I am 170 years old

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This could turn out to be a raving/raging post (yet again) about hospitals in Oman but because I currently lack the energy to be angry…I shall refrain from typing in CAPS and cursing after every second word.
A disclaimer: a first-time expectant mother will worry about every little thing that doesn’t “feel right”. She does not necessarily need to be in agonizing pain or in a life threatening situation to be rushed to the hospital. Sometimes a light fever and consecutive dizzy spells are all that’s needed to seek medical attention.
So there I am (at work-that’s where) on Wednesday morning when all of a sudden I begin to feel a little feverish and simply “off”.  I also had a few other symptoms that should solemnly remain between me and doctor so that half the world is not grossed out.  After fighting the sinking feeling that maybe this isn’t simple fatigue I caved and called a fellow doctor- who in turn told me to go to the nearest clinic and get checked out “just to be on the safe side”.
I seriously told my superior I will be back in an hour because I am going for a quick check up. (I should have said Inshallah at this point.) Alex picked me up and we went to the nearest clinic as suggested, the closest one being Al Raffah where I am currently registered. On my way there I kept on calling the operator to make sure there is a gyno there I could see. No one picked up. I called about 8 different times. Yes I had the right number- they just didn’t pick up!
As we stormed the lobby of Al Raffah hospital we soon came to learn that there was no gyno on call and my doctor would not be available until 6pm. Because…you know…doctors work in shifts.  Apparently it is perfectly acceptable not to have a doctor there for 6 hours at a time!!! They only had a GP- which would have helped if I had a bruise or maybe a sore throat…
Suppressing our anger we drove to the closest hospital from Al Raffah- Muscat Private Hospital. Again, I called them on the way there the operator picked up (Hooray??!!) but the line quickly died when she was transferring me to the “correct” department. Ugh.
I quickly felt like I was having the most surreal déjà vu of my life when we learned that they too did not have a gyno on call because “the entire department was attending a lecture and will only be back in a couple of hours”.  Now, please note that both of the above hospitals have DELIVERY WARDS and possibly women going into labor that very instant- but who gives a monkey’s I guess?
I began to feel quite anxious as by that point in time all sorts of nasty scenarios regarding the baby’s health ran through my mind. We did the only thing we could think of. We drove to Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.  FIY (if you aren’t local) that hospital is 45 minutes away. Make that 1h and 25 minutes when you are driving there at 2:30pm just as about everybody in Muscat is leaving work and heading home.
Keeping a long story short- we finally found ourselves registering at the Accidents and we Emergencies department of SQUH and they quickly send me to get my blood pressure and temp measured (both were high!). The nurse (an attentive young man) was however very reassuring and told me that he marked my file as urgent so that the Emergency department makes me their priority. An hour and a half later we are still sitting there. Alex is dying for some water. I keep pacing the waiting area (which is divided into male and female sections). I “borrowed” the chair the security guard was using, by the door, and sat on it with Alex standing responsibly by my side. We seriously watched dozens of people come in and leave, leave and come in again…and we were still waiting. They reassured me that this was unusual and the emergency gyno department was having a rather hard day with 3 women coming in with bleedings and what-nots. Now, had I been in any serious pain or god-forbid bleeding, I am fairly certain they would have seen me sooner.  About two hours into our waiting game we began to notice amusing details about the waiting room such as the “Welcome to the Accidents and Emergencies Department” poster- which Alex found hilarious and also the fact that my in-patient bracelet said that I am 170 years old. I thought about telling the doctor that my emergency is “old age” when she asks me what I am in there for.
But other than that when we were finally admitted the doctor was lovely, the nurses were lovely and their approach was absolutely relaxing. Although they did kick daddy out at some point as he was being overly anxious. They did a quick check up, a whole bunch of tests and a quick ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat and movements. Everything turned out to be ok at the end.
As we were leaving I received my registration card, neatly typed up to include my admission number, name and get this….”English People” in the nationality field. I laughed at this thinking that now I have a valid document to present to the British Embassy once I apply for my UK passport (because my hospital registration card says I am British- that’s why!). It wasn’t until we paid and received a receipt addressed to an Olga Mubarak (P.S that isn’t my actual last name) that I realized perhaps my dream of obtaining a UK passport might have to be abandoned due to my newly-acquired-obviously-Arab last name.
A little bit of humor can get you a long way.
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I am busy being pregnant…

