Saturday, September 24, 2011

Journal by: Cora Thompson


The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Over the weekend I rested my sore, swollen knee and thought long and hard about why I'd agreed to extending my time here to three weeks. Sharon and I shared a walk Saturday, much slower than I'm sure she's used to doing, to take photos of the beautiful flowers, watch people, buy some supplies for our suite at the pediatric hospital and Romanian-made chocolates for gifts at home. Sunday I spent reading one of the novels I'd brought on the trip, finishing Genesis 1 for the class that will start without me 9/15, talking to my husband by cell phone, and resting the knee and the back. I shared meals with Sharon and heard about her long walks around Barlad. The debris from Saturday evening's long wedding reception into almost breakfast time Sunday was cleared so we could enjoy our meals. What fun to watch our favorites, Catalin and Elena and others set up for the reception and then bustle around reorganizing the dining area. Perhaps, I thought, the companionship of two Midwestern, retired nurse practitioners sharing all these traditions was the reason I'd felt the need to stay three weeks.

Monday I received an even better answer! We arrived fresh and found that Irene, a hospital aide, had the children in clean clothes, fed, in chairs or bouncy rocker. Ionutz was especially cute in his pristine sleeper and ready to be held. He would leave to return to the placement center at our lunch time. Then the nurse brought Carmen into the room in her stroller and told us Carmen needed watching because she'd just had a grand mal seizure. Neither Sharon nor I have the physical strength to get this 9 year old out of the belt and tie that holds her in her stroller. The nurse was summoned. After much verbal exchange neither of us understood completely, the nurse showing me what to do if Carmen had a seizure and my explaining I know what to do for any child seizuring but how do I get her out of the stroller if she does, we understood each other....Call HELP or NURSE and we'll come. I can do that!!!

Carmen walks, walks fairly well, just a little unsteady on her feet so my new assignment was to hover to prevent her from falling if imbalanced. I can do that too. But what Carmen wanted was to be held, cuddled, rocked. She slept in my arms while I sang children's songs, church songs, and a singsong "Te iubesc, Carmen. Ne te teme" over and over. For the first time I truly felt fulfilled and knew I'd been given not only the reason for the extended stay but also a purpose. What a blessing!

Marion then took over the high-backed rubbery chair to help strengthen his head lag. He looked like an astronaut belted in for flight. He continues to be a lovable, happy child. Marty isn't happy but Sharon spent lots of time with him. We even had him on the floor mat to stretch and do physical therapy. Samy spent a lot of time in the playpen in time-out for trying to decaptitate his roomies with a nude Barbie doll. Gabi spent time meandering from one activity to another. She showed some jealousy today when Sharon was working with Marty. Maria Cleopatra won't let me feed her. She's definitely Coca's baby girl.

I returned Carmen to the nurses' station as we prepared to leave for lunch. Just before we departed, I went into the bedroom to get a wet wipe for her face and came back to her nosebleed. Hey, I know how to deal with that, too! She'd scratched her inner right nostril so bleeding was easy to control.

A glorious day.

Tuesday Coca was back from a few days' off and we were so happy to see her. Although we pretty much repeated yesterday's stretching on the floor mat for Marion and Marty, Sharon walking the halls with either Samy or Gabi, we watched Marion on his belly raise up on his elbows and when Coca put his knees down on the mat, he almost crawled. A second blessing this week. With a little time and encouragement, Marion will regain lots of neck muscle control and might even crawl and turn over again. Samy climbed upon the bed in the bedroom and retrieved the pufeteles, corn puff sticks that dissolve in one's mouth.

I again brushed Carmen's hair then held, rocked, sang while she napped in my lap, clutching my scrub top. Dr Cozma, a really neat lady, examined throats and listened to chests on all but Carmen. Dr C said, "We'll let her sleep" according to the nurse with her.

I missed the short afternoon since our weather has turned unhealthily hot, 36 degrees Celsius, and I hadn't consumed enough water so back to the room a.c. and bottled water for me. Our dinner out was at Alona which offers a Bulgarian salad that's scrumptious. The Romanian donuts were delicious, too.

