Wednesday, May 25, 2005

New blog theme-- sickness and spectacles

The kefir (thanks Stephen!) and the apple cider vinegar seemed to work really well for a couple of days, but last night suffered a great blow to their credibility in my mind. Last night whilst (a word I was reacquainted with at work today) shopping, I felt very ill very suddenly. The last place you want to feel really nauseous is a Japanese grocery store. Yuck.
Anyway, all that to say that despite trying these remedies last night and this morning I seem to only have digressed. I might keep trying with the kefir, but the apple cider vinegar isn't doing it for me. So tomorrow I'm reconciling with traditional medicine and going to the doctor. Please pray for me.

And now for the spectacle part, which might become a weekly Wednesday installment if the trend continues. Today was Health Check day, which meant that my co-workers and I went in for our yearly physical for those under national health care. I was actually kind of excited about the whole procedure because they are very thorough and check you for pretty much everything. Alina, Ishii-san (the Board of Education secretary) and I went together. Ishii-san is pretty good with English and Alina is great with Japanese, but as we still had some fun trying to decipher some of the ailments listed in the family history portion of the paperwork. We went through lots of tests-- chest x-ray, heart monitor, urine, vision, and last but not least, bloodwork.
I don't especially like blood work, but I don't become overly anxious about it. So my turn came and I bravely sat down. Alina and Ishii-san had already gone so they were waiting in the wings for me. They started, and despite my limited vocabulary I was able to ask my standard blood work question, "Daijobou desu ka?" or "Is everything okay?" The nurses assured me it was and so I waited. Then I realized that my hand was going numb from my fingertips up my arm. Sometime soon after that realization I started feeling very bad. The nurses must have realized it and stopped the procedure, but I was down for the count. I blacked out for a little while, but was still somewhat cognizant of what was going on around me. It felt like there were about 10 nurses gathered around me propping me up and asking me various questions in Japanese. Finally they got me to my feet and ushered me to the waiting lounge that had a couch and laid me down there, elevating my feet over my head.
The nurses were great. They just kept trying to soothe me and encourage me. One especially kind nurse stayed by my side through the whole thing and held my hand. Soon my blood pressure leveled out and I was revealed that they, in fact, did not get enough blood to do the tests, so I had to go for one more round. However the second time was a piece of cake and afterwards we got to go home.
So today, perhaps rather than having a "look at the foreigner!" moment I had a "look at the poor foreigner..." moment. I don't know which I'd rather have.

Overall... rough day. But I have faith that the Lord has provided thus far and will continue to do so.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Alternative Medicines

Hello all. Thought I'd update you from the sick bed. I have spent the last 48+ hours in my apartment and am going a little stir crazy. Thankfully I have had the internet, the phone, some videos, and a couple of good friends to amuse me.

One of those friends who came by, Raelynn, has also recently been plagued with stomach issues. I asked her for some advice and she presented to me some interesting alternative therapies. First is apple cider vinegar. Although the site I linked to looks less than reputable, it does give you a glimpse of all that it's supports claim it can do to heal the body. My first dose was about half a tablespoon mixed with a glass of water and lots o' honey. It definitely has a kick and I'll have to work up to higher dosages, but it wasn't terrible. It'll just take some getting used to. Apple cider vinegar is supposed to work to neutralize the acids in the stomach and aid in digestion.

Organic healer number two that my friend brought me is a substance known as "kiefer" (pronounced KEY-FUR). I honestly don't know how you spell it. I tried to google it but no spellings I can think of came up with too many matches, which means that I cannot direct you to a nice internet explanation of the stuff. But I'll do my best to tell you. It is basically fermented milk. You can actually make your own kiefer, which Raelynn did and brought me. You take these grains (the origin of which no one is really sure of) and place them in a jar. Then you pour some milk into the jar, leave the jar out for a couple of days (without an airtight lid), strain away the liquid from the grains, and boom, you got your kiefer. Then you rinse the grains, put them into the jar again, and pour more milk in to make even more kiefer. I hear that the grains also "multiply" somehow... that freaks me out a little, but hey, I'm living in the alternative world now. Kiefer's kind of yogurty and definitely has a kick to it. Raelynn make me a chocolate kiefer shake, and I made some more with strawberry syrup and honey. I'm not bold enough to eat it plain just yet. Kiefer is supposed to add good bacteria to your stomach while destroying bad bacteria.

Although I have long been a girl who put her faith in God and traditional medicine, at this point I am willing to try anything. I tried "doses" of both of these cure tonight and honestly, I'm feeling pretty good right now. I'm not sure if it was either of these items that made me feel so, or maybe it's having a placebo effect, but honestly I don't care. :) I feel better and I was able to eat some and that's all that matters right now. I'll keep you updated on how things turn out.

