Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Good Trip, Terrible Timing

Posted in Family, Foreign Service Life, Travels at 7:05 pm by graceandpoise

I recently went on a trip out to get an on-the-ground view of the portfolio I now cover.  It was a very good trip, and I’m glad I went.  I just wish the timing had been a little better.  The day before I was supposed to leave, my husband’s long-nagging hamstring injury flared up in a major way, so much so that he was having trouble moving around.  Nevertheless, he insisted I leave on my trip, so we made sure he had ice and food in the house, and off I went.

First, I went via Paris . . .

. . . to Madagascar.

I had a great time there, got to meet some colleagues face-to-face with whom I’d long been talking only via email and phone, and had lots of good meetings that gave me a better perspective on the situation there.  While there, I kept in touch with my husband – spottily – via email.  His injury wasn’t getting any better, the doc had told him to rest it and scheduled him for some tests, and meanwhile he was taking some time off work, feeling lonely, and ordering delivery because it hurt too much to try and actually go anywhere.  I then moved on to Comoros . . .

. . . which I found to be a beautiful – if poor and underdeveloped – place, with people who have hearts of gold.  Similarly to my time in Madagascar, I had a series of interesting and useful meetings, and learned a huge amount about Comoros that I didn’t know before.  However, on my second morning there, the colleague I was with told me at breakfast, “Your husband called the embassy to say he’s going into surgery for his back; he said to call your mom if you want details.”  WHAT?!?  Needless to say, I was immediately a basket-case.

The subsequent call my colleague kindly let me make to my mom revealed that my husband had gone in for an MRI, and they had sent him immediately to a surgeon, who had taken one look at things and found an open operating room right away.  Seems he had a ruptured/bulging disc in his back (thus the “hamstring” pain that had been bugging him since last winter), and the docs were shocked he could move around at all.  I got to talk to my husband later that day, and I told him I was going back to Madagascar to book a flight home.  A back-and-forth ensued, which ended with me capitulating to his insistence that I go forward with the rest of my trip.  So, distraught, worried, and lonely, I went on to Mauritius . . .

. . . which was, true to its reputation, beautiful.  And full of couples, in love.  While I was there alone.  With a husband in a hospital bed on the other side of the world.  Whom I’d have given anything to be there for.  It was beautiful, though, and with a visit there that spanned a weekend, I even managed to get out on a boat once.  Sadly, as far as work was concerned, the Mauritius leg of my trip was considerably less productive than the other legs had been, which only served to make me want all the more to be home with my husband (and to make me feel like all the bigger of a cold-hearted boor for heeding his pleas to continue on with my trip).

All’s well that ends well, though.  When I got home, my husband was happy, and wandering around like a normal person who hadn’t just had back surgery.  Who knew there were surgeries in the world that actually made people feel BETTER instead of worse?  Heaven bless good doctors.  Bottom line:  glad I went, just wish I’d timed it differently.  Nothing can substitute for actually seeing the places/people you are always talking about.  But nothing really substitutes for being there when loved ones need you, either.  Now I just have to figure out how we’re going to afford a mushy, couple-y vacation to the Indian Ocean . . .

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