Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dermatologist

well after that post, I am just in the blogging mood, so I won't make you wait for the Dermatologist visit post. I know my family will be excited about that.

So my boss's wife recommended a dermatologist for me to visit. I called and made an apt, and was able to be seen the next week. I arrive in the building and take the elevator to the 5th floor, just before the doors close a mom and daughter also jump in. Turns out we are going the same place. But, since they got on the elevator first, they were the first ones out, the first ones in the waiting room, the first to talk to the receptionist, and therefore the first to be seen by the doctor. Which could have been annoying, but I had a book with me that I was excited about reading. (What am I reading? I am glad you asked!)

Right now I am reading: "Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times" by Margaret Nydell. I found this on the bookshelf where I am living now. It was been good to read this book and see yes, it is not just me the last year and a half, this is just is how the culture works! And then learn tips for Westerns living among Arabs. For instance, Westerns usually think of a friend as someone whose company they enjoy. A friend can be asked for a favor or for help if necessary, but it is considered poor form to cultivate a friendship primarily for what can be gained from that person, or their position. Among Arabs, a friend is also someone whose company one enjoys. However, equally important to the relationships is the duty of a friend to give help and do favors to the best of his or her ability. The book then goes on to explain then that when an Arab friend asks for a favor, if you say no, that is rude and harmful to the friendship and may even make the friend question whither or not you are friends. The much better response then is to say you will try or see what you can do, or even commit, and then later express that you were not able to complete the favor. This way it appears you tried. And because this is an honor/shame culture, they will not ask you why, because the reason could bring shame to you if the reason was you were incapable. This is great to know, when I have Arab friends, and it explains some of their behavior that I did not understand before. She also has a great chapter explaining Anti-Americanism, and how America misunderstands it. I haven't finished the book, but I would recommend it.

So I am waiting in the waiting room, reading my book, while the receptionist takes care of the mom and daughter ahead of me. Then she asks for my name. I spell it--and she still writes it down wrong. Then she needs my father's name. They have a different filing system here that uses people's father's names, because people don't have middle names here, and if they do 90% of the time it is their father's name. For more info read the Understanding Arabs Book, there is a great section about this. And finally she writes down my year of birth all on a scratch pad. Then she starts clicking away on her laptop. I assume she is putting me into their computer system. A few minutes later she asks me a question, I can't remember what, but I go to her desk, and discover that the whole time....... she has been looking me up on FACEBOOK!! haha. So she asks if the first picture is me, which it is. And her first comment after doing a double take is "You have lost weight!" My profile picture that she is looking at is less than 3 weeks old!

Augh, for some reason, people feel the need here to tell you if you have gained or lost weight in between seeing you! I still don't fully understand it. It's not like we don't have mirrors or scales that tell us these things. And it is not that they are trying to compliment you, because just as often as they tell you have lost weight they say you have gained weight. I need this book to explain this to me. (I left this out in the "eat fish and swim post, but Natalie told me that I looked thinner in my swimsuit. And that I should wear clothes that looked better on me! (ie, tighter) I took this as a compliment. Here I have to wear modest somewhat baggy clothes, so I guess it is good, that she thought I was thinner than I looked.)

So back to the dermatologist waiting room, I told the receptionist to add me as a friend. I started to wonder if I could be missing an opportunity of a new friend if I read my book instead of talking to the receptionist. That could even be the reason why the mom and daughter were before me. So I talked to her about her nieces and how expensive things were in that area of town.

Then it is my turn to see the doctor. In her office, she puts me into her computer system--not real sure what the point of the receptionist is at this point. She asked me how I heard about her, and I told her through my boss's wife (Ann King*), and the doctor gets excited and asks if she moved away. She has a paper that she has meant to give to her for a year, but has not gotten ahold of her by phone. Then looking through a file folder on her desk she retrieves a paper, no this is (Amberly King*). Do you know her? I have never meant Amberly, but I have heard Ann talk about her sister-in-law Amberly who also lives overseas and has visited several times. And it would make since for her to visit doctors here, since they are some of the best in the region, so I say, yes, I know Amberly, and explain the sister-in-law of my boss's wife connection. The doctor was very excited at this and took the page out of the folder, sealed and stamped it in an envelope as confidential and then gave it to me. You tell me: what are the chances of this in the US?! Never, right?! After the visit I called my Ann and yep, Amberly had visited the dermatologist more than a year before! small world, I guess. So I passed on the envelope, never even peeked, I mean it was stamped and all!

