Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hanging in Everett...and in the hospital!

I'll get to that hospital part, but I'll start with some of the other activities we've been up to. Last weekend was very busy. We volunteered at the Folklife Festival on Friday, the 22nd, all morning. We were asked to come at 8:45am to help at a pre-festival event for sponsors. We showed up, bleary-eyed and tailless, to find out they didn't really need us at that event so we could go to festival services and see what else they needed us to do. At least we found a good, free parking space since we got there that early. We were then sent over to an information booth to help run it, and then we were greeters. It was fun to see the festival from the very beginning, but my lord we were tired by the time we left.

That evening we baby-sat one of our favorite two year olds and had so much fun with her that she didn't want to go to bed. She made us feel loved. When we got "home" to our friends' apartment we checked our email and found out our friends were returning Saturday afternoon, not Sunday like we had expected. This threw us into a frenzy of tidying and trying to figure out how we would handle the next day. See, we were both scheduled to work a one-day, all-day project to help convert WaMu to Chase, but now we needed to pick up Jesse and Larisa and their baby in the middle of that. Brendan left a message for our team lead and we just hoped we could work out some way to do everything.

Saturday morning we both showed up for the job, and our team lead said the higher-ups hadn't yet figured out what to do about our predicament. We hoped that Brendan could start the job, then leave to pick up our friends, then come back to finish the job. Soon, though, we got word that they didn't want him to start the project at all if he couldn't stay for the whole thing. So Brendan took off to finish up a bit more cleaning, and I stayed to work for the day. We divided it that way because I don't know how to drive a stick shift (a sad fact that must someday be remedied), so I couldn't be the one to pick them up.

The work was easy and boring because it involved a lot of sitting around and waiting for things to be tested, but the people I was working with were nice and I got to tell them about this very blog. Jesse and Larisa and Ciprian returned safely from Romania/Italy and we visited with them that evening for a little while before they crashed into bed. We stayed that night at their place still, and all of us went to a birthday party on Sunday for our friends' one year old. Sunday was a beautiful day to be outdoors celebrating life. Even the butterfly balloon wanted to play, so it took off and we watched it fly far away. Can you see it? It quickly became a speck.

We also spent Sunday night at Jesse's and Larisa's and on Monday my sister Amelie picked us up and the three of us went back to Folklife, this time to enjoy from the spectator end. We had lunch first at Bamboo Garden, then wandered over to the storytelling room, then to hear a fiddle/guitar band, then over to the hospitality room. The hospitality room was set up for volunteers and performers, for them to hang out and get free beverages and snacks. Since we had been volunteers, we had the special purple buttons that got us and a guest in. Later we met up with Adam and Lena and baby and co. and listened to ska music, amongst other things. Brendan and I went to the front of the stage where the ska bands were playing and joined in the rhythmic jump-dancing. It was great exercise.

After Folklife we went back to Jesse's and Larisa's and loaded all our stuff into Amelie's car since we planned to spend the rest of the week at her place in Everett. On Tuesday Brendan spent some time sorting through Magic cards, working on his deck for the Grand Prix, then we headed over to my parents' place to hang out. Brendan had started to feel bad, the bad-abdominal-pain-type-bad, but when we got to my parents' he took some Advil and felt well enough a little later to eat dinner.

On Wednesday Brendan felt sick all day. It was the same kind of pain he'd had the year before, but since it had gone away then, we figured it would go away again. I bought him some popsicles and Gatorade so he wouldn't get dehydrated, them Amelie and I went hiking to Explorer Falls. If I'd known what was going on in his body, I probably wouldn't have left. As it was, though, Amelie and I got to see this (photo found here on flickr):

On Thursday Brendan still felt ill, but he thought it was getting a little better. I had lunch with my friend Miranda and on my way, walking to meet her, this little girl that hangs out in Amelie's neighborhood approached me. This is the conversation we had while I was walking:

First the girl says hi to a passing car. I assume she knows the driver. Then she crosses the street (on rollerblades) and approaches me, followed by her friend who remains silent.

