On my own…

As I mentioned earlier, I moved into my own place just over seven weeks ago (I’m loving it) and my parents left exactly three weeks ago today…

The last few days of my parents being in Dubai were frustrating – they seemed to be aiming for the most disorganised move in history (and I’m still dealing with some of the fallout from that, such as DEWA deposit refunds, etc.) and I was looking forward to them leaving so that I could enjoy just ‘being’ in my flat.

But, when we got to the airport and said our goodbyes, I bawled my eyes out… which led to my dad getting upset (Mum seemed fine)… And thinking about it now still makes me a bit teary. On my way home, I was debating whether to attend a friend’s 40th that evening. I just wasn’t in the mood. But when I walked in the front door and took a look at the boxes (of junk, admittedly) that Mum had left behind in my living room, I rolled my eyes and got ready. And I’m glad I went – it was a fun night.

The next morning I felt fine – I woke up in my quiet flat and knew I’d made the right decision not to go with them.

But then I suddenly had to think about what to have for lunch. And what to have for dinner. And then repeat the process all over again the following day. And the day after that. I’ve discovered a few things:

  • I absolutely hate cooking. Cooking for one person is a complete waste of time. Even making a simple salad is tedious – washing vegetables, chopping vegetables, making the dressing – and ten minutes later it’s all gone and you have to clear up. I’ve made eggs, stir fries and pasta – but I don’t like the heat of the open flame on the stove either. I do seem to have mastered brown rice though (without the rice cooker).
  • Don’t use the salad spinner on the kitchen counter. This might sound like common sense to you – but as I put the leaves in the spinner I wondered where the water went… and five seconds later I had my answer. Right out of the bottom of it! I did laugh out loud though. At my own stupidity.
  • Don’t go to the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon. I already knew this but had reconfirmation just before the New Year. I thought I’d stock up on a few items before VAT kicked in and I think everyone had the same idea.
  • IKEA has ruined my dream. When I moved here, I bought an Expedit cabinet/bookcase – 185 x 185 cm – for my books… and my plan when I moved was to get another one to go next to it in my living room so I could have my wall-to-wall books. Well, Expedit no longer exists. It was replaced with Kallax, which is almost identical, except it’s 182 x 182 cm. Can I live with that difference of 3 cm and the shelves being 1.5 cm lower on one side of the wall? No, I don’t think so. I need to find other options (I’m currently trawling Dubizzle, hoping someone is selling off their old bookcase).
  • I love sitting at home with the balcony doors open and the birds singing but the flat gets so dusty so quickly!
  • My new laundry guy has been scamming me for the last six weeks – charging me more than I should be paying. I only discovered this because he was away and someone else who works there dropped off the laundry. Oh, just wait until he gets back…
  • Zaatar w Zeit don’t deliver to my new address. I can’t describe the devastation I felt.

Well, I think that about covers all the important things I’ve learned over the last few weeks. I’m sure there will be more revelations as time goes on, so watch this space!

 

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A new chapter…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything apart from the weekly and monthly tarot forecasts! I’m still training with Pete but haven’t posted anything about those sessions either, but here’s a quick update with what’s been going on…

Four weeks ago today I moved into my own place. For the very first time. I know – it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally done it! Why?

Earlier this year, my parents started toying with the idea of moving to India… and there was absolutely no way I was going with them. They tried very hard to get me to change my mind (guilt, emotional blackmail and so on) but I wasn’t having any of it. There were a couple of times where I thought it would be the easier thing to do, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I imagined myself living in Business Bay (I don’t know why) with a balcony where I could have my tea and read/write every day, but… back in August, a friend of mine and I came to see a couple of flats in a quiet neighbourhood behind the Trade Centre Roundabout and I fell in love with the building. The flats I saw were nice – one was a duplex with an amazing walk-in wardrobe and the other was a single-level flat, which was a bit bigger and brighter. I spend a lot of time at home and wanted somewhere which would feel spacious. Anyway, saw the flats, liked them, but I wasn’t sure about the neighbourhood and getting around (I don’t drive) and I also felt August was a bit too soon to start paying rent as my parents wouldn’t be leaving until December.