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…at least I wish I could say that I was away from the blog because I was busy buying tiny pink outfits or drawing ponies on the nursery walls. But that wouldn’t be true. It feels like I have no time to be pregnant these days. No, I understand that I am pregnant and the ever growing tummy is a huge (no pun intended) reminder of that but I just don’t have the time to embrace it these days. Perhaps the most “pregnant” thing I do during the day is take my vitamins. Now Alex on the other hand was ready to put the baby bed up about two weeks ago. (Don’t worry, he didn’t).
I am working full time and I think that is to blame for the fact that I sometimes “forget” that I am pregnant. Colleagues are constantly nudging me to stop carrying things or to walk slower and after I give them a puzzled look they say “because you are pregnant, remember?”. Of course I remember! Especially since the almost-daily-deadly migraines have invited themselves into my life! But those are a whole different rant.
I know that I need to slow down and enjoy this time as it is going by so unbelievably fast. We are half way there…we are just half way away from having a little one join our family. It feels like the weeks are flying by. Especially since I am at work pretty much from 8 to 6 everyday and I cannot seem to catch a break when I am home because something always needs doing (like dinner…because people need to eat!!!). Work has taken fancy to evening shifts the last two weeks so I end up going home at 9:30pm for the majority of the working week and only have enough energy to drag myself to the shower and consequently to my pillow.
This is meant to the phase when the baby is able to distinguish voices and sounds so parents are encouraged to speak to the child and begin reading bed time stories and etc. It bothers me somewhat that I cannot seem to find the time (or the energy) to do this as I simply cannot bring myself to take half an hour to “rest”!!! And the truth is, I am very tired. Not in the same way that I was tired during the first trimester when any energy I had was drained out of me and I could physically not manage the simplest tasks. Oh no. The energy is back now and better than ever. I am just pressed for time and a little preoccupied with everything going on at work…so absolutely no time to stop and smell the roses.
I have days when I stop and think that I absolutely cannot do this anymore – juggle work, being pregnant and running the house. Times like these, I begin to feel very sorry for myself and consider taking a few weeks off work or even hiring a housemaid to help me around the house more frequently. I have not even began thinking about maternity leave at this point. Everyone keeps asking if I plan to return to work immediately after the baby is born and the truth is…I have no “plan” yet. I am one of those strange people who immensely enjoy their job on a daily basis so leaving it all behind would literally break my heart. By no means do I underestimate how difficult it is to have a newborn and work full time- I just hope I can find my way around that somehow.
We will just have to wait and see.

Ramadan and me.