Has anyone else out there tired any "non-traditional" therapies for their illnesses? Have they worked? Please share. This subject intrigues me now.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Still Sick

I've been wanting to avoid talking about it on the blog much, but I'm still sick from last week when I had the doctor's visit I chronicled. I don't know what's going on. My stomach is on a roller coaster; I go from feeling great for a few hours to feeling terrible for a few hours. I'm going to devote this weekend to resting and relaxing, so hopefully that'll push me towards the road to recovery. So please keep me in your prayers.

Also, and perhaps because of my not feeling well, I am so homesick. I especially miss my family and American food. I just want to go home, for a visit or for forever. I miss home.

Sorry to be unentertaining and depressing today. Just wanted to share with the blog-munity.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ki o tsukete!

Maybe no one will find this amusing, but I had a good "look at the weird/dumb foreigner" moment tonight and thought I'd share it since the blog has been lacking in Japanese experiences lately.

Tonight I was riding the bus home from the station. I got on the bus early and waited. There was one other man on the bus, a "salary-man" (or businessman) who looked purely exhausted and was drifting quickly into sleep. My heart went out to the guy since I knew he'd probably been working since 8 this morning (and this was 9:15 at night).

As we were approaching my stop, I reached up and pushed the buzzer to alert the driver. As I did, my drink fell to the floor with a crash and rolled to the feet of sleeping man. I felt bad as I thought that I'd probably startled everyone, especially the businessman. Since we were stopped at a light, I got up to retrieve my drink. Just as I bent over, the completely predictable happened: the bus driver chose that moment to let off the brake and inch up on the light. In a gloriously ungraceful moment I found myself splayed out on the bus floor on top of sleeping man's feet. And I fell out of my shoes. And I hit my chin on something.

So I tried to gather myself, but by this point the bus was moving again so it was difficult. At some point in my struggles the bus driver realized something was going on and called back something, to which I replied "Daijobou desu!" (It's okay!). I sat with my face in my hands until my stop and then ran off the bus. As I was exiting, however, the bus driver called, "Ki o tsukete!" (Be careful!) :) I have a feeling he was not concerned about bad men hiding in the shadows, but instead about me tripping over my own feet as I walked home.

Yeah, it was embarrassing, but I laughed the whole way home. It'd been a while since something dumb and funny had happened to me, so it was somewhat refreshing to just laugh at myself for a while. Hope someone else got a chuckle out of it.

By the way, my chin feels fine now. :)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Second Parents

Mike Cope blogged the other day about the special role of second parents that so many play in the lives of others in our society today, where oftentimes parental role models are lacking. Several commenters on the blog then pointed out that oftentimes it's not just the parent-less to benefit from the surrogate parents; oftentimes those of us with wonderful familial support are also blessed by having adopted moms and dads. I know that I have, so today I'd like to give them blog props. :)

In college I was doubly blessed to gain both an adopted set of parents and grandparents.

Bob and Donna Carpenter are... great. :) Just mentioning them brings a smile to my face. I first met them when I went to Brazil the first time; they were kind enough to host a dinner my mission team since they were missionaries in Brazil for several years. Bob's a professor of missions and world religions at OC, and so over the years I took several classes with him (I can think of 5 off the top of my head). Bob and Donna trained my mission team the second year I went to Brazil, and Bob was actually on the team, so you know those 4 weeks provided some great bonding time. All these experiences were great for growing in friendship and even a mentoring relationship, but they became my second parents when I was sick. They were at the hospital the morning of my surgery with my parents and the McBrides. They stayed with my family throughout the whole surgery (5+ hours) and then were at the hospital nearly every day that I was there (over a month). Donna was the only person I let sit with me other than my mom or dad, and even spent the night in the hospital to give my mom a break. After I was out of the hospital and for the next semester of school, whenever I was sick (which was often) I always had a room at their house where I could hide from it all. Donna would go to the doctors visits with me whenever my mom couldn't come up. And although I'm sure having a sickly pseudo-daughter complicated their life, they never once made me feel like a burden. I love them for their example of Godliness and faithfulness and generosity of time and love (and house!).

*I don't have a picture of Bob and Donna! :( If someone has one (M&K?) could you send it to me so I can show them off?

Bailey and Joyce McBride, who I've referenced several times on the blog (yes, I'm an admitted Baileyite), are my second grandparents. Bailey is the director of the honors program at OC, so I met him in the interview process before I even attended the school. Although we weren't close for my first year or two of school, I was always taken back by the amount of interest and compassion he showed for his students. He always closely followed my mission trips and told me how proud of me he was. Despite a lack of a personal relationship, there came a time my junior year when I needed help, and I turned to him and he welcomed me with open arms. He loved on me and prayed over me and carried me through some hard times. Then of course was the baptism of fire that came when I was sick. Much like Bob and Donna, Bailey and Joyce were always there. I actually met Joyce on the day of my surgery, but you'd never know it the way she was showering my family and me with love and attention. But she and Bailey were also there just about every day that I was in the hospital. More than anything I am eternally grateful for their prayers. When they say they pray for me daily I know those aren't idle words; they truly do pray for me. And I know those prayers have carried me through times I wouldn't have been able to go through alone.