Fast forward to October. I’d seen a few flats, nothing I particularly liked – including one in the building where I used to live. I emailed the property manager to see if there were any apartments going in the building I’d been to in August. There were two. On Diwali, Mum and I went to see them and I just fell in love with the flat. It was different from the one I’d seen in August – it was bigger – and I immediately knew where all my (parents’) furniture would slot in and I imagined wall-to-wall books on one side. A week later I’d signed the contract and moved in a couple of weeks after that!

After getting quotes from a few moving companies, I decided to go with Emovers. I’d heard horror stories about moving companies here and how you have to watch them carefully and make sure they handle things properly. But I was so impressed with them. They were on time, polite, efficient, careful and quick. For example, my bookcase is an IKEA one, made of up 25 squares. When they were packing the books, they labelled the boxes A1, A2, B3, etc so that they would know in which square to slot the books in when they were unpacking! I’d highly recommend them – and even emailed them the following day to tell them how happy I was.

A week before I moved, my parents had some friends over for dinner. ‘What are you most looking forward to when you move?’ one of them asked me. ‘Peace and quiet,’ I replied, without even thinking about it. ‘Yes, but you know, sometimes that just bites you on the ass,’ she said. Excuse me? Talk about raining on my parade! I didn’t really know what to say to that so I didn’t say anything. Of course, the perfect response came to me three days later (as usual). ‘Oh, but I quite like that,’ is what I should have said.

My parents asked how I’d manage for food (I can’t cook to save my life) – I told them I’d learn off YouTube! And probably lose a bit of weight in the process (not a bad thing). I joked with a friend a couple of days ago that I’d have to attend networking events where they served canapes and attend parties I wouldn’t have considered in the past, just for the food! Oh, how we laughed.

I’ve been spoilt living in Dubai – living at home, with a car and driver, with live-in help and having all my meals cooked, laundry done, bed made (!) and so on. I’m now dealing with cleaners who say they’re coming on a certain day and then don’t show up or answer their phone (FFS) – which is just frustrating. I don’t miss the live-in help. I love waking up and pottering around in my pajamas without having to put on a dressing gown, I love the peace and quiet (I chose not to have a TV), I’m even enjoying the birds that sit on my balcony every afternoon (and crap everywhere). The bamboo, orchid and basil plant are all thriving – which is surprising considering my office/house in London used to be the place where plants went to die.

My parents leave on Tuesday and I’ve been going home for most meals – my fridge is pretty bare at the moment. So it’s been a lot of back and forth. I haven’t put up my mirrors and paintings yet and there are still a few things to sort out, but once they’ve gone and I can spend more time at home, I’ll be able to do that.

So this is my new chapter… wish me luck!

A.

Not today: part 2

Exactly five weeks ago, my dad had a heart attack.

The doctors in Dubai told us that Dad would need a valve replacement and a bypass. And soon – within the next few weeks. They kept pushing for a procedure called a TAVI (transcatheter aortic heart valve). Every time the doctors and nurses were checking up on him they would push for this procedure. They kept asking whether he’d set a date. They said they knew an excellent doctor. So when my mum said they wanted to meet the doctor and then decide what to do, she was told that they first had to decide to have the surgery and then they could meet the doctor. What nonsense.

So, Dad was home – I sent his reports to a cardiologist friend in London. He wrote back to me within minutes telling me to get a second opinion. He also said not to let anyone do a TAVI on him!

We eventually decided to go to Bombay (Mumbai, you know what I mean). My grandmother’s family are trustees of one of the hospitals and Dad would have access to the best doctors there. It also meant that we would have somewhere to stay (instead of having to rent a place which is what we’d have had to do if we’d gone to London). We’d sent Dad’s reports ahead and the cardiologist told us to come straight to the hospital once we were out of the airport and not go take him home first.

The three of us flew to Bombay together on Sunday, 30th August. My brother (S) was going to joining us there – but he had a much longer flight: Kingston to Miami to London to Bombay. He left Kingston on Monday morning and got to Bombay on Tuesday night!

So once we’d landed, we went straight to the hospital. I hadn’t been there in years. I was a bit apprehensive – even though Dad was on the 16th floor (the VIP floor) it looked really run down, the room was dark and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there. My mum decided she was going to stay at the hospital with him so that she could meet the doctors when they did their rounds early the next morning. My grandmother joined us at the hospital and I went home with her when she left, leaving my parents at the hospital.