The whole Amberly incident didn't make me question the doctor's capabilities though. She seemed very intelligent and had a name tag from the local American University, so I am sure she is well educated and a good dermatologist. So she examined me. What my hair stylist freaked out about was not even a mole, but a collection of blood vessels that I were assured were nothing to be worried about. She froze off a few little bitty warts on my knee. And then prescribed me some meds for acne. I never had acne very bad at all before I moved here, but it has flaired up since I moved. She said it was not the water here, which I had been told could have been a cause. She prescribed an oral med and a creme the same prescription. I corrected her at my name spelling on the prescription, and she said that it really didn't matter---I didn't want to get the the drug store and them refuse to fill it or anything---little did I know about the pharmacy here!

Before I get the prescriptions filled, I do some online research. I have heard bad things about some acne meds so I don't want to take anything with bad side effects. I discovered that this was a light antibiotic, so it was fine.

The next day I went to the pharmacy and they were out of the oral and the creme. She told me that they could get me the creme the next day inshallah (lord-willing) or the day after. I read between the lines and though maybe someday next week they will have it. They were also out of the oral med. So I went to pharmacy #2. Thankfully there are pharmacies everywhere here! They had the oral, but not the creme. The oral was only $7-$8. Prescription drugs are cheap here. And most of the time you don't even need a prescription for them. They did not even take my prescription or mark off that I had it filled! So on the way home I stopped off at pharmacy #3 still looking for the creme, and no luck. Then when I got home I realized that she just gave me a box of the oral med at pharmacy #2 and it only had 10 pills in it, and I was supposed to take 1 a day for 2 months! So later that night when I was out for a friend's birthday, we stopped in a pharmacy to buy gum, and I asked about the prescriptions again. They had the oral at pharmacy #4 although when I wanted to get 5 boxes to last for 2 months they only had 4, but gave them all to me. They didn't have the creme. So now, inshallah, next week I can go back to pharmacy #1 and pick up the creme. I am waiting to start the oral until I can do the creme at the same time. Although, these drugs can make you sunburn easier, so it would probably be wise not to take them when I am in Greece!!! yay, I leave in 10 days. So maybe I will wait till I return to start taking the meds, inshallah, that should be enough time to find the creme somewhere, inshallah!

Hair cut: (The Dermatologist prequel)

okay, so this story actually starts 2 weeks ago when I went to get my hair cut. I have attempted to get my hair cut at least 4-5 times since I have lived here, but it has not really worked out, and at the first sign that it might not work out, I chickened out. Curly hair is very common here, and the people here are very beautifully put together (cough*vain*cough). So I should not be afraid, but I have had some bad haircuts in my life, and really wanted to make sure that I would get someone who would know what she was doing.

So, one of my friends and her mom were getting their hair cut one afternoon, and decided to go with them. This friend has wavy hair, and is a great English speaker, so I knew that 1)they lady should be capable, and 2)my desired cut could be communicated correctly. I just wanted a trim. Living here for 1.5 years without cutting my hair, it has grown long, and I really like it. Some of the ladies here have gorgeous long dark curly hair, and I have turned into a wanna-be, I guess!

The lady trimmed it, but suggested that I cut the front a little shorter so that it would fade to the length in the back. But on the first cut in the front I held my breath as she cut 6 inches (I am NOT exaggerating!!) So then I started praying (also not kidding!). For those of you without curly hair, when my hair is wet it is long. As it dries it springs up--which is why my hair looks shorter latter in the day than the morning. (It has taken me years to learn curly taming skills!) So when you cut my hair it looks longer than it is, and then I lose like 2-3 inches as my hair dries. Oh, and some hairs are curlier than others, so there are always a couple straggling ringlets that I have to trim a second time later, because they hang lower than the rest of my hair. So what she said was a fade is now like a steep incline! Thankfully she cut very little off the length in the back.

