Medicaments and Predicaments

Following on from “Motorbikes, Mysogynists and Mayhem”, I have one further “M” to add, “medical conditions”!

The tropical climate has had a very positive effect on our health and well being in many ways.  Ben and Zach’s eczema has completely disappeared, as has their and Rich’s asthma.  Rich’s “Concorde taking off-like” snoring has also abated after 10 long sleep deprived years (for me, not him!) so I now getting a better night’s sleep than I have  had in years.  So girls, if your man’s nightly rumblings have been making your nights a misery for years the answer is simple – move to the tropics! (With or without them!!)

It goes without saying that when children move to a new area (even just a new school) they are visited by a host of new bugs so of course here has been no exception.  As well as a few expected upset tums we have also so had our share of:

Nits: the children’s blonde hair is such a novelty here that they have become little local celebs.  The downside is everyone wants to take off their hats and try them on, ruffle the locks of the local “rubios” (blondes) and plonk their infested hats back on!  Fortuntately, one of the (many) sister-in-laws of our new adopted family is a hairdresser and lives next door.  So a combination of very short hair (for the boys), a quick dose of her potent shampoo and my “never leave home without it Nitty Gritty comb” and they are quickly eradicated.

Pinworms: fairly standard for the kids here due to less than fantastic hygiene practises – e.g.  no soap or hot water at the school (often no water at all) but again quickly eradicated with a few doses of grated carrot, papaya seeds and local brew.  They are completely harmless so no problem.

Piles: had to learn the Spanish word very quickly but fortunately the English word with a Spanglish accent does just fine at the local pharmacy; “Crema por los haemarroidos por favor!”

Gastric Ulcer: Now how’s this for an irony? One of the reasons we made this lifestyle change was to significantly reduce Richard’s stress levels.  Well, as he swings in his hammock on the balcony waiting for his washing to dry, I am tearing my hair out  at the school and the result is that my stress levels have shot off the chart and I now have a gastric ulcer!  Been suffereing in the gastric department in all sorts of ways for a while but a combination of the fantstic weekend that everyone else had at the villa being  a washout for me (all weekend in bed) plus 5 days off work  finally prompted me to see a doctor.  He was extremly nice but he had no English and with my 7 week old very dodgy Spanish the result could have been anything from a nose job to an apendectamy.  The consultation was mildly amusing.  Whilst lying on the examination table he commanded me to “Inspire.”  Does he want me give a rousing speech in the manner of Martin Luther King or Ghandi or simply breathe in?  This was followed by  the next high volume command of “Expire”.  Breath out or simply fall off the table and end it all?!

The discharge form form the hospital is also quite strangely worded.  A rough translation is:

Upon leaving the hospital is the patient:

a) in a better condition than when he/she arrived

b) in the same condition

c) dead

Guess they have their quotas to meet!

Lots of pills and a £200 bill later (which was far more painful than the ulcer!) and the ulcer has just about gone.  My new strategy for dealing with the unruly is kids is, instead of sending the worst offenders out of class, I simply walk out myself!  It’s far more effective and extremely liberating.  I just go and sit beneath a shady palm and the kids all come after me in surprise and beg me to go back!  It’s really very difficult to describe what the school is like, seeing really is believing!  But I am the only remaining teacher of the 4 of us who started in September and will stick it out, ulcers or not!

On a positive note, the Cafeteria has been relocated to the front of the school away from the classrooms.  Zach  is most peturbed that there is now a large, imprenetrable gate between him and the “Sweetie Man” but at least  his teeth might be safe for a while longer.  At my suggestion they have started to sell fruit and milk (Big Change is all about Small Steps, right?) although it is mostly shielded from view by the unfreezable fizz, the sausages made from the gizzards of who-knows-what and the donuts.  We’ll leave the remerchandising the Cafeteria as a job for the future!

Inspite of a few little medical hiccups, we are all absolutely loving our new life and I am really happy to report that Ben is playing basketball twice a week, Ben and Matt have joined a local chess club (they got asked go to Santo Domingo – the capital city, to play in a Chess tournament after their first visit!)  Katie and Zach go to a an afterschool craft class a couple of times a week so we are starting to really feel part of the community.  The children are all picking up Spanish slowly (but much quicker than their parents!) and are starting to talk about “their friends” which is simply  music to our ears.

Sending you love, sunshine and blue skies as always.


  1. Ted & Liz says:

    I sent this to P & D, phoned to see if they received it but no reply either by phone or email. Alison, you have trouble teaching, join the club.

  2. Juliet says:

    Love reading all about your adventure!

  3. caroline britton says:

    And the adventures continue, makes for great reading!
    Caroline x

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