At four years old, Cataleya is already aiming to steal my throne in the “get sick in foreign countries” awards. I pretty much vomited and ear infectioned my way around the world as a kid. I even had one bizarre disease in Hawaii whereby all of a sudden, I couldn’t walk properly anymore.
I just started limping out of nowhere. I still remember my parents telling me off and ordering me to walk normally. I couldn’t. After a day or so, they laid me down on the floor and realized that one leg was actually longer than the other.
That resulted in a myriad of tests, scans, and a prognosis that was either life in crutches, a wheelchair, braces, or an exploratory surgery at some point.
What my parents must have gone through then I can only understand now as a parent. Luckily for me, the mysterious condition went as fast as it came.
I was with my Mom walking around a shopping center when suddenly, I cast down my crutches and started to walk–normally. I remember asking “am I better now, Mummy?” and just like a modern-day miracle (well, the 80s), I was.
I never did pneumonia though and nothing so scary so young.
You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Been Sick in Foreign Countries
Well, Cataleya is starting early, realizing that you only really get to know a foreign country when you’ve tried its health service. If you only go for the beach and the swimming pool, you’re missing out on hours of fun waiting in line, sitting, standing, avoiding people with face masks, and trying to stop your toddler from touching all the important medical equipment and running down the halls.
We could have gone to the water park, but what’s the fun in that?
Seriously though, the punches keep on coming, and we keep on rolling with them. While she doesn’t have a cough or mucus or really many other symptoms; lying next to her in bed, I can feel her little heart pounding way too fast. And she burns with fever.
Kids are like elastic bands though and it’s been hard to believe anything was seriously wrong at times. In the morning, she’s usually full of beans, no temperature, and asking about the water park. Poor kid. She spent weeks before coming to Bali watching videos of Asia’s largest waterpark, thinking Bali was one big slide.
Now she has five new medications and we have to go back every few days to the hospital. And she’s not allowed near the pool (well, maybe just to get her feet wet).
My Working Around the World with Kids Test Has Failed
So, I guess this means that my working around the world adventure with my kids has failed. Officially, I start back at work next week and the kids go to daycare. At this juncture, they were meant to already have been a few hours to play and explore. I was meant to have surfed and at least seen the beach. None of that has happened.
And going back to work next week is out of the question.
Everything in my life is now suspended until further notice. Nothing like a dose of a kid being seriously ill to put things into perspective. Although the medical bills are mounting up and I expect the insurance company will wriggle its way out of paying them, they usually do.
I’ll figure something out. The focus is now on her getting better. It’s hard with Valentino wanting to run around and do normal fun toddler things rather than be stuck in a hotel room. I just pray she doesn’t need to be hospitalized. That will really sink this leaking ship.
The Fleeting Fun Moments
It hasn’t all been bad. The Siloam hospital is inside of a mall. That means that of course, neither kid missed out on a chance to stock up on toys for being so good. We found some yummy donuts yesterday with pink and green frosting, and Cataleya got to buy her Elsa dress.
We had a few moments in the pool this week and watching Valentino squeal with delight yesterday morning at a little Balinese squirrel scrambling up a tree and running down the walls was joyous. I think that’s the thing with kids. They bring you so much hassle, so many worries, and endless expense. A lot of the time you wonder why you had them.
Then these moments of intense love, innocence, hugs, and kisses wipe out all the rest. The love is intense and explosive and gives you the answer why.
Driving in Bali has also added another seal of honor to my travel resume. It is a white-knuckle nerve-inducing terrifying experience like something out of a videogame. The mopeds come flying out of nowhere while the traffic signs are bent and broken making it easy to miss a one-way street or head down a dead-end alley. Most traffic lights don’t work, and hazards abound as entire families fit on the back of a moped–Mom, Dad, Grandma, even the babies as well.
It’s actually kind of fun once you’ve gotten over the horror of it all. The kids seem to enjoy all the colors they see as we rattle our way through the streets.
I don’t think I’ve ever driven in a place with so much traffic. The hospital may only be 1.4 miles away, but that is around a 30-minute drive, such is the rat’s nest of streets here and obstacles on them.
Oh, also, Happy Meals come with rice here. That’s pretty cool.
Cataleya has learned to say “suksuma”, which means thank you in Bali, and I’m enjoying eating food that doesn’t consist of bread and potatoes.
Why Did This Happen in Bali?
After that epic journey to Bali, all the expense, sacrifice and hassle, I keep asking myself why this had to happen. I have this recurring nightmare that’s been ongoing for the last few years since I was unable to surf anymore. I’m standing at a beach looking at the waves and wanting to go in, and yet for some reason or another, I can’t. I wake up in a panic.
Coming to Bali was meant to give me the dose of waves I needed to glean some joy from the endless cycle of work, kids, work kids. Yet instead, I have literally made my nightmare come true. So, why did this happen? Since everything happens for a reason, I’m searching for this one, why we came and whether I’m being punished.
So far, the main takeaways are not sleeping, being sick with worry about Cataleya, avoiding anything vaguely fun for the kids, losing my job, and not being able to surf. So much for showing the world I could do it. This is one curveball too many.
However, we still have almost four weeks to go here and (I feel like I’ve said this before) but things have to get better, right?
Just to Complicate Things Further
Yesterday, on top of everything else, we had the suitcases in the trunk of the car while waiting at the hospital. The hotel I booked was fully booked and we had to change. I bit the bullet, threw the kids in the car and drove to our new surroundings while waiting for the blood test results to come back.
(That was every bit as horrific as you may imagine, by the way. I had to strap Cataleya down with my entire body as she screamed the hospital down. She’s now holding out her arm with the tiny circular bandaid on it like a war wound).
Trying to find the new place with Google maps telling me to “head south” and “head north” and turn left right into a wall was about as fun as it sounds. Is it just me? Do other people have an in-built compass in their heads or is being told to “head south” extremely unhelpful?
Relieved that I had finally found the new hotel and taken all the luggage, kids and stroller out of the car as we waited to check-in, imagine my sinking heart when the lady at reception told me I was at the wrong hotel.
Mother fu**er Google Maps. It was some 400 meters further down.
Then I got an email from the hospital to come back to discuss the results.
Really, except for the donuts and the squirrel, I don’t have much to salvage from yesterday. It was probably up there with one of the most stressful days of my life–so far, at least–but I’m more than prepared now for things to get worse.
I’m clearly being challenged. Each time I think I can get no lower or go no further, I suddenly find out I can.
Maybe that’s the point of Bali after all. Perhaps this is the way I was meant to “find myself”. Not through a relaxing vacation but through a gritty unending endurance test. Well, the light is about to come up on a brand new day, let’s see what this one brings.