Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tour of Mexico City

Yesterday we took a taxi to our school, Inter Act, to meet our manager, Michael, so that we could take a bus tour of Mexico City togther. We walked the same route that we had originally taken when Mike had his first seizure. And soon enough we passed the butcher shop that Mike had fallen down in front of. We went inside to say hello to the shop manager that had offered his assistance the day of the seizure. Luckily Michael speaks Spanish so we were able to offer our gratitude for all of his help. It was a teary moment for both Mike and myself.

We took the Metro bus to the Metro train and got to experience public transportation for the first time. Wow. It is fast and efficient and the buses operate 24/7. I can´t even remember the cost, but it was VERY CHEAP! It was also crowded, but what an efficient way to mobilize so many people at once.

We walked through el centro and the area in which the national government offices are located. This included a plaza - the world's largest plaza - that can accomodate 300,000 people! The world renowned Nomad Museum is in the plaza through April and since the mayor is footing the bill for all citizens of Mexico City to visit the museum, the line was long!! There were also native Aztec dancers performing in the plaza. Their headpieces were full of beautiful pheasant plumage, but they looked hot and heavy.

From here we hopped on the double-decker tour bus and got to see the sights of Mexico City from the top of the bus. The thing that struck me most is the HUGE park in the city - sorry I don't remember the name - and all of the wonderful, distinctive architecture of many of the buildings. The tour lasted about 3 hours and it was a really great way to see a lot in one day.

We acutally did a lot of walking yesterday and Mike kept up just fine. This morning we have walked from our hotel back to the hospital area and now we are at an internet cafe. I had met a restaurant manager, Eduardo, on one of my walks while Mike was hospitalized and Eduardo relished the opportunity to speak English to a native speaker. So Mike and I are now headed to Eduardo's restuarant for lunch. !Adios¡

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sprung from the Hospital!

FINALLY, Mike is back at the hotel with me. He was released late yesterday afternoon. We grabbed some snacks at Wal-Mart (right next to our hotel and my favorite place to people watch) and later went out to a Chinese-Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. (Chinese-Mexican - who would have thought??)

I'm happy to say that his appetite is strong and his attitude is really good. He is just so happy to have that darn IV outta his arm - and his poor arms are so bruised from IV's. He counted 28 different injection sites!

This morning we went back to Wal-Mart for long sleeved shirts to hide Mike's arms and then we returned to the hospital to pick up a prescription that was not included in our pack of meds. Monday we got back to the hospital for a final check-up, pick up additional meds and then fly home on Tuesday!!!

Tomorrow we're meeting with one of the Inter Act teacher/managers to take that Mexico City bus tour that we were headed for last week when Mike had the initial seizure. We're so excited to finally see some of the city.

Again - thanks to everyone for your emails, posts and bids of goodwill. We sure appreciate it!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mike's Doing Well!

I'm happy to write that the 2nd surgery went very well and Mike is almost back to his normal self. The neurosurgeon spoke with me after the surgery yesterday and confirmed that all went as planned and that there were no complications! The cyst will no longer have any affect on Mike's brain - can you believe that?!

We're hoping that Mike can be released from the hospital either this afternoon or tomorrow - the sooner the better. The poor guy is going stir crazy lying in a hospital bed, peeking out the window now and then.

I, on the other hand, am walking all around the neighborhood. I even found that I can walk from the hotel to the hospital in about 20 minutes - but it takes the taxi drivers about 30 minutes. What's wrong with that picture?? I'm even begun telling the taxi drivers the correct route to take and have reduced the fares! HA

We have heard some first-hand stories about living in Mexico City and the idea of being robbed at gun point on a bus doesn't sound too inviting to me. Or coming out to our truck and having all the wheels stolen would be a shock. But, overall I don't think living here will be much different than living in any large city. We'll just need to pay attention and take it all in stride.

There are so many things I have seen since we've been here, but I haven't been able to write about them yet. Plus, I am having challenges with my laptop so I can't upload any of the pics I have taken. But I'll share those things later...

For now, all is well here in Mexico City!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The 2nd Surgery is Finally Underway

It never ends...

Mike's platelet count improved, but his blood pressure got out of control so the 2nd surgery was postponed.

And then a different neurosurgeon was brought in for a 2nd opinion. Dr. Arroyo doesn't like the catheter to the abdomen idea - too much of a chance for infection. So he wants to run a catheter from the cyst into the jugular vein that goes directly into the heart. Apparently it's a more efficient way to recycle the cyst fluid and it's a better fit for long-term care.

So yesterday Mike relaxed and got his blood pressure all the way down to 120/70, but guess what? The screws they need to attach the plate to the valve/catheter were delivered to the hospital, but they were not titanium and the surgery was called off until titanium screws could be delivered from Monterrey.

