several other drivers, none of whom had been involved in the earlier attempts to find him or transport me, and all the drivers were quite concerned that something had happened to me.

Sometimes it is easier just to drive yourself!