Bailey and Joyce McBride (and me)

I have been blessed unimaginably by my "extended family." I pray that God gives me the opportunities to pass on and reflect this love that I've been shown.

I have an idea. I would like to decree that May 29 is "Second Parents Day." It falls right between Mother's Day and Father's Day, so it's perfect. Hallmark will love me for this. But really, take a day... maybe May 29th... and thank those who have adopted you into their families.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Grieving Process

For the past several weeks I have been reading the blog of Joe and Laura Hays, church planters living in Brooklyn. Their baby was recently born with a life threatening condition and they are updating friends and family (and strangers like me) about it. He is continuing to fight day by day for his little life.

From a link on their site I learned about little Noah Whaley, who was born last week with extremely little brain activity. His parents were not expecting to face this at all, and have been chronicling his condition and their emotions on their blog. I just read that yesterday he passed away peacefully.

Please pray for both of these families. I cannot even imagine the emotions they must be experiencing.

What do things like this mean? Theologians of all types have their different answers, but honestly they don't mean a lot when you're the one suffering. The thing is that so many well intentioned people try to push theology and religion on you when you're hurting, which is so... bad.

I've been through two very trying times in my life. Once when I moved from my hometown when I was 16 and the other when I was very very sick two years ago. Both times I can clearly recall well meaning people shoving their "God is good, all the time!" type sentiments at me. Rare, but precious, were those who would just allow me to experience and feel what I was feeling. The anger, the hurt, the sadness, the mourning... the whole experience, albeit not pleasant by any means, is natural and cathartic. Maybe it's our culture in America, maybe it's our Christian culture, but a lot of people try to deny that natural grieving process and replace it with their feel good religion. I'll never forget my best friend's mom who simply told me "It's okay to cry" and let me when I said goodbye to my best friend. I'll never forget my parents who simply cried with me during the days in the hospital when I wanted to give up hope.

Of course encouragement has it's place, and it's natural to want to do or say something to help those you love who are hurting. But there are times when you need to "weep with those who weep" and keep the "all things work for good" verses for another time. Presence is everything.

When Job's three friends... heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Job 2:11-13

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Japanese Doctor Experience

Today I experienced what I hoped I would avoid for the duration of my time in Japan, but I think it was pretty good of me to hold off on having to visit the doctor for over 8 months. I've felt like I've had the stomach flu since about last Thursday (except for about 24 hours of feeling better for church). With my history of stomach issues, I decided yesterday I should ask my boss if they'd help me to go the doctor. They were super nice and arranged for me to miss work and go to the doctor today, as well as letting me go home early yesterday and rest.
So this morning I go up and the secretary of my section, Ishii-san, and I went to the hospital. I had heard of people having interesting experiences at Japanese doctors, so I was not excited about this at all. But to my surprise, my doctor experience in Japan was remarkably... normal.
First I had to wait, which must be one thing that doctors all over the world have in common. We waited about 1.5 hours, then they did my vital signs and such, and I got to wait again for another 15 minutes to see the doctor. Yesterday when my boss was talking to me about seeing the doctor, he laughed because he said it'd be me and a bunch of old people. And he was right!
Finally my turn came and the Lord provided, because my doctor could speak English. Dr. Taguchi was definitely an answer to prayer. He asked all the right questions (including, "do you have a history of gastro-intestinal problems?" and was kind enough to listen to my life story) and listened to my answers very carefully. When he examined my stomach he said, "Hmm, you have a lot of scars." :) Yep, sure do!
Diagnosis? Hmm, not sure. I will translate whatever he said as "a bug." He prescribed an "infusion" (which means medicine administered through an IV drip), some medicine for my stomach, and rest. I had heard before that the Japanese were big fans of intravenous medicines, but I was hoping it wouldn't be for me today! So after I saw the doctor I spent a little over two hours receiving that treatment. Then I picked up my medicine and went back to the office to tell my bosses how it went. They were surprisingly concerned and kind, so I guess I have to take back any mean thoughts I've had in recent months about the organization I work for. :) I came home and slept for several hours and am feeling alright. My symptoms haven't really been alleviated, but I'm going to give the medicines some more time.
So that was my day and experience at the doctor. Like I said before, it was remarkably normal. And remarkably cheap! My whole experience, including medicines, cost less than $15. Gotta love national health insurance. :) Seriously, though, throughout the whole experience I could see God's provision and blessings. Granted I still don't feel very good, but I can have faith that soon I will.
So please keep me in your prayers. My stomach is sensitive and vulnerable since the trauma of 2003, and it always makes me nervous when it acts up. Feeling sick throws me back into many memories and emotions that I'd rather forget. And of course when you're sick and far from home, you just want your mommy. :) So I'm feeling some homesickness, too. Thank you for your prayers. Have a blessed week.

