Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's That in My Fridge?

Asalamu Alaykom,

Watch the video first.  It's a super short documentary which will answer the question, "What's that in my fridge?"

Life in Egypt is either funny or frustrating.  Reminds me of that awesome traveler quote, "The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude."

Turns out that women in Egypt need to purchase their own laulob; IUD before going to see the doctora.  I had a 9 am appointment. So, it was a trip to the pharmacy in the taxi this morning.  10 LE and one lecture on how to drive safer by not making a mobile call while on the road. 

Yes, they had Mirena.  It cost 700 LE.  I marveled at how easy that was!  Had I left Egypt?  Where was I?

Oops.  No, they didn't have Mirena.  It was at the other store.  Of course it was.  I had a very expensive but very small receipt.

On we went into another taxi.  It was 8.50 LE but no need for a lecture.  In we went to the pharmacy and sure enough there was the Mirena.

The Mirena itself is this tiny "T".  The box the girl was holding was very long; the sterile applicator no doubt.  Thank God I had my mailcarrier sachel.  It barely fit in.  They put an ice pack next to it.  Apparently, the Mirena needs refrigeration.  It's 100 degrees today.

Into another taxi.  I was too hot and tired for any reprimands on road safety by this time.  We were going to go home since it was just after duhr; the noon prayer.  Yet, we got tempted by the thought of getting it all done.  So, we made a phone call and learned that we could see the doctora in about half-an-hour.  We made a stop at her office instead.

The room, no bigger than my entry way, was filled with 11 women (most of them swelled to the point of having a watermelon stuffed under their galabiya).  There was one quiet baby girlie all in pink lovingly cooing at her adoring mom.  There was one preschooler climbing the walls screaming that he wanted to go home.  We waited.  My hub waited outside on the bench in the sun rather than sit with the women.  Later, as some left, he came in from the heat. 

Every one of the women wore her hijab differently.  Every one had a different way of pining and wrapping and draping.  You notice these things when you're in a holding cell doctora's waiting room.  It was kind of sweet for me being amongst the ladies.  I felt the kindred spirits of all these women whom God had made uniquely different and yet we were together in our fate to bear children.

Then the doctora made her way out to the waiting area.  She was clutched and held against her will as the waiting women implored her to stay.  She couldn't!  She had to run to the hospital for a surgery.  So, we all found some renewed patience and let her go.

This time it was a busride home.  The ice had melted next to my Mirena.  I felt the wetness against my lap.  It was time to put it in the fridge.  That's where you see it in the video.

Asr time is coming soon.  We'll pray and leave again---hopeful that the simple procedure can be done.  Maybe this is why it's good for 5 years.  It's such a hassle and expense that you can't do it every year.

Wishing you well!  See you later!


Yes, I'm back and this has become a series of posts.  I had no idea it would be such an ordeal----okay, that's not true.  I had my fears. 

We took a taxi back to the doctora and did the waiting room stint again.  It wasn't so bad this time.  Funny how a room without preschoolers is a room in which you can relax.  Why am I a kindergarten teacher?!

This waiting room didn't have any magazines.  I tried to talk to my husband but I noticed his body language of covering his ears.  That's subtle!  So, I dug through my bag and could only come up with my cell phone.  That would be more fun if I still had games on it.  I looked through the applications:  calculator, converter, list maker---okay!  I made a list of all the things I've put off but I really should do before Ramadan.  My husband slept. 

So, we get called into the office and there's Dr. Wafa.  She's got this great way about her.  I feel happy to see her.  I'm joking and easy going.  I say goodbye to my hub and walk into the procedure room.  You've got to leave your Western thinking of cleanliness at the door.  Don't ask why there's an upside-down osteoporosis poster leaning against the wall.  Just get ready and get it done.

I've often told obgyn offices that they need murals or posters on their ceilings.  This office had waterstains. 
They were really cool because they looked like the rectangular spots on a giant giraffe.  I zoned out on them as she worked.  Zoning out is best for me.  I'm squeamish.  No, I don't want to know everything that's going on.

