« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

May 30, 2007

Mit den besten Wünschen*

despite T.T. being in a neck brace and having a very impressive shark bite on his left shoulder, we made it to Germany for his brother’s wedding this past weekend. It was a good time had by all, despite the parents of the groom arriving late (completely normal) and the twin flower girls sobbing their brains out instead of scattering petals down the aisle (most likely also completely normal, as anyone who’s attended a wedding anywhere that involves small children can attest to).

it was nice to recognise a lot of people this time and be better able to converse with them. it's painful to stumble along with bad grammar, but as i tell my ESL students, if you're understood, that's the most important thing. in any case, T.T. and i ran a "photo booth" where we took Polaroids of each guest holding up a large picture frame around their heads. the reception was in an old rambling building with a big cobbled courtyard and a fountain in the center, so some of the backgrounds were quite nice. then the photos were stuck in an album and the guest signed good wishes underneath.
other highlights: the guests singing Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" at the top of their lungs, in heavy German accents, having no idea what they are singing. someone asked me "please, what is 'real six string?'" then there was the stinky cheese course (served around 11:30pm because people are hungry again after all that beer & wine) which then becomes stinky cheese breath people who lean in really close to try to understand your bad German. sigh. oh, did i mention the gay couple deciding to teach the 60+ year olds how to waltz to the song "It's Raining Men?" classic.
Germans apparently love to set things on fire (I could tell you stories for days) and weddings are no exception. of course it’s a rainy enough country, and there aren't regulations, so it seems to be totally legal to set off huge fireworks about 25 ft. away from the guests, or to attach sparklers to helium balloons, light the sparklers, and release the balloons. while it is beautiful to see the night sky filled with floating sparkly lights, it is less fun when the wind blows a bunch into a tree or into someone's head (no harm was done in either case).
we finally escaped at around 2:30 am, after a huge thunderstorm at midnight soaked the entire village. the biggest latenight partiers? all the new moms and dads with small babies, who slept on in a back room while the DJ -- a local celebrity -- kept spinning songs. you should see them shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture... yeah, I joined in on that song.

further plans for the next week include seeing a bike race here as part of the big Dudenhofen Asparagus Festival and maybe a castle or two. We’ll head to Cologne to see the bride & groom before they leave on their honeymoon, and visit an aunt. A day-trip to Baden-Baden should be fit in the scehdule, as will be a pilgrimage to Randersacker, a village outside Würzburg, where T.T. was born and lived until junior high. By the way, his shoulder is doing okay; he just feels so out of place in his own body. completely understandable.
well, that’s all for now; tune in next time when HadashiWorld reports back on what it’s like to get naked with a bunch of strangers in a hundred-year-old spa...

* "with the best wishes"

Posted by hadashi at 12:27 PM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2007

shouldering the future

it's been quite an interesting month so far... supposedly May was going to find me gallivanting through Turkey with T.T. on a long-awaited adventure trip, and after we'd had our fill of hookahs and Turkish baths and history and culture and crazy yummy foods, we'd meander southward to T.T.'s family home in Germany, where we'd clean ourselves up and go to his brother's wedding.
but no. life suddenly swerved in another direction, and after screaming and getting carsick and covering my eyes and then realising we didn't crash and die, i thought well, i'd better post to that blog thing of mine.
okay, fine, it's not as super-dramatical as all that, but it sure felt like it while it was happening. long story short, T.T. had a common outpatient procedure done a few months ago that, unbeknownst to us at the time, went horribly wrong. we just thought his left shoulder was taking a long time to heal correctly, and after physical therapy proved useless, and i was watching his shoulder blade migrate alarmingly further and further westward, we started aggressively asking questions. within a few days, after many departments and appointments and doctors and needles and tests and uncomfortable waiting room chairs, the diagnosis was made: a major nerve, the one to his trapezius muscles, had been accidentally severed, and the muscles were badly atrophied. initially, he was told that there was nothing to be done, he'd never swim again, his rotator cuff would eventually wear out, and by the way, have a nice day. upon more aggressive questioning, we discovered that a neural reconstructive surgery could maybe, just maybe partially fix the damage, but it would have to be done as soon as possible. as in within the week.

so airplane tickets were cancelled, hotels were unbooked, calls were made, e-mails were sent, papers signed, and before i knew it, T.T. was being connected up to beeping things and dripping things and breathing things and then bye, honey! wheeled off into a operating room. he was on the table for over five hours, and then spent most of the night violently barfing in my arms from all that anesthesia. his entire left neck and shoulder were covered with giant white bandages that, in the low light of the hospital room, looked like a painter's canvas, except all the red and purple and blue was underneath it, invisible for now.
of course i cried. of course i was frightened, as i sat in that chair by his bed, watching the I.V. drip and his closed eyes fluttering. but i also thought of all the horrible other reasons i could be sitting next to my husband in a hospital bed -- cancer, a car wreck, an incurable disease, random violence -- and i was thankful for the relatively huge amounts of knowledge we had as to what would happen next, as to his status and eventual recovery. i thought of all the women who have sat vigil by beds, as their husbands or children or parents or neighbours or friends fought through the long night; i thought: i am one of them now, one of the ones who believes that by the grace of God and the sheer force of my love and my hand in his, everything will be all right.
and everything has been all right. to a certain extent, of course. i mean, the first days out of the hospital were rough -- he has limited mobility, he can't sleep well, and the smallest things exhaust him. but each day he's gained in strength and more importantly, in sense of humour, and the surgeons are incredibly optimistic to the point of enthusiasm as to the success of the operation. we won't know if the nerve graft will really work for another six months (an eternity to the less patient, such as, well, people like us) and he has to wear a soft neck brace for a month. the incision is enormous; 10 winding inches of stitching and surgical glue and blood. "darn!" said T.T. to the doctor when the dressings were removed today, revealing the snakelike cut. "i can't sell this as a shark bite! what were you thinking?"

so now we're just waiting. waiting, and hoping, and praying. but you know what? it's an easy burden for us to shoulder (even with T.T. having only one, ha ha). it's being carried with us, not just by God, but by all those who have shown us His grace; by the dozens of friends and family and friends who are like family that came rushing in from every corner when this whole crazy ordeal began. the most amazing thing about life recently has been this rediscovery of our community, the many people who make up the tapestry of our life, who have configured themselves into a safety net for us, one that we can trust to hold under extreme pressure. the calls, the e-mails, the food, the gifts, the offers of help, the prayers - -oh, the prayers! all these expressions of support have been like fireworks; little explosions of beautiful brightness against the darkness of The Unknown Future. we are unbelievably, humbly grateful.

it's like the Fourth of July around here.

Posted by hadashi at 5:44 PM | Comments (0)