Friday, February 24, 2012

Apparently Cerebral Hemispheres Take Sabbaticals…

…and when the hemisphere in question is the left, the right takes charge and invents a clever metaphor for total lack of common sense—like, say, half of a brain on vacation.  So, my right brain has been a live wire of firing synapses while my left has a solo cricket serenade on a loop.  As it turns out, brains function better when left intact.
For the past couple of weeks, my creativity has been overwhelming, to the extent that I am actually irritated.  Losing sleep because I still haven’t come to terms with living in the Caribbean is one thing, but to lose sleep because I want to paint an image that features an origami crane is senseless.  In the last fifteen days, I have painted six original watercolors.  My attempts to wring out the creative spasms by flying through canvases have been entirely ineffective.  Even now I consider the brilliant new wash of colors I’ll use on my next piece.

Most of my friends and family know that I paint; but surely they know I don’t paint this much.  The urge to break out the brushes happens about twice a year.  I paint a picture; usually I give it away; then I’m creatively exhausted for a span of four to six months.  But now I’m being rocked by this insatiable need to create.  The need is not driving me to my usual photo recreation specialty, either; instead, I am caught up in a surrealistic and abstract chaos.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The True Meaning of Valentine's Day...

…may have been lost on the orphans of Queen Elizabeth Monday afternoon.  Frankly, its meaning is lost on me as well.  I know the truly pessimistic label Valentine’s Day as another victim of consumerism, represented by roses and doves and pastel hearts printed with cryptic sentiments.  The romantics and idealists, meanwhile, glorify the holiday, which would not be complete without fairytale passion and roses and doves and pastel hearts printed with cryptic sentiments.  Being too pragmatic for either viewpoint, Ivan and I prefer to spend the day together, neither buried in chocolate truffles, diamonds and bouquets, nor withholding our sentiments in defiance of the holiday.  We consider it a shade more important than the day it’s preceding, yet a shade less significant than our anniversary.
Whatever the true meaning, it may or may not include traces of the lesson being taught to the children on Monday.  In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the Significant Others (SOs) planned a visit packed with activities.  First, a stack of pale pink, rosy red and violet construction paper emerged from a pack of supplies.  Then bags of scissors, glue sticks, crayons and markers delivered themselves to the children’s outstretched hands.  Valentines were created up and down the two tables as centerpieces of paper scraps accumulated.  Each child was encouraged to convey their affection and appreciation to teachers, caretakers and SOs by offering handmade valentines in celebration of this holiday.  For many children, this was a special reminder of who they hold dear.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Symptom Saga Continues...

…with yet another visit to the doctor.  Friday morning I was at the SGU clinic per my doctor’s request.  It was the third follow-up since my original visit.  Here’s how the appointments usually run: I sign in and wait and wait and wait; twenty minutes after the clinic has opened, the doctor shows up; twenty-five minutes after the doctor shows up, I am called in to see him; he confirms again that I am not experiencing any joint pain (because he clearly desperately wants to just diagnose dengue fever and be done with it); he examines the wheals that are not dissuaded by medication; he pulls another diagnosis out of a hat, writes up another prescription, schedules a follow-up, and sends me on my way.

I would have put a stop to these consultations if I were being charged.  As it is, I’ve only paid for the first visit and a little sliver of altruism keeps me going back because I know I’m giving the doc an educational trial and error challenge in the tricky field of dermatology.  Maybe my enigmatic symptoms will land me in a medical journal.

Friday morning I’m back at the clinic.  The steroids prescribed one week earlier are gone and I am almost out of the antihistamines as well.  Yet persistent red blots creep along my legs and arms.  Happily, I find them to be nothing more than an aesthetic nuisance—ugly, yes, but not unbearably itchy.

The doctor prods at them with his fingertips, watching my skin’s coloration change at the pressure.  Then he leans back in his chair, intertwines his fingers behind his head, purses his lips and furrows his brow.  Classic confusion.  For a brief moment I think to myself, Awesome.  I stumped a doctor!  How cool!  Then the logic sets in, Oh wait.  That’s a bad thing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Child is a Child...

…no matter where you are.  Regardless of culture, upbringing or nationality, children are wont to be children.  In whatever ways I am left confused, amused, or even alarmed by the locals, I am comfortable with the children.  They don’t hide their longing for attention, and in this respect, they are like every child I have ever met.  Whether blatantly obvious (“Look at me, Miss!  Look!  Look!”) or more subtle (an extravagant cartwheel, an error-free homework assignment), their motives are to captivate you.  Every little praise and admiration paid to a child is like a test of their ability to shine brighter.  And as their timid smiles bloom into confident laughter, so they earn that admiration over and over again.

I have been won over by the children of Grenada.  In truth, I put up little—if any—struggle against their charms.  How graciously they have accepted me, despite our mutually reserved first encounters.  Even though I am still somewhat reserved compared to my more energetic cohorts, still a child or two is happy to have me for company.

My Monday routine now includes a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Home for Children in Tempe, St. George.  There I, along with a group of enthusiastic Significant Others (SOs), volunteer two late-afternoon hours engaging the children in school assignments, sports, reading, and fun.
At the orphanage

Before being allowed to play outside, the children are required to complete any homework.  With the help of the SO Support Squad, though, homework’s a breeze!  Or at least it seems breezy to me.  Unfortunately, not all of the children find reading and mathematics as endeavors worthy of their focus, particularly when half of the children don’t have homework and are outside playing.  Even with the distraction, the children eventually buckle down and their two-plus-twos fill workbook pages and voices break apart the phonetics of reading passages.
"A person's a person, no matter how small." -Dr. Seuss

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Caught in a Karma Storm...

…and I forgot my umbrella.  I’m not quite sure what cosmic law I broke which brought about my current misfortune, but I am officially focusing on good deeds in the hopes of reviving my recently clogged stream of good karma.

Realistically, I’m surprised I lasted a month before having some malady or another.  I’m the kind of person whose shoulder spontaneously dislocates the moment my health insurance terminates.  To be honest with myself, it’s about time I got acquainted with the SGU doctors anyway.

Let me start from the beginning and answer whatever questions I may have just evoked.

Last Thursday morning, before heading over to the pool at the University Club, I noticed a small, unalarming rash on my abdomen.  No stranger to heat rashes, I shrugged it off.  That evening, as I described in a previous entry, the single, localized rash had matured into a swollen welt and duplicates were swelling up all over my arms, legs and torso.  The over-the-counter antihistamine I got the next day eased the awful itching that accompanied the welts, but within a couple days their increase in size became concerning.  What was once a collection of coin-sized swollen lumps quickly became long seamless clusters, like angry inflamed continents of skin emerging across my body.

Then, Monday night, between breakouts of furiously itchy hives, I experienced a sudden onset of chest pain.  The pain was not overwhelming and seemed to come from the center of my chest, so I wasn’t concerned enough to complain out loud.  Instead, I mentally made a note of what was becoming an increasing list of symptoms, with the intention of seeing a doctor only if absolutely necessary.

Here’s how I viewed the situation: I’ve had hives before.  They were brought on by an allergic reaction to medicine.  I assume my hives are being caused by an allergy that I have not yet pinpointed.  I’ve had chest pain before.  It was brought on by an unusual amount of stress.  I’ve been pretty stressed out lately, more so recently because of these horrid welts.  I just need to wait this out.