I then looked at the light fixture and wondered about the person who chose it.  Did they actually look at all the possible fixtures and decide upon the one that looked most like a fallopian tube releasing an egg?  That's weird.  My zoning out was almost working when I realized the doctora was talking to me in Arabic.  She overestimated my abilities.  I called in my husband.

Something is wrong.  I grip him as she explains that something is wrong.  I'm bleeding.  She says that my insides are very sensitive; she simply touched cotton to my insides and they bled.  That's a problem. She can't insert the IUD with me in this condition.

I don't need to figure it all out because I know she's said mostasfa; hospital.  I stop listening and say Quran quietly to myself to block out what they're discussing.  It's not that I don't care about my health and decisions about my health.  I do!  I just would rather get home, lie down on my bed and learn what's got to happen.

We ride the microbus back.  The older lady with the small boy keeps making the bus driver stop because she's scared she's going to fall out.  The sliding door is open and she's siting on the bench next to it.   Her requests to stop (so she can readjust) becomes a running gag.  I want to get home.  I eventually give my last lecture of the day by telling her in Arabic that if she really doesn't feel safe then she should not sit on the outside seat in a crowded bus.  The other women agree saying, "Sa!  Sa!" 

I make it home; in the house and up the stairs.  Mr. Boo has thoroughly enjoyed his day of limitless cartoons.  The other days of the week I force him to finish his first grade workbooks.  He is glad we're home but really surprised he has to turn the TV off. 

It's time for dinner.  I can't eat.  I wash up and lie down.  I finally want to know what has to happen.  My husband tells me that it's a small procedure in the hospital to help heal the wound.  I'll have to take a shot to sleep, he explains.  I definately want to fight that.  My dad once had dental work done without novacaine and I admire that.  I would rather deep breathe and deal with the pain than to be put out.

Subhanallah. We can't control our way through life.  We can't.  This is out of my control and I can't get around it.  Tomorrow, I go to the hospital inshahallah.  Once I'm there, I'll have to do what I need to in order to leave.  In many ways it's my worst fears in Egypt coming true.  I don't want to be in the hospital here but alhumdulillah.

"You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want

But if you try sometimes well you might find

You get what you need."


The sun just rose over Egypt.  I've been up since fajr though I can't pray.  I also can't sleep.

I talked with my mom last night.  She was the rock of strength I needed.  It's hard to be in Egypt without her.  She knows me and knows how much I hate anything medical.  I need some straight information and a lot of comfort.

I wondered if I needed a friend.  I called a co-worker who has gone through a couple of miscarriages.  It's strange how it didn't really click with me until lately that I'd had a miscarriage.  My mother had two; one before me and one after me.  I grew up being (irrationally) fearful that I was destined to have them too.  I never did...until now.

So, my co-worker says to me increduously, "Yosra, of course you have to get cleaned from having a miscarriage!  There's a spot where the baby connects which has to get sealed off.  Why didn't that get done before?" 

I had no idea.  I was simply going with whatever the doctora said and did.  I was no longer an informed American knowing all the answers from the internet.  I was starting to control less and believe more in the abilities of medical professionals to cure me.  I was turning Egyptian.

She then went on to answer my questions about the procedure.  She explained how the shot to sleep has to happen.  It will be in my hand.  No, my husband can't be there.  The whole thing takes about half an hour inshahallah.  When I'm done, I'll feel tired for a couple of days but I'll regain my energy inshahallah.  She was sorry for me.  She's not been able to have children yet.  Of course, I feel sorry for her too.

Mr. Boo has been a knudnick.  That's not Arabic.  It's probably some form of Norwegian as a leftover from my immigrant grandfather.  My mother used to say it to me when I was acting up. 