Now you can imagine Mike is just about ready to pull out his IV and leave, right?? Well, I spent another night in his room with him, rubbed his feet and we made it through the night and kept his blood pressure down. The screws were delivered at 9:00 am and he's in surgery right now! I should know in a couple of hours if we are on the homestretch back to Seattle!!!

And being in a foreign country we have to pay for all of this medical care out of pocket. I have called upon help from 2 friends - my long-time financial adviser, John, from Dain Rauscher, and our personal mortgage lender and my real estate business lender referral, Sue, from First Horizon Home Loans. I want to give each of them a BIG HUG for helping us in this trying situation. They were both able to bend some rules and get funds to us so that we can pay our bill and come home. THANK YOU SUE AND JOHN!!!

Stay tuned to cintia y miguel en ciudad de mexico...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Surgery #2

Where to start???

The neurosurgeons have determined that they need to perform a second surgery on Mike. They need to insert a catheter into the cyst so that the fluid will drain into his abdomen for the rest of his life, thereby relieving the pressure on his brain.

This is a long-term fix and while we could travel to Seattle and have the surgery done there we prefer to have the same team of the Mexican docs do it. They have been OUTSTANDING and we have complete faith in them. We are concerned that Seattle docs may not have the same faith in the work the Mexican docs have completed...

Depending on Mike's platelet count, the may do the surgery Monday evening. If all goes well he will need an additional 3 days in the hospital for recovery time and then 3 more days at our hotel to rest and FINALLY we will be able to return home.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mike & His Geisha Nurses

I can always tell when Miguel is feeling better...he pays more attention to women...

And he is a lot better today! All follow-up tests indicate the surgery went well. We are just waiting for the go-ahead from the neurosurgeons so he can get out of bed and walk around.

But I'm sure the highlight of Mike's day today was when 2 female nurses stripped him down in bed, washed his hair, and bathed him. Not only did he enjoy the personal attention, he's happy to be cleaned up! (And on a serious note, the nurses were very, very professional and caring. And even though neither of them speak English Mike knew just how to move around for them!)

I stayed back at our hotel last night so I brought Mike's eye glasses and a book about Mexico today. We even practiced our Espanol with each other. He almost has the numbers 11, 12, 13, 14, & 15 memorized...I don't know why those are so difficult for him!

Hopefully, we'll be able to leave for home on Monday. Our dog, Sitka, had to extend her stay at Paradise Pet Lodge, but I'm sure she is getting spoiled everyday!

THANKS for all of the emails and comments on our blog. We appreciate the good thoughts and prayers that are coming our way.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Brain Surgery

I can't actually believe I'm writing this, but here goes...

Mike had a 2nd seizure in the hospital bed on Wed afternoon just before the docs were going to release him. But it was actually a good thing because more tests were done and we found that a cyst is growing on Míke's brain.

The cyst cannot be removed so last night the neurosurgeons inserted a diaphragm into his head so that the fluid could be drained from the cyst and relieve the pressure on Mike's brain. And it is built so that it can be drained again as necessary.

This morning Mike is recovering and all looks good. His white blood cell counts are low, but we may be able to travel home on Monday. The first thing Mike asked for when he woke up was a hamburger and coke and it made the neurosurgeon laugh.

The hospital is called Hospital Plus Med S.A DE C.V. and it is one of the numerous small, neighborhood hospitals around Mexico City. They have never had an American patient with the needs Mike has had and he has been quite a handful! But I have never met such a compassionate group of strangers that struggle with me and the language barrier. They have been just wonderful and I have stayed here the whole time with Mike - either bunking in Intensive Care (just a 1 bed room!) or in his original room upstairs.

And even people in the waiting room have expressed compassion in their best English with kisses on the cheeks. Plus, the TESOL school managers (they are the reason we traveled to Mexico City) have also been very supportive and available for our every need. Plus, it looks like we still have jobs with their school, Inter Act!!

I can't go into all of it now (I'm at an internet cafe trying to take care of business at home since our return was delayed), but I am falling in love with the people of Mexico City. And I must say that I am getting around (and using my Spanish) pretty well all on my own!!

And many, many, many thanks go out to my best friend Cheryl who helped from Seattle with my multiple requests for making phone calls and arrangements while we are away.

Lastly, it looks like a lot of people have viewed our blog since my first post about the seizure so thank you for all of the positive thoughts that have been sent our way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mike's Seizure

It's with great sadness that I write this post.

Mike had a seizure yesterday while we were walking down the sidewalk getting ready to take a bus tour of Mexico City. He is in a hospital right now, but we still may make our original flight home on Thursday.