Anyways, she straightened my hair after she cut it. Which I love! I only do it a couple times a year, because it is so much work. Here though because of the 90% humidity. My straight hair lasts only 45 minutes to an hour. And then it is wavy (which is still cute!) and that will last 2 days till I wash it. So as she was straightening it, my friend's mom (who I really love. I even gave her a mom's day present in the Spring) starts oohing and ahhing over my straight hair. Afterward, we had a miniphoto session in the salon. The stylist was telling me how to pose while mom took pics on her cell phone. Mom even told me that I had to stop by her office building on the way home and get a picture made with my straight hair for her. She insisted, even after I tried to get out of it with the excuse that I didn't have any make-up on. It had all melted off in the blow-drying straightening process. (the stylist took at least 2 breaks in the process to wipe sweat from her face with a tissue!)

So I loved my hair straight, but now that I have washed it, and it has curled back up the front is a little too short (it comes to my mouth and is just barely long enough to tuck behind an ear), and she cut alot of it short, and didn't leave as much long as I wanted. Self consciously, I feel like it is a grown out mullet look, although friends assure me it is not.

I don't have any good pics yet or I would post them. Those are coming soon. Wow, this is a long post and I have not even gotten to the reason for the dermatologist visit which was supposed to be the subject of this post. Please bear with me a little further. Sorry dad and any guys that you had to read all about boring girls hair.

So in the midst of cutting my hair, the stylist stops, because her fingernail ran across a mole on my scalp. She very animatedly proceeded to tell me that I should have it removed because it could break off and get sucked into my brain and possibly kill me. She said that moles below the chest were fine, around the neck was sorta dangerous, but on my head was very dangerous. Then mom starts telling her story about getting a mole removed once. (this is a typical living overseas/difference in culture, and medical practices example. Ask anyone who has lived overseas and I am sure they can list all the medical advice they were freely given which is not true. Like ac or cold water making you sick, or a personal favorite: in Turkey I was told if I sat on the cold concrete patio I would not be able to have children--in the summer heat I took the risk and sat on the cool concrete!)

Back to this story though: I have known I had this mole since I was little, but I had not thought about it as a problem, it is hidden by a lot of hair. Anyways, so after this incident, I decided to look at it for the first time--which involved several mirrors and then a digital camera. haha. And I realized that it was oddly colored red. I had an RN friend and her visiting mother, who she called sorta a mole expert look at it and they suggested that I have it looked at. So I made an apt with a dermatologist. And that is the set-up for my next blog post which will be the visit to the dermatologist this last week.

(As I write this, I am wondering if moles are a taboo subject? Do we talk about them in America? Is it gross that I am writing about them? I mean everyone has them, so it must be okay, right? Also are warts okay to talk about? I need to know about this for my next post.)

Okay, now after proofing my blog post, I wonder if I write poorly. I rarely finish a thought without interrupting it with another thought in a parenthesis (kinda wonder if this is annoying, or makes the story hard to follow?). This would not fly in English class, but this is a blog not English class, so inshallah (Lord-willing) it is okay. One of my pet-peeves about myself is when I don't finish my sentences. It is a bad habit that I do way too often. Even yesterday I caught myself saying, "maybe up on that hill over there, we can ...." instead of a complete sentence "once we arrive at that hill, we can look around, and I can tell if I have been here before." This could be attributed to being an introvert and lots of times we don't vocalize thoughts, comments, or ideas, because we think others won't care or they are not important. I need to work on this. Wow! so that is a whole other topic for a whole other blog post. I was just wondering if using parenthesis to insert little comments, is like speaking in incomplete sentences. (hmmm....)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

ANTS in my ......

okay, now to the post I indeed to make yesterday before I realized that I had not shared my "eat fish and swim" story.