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Last year I posted a modest explanation of how life changes around here in the holy month of Ramadan, please read it here. I thought it would be a good idea to shine some light on the traditional and cultural aspect of this month- especially for those reading this back home! This year is an altogether different story because I am pregnant, hormonal and hungry all the freaking time. So my routine has not really been effected by the fact that Muscat has succumbed to the sleepy, slow, quite days of fasting.
Luckily no one in my office fasts (well except one guy who is on his annual leave now) so I have not locked up my snack drawer that is filled with Oreos, almonds, waffles and crackers. I munch away the entire day. We haven’t even moved the water cooler from the room because my Omani colleague said it does not phase him- even when he is fasting. So, we took his word for it.
I am however cautious not to eat or drink anything whilst I am outside (which actually isn’t that often these days). This has proven to be difficult because my pregnant brain is always exploding with one stupid idea or the other, such as “Why don’t you eat a tomatoe while driving from home to work?”.
And as far as silly situations go, my oven ran out of gas while baking a few pizzas at home and had to resort to asking one of my neighbors if I could perhaps use his oven to finish dinner? Now if this happened in the afternoon I don’t think my fasting/Egyptian neighbor would appreciate the smell of two gigantic pizzas bubbling away in his oven…and it would also be virtually impossible to get the gas service to deliver during the day in Ramadan.
Just this Friday me and Is This Serious were getting some much needed shopping therapy in City Center Seeb when we realized that we are frightfully thirsty. I also needed sugar. A chocolate of some kind. We ranted a little in one of the stores and an expat woman overheard us and offered her sympathy.  Except we couldn’t eat it anywhere! As a last resort we bought the goods and headed….to the bathroom. I sat on one of the sinks devouring my Bounty and gulping down my Ice Tea. Seriously, it was sad. I felt a little sorry for my pregnant self. That should teach me stay home till 6pm from now on!
On a more pleasant note I was thrilled to find out that Oman Dive Center still serves beverages and food (not sure about alcohol!?). Alex decided to try out diving this weekend and I was a little worried about him getting a heat stroke or collapsing from dehydration- you know, because there is no food anywhere!!!! It turned out to be fine.
Oh and after we were done with the shopping I sat in my car and ate a freshly baked baguette with some cheese…luckily no one was around. Either way that sandwich was absolutely worth going to jail for.

Now I get it…(ugh!)

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A few weeks ago, during one of my lowest most physically challenging battles with breakfast I decided to ground my child. In all seriousness I told Alex that our kid is not allowed to go to prom (16 years from now) because that is the punishment one gets for making mommy so sick.

I have begged, pleaded, negotiated and downright bribed this child already- and he/she is not even born yet. You see, life is somewhat difficult at the moment. The other day I had to blow dry my hair while lying down in bed because I just did not have the energy to sit up. Here is a little overview of things I can no longer do (although sometimes I really want to):

– Have a burger (meat and chicken are currently the root of all evil)
-Sit next to someone who is having a cup of coffee (nothing smells more disgusting than coffee)
-Have the said coffee
-Go into the kitchen. I am beginning to forget what my faucets look like.
-Take a nice long shower. See exhaustion above.
-Go into a supermarket. All the smells! The smells!!!
-Fit into my jeans. (That just makes me sad).

And that my dear friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I sit and wonder “what was I like before all the morning sickness?. Did I go out? I think so. Did I eat Burger King? Surely I did. Did I stay up past 9pm? Yes, I can recall that as well.

I have disappeared off the face of the planet for the last 6-7 weeks in particular. I kept on postponing coffee-dates with friends and politely refusing dinner invitations. Constantly saying “I am not feeling well” was getting too old. Now that my friends know they are a little more understanding of why I take more rain checks than there are days in the week.

So what happened to me? It is a scary thing-not being in control of your body. Pregnancy is so sugarcoated. “Oh it’s marvelous, pregnant people glow”. Ha! I am sure some sail through the first few months without as much as a zit or a wave of nausea. However, I am feeling the full impact of this “miracle”.

But no matter how upset, sick or downright self-pitying I may sometimes get it helps to remind myself that it is all temporary and no amount of morning sickness is ever going to be “too much” because the outcome is just paramount.

I have gained newfound respect for mother everywhere. To go through these 9 months so completely selflessly whilst enduring all the ups and the downs and still being utterly in awe once the baby arrives.

That’s heroic if you ask me.

P.S Oh and please vote in the Boy/Girl poll. 🙂

How can we ignore you today?

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28/06/11  *** UPDATE

It happened again today morning. I called them to get a number from a landline, the girl greeted me and said all her rehearsed lines smoothly, then played the number…in Arabic! I took a deep breath and called back, got a  different lady on the line and asked her kindly for the number and to please play it in English, so the machine went “The number you have requested is…” Then the line went dead. Seriously. I give up.

***

I know I promised not to write until a little later, but this reoccurring event is just getting to me and I feel like I need to get the word out.

1318.