I went back the following day and had lunch with my parents. Dad was in and out of the room for various tests. I hung around the hospital until the evening when my grandmother came and went home with her. On our way out, we bumped into one of the cardiologists. He said he’d seen my dad earlier that day and had some good news – there was nothing wrong with his valves! What a relief!

I spent all of Tuesday at the hospital and had lunch there again. In the afternoon, the head of cardiology came to see my dad with his proposed course of action. He said that as he had just one artery that was blocked, the best thing to do would be to have an angioplasty and stent. He said that it would still be challenging, given the location of the artery, but it was far less invasive than a bypass and the whole thing would take 45 minutes under a local anaesthetic. I couldn’t believe it. In Dubai they were ready to cut him open and do God-knows-what to him! Unbelievable.

The next morning, S and I went to the hospital before Dad was taken in for his operation. We met the doctor again and he told us we could wait in his office while Dad was in the operating theatre. We sat down, ordered some tea and coffee and about 10 minutes later, a nurse came in. ‘Mrs B____, the doctor’s calling you.’ What was going on? S and I looked at each other as Mum went rushing out; and a minute later she came in to get us. ‘The doctor’s calling us.’ I thought something had gone horribly wrong. We were taken into a room next to the operating theatre and the doctor was there in his scrubs. What had happened??

‘I just want to show you on the screen what I’ve done.’ Jesus Christ! Couldn’t he have told us earlier that he was going to do that? He shows us the guidewire that was in my dad at that moment. He shows us that there was nothing wrong with his valves. He still thought the best treatment for him was an angioplasty and stent and he was going to carry on with that. Excellent.

We went back to the doctor’s office and waited. Ten minutes later, the door opened and my dad walked in. Well, obviously it wasn’t my dad – it was his brother, but S and I both thought it was my dad! About an hour later, the doctor called us back to that small room with the computer and screen. He showed us exactly what he’d done and we were also able to wave to Dad in the next room. He was sent to the recovery room for a while – and Mum, S and I went to Royal China for lunch.

That evening, my grandmother, mum and I went to visit Dad in the ICU. S had passed out so we left him at home. He seemed to be in good spirits – I think he was just glad it was over. As he was spending the night in the ICU, my mum decided to spend the night at home.

Dad was moved back to his room on Thursday and he was discharged on Friday.

Now comes the hard part of controlling his diet and getting him to do some light exercise each day – he knows what he can and cannot eat, but even getting him to walk for 20 minutes a day is proving a challenge.

At least this part is over. For now.

Not today

Exactly a week ago, my dad had a heart attack.

On Wednesday evening, just before dinner, my dad complained that he’d been feeling uncomfortable all day, like he had a weight on his chest. My mum and I weren’t too concerned by this as he often says he’s ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘not feeling too good’. About 20 minutes after dinner, at around 9.15pm, he said he thought he needed to go to the hospital. I told him I’d call an ambulance but he said it wasn’t necessary. He’d change out of his pajamas and we’d get a cab. I went to change (I was also in my pajamas already) and when I came out of my room I heard him in his bedroom – he was gasping. I went in to see if he was OK and he told me to call an ambulance. He couldn’t breathe. I called ‘999’, gave them my mobile number and waited for them to call me back. They called within a minute to get our location and ask what the symptoms were. I asked Dad if he was having chest pains – he said he wasn’t but that he felt a lot of pressure all over his chest. The lady on the phone said the ambulance would be with us soon. The last time we had to call an ambulance it got to us two minutes after we’d made the call. This time, it took longer.

Dad had come out to the TV room and was on the sofa. He was gasping for air. He kept saying, ‘I’m going. I’m going.’ He kept asking, ‘Where’s the ambulance? Where’s the oxygen?’ I called the woman back ten minutes later to ask how long the ambulance would be – she put me through to the ambulance driver. He said they were coming in five minutes. ‘Look after Mum,’ Dad said. ‘I’m going.’ I told him to stop saying that and the only place he was going was to the hospital. I’m not going to lie, it was fucking scary. He had taken his shirt off as he was feeling so hot – my hands were freezing (they often are) and the only thing I could think of to do was to rub my hands on his chest and back. Because he kept insisting that he wasn’t having a heart attack, I didn’t consider the fact that it really could be one. Had I told my mum or had they overheard me tell the woman on the phone that it was a heart attack, I think they would have both panicked. Of course, in hindsight, I realise that it couldn’t have been anything else.