Wednesday has been pretty much the same including the high heat and no air movement on this third floor. Sharon walking Gabi then Samy in the halls. She took Samy into the playroom where there were older kids and different toys but he was removed for throwing things. His IV Heplock's out of his foot so he walks comfortably. But he's spending a lot of time in time-outs and also now has his crib turned around so the solid wood back is facing the room since he climbed out of the crib. But Samy's expressions are so cute!!! Marion sat in his astronaut chair and spent some time on the floormat moving around. He didn't sleep last night so an aide got him up when we came this morning, and we kept him busy all morning. Sharon entertained Marty by rocking his bouncy chair with one foot while she played with Gabi. Coca sat in a chair with Maria C in the playroom with us this morning. And Carmen, after walking and my hovering, actually reached her arms up to me to be picked up. We rocked, I sang, she slept. Ah, life is good.

Thursday: Dan fixed the fan!! Hallelujah!! Then, after we returned from lunch, we got in trouble with an aide who indicated the blowing fan would give the kids earaches. What apparently had happened was Samy had turned the fan downward while we were gone and when we returned, the aides soon entered with food so we weren't even aware of the fan blowing down. We readjusted the fan to blow over OUR heads right before the nurse appeared.

Carmen enjoyed the morning walks in the hall then a nap in my arms at her insistence by reaching up and pulling on my scrub top. She patted my face and mouth. She would stop racing down the hall long enough to look at and feel the Disney tiles along the way. Marion did his rolling on the floor and almost, again, turned himself over. Marty stretched his arms high overhead and now his legs are stretching outward more. Samy walked the halls this morning with Dan which seemed to help reduce his energy level. Maria C is still Coca's baby. Gabi had time in the halls walking in shoes with Sharon.

Supper at Garamondo's with Dan was delicious....a tomato/cucumber/feta cheese salad, grilled chicken legs minus the bones with sauteed mushrooms, and REAL LIPTON GOLD tea. The waiter dumped my teabag so I had to produce my own for a second cup. Sleep came easily. Sprinkling outside.

Friday: The day started off beautifully, cool, sunny so I people-watched from the hotel front steps until Dan arrived. We saw a gypsy lady in a dress with so many gold pieces that she sparkled all the way up then down the street.

The children were a little whiny and wanted lots of individiual attention, especially Marty who likes being held, rocked in his bouncy chair. I told Sharon she'd created a monster. Marion turned over AGAIN while on the floor mat. Samy and Gabi had walks in the hall then kept us busy finding things for them to do in the room. Sharon spent much of the morning with Gabi. After getting Marion to exercise and rocking Marty with my foot on his chair, I finally had time for Carmen who wanted nothing more than to be held while she slept.

We then moved Carmen to the twin bed in the bedroom area where she slept the rest of the time I was there while I sat in a small chair beside her. She was still asleep when I left at 1 p.m.

We three ate lunch together rather late, said good-bye to Catalin (aka Adrian) who was leaving his work in the dining room to take tests. He wants to teach sports. We wish his Godspeed. We sat and listened to Dan talk about recent Romanian history.

Tonight we dine with Mihaela and say good-bye to Elena, our waitress whom we've also enjoyed. Then I'll pack. Tomorrow around 8:30 a.m. Dan and Dorel will come to transport us to Rin Airport Motel in Otopeni-Bucharest where we'll spend the night and leave by shuttle at 4 a.m. for flights to the United States. Dan and Dorel will pick up the next team, 9 of them, after dropping us off. My flights will be long, 24 hours of jets and airports.

I feel sad about leaving but am also very happy to go home. I've enjoyed the Romanian people I've met and I've watched, the two cats out in the nearby yard I've fed, even some TV programs I've watched since we don't watch TV at home. Most of all, I'm taking a piece of each child home in my heart, and I thank God for this opportunity to return to and to serve in Romania.