The Omantel directory. The most pathetic excuse of helpful experts I have ever come across. They make my blood boil quite literally. A minute on the phone with this silly bunch and I reach the last straw. Uff. I am convinced they are actually monkeys that have been taught to answer the phone and sadly that is the chapter their training ended on. It was not always like that, no. A while back Omantel used actual people to answer the phones- but that must have been costly and/or unreliable so they have decided to hire jungle primates instead.

Every time I call them I get flashbacks of the movie “Planet of the Apes” and that makes me smile- right up until one of them speaks.

Maybe its just me. Maybe they are mocking me. Is it because I am woman? Or is it because I am an expat? I prefer to think that it’s only because they are actually chimpanzees.

My argument is simple- if real people worked at the 1318 phone directory, I would at least get the number I needed on the 4th or 5th attempt. Sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t it?

Their welcome line used to “Omantel Salam Aleikum” but now it pretty much amounts to “Omant…slmakm…”. I then proceed with my request for “City Cinema, Dhofar Insurance, Pizza Hut Delivery” or whatever the hell else. I am usually asked to repeat the name of the company at least 3 times until they find it in the system. This is where things get real interesting…

“Please write down the number and thank you for calling Omantel” they say. Then they play the number in any of the following variations:

-“24 05….line goes dead” (Am I supposed to guess the other digits?)

– Arabic equivalent of the number I requested. Seriously. Arabic.

-or they hang up on me

I often call back frustrated asking for the number of Company X again and begging and pleading for them to say the number back to me and not play it on the machine because I just cannot take the mockery anymore. Funny, yesterday I called them and got the number in Arabic again, so I called back thinking “Hey, maybe I sounded Arab to the nice man who picked up the phone”, but it happened again with a different guy. I called back and snapped. “Give me the number in ENGLISH not ARABIC I don’t speak ARABIC”. They have me close to tears half the time.

I dare you. Call them.

I am upset about…

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1. The heat. The mind numbing-brain-melting heat. The other day I thought about skipping lunch because the thought of walking from the office to my parked car was a little unbearable. I am possibly exaggerating a little but I think the fact that I CANT TOUCH THE WHEEL OF MY CAR during the day is a sure indicator of the sun overdoing it. I tried going to the beach. Eating three scoops of Baskin Robins. Yet I have come to conclusion that I would prefer to take a nap until October.
2. Two butt-ugly cats that my building has adopted. These skinny, vicious looking animals are lounging around all day long waiting for one of the neighbors to bring over a saucer of milk or grilled chicken breast for their satisfaction! My neighbors must be out of their minds because they have actually resorted to feeding these invaders! Now, now. I am all for “feeding homeless animals” but these two fiends look like something hell threw up. I have never been a fan of Omani cats. They are not lovable and they are not affectionate. Half the time they are missing an eye or a tail. They freak me out. Every time I walk past them I am under the impression that the tougher looking one will jolt up and sink his huge white fangs into my ankles. They growl. I am pretty sure they growl.

3. The neighbor who bullies us. We lived in the same apartment for about two years now. Since the bike was stolen we resorted to a second vehicle, which is a norm around here. When we moved in the building was half empty, so we took the liberty of spray painting our flat number on the relevant parking space to ensure that we always have a spot under the shade. Ha ha. This gesture was rudely ignored by every Dick (and Harry..or however the saying goes). So I learned to live with that and we only park in the shade on a first-come-first-served basis now. Only when we have both of our cars parked there a grumpy neighbor blocks Alex’s car off with his and then endures being woken up at 6:30am with a pissed off Alex to move his car the fuck awaaaaay. This petty man ensures us that the shaded parking space is for 1 member of the family only. This happened twice so far. We refuse to adhere to any “rules” this man made up, because 1. He is not the landlord and 2. The next time he does that I will call the police on his annoying ass.

4. Dunkin Donuts at the 18th November petrol station. Just this morning the thought of having a doughnut for breakfast helped me get out of bed. En route to work I stopped by the Oman Oil petrol station to pick up a few snacks and breakfast only to be cautioned “don’t buy those doughnuts madam, they are very old”. The salesman must have recently been elected employee of the month. So here is an idea Captain Duh, take them out of the little pink Dunkin Donuts fridge until new ones arrive, coz a strawberry/chocolate donut still looks good no matter how old it is. (Yes I did buy it, but no I didn’t eat it).

