Friday, November 11, 2005


As the prednisone shot has worn off, the hives have started to return. Blaine's face, arms, legs and back are covered in small hives - they look almost like chicken pox. Thanks goodness I have a note from the doctor which states that he is not contagious, because otherwise I don't think we would be allowed on the airplane.

We called the pediatrician this morning and she said the return of the hives is normal as the prednisone wears off, but to keep an eye on it and if he keeps getting worse, to get him another prednisone shot. YAY. So, our flight leaves at 11:30 tomorrow - what are the chances that I am going to end up giving Blaine a shot before we leave? Well, I won't, but David might (I can hardly bear to watch Blaine being given a shot, much less sticking him myself). You can buy prednisone over the counter at the pharmacy here, so we don't have to go back to the hospital. We just have to purchase it and purchase a syringe and BAM, we are a home health care agency.

I just hope we make it back to the states with no further incidents (though I told David this morning that at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if one of us broke a bone before boarding tomorrow).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I don't need luck. I have skill.

Yesterday Blaine and I were sitting in the kitchen having lunch and I noticed he had little red bumps on his elbow. I checked his other arm and, sure enough, bumps on that elbow too. I asked him to stand up and I lifted his shirt. His torso was spotted with hives. I carried him upstairs and stripped him down and watched as this rash spread across his body, down his legs, arms, up his neck. I called the health unit, got an emergency appointment with the Nurse Practitioner (N/P) and immediately started getting Blaine redressed for the trip. As we headed out of the house our nanny/housekeeper, Ella, gave Blaine a kiss and said "Good luck at the doctor". He turned to her, and in a very serious voice said "I don't need luck. I have skill."

I really don't know where he comes up with these things.

By the time we got to the Embassy Health Unit, the hives had doubled all over his body. The N/P diagnosed him with a viral exanthem rash based on the fact that he had a cold over the weekend and his fever had broken on Tuesday. I was skeptical because it looked more like hives than a viral rash to me, but I have no medical training other than CPR, so I took her word for it. We treated Blaine overnight with Benadryl to stop the itching and, hopefully, clear up the rash. No luck. This morning his eyes, hands and ears were swollen with rash and 90 percent of his body was covered.

I took him back to the health unit and flat out told the N/P that I thought she was wrong, that it looked liked hives from an allergic reaction. She agreed, but wanted me to go to the local Georgian Pediatric Hospital to get another opinion. So, Blaine and I headed out with Mirena, the health unit administrative assistant (who went along to interpret for us if needed). We ended up in the emergency room of the children's hospital with talk of an IV and infusions of steroids and fluids. Needless to say, I was freaking out. The pediatrician, who was an awesome doctor (and spoke flawless English) decided to give the staff allergist a call for consult. The allergist came down and checked him out and concurred with me that it was an allergic reaction and that Benadryl was not strong enough. So, Blaine ended up with a shot of prednisone in his bottom and 2 different prescription drugs.

He already looks a million times better, thank God. But now we have to figure out WHAT caused such a serious reaction. We've not changed soaps, foods, drinks or anything else that we can think of. So, until I can get him to his pediatrician in the states, I am going to be carrying an epi pen with me, just in case. We are still scheduled to fly out of here Saturday morning, so I will probably have him at the doc in Florida on Monday or Tuesday. Then I have a feeling we are going to get referred to an allergist and Blaine will have to have testing done.

Wish me luck, because when it comes to stuff like this, I don't have skill.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I went grocery shopping on Monday. I just wanted to get the basics: milk, bread, butter, juice, water and the like. I decided to go out to Goodwill, the large (and only) "super" market in Georgia. I could have gone to the local grocer on the corner near my house, but I figured that I would be getting enough stuff to justify a trip all the way out to Goodwill, since they will take off the VAT tax if you show your diplomatic ID card (and the local grocers look at you like you have 2 heads if you try that).

So, I make the drive -it's about 15 to 20 minutes from my home when there is no traffic, 30 min when there is - and start to shop. Now, this is almost like a regular US style Supermarket. It has a frozen food section, a deli, a bakery, a dairy and produce section and even a little cafe in front. I hit the frozen food section first, as it is at the front of the store, then I move on to the dairy aisle.

At this point, let me interject something about buying milk in Georgia. You cannot get a gallon of Vitamin D enriched, homogenized milk. There is no MacArthur Dairy here. You could, if you were brave, get fresh milk from a local farmer. But I have seen the cows grazing in dumpsters here, so I tend to pass on most things cow-related (beef included). In the stores, the only types of milk that you can find are the ultra-pasteurized cartons of milk such as Parmalat. You know the kind, the milk in the little box that can sit warm on a shelf for a year or more. That's the milk I buy. Blaine and Dave don't seem to mind it and, as I don't care for milk, my opinion doesn't really matter (though warm milk on a shelf for a year squicks me for some reason). If the store is out of Parmalat, I will buy another brand. Boxed milk is boxed milk, I guess.

So, back to the story. I hit the dairy aisle, intending to pick up some cheese, sour cream, butter and, of course, 3 or 4 boxes of milk. One small problem. There is no milk. None. No Parmalat, nothing. Nada. Zip. I think maybe my Russian is failing me and I am just missing it and misreading the labels. I cruise the aisle a second time. Nope. No milk. There is creamer for coffee, there is "Malochko" which is like a milk-type product mixed with flavorings such as strawberry or banana. But no plain ol' milk.

At this point I conclude that "they" must have moved the milk out of the dairy section and onto the shelves with all the other drinks. So I cruise over to the drink aisle. I pick up the water and juice that I need and I look, in vain, for the milk. Up and down I go, scanning labels printed in German, Russian and Georgian looking for anything that resembles milk. Nope. Not here either.

I head back to the dairy aisle, you know, just in case the milk fairy has come and magically restocked the shelves in the 5 minutes that I have been gone. Nope. Still no milk. But there was an employee stocking the dairy, so I asked (in flawless Russian, I might add) where the milk was. Her answer? They have no milk. None. Not any brand or any type. All out. Don't know when they will be getting more.

How the hell does that happen? I can understand running out of some types of milk. Or running out of some specialty or seasonal item. But all milk? Every brand of milk? Who screwed up here? Did someone decide not to order milk this week? Was there a run on milk? Is there a milk shortage that I had not heard of? Really, I'm perplexed by this.

In the end, I still had to stop and shop at my local store. To buy milk. Which they had plenty of.