A lot of the time living abroad, we rather enjoy the fact that not everything is normal in our lives, that things can be unpredictable and lack a constant routine and that our lives contain a slightly greater amount of variety than they perhaps would if we had stayed in the one place our whole lives. But there are occasions when we crave the security and safety of the UK and its well-run, professional bodies that we have left behind. When I was recently checked into the Maternity wing of our local hospital, I almost wept at the kindness and competence of the staff there. They were just amazing - well-trained, hard-working, pleasant, lovely people who seem to have a genuine concern for the well-being of the people they are looking after. I continue to be amazed at the fantastic care I am being given by my new obstetrician and our GP. Their attention to detail is just excellent.
This last month or so has been a tester, though. Blimey! Even we are beginning to hope for an end in sight to the numerous issues that surround our family's circumstances: the changing plans, the last-minute decisions we are having to make, the various painful ailments that have arisen.
If you visit this blog often, you will know that our youngest daughter and I are now in the UK awaiting baby number four's arrival. I am now eight months pregnant. Since he returned to Kazakhstan (after bringing me home because I was simply too ill to travel on my own with a two-year old) my husband has been stricken with absolutely horrendous back pain. He has missed work, can't get out of bed, can't drive, can't work for the pain he is in. He slipped a disc when he was 28 had half a disc removed when we lived in Brazil. The other half has now come back to attack him with a vengeance it seems.
He is having to get painkilling injections in his backside administered by our nanny (above and beyond the normal call of duty I know!) three times a day. Luckily, she has just had the plaster removed from her right hand, which she had to wear for a month after slipping on the ice on the pavement outside her house and breaking her wrist. So she is able to give the injections (apparently, everyone who went through the Soviet education system has been taught how to give intra-muscular shots!). But these injections do not really reduce the pain, and his osteopath treatment also is not working. His pain varies from severe and constant to so bad he cannot speak on the phone. And so we are looking at having to have him stretchered back to the UK for treatment.
But he cannot leave the older kids in Kazakhstan (we have two). And I am too pregnant to go and get them at 36 weeks - no airline will let me on their planes anymore. None of our family and friends in the UK have multi-entry Kazakh visas, so noone can just jump on a place and come out and help because they won't be allowed over the border. Equally, none of the Kazakh locals we know can simply come to the UK at the drop of a hat, as they also require visas to enter Great Britain. While I have been away, and husband has been having all these problems, our friends have rallied around and been amazingly supportive. But the people who would really be great at helping in this situation are too busy or have other commitments which make flying back at such short notice impossible.
The UK health system is great, but it is not known for its speed. And whatever happens, at some point in the next five weeks I will have a new baby. I just hope that my husband will be able to stand up to meet our new daughter and at least hold her from time to time.
On the bright side, three of our missing 11 parcels arrived in the post yesterday, including Alice's book in which I have a little section (haven't read it yet, excited to see it) and my two Christmas music CDs which I ordered and were posted in the first week of December. January 27 they arrived - just in time for next year!