Feliz Anniversario

So, if no-one minds, I’m just going to start off this blog pretending that it hasn’t been months since the last post and I’m not appalling at this whole consistency thing.

Ten days ago, we had our first year anniversary of being in Rio. Can you believe it? Yes, it’s been a whole year since we arrived, (or fifteen months for Gavin, as he keeps reminding me.) I’ve mentioned this to a few people here and the question in response seems to be: “Has it gone quickly?” Strangely, we’ve all had to think about the answer.

The truth is, some parts of the year have flown by. When school is in session, Gav has work deadlines and I’m flat out (socialising), the weeks have just disappeared. We’ve had some big trips both in and out of Brazil and a few visitors, so there has always been ‘something on the horizon’ to draw us forward. Inevitably, too, we’ve fallen into patterns and routines that we’re comfortable with and the stress of ‘everything’s new and scary’ has dissipated dramatically as you’d expect.


There are certainly still times where a situation crops up that sends us (me) into an anxious frenzy and my default emotional response is to want desperately to come home and all I can think of is HOW LONG HAVE I GOT TO GO?

Typically, these situations arise when either something happens that makes us feel unsafe or someone gets worryingly sick (not mutually exclusive). Not long ago, Mitchell had a skin infection that while was supposedly easy to fix, it got out of control because as it turned out, he had an allergic reaction to the infection itself. He was actually fine, but me dealing with the school nurses, (PANIC, CODE RED!!!!), the doctor, (helpful but a bit baffled by M’s negative improvement with the antibiotics), and the specialist, who fixed everything with corticosteroids and a lecture on hugging (we apparently need to do more), was quite stressful. We survived this, (and when I say we, I actually mean me – Mitchell was always okay), but then last week I got another call from the nurses with yet another Mitchell crisis and could I pIck him up immediately. Like Pavlov’s dog, I am now programmed, so my anxiety skyrocketed.

When I got to the school, M was happily sitting in sickbay, reading a book. Unhappily, he was deaf in one ear owing to the fact another boy had popped a bit of rolled up paper in his ear and the nurses couldn’t get it out. (The other boy was in ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE which was good as it meant I didn’t have to go and strangle him with my bare hands.) So, to keep a long story long, because it happened at school, Mitchell’s medical requirements came under the school insurance. This should have been fine, but it’s Brazil, so although there are processes in place, none of them work. The nurses instructed me to go to the pediatric emergency clinic that accepted the school’s insurance. Once there, I had to ask them to ring the insurance company to get a claim number so that we weren’t charged. Obviously, no-one spoke English, so this was very difficult for me with only about 80 words of portuguese vocab and no verbs. Somehow it happened and M and I waited an hour and a half, only to be told by the consulting pediatrician that they couldn’t remove the paper because they didn’t have the right equipment and we would have to go to the emergency ear, nose and throat clinic.  She didn’t charge us but did say we would have to go back to the school to get a new insurance form. (Just so as you know, you can swear in a different language and people will still get the gist).

The problem was, the ENT clinic was miles away, traffic was awful and Charlotte was about to get home with no key, because we’ve just moved apartments. I wasn’t going to be able to make it.

Here was a classic moment of I Want to Go Home. In OZ, every second presentation to the Childrens’ Hospitals are objects in noses and ears and the situation JUST WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED.

So right then, Brazil was going very slowly and I had a moment in the taxi home, where I was counting the minutes until we come back at Christmas. (Mitchell couldn’t hear me because he was still deaf.)

Thankfully these moments aren’t frequent and this one ended like they all have so far. I got home, calmed down and syringed the stupid thing out myself.

1 thought on “Feliz Anniversario

  1. Gregory Saunders

    Hi Bronwyn & Gavin, Great to read your story-amusing for us but obviously not so for you. Very well written. Well done on getting through the year with all its challenges. We look forward to seeing you around Christmas. Take care Helen. (& Greg).


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