Girl: Hi!
Me: Hello.
Girl: Are you in 8th grade?
Me: No, I graduated from high school a long time ago.
Girl: Oh. Are you in college?
Me: No, I graduated from college too. I'm 27.
Girl: Oh. You look like an 8th grader.
Me: (Laughing) Well, that's good right? It means when I'm 40 I'll look 20.
Girl: Yeah.
Me: What grade are you in?
Girl: 6th.
Me: Are you out of school already? (It was 11:30am and I wondered why she wasn't in school. She misinterpreted my question)
Girl: No, we still have two weeks before summer break.
Me: Ah. I bet you're excited.
Girl: Yeah. (Pause) Watch out, there's a dead bird ahead.
Me: Yeah, I know. I saw it the other day.
Girl: The crows keep picking at it. We wanted to bury it, but we don't have a place.
Me: Oh, well, that's nice of you.
Girl: We throw rocks at the crows when we see them by it.
Me: I don't see it anymore.
Girl: It's in the grass. The crows keep moving it from the grass to the sidewalk and back to the grass.
Me: Oh. (Pause) Yeah, now I see it.
Girl: Well, bye!
Me: Bye.
Girl: Have a great day!
Me: Okay, thanks. You too.

As she was saying goodbye, a car passed and as she and her friend turned around, I heard her say to her friend "Shoot! I missed saying hi to that car!"

It was a bizarre exchange.

Later that day I left Brendan watching movies at Amelie's place, and I went over to my parents' for dinner. Amelie came over too and then she and I went back to her place. Brendan was just finishing a movie and was planning on going to sleep when I felt his forehead. It was incredibly hot. Amelie got a thermometer out and his temperature checked in at 102.8. I didn't think it could be right. Brendan didn't feel like he had a fever and that just seemed so high. So I shook the thermometer down and checked again. Still 102.8. That called for a mom's opinion, so I called mine. She said she thought we should go to the hospital. Brendan agreed, so off we went to the emergency room at the Colby Campus of Providence Hospital. This was at 10pm.

He was triaged almost immediately and taken back to a shared room. Then we had to wait for a little while before a nurse came and got him going on fluids and took a urine sample and a blood sample. Another hour or so after that a doctor came to see us and when he heard how Brendan was feeling and did a brief exam he said he was pretty sure it was appendicitis, but he wanted to run a CAT scan. Within an hour that happened, then another hour or so later we got the results and it was indeed appendicitis. Surprisingly to us, though, it also showed that the appendix had already ruptured, and had an abscess, so instead of operating right away, they wanted to start Brendan on a course of antibiotics to make the inflammation go down.

That's when Brendan got moved to what's known as the "penthouse," or the 8th (and top) floor of the hospital, to his very own room. And that's where we are still. Brendan is on antibiotics and painkillers, and we are still in the "watch and wait" phase of things. If he responds well to the antibiotics (and he seems to be doing so), he will probably be released tomorrow (Sunday) and can schedule an appendectomy for a later date. This is the preferred course of action, because they want the inflammation to go down so the surgery won't have to be very invasive. If things don't go well and the antibiotics don't keep working, they may have to do the appendectomy now anyway. The more time we spend here, though, the less likely it seems that will happen.

The next time a doctor comes to visit, we'll ask if it's okay for Brendan to travel by bus to Wisconsin. We're scheduled to leave Monday, but we'll probably postpone by at least a day or two so we can see how he handles being out of the hospital. If all goes well, though, we'll carry forth with our travels and take a lot of documentation of this hospital visit with us in case his appendix freaks out again while we're in Europe. Ideally it will stay calm until we get back and can schedule the appendectomy to take place here at Providence. We've met a lot of doctors and nurses here and everyone is very capable and kind.