Mr. Boo has been starved for attention.  He hasn't gotten out to ride his bike since I have to be there with him (and I can't).  He wants to go out and have fun and we can't.  His Baba and I are beat.  We were in and out of 15 vehicles yesterday! In Egypt, the amount of running around you do for one simple appointment is amazing and it takes it out of you---especially in the heat.  So, last night Mr. Boo let it be known that he wanted to be fun and funny and pull pranks and play games.  Oh my.  I can see how tough it must be in families where there's a long-term illness. 

My husband has finished reading Quran for today.  He and I have different coping mechanisms.  For me, I like to listen to Quran non-stop when I feel like life is out of control.  I'm listening to Surah Maryam now.  Him?  He likes to read Quran.  Me?  I like to be on the computer or watch TV.  Him?  He went into a cleaning frenzy last night. 

It's a good thing he woke early this morning.  He had forgotten to tell me last night that I can't eat or drink after 9 am.  Sigh...I seriously don't have the fight in me today to get mad about it.  Alhumdulillah, I learned early enough that I can load up. 

It's going to be 37 degrees today which is 99 Farenheit.  That's a precursor of things to come.  Take a look at the five-day forecast.  It's 101, 104, 103, 104, 102.  I'm not ready for that. 

May Allah make it easy on me...and on all of you.


Warning:  I am decidely less funny after I've been drugged

The biggest thought in my head right now is that I want to lose that drugged out feeling.  I'm back home from the procedure but my head hasn't caught up with me yet---it's still lying on the operating table. 

Walking into the room was very confusing for me.  I didn't know where we were going.  It felt like a funhouse where you walk into a room and realize that you want out.  I didn't know who that man was.  I wanted my husband back but it was too late.  We were headed in no matter how I felt.

In America, there's all this humanizing of medicine.  You learn the names and jobs of everyone who comes along.  You have conversations.  In Egypt, it's a much quicker in-and-out because it has to be.  Do we really want to learn everyone's name in Egypt?  We go through the motions here more than through emotions.

It was really scary for me getting the shot in my hand.  That's who the man was:  the anaesthetician.  I grabbed one of the nurses by the arm so she'd be next to me but I was alone in reciting Quran.  I went through Al-Fatiha, Al-Adiyat and was heading into Al-Iklas when I went out.  Couldn't fight it!  Worst fears realized!  I was on an operating table in Egypt.  Absolutely nothing I could do about it.

What I really hate more than being put to sleep is waking up.  It's that groggy immobility which I struggle against.  I do my best to get my body going.  I don't want to stay in that state of helplessness.  Alhumdulillah my husband was with me when I woke up. 

I had survived (which you knew I would but I had my doubts).  There is something so true about facing your fears and overcoming adversity.  Yes, it makes you stronger.  I no longer fear getting ill in Egypt.  I've now been ill in Egypt and lived to tel about it.

It was hard to go out of the room.  I wasn't fully able to walk.  I had to rely on my hub to guide me past the myraid of people in the halls and out into the street.  The heat hit me then.  I had not wanted to be separated from him so I went with him to get a taxi.

Three taxi drivers refused us.  We weren't going their way or far enough.  I don't know.  I was standing there in the hot sun wishing for a short ride and getting none.  I wanted to remain charitable towards them.  I felt that if they knew I was suffering, then they would give me a ride.  Instead, we took a bus ride and then another.

Once home, I could eat and drink again.  I could hug my boy.  I could wash up from the day and change my clothes.  I could call my mother and wake her up let her know that I'm OK. 

I am OK.

Really and truly alhumdulillah.

When I think of the ability I have to get medical care here in Egypt, I am grateful.  In America, it's a hardship. I could not be seen as quickly or as inexpensively.  I once went into the emergency room and a year later was still paying for it. 

Back in America (which no longer feels "back home"), it would have been a different experience.  I would have been in a hospital with signs and nametags.  The hallways would have gleamed with the riches of capitalism.  I wouldn't have been told to take my shoes off at the door so I could walk into the opearting room and then up a little ladder unto the table.   I would have filled out a medical questionaire! 