UPDATE 5-11-05
I went to school today because I felt somewhat better this morning, and after eating a breakfast and lunch of saltine crackers I felt completely better! Although I have a monster-ugly bruise on my arm from the IV, I am feeling wonderful. Praise the Lord! And thank you for your prayers and encouragement!
PS- No, no accupuncture this time. :)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all those mothers, grandmothers, aunts, or female caregivers who read the blog. I hope that today you feel valued, appreciated, and loved. God bless you for the work you do and the love you give.

But today I would like to especially honor the mom in my life. :)

My mom has been through a lot throughout her motherhood with me, from illnessness and hospital stays to broken hearts and low, low times. She rejoiced with me and cried with me. She has supported me in my crazy dreams that usually include going far away, whether it's the strange state of Oklahoma for college, Brazil for summers of mission work, or Japan for a job. My mom taught me how to encourage, serve, and love. And I still have a lot left to learn from her. I love you, Mom, and wish so much that I could be there to hug you in person today. Thank you for everything. Words aren't enough.

Flowers for my mommy

Posted by Hello

Friday, May 06, 2005

Democrats Shown the Door at Church

This story is very disturbing. Granted, it's obvious the pastor is a nut job who was willing to actually publicly kick several members of his congregation to the curb for not supporting George Bush, and I honestly don't think many church leaders would go that far. However, I have been known to underestimate the insanity of many people (specifically Christians and republicans... ha ha, that's just a joke... sort of :) ).
Anyway, the point to this post is that I think the religious/political environment in America has become way too blended lately. I've never heard from the pulpit that I should come forward and repent for not being in line with G-Dub, but I've heard pretty close. That is such a shame.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Guilty Pleasure

I need to just come out with it. Maybe if I admit my weakness then others can help me. :) I am only a little embarrassed to admit that reading blogs is one of my hobbies. Yeah, it's a little nerdy, but lots of people do it so it's generally acceptable. Most of the blogs I check can be found to the right, and those are generally of high quality in both thought and grammar. However, I must admit that my "hobby" sinks to another level. Okay... I'll just say it.

I peruse the Oklahoma Christian Xanga Blogring.

Whew. :::weight off my chest::: Perhaps I should further explain this, so that you don't get the wrong impression. I don't read all the blogs. But over time there are certain screen names that have caught my eye and I like to check on them occasionally. The majority of those I read are people who I vaguely knew in college. However some I read just because it's like watching a train wreck-- you can't help it. Whether it's the spelling, grammar, or drama of it all, something just draws you in. :)

So there you go. My guilty pleasure. I am certainly not advising anyone else do the same. If anything I should be asking for help to stop this unhealthy habit. :)

For the record, I think that Blogger is infinitely cooler than Xanga. Who needs e-props, anyway? :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Golden Week Reunion

Whenever I stop and think about how many of my good friends I have here in Japan with me, I cannot fathom how blessed I am. Today several of us who were close in college got together to have lunch and just be together. With all of our work schedules it is difficult to get together at the same time, so we like to take advantage when we can. It was a great day and reminded me of how blessed I am through my friends. Jehovah jireh!

Blake, Peter (doing his impression of a Japanese girl) , Sharon

Chisato, Tomoko, Izumi

Reunion May 2005

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Low-down in H-town

I feel like I've been a bad blogger because I haven't really been updating on what's been going on. Well here you go. The reader's digest version of my very eventful past few days.

Last Friday and this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are all national holidays. This string is called "Golden Week" in Japan. I took today (Monday) off, so I am enjoying a week of vacation.
Last Friday I went to the All Japan Worship in Omika, which was great. It was a wonderful opportunity for Christians from around the country to get together to fellowship and encourage each other. I am already looking forward to next year!
I spent last weekend in Mito trying to make up for my absence during the month of April. It was great to be able to visit with my friends who recently moved here, as well as "old friends" who are the reason I've made it this long in Japan.
Today I had the nice treat of friends making the trek to the northernlands to visit me! Peter and Sharon came to Hitachi and we had a fun day going to the beach and to a park. It was fun to show off my city a little (although those two things are pretty much the only things I could show off :) ). Then tonight I went to a high school Bible study and karaoke party with my Taga church folk.
Oh-- but the fun of Golden Week isn't over yet! Tomorrow promisese to be filled with friends and fun as well. But I'll let you know about that after it happens. Hope you're all doing well. Drop me a line sometime. Love y'all.