The paramedics finally arrived – it took them about twenty minutes. They were at home for about fifteen minutes (heart monitor, oxygen, questions) before putting Dad on the stretcher and going downstairs to the ambulance. Luckily, Mum and I were both able to go in the ambulance with him – Mum sat in the back with Dad and the two paramedics while I sat up in the front with the driver. I tried to call my uncle but there was no answer. Just as we left our building, one of the paramedics opened the divider between the main ambulance and the driver’s area and said ‘Red’. ‘Red? Are you sure?’ asked the driver. ‘Yes, red,’ he replied. The flashing lights came on, the siren came on and we were off. The whole way to the hospital I kept saying to myself, ‘Not today. Not today. Not today.‘ We got to Rashid Hospital and were seen immediately in one of the emergency areas. The doctors and nurses were brilliant and eventually had Dad’s symptoms all under control. My uncle had called my mum back and joined us at the hospital as well.

After seeing the on-call cardiologist, Dad was told he’d be admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU). He was feeling a lot better by this time and could speak properly. A male nurse asked him a few questions. When he asked Dad what his weight was, Dad replied, ’80 kilos’. Mum and I looked at each other, and in spite of everything that had happened that evening, burst out laughing. There was just no way he weighed 80 kilos – he’s more like 90 kilos. And Dad looked a bit sheepish.

Two custodians wheeled him to the CCU followed by the three of us. He was going to be in a ward – there were three other patients in his area and they were all asleep by the time we got there. I think it was soon after midnight by this time. The nurses transferred Dad from the stretcher, changed him into pajamas and made him comfortable for the night. The nurse told us that one of us could come back in the morning to meet the doctor but regular visiting hours were from 4pm to 9pm. My mum wanted to spend the night at the hospital, but there was nowhere for her to sleep. There was a waiting room inside the ward but the nurses said anyone could walk in at any time and they wouldn’t recommend sleeping there. So Mum came home with me. Before we left, Dad asked us to bring his phone and iPad the next day – he really was feeling better!

We got home at around 1am, I had to speak to my brother and sister and let them know what had happened. I had to call our insurance company and let them know what had happened. And after I’d done everything I had to do, I got into bed and cried. The events of the evening had finally sunk in and I felt completely overwhelmed.

The next morning, Mum left for the hospital at about 8.30am to wait for the doctor once he’d done his rounds. He said that Dad had had a mild heart attack at home and would be in hospital for four days and that they would do an angiography on Sunday. I asked him how he was feeling. ‘Hungry!’ she responded.

Mum came home for lunch and said that Dad was already complaining about the bland food at the hospital and that he’d already shouted at one of the nurses (I can’t remember why). OK, so back to his usual self then. I went to the hospital that afternoon – Dad was looking and feeling a lot better. There was a very chatty Welshman in the bed opposite his and my mum seemed to have found out his entire life story that morning (apart from his name – which we later found out was Ken). My uncle and aunt also came to visit for a little while. We stayed till about 7pm, after Dad had eaten his dinner, and then came home.

Dad spent a week in hospital. We visited every evening (Mum went in the mornings too). It was his 69th birthday on the Friday and he spent it in hospital. By then he’d been moved to a ward for less serious patients. It was also the ward where the angio room was so it was more convenient for him to be there. He had his angio on the Sunday and the doctor told him that one of his arteries was blocked and that the valve needed replacing. On the Monday he was moved to another ward, as he was only in hospital due to his elevated sugar and creatinine levels.

So Dad’s going to need a bypass in the next few weeks – and he has to decide where to have it. Of course there’s nothing like being in your own home while you’re convalescing but we keep hearing terrible reviews about doctors in Dubai so the next most convenient place to have the operation would be Bombay. But first he needs the all-clear to travel, which I think will still take at least a week.