In the end, I paid 450 LE to have the procedure.  That's roughly $75.  It is affordable healthcare here.

Is it good health care in Egypt?  I hope so.  I'm living here so I hope it's good.  Probably, the facilities in America could win higher ratings, but since I can't afford the bill I never went.  If something has higher quality but it's out of your price range then it really isn't better for you. 

I'm not completely done with this.  Give me a couple of days to heal and to get rechecked.  The Mirena is still in the fridge.  It's not exactly on my mind today.

Thanks for reading and for thinking good thoughts for me.

May  Allah reward everyone who has helped me these last days either in word or deed.

You can find this story featured on The Mazaj Daily


Still not back to normal after three weeks.  Subhanallah, the human body is a complicated creation.  You feel how inter-related all our body parts are after a physical setback. 

However, life moves on and I am now in Ramadan.  Alhumdulillah for Ramadan.  The doctora told me that it was fine for me to pray and fast---even if there was some spotting.  That didn't sound right to me.  I went ahead with Ramadan but also prayed that my efforts would be accepted.

The great thing about getting professional advice in Islam is that you get to trust them.  There isn't that feeling in the West.  Americans are constantly questioning authority.  Yet, Muslims don't have to second guess.  We believe that on Judgement Day those scholars will be taken to task for any bad advice; not us.  We are free to follow their recommendations without fear.

Except, of course, I am both:  Muslim and American.  So while I did pray and fast today, I doubted.  It is only now after seeing the proof on the internet. that I feel the night breeze relax me.  Yes, it was true.  I needed to participate in Ramadan.  Alhumdulillah I did.

The key to praying during non-menstrual bleeding, is to make wudu for EVERY prayer---whether or not you think you still have your wudu.

May Allah accept all our prayers and fasting.


Candice said...

I'm not sure if I missed something... It's near my bedtime and I'm having trouble concentrating so I may have skimmed through some important parts... But what did you have afterall to not get the Mirena?

It sure seems complicated... But hopefully they do everything right and you will be fully healed from what you have and ready for a proper insertion of the Mirena.

I got it once a while after I had my daughter and it actually fell out the day after... No pain at all, but major frustration that I'd paid for this crap that had to be thrown out! My doctor wasn't able to replace it but she gave me a bunch of samples of Nuvaring totalling the same worth as the Mirena approximately... I'm planning on giving it another shot after my son stops relying on breastmilk for the majority of his nutrition. It's so much easier than pretty much any other method. Just have it and that's that!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Candice,

Thanks for your comment for clarification. Those who read and comment are my editors and I appreciate anyone who doesn't understand and asks, "Huh???"

I had written this: "Something is wrong. I grip him as she explains that something is wrong. I'm bleeding."

I added this: "She says that my insides are very sensitive; she simply touched cotton to my insides and they bled. That's a problem. She can't insert the IUD with me in this condition."

Later, I added: “ ‘So, my co-worker says to me increduously, "Yosra, of course you have to get cleaned from having a miscarriage! There's a spot where the baby connects which has to get sealed off. Why didn't that get done before?’

I had no idea. I was simply going with whatever the doctora said and did. I was no longer an informed American knowing all the answers from the internet. I was starting to control less and believe more in the abilities of medical professionals to cure me. I was turning Egyptian."

I hope that explains it all better. You weren't tired...I was :) I got lazy in making sure that you understood what went on. Part of it is that I still don't totally 'get it'. A lot of medical work is done here without proper explanations---in English or Arabic.

Your story of having the IUD FALL OUT is just painful. I can't imagine if that happened to me later (please, God, don't test me). Nice that the doctor helped you out with samples. Still a head-shaking misery to go through.

Very good of you to realize that the hormones (while in smaller doses than the pill) are still leeched out in the breastmilk. Though obgyns say that there isn't much actual harm to the nursing baby---it STILL is a hormone you are giving a little body.

I had the Paraguard before which was no hormones but very harsh on my system. Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend that ever.

Again, thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.