ANTS have invaded! Last weekend I woke up to ants coming out of my laptop! I had left my laptop on the coffee table in the living room overnight. Not the typical place to find ants. After killing at least 20 mini ants, and using an can of air on the keyboard, the ants still crawled out of the keyboard! I did a little research online and it looks like some ants are actually attracted to warm electronics! weird?! I know! So I bought some ant pesticide powder. But I didn't want to just sprinkle it on the coffee table, so I put it in a bottle cap. Not sure if it is working. I used a brand called Baygon. Is that used in America too? Umm, I don't think it is working, or maybe I did not use it right, cause there are still ants on the coffee table. I was reminded of this the other day, because I woke up and realized that I had forgotten to put my computer on the dining room table (which lhumdillia has remained ant free!), I left it on the coffee table and it was once again infected with ants!! I killed over a dozen again!

Any suggestions?

And to the wonderful people who are letting me stay in their house for these last 6 months, who happen to also read this blog: I am sorry that I have let ants invade your house. I will do my best to get rid of them before your return! sorri :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Come, eat fish and swim!

I have gotten kinda bad at updating the blog. I can't believe it has been almost a month since I updated--and it has been a busy few weeks! This is one story that I intended to post from July 3! So I will do this now and then write what I was going to write about for today.

So one Friday night, I was on facebook, and my friend Natalie started chatting with me and asked me what I was doing on Saturday. I didn't have any real plans, so she invited me to go with her and her friend to "eat fish and swim!" It was going to be fun and we would do it in the cultural traditional way, she explained. Well, how could I resist that?! So we worked out the plan for me to take a bus to a city an hour south of where I live--that is where he parents live and she lives there on the weekends. She would pick me up from the bus station and then we would go "eat fish and swim!" Just for you outsiders-the $1 bus did not have ac or comfy chairs, but it did have open windows carrying a nice salty breeze and a great view of the Sea--and it all its blue hues (some days it has a least 5 different blue hues!)

The bus trip went fine, and Natalie picked me up then we went to go pick up her friend Hussein. By the time he was ready the fresh fish market was about to close, so we settled for the fresh fish flown in from Turkey at the local grocery store. You go and pick out which fish you want (there are 20+ varieties) and they clean the fish for you-which is nice! And of course this area of the store had a very fishy smell. So we got 2 kinds of fish and shrimp!

Then we headed to a second town, even further south. This town has a special area, called camel-although I am not sure why it is called camel. (It has long been joked that here there are only 1.2 camels in this country--at one of the famous tourist places just to keep the stereotype of camels in the middle east alive for tourists.) Anyways, to get to camel, you go through narrow, windy, 1 lane roads that cars drive in both directions on. But when you arrive the area is full of small family restaurants on the Sea, from which you can swim. So we chose one of the less crowed places, so they could cook our fish faster. It was past 2 by this point so we were hungry! While we waited we swam.

Then the food came:
first came the shrimp:

and then the fish!

They also ordered some traditional appetizers. We had hummus, baba gnanoush (pretty much hummus, but made from eggplant), fattoush (salad), french fries, and grilled eggplant with a pomegranate sauce that I loved! when you grill eggplant, it gets this savory texture and then with sweet pomegranate sauce it was sooo good. I didn't get a pic of the last kind of fish but it was also deep fried whole with head and tail still attached!

After lunch, we rented jet skis by the minute. Natalie and I rode ours for 10 minutes and I got to drive for half of it! It was so freeing to go whatever direction I wanted to go and as fast as I wanted and to hit the waves! I don't drive here so it was kinda nice to be in control of a vehicle for a little bit.

Close to sunset, we settled our bill. I think it was about $20 for lunch--which is the same price just to get into some of the beaches around here, and we got a great meal with our beach day!

On the way home, we had to take an alternate route, because fans of Germany were celebrating their 4-0 World Cup game win! Seriously, there were teenage guys on scooters with flags and cars parading with people hanging out with German flags. And we were leaving an hour after the game had finished! We made it back to Natalie's home, where I met her mom. Her brother was there and was going to give me a ride back to my house in my city, because he was going there anyways to watch another World Cup game with his friends. But first we had to all sit and talk and have their Filipina maid serve us juice and a snack first-which is culturally appropriate.

I got home almost 12 hours after I left from a full, but yet relaxing day! I should "eat fish and swim" more often!