He is feeling pretty good and he is receiving good medical care. Unfortunately, most of the docs and nurses do not know English so I am doing my best to interpret. Several tests and x-rays have been completed. Mike had a seizure (his first) last August and the docs think that fact, combined with his high blood pressure, and the 1.5 mile altitude of Mexico City may have caused the seizure. His docs in Seattle will need to further investigate.

The managers of Inter Act have been just wonderful in helping us through this ordeal. And all 3 of them know English so they have been very helpful in that regard.

Please keep Mike in your thoughts and let's hope for a speedy recovery.

Monday, March 17, 2008

!Happy St. Paddy's Day from Mexico City!

We made it to Mexico City Sunday afternoon! And so far so good.

Except that we don’t have internet access in our hotel so I haven’t been able to use my laptop. But I found an internet café from which I am posting this message.

And I inadvertently erased a phone message from a Windermere real estate agent that wanted to show our house – I erased it after I wrote down the WRONG number to call him back. And for some reason my cell phone didn’t capture his phone number in my log. Soooo ïf anyone knows “Tom” from Windermere, please tell him to call me back! HA

The managers (a married couple, Rosa and Fernando) of the TESOL school picked us up from the airport and took us out for chips and lemonade before dropping us at our hotel. And this morning they came and got us, took us out to breakfast, and then we went to the school. They interviewed us together and provided a good amount of information regarding both the school, their expectations, and Mexico City. Another teacher (he is also the Mexico City branch manager) then met with us too.

All of them want us to come to work for them! And from what we’ve seen so far we like it. The weather is nice, not hot and humid, and I really like that. The city is HUGE and the traffic is FAST. The people are nice, but we really need to learn more Spanish ASAP!!!

Tomorrow we’ll take a taxi (that should be interesting) to the school to observe the branch manager/teacher teach a class. And then he is going to take us around the city a bit. We are in the “South” section of the city for any of you that are familiar with Mexico City.

!Adios for now, mi amigos!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On our Way to Ciudad de Mexico!

Most people would agree that Mike and I are “action people.” If we say we’re going to do something, WE DO IT! Remember all of you that had your doubts we’d ride our Harley to Sturgis – HA!!

We have been talking to the manager of the Inter Act School in Mexico City and she has provided a lot of information regarding the teaching jobs. It sounds so perfect. We would be teaching adults (18-60 years old) that are learning conversational English to improve their position in their business/company. The classes are small – just 4-5 students per class. The classes meet 3 times a week for 1.5 hours at a time. We each may have 5-10 “groups of students” meeting every week.

But what about living in a city of THIRTY MILLION PEOPLE? That’s not exactly what we had in mind when we decided to move to Mexico. Nevertheless, we are still very interested. Soooo interested that we will be in Mexico City from Sunday through Thursday to check out the school and the living conditions. Can you believe that??

We’ll have someone at the house and it would not surprise me one bit if we got a good offer while we are out of town. All the “seasoned” real estate agents always say that the best way to sell a house is to go on vacation.

Stay tuned…

Monday, March 10, 2008

Job Offers

We received our first JOB OFFERS today! It came from Inter Act Speaking Centers with placement in Queretaro (125 miles north of Mexico City) and in Mexico City. We responded with a request for more info.

We had not considered Mexico City, but the more we think about it…

Does anyone have any info about this company?? If so, please post or send us an email.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I'm embarrassed to post this, but we failed our Intensive Spanish II course. Failed in that we didn't finish the course. We didn't keep up with our homework and we fell too far behind to keep up with the rest of the class.

BUT, we haven't given up! We still practice with each other (and Sitka) and we've been watching soap operas in Spanish (many people have advised us to do this.) Plus, we can continue with the textbook and CD so that we don't lose everthing we've learned so far. And if anyone has any other helpful ideas for us, please let us know! We really think it will be important for us - not so much for teaching English in Mexico - but for becoming a part of the community wherever we end up living.

On another note we have a guy coming up from Montesano tomorrow to check out the Harley Davidson FATBOY. Plus, we have a Harley dealership that is interested if the Montesano guy doesn't work out. We hate to do it, but we have to sell that bike. I'm sure it will be a sad day for Miguel when he sees someone drive off on his baby.

And we're holding our house open this Saturday and Sunday. There has been an increase in recent activity in the Duvall real estate market so hopefully we'll get a good offer soon. Send your friends and family to see our house this weekend!


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Holly Hollow

If my mom was still alive she would be 79 today! Her name was Holly (somehow short for Helen) and she was an adventurer. And that’s probably where I got my spunk.

Holly moved from Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska in the early 1970’s when she was 42 years old. She fished a two-person salmon trawler with her boyfriend and they were very successful!

Holly visited our home in 2001 before she got cancer. And she loved our home so much that we named it Holly Hollow. Mike had a sign made and it hung proudly in our living room.

Here’s to you, Mom...thank you for the spirit of adventure that I'm sure I inherited from you.