5. The fact that we have still not been able to find an Omani employee for my mom’s store. Hence the store remains closed for the public. Of course we have interviewed about a dozen girls who all promised to “Call back tomorrow” or “Start on Saturday at 9am sharp” but they were never heard from again. What is going on? What pisses me off the most if that when the tale is told everyone rolls their eyes and says “Oh well, Omanis! What do you expect?” Damn it that is not an excuse and no that is not an Omani thing to do!!!! That irritates me! Can someone please prove them wrong already? The timing seems to be perfect as everyone is yelling right left and center about a lack of career opportunities and attractive jobs in the market. Well here is one! Grab it!
I am done ranting. At least for today.

Can we be friend?

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Apparently I look like someone who is in dire need of some good new friends. Not a week goes by that I don’t find strange and somewhat disturbing messages in my Facebook inbox from men who seem to believe that they have what it takes to befriend me. Mind you now, I would understand if my Facebook picture was provocative or even the least bit sexy. Maybe if I was doing the spread eagle in a skimpy bikini “Lonely Wolf” might have reason enough to send across a friend request. Most of the time my Facebook profile picture is either or me and my husband in a warm embrace- but “SexyMan2012” still thinks its ok to seek my everlasting friendship. I do occasionally allow myself to pass judgement on girls who’s profile picture is around 80% breasts and 20% face- now they have no right to reject “Lonely Wolf” when he comes calling for them. At the moment I am actually holding a puppy and hugging my brother on my profile picture- that could be my child for all these freaks know! So dear weird stalkers. Quit it. I am not going to have an epiphany when I read your request to be “long time friend” as I have plenty of real, well-intentioned and mentally stable friends. Thank you very much.
Here are some of the most recent proposals I have received and my proposed answers.(Don’t kill yourself laughing):

1. Al Yak****
hello Olga
how are u?
we can be friend?
thanx alot dear
Oh dear honey munchik sugar pie Al Yak***. Ofcourse we can be friend. We can even watch Kung Fu Panda this coming weekend. Or better yet, why don’t we skip the whole “friendship” charade and rent a room for the weekend? Thanks a lot dear.

2. Ali ***

Hope life treat u good,,
I’m half Omani man :-).. I lived most of my life outside Oman,,,,i’m back now 2 Muscat.. I love everything beautiful in this life, accepting life in all its glory and despair., Live for Love and die for it… I like to enjoy every second of my life and make it the best moment if i could.. i’m single and looking for a place for my heart :-).
I would like to know u and hope if we can be in touch..
Yours
Gentleman
Dear Gentleman, thank you for your heartfelt revelations. I feel like I have known you all my life. It is a wonder that you are single, seeing that you accept life in all its glory in despair- I used to think a lot of women out there do the same. Since you are back 2 Muscat why don’t I show you around the city? I could probably take a few days leave off work and we could go on excursions and beautiful coastline cruises…oh how I can’t wait to be “in touch” with you! Yours truly, Gentlewoman.

3. Massager
hello how r u …i am massager from muscat ,,,u want good massage pls send mail .after i will give my number
Dear Massager from muscat, thank you for extending your services. The available 5 star signature spas and beauty salons are just not up to my expectations, you know? Sometimes I seek an edge or a thrill! And next time I do- I will be sure to give you a call and you can gove me a good massage! I look forward to our next close encounter dear massager and I just know your business will prosper in muscat!

Now these are just the crème of the pie (or the pick of the litter) as I could not possibly bother to dig any deeper. I don’t actually ever reply to messages like that as I don’t want to spend even a second of my day on these weird, desperate, delusional people.
I would be happy write to tell them to Fkcu Off and ignoring them works just as well. Weird. Freaks.

What happened to meeting girls the old fashioned way?

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