In other news, have you heard our latest life plan? The more I was applying for jobs and trying to make myself seem appealing to employers, the more I wanted to be doing something else. Our dream of opening a store someday began to sound more and more like something we should do now, rather than waiting. So that's what we're going to try and do. I don't know exactly when, because we're still not sure how long we'll be overseas, or how, but we're both really excited about this. It probably means delaying our dream to buy a house, but it will firmly establish us in the Seattle area. We're determined and intelligent people, so I believe we can do it no matter how hard it seems at the outset.

That's the scoop, folks. Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spending time in Seattle

This blog post is dedicated to my sister-in-law Naomi, who faithfully reads our blog (she is our only actual blogspot follower), and who reminded me that we haven't blogged in a long time. Today is her birthday. Happy birthday, Naomi!

We decided at the end of April to stay in Seattle through the month of May. This decision had many factors. One was that we have the opportunity to apartment-sit for our friends through May 24. We have a home of our own and a car at our disposal and it has been wonderful to have this extra time and this space to visit with people.

Another factor was that we realized while traveling around the US how much we love Seattle. We would love to buy a house here and have Seattle continue to be our home base, and now is a great time for first-time home buyers to get in on the market. However, we don't have jobs and getting them is the first step toward settling in Seattle. So we decided to use this month to look for work. I've been applying to organizations I want to support, such as the University of Washington, the Pacific Science Center, and other non-profits in Seattle. If I were to get a job offer, we would either significantly revise the rest of our trip or postpone it. And if not, we will continue with our trip as planned, except we will take the bus to Wisconsin in order to get there more speedily, and probably spend a little less time at our destinations between Wisconsin and New York.

Yet another factor is that there is a Magic: the Gathering competition at the end of the month. Brendan wants to get into the competitive Magic playing scene and this is a good opportunity for him to try it out, and possibly win a small chunk of money. We are also making a little money doing odd jobs this month. Tomorrow I'll be babysitting for a friend, Brendan has been substitute-teaching at YTN, and in a couple weeks we'll be doing a one-day computer job for Washington Mutual's transition to Chase.

With the rest of our time, we are enjoying spending time with friends and family. A little over a week ago my sister Amelie, Brendan and I had lunch with Amelie's and my second cousins. I connected with them via Facebook while we were in New Orleans and am so glad we got to meet in person. This trip has shown us how much family we have all around the country. There is something extra special about staying with people you don't know, but with whom you do have a shared history.

On Sunday, May 3rd we followed through on something we'd told one of our hitchhiking rides we would do. Remember our post about an older man who told us all about his nutcracker collection? He mentioned a nutcracker museum in Leavenworth and said the woman who owns it is a collector friend of his and a member of the same nutcracker club. We went to Leavenworth with our friend Nikki, found the museum and met Arlene Wagner the nutcracker collector friend, and saw her amazing collection. There are nutcrackers there from thousands of years ago. And there was Karl.

Meet Karl.

Karl is a trickster.

We spent the rest of that day enjoying Leavenworth, the river that runs through it, and the beautiful day.

Last Friday we went camping on Camano Island with Amelie and several friends. It was the perfect weekend for it. The moon was full on Friday night and so beautiful shining over the Puget Sound, and the weather Saturday was sunny and warm.

On Mother's Day all my siblings and their spouses and offspring and Brendan and I got together and took my parents out for a late lunch at Ivar's in Mukilteo. It overlooks the water and we could watch the ferry to Whidbey coming in and going out.

Mama and Daddy

My sister Jennifer and her son Liam

Jennifer's husband Jeremey, and their kids Erin and David

My brother Aaron and his wife, Naomi

Aaron and Naomi's kids, Juliann and Race

Race and me

Brendan and Amelie, showing off their coloring

It is so wonderful to have more time in Seattle to catch up with people! The first few weeks of April just flew by and were mostly spent hanging out with my parents and family and friends in Everett. It was great to spend time with all of them, but it was hard to get together with friends in Seattle. Staying this extra month has given us the chance to relax into Seattle again and see friends we would otherwise have missed. If you're reading this and you haven't seen us yet, call us! We will definitely be around through May 31st, and possibly longer if something pans out job-wise.