What’s it like? Posts about living here…

February 2, 2013 (Oslo) – Is it me, or do we
look a lot different in this picture than now?

We are approaching our two year anniversary of moving to Norway. Wow. Gotta stop and let that one sink in for a second.

Anyway, after almost two years, we continue to get a lot of questions via email or social media about various aspects of living in Europe. I love sharing, and I’ve done quite a few posts in the past about what it’s like.

I plan to continue sharing more of these. And maybe I’ll elaborate on some. If you have a suggestion for this series, feel free to let me know. After two years, there are many things that I don’t even think of as being different or significant anymore, but someone else might be curious about them.

For now, I thought I would revisit them by sharing the links of the previous “What’s It Like” posts here (there are quite a few!):

Celebrating our 10 year old

We had fun celebrating Daniel yesterday. As is customary, he got to pick the meals and cake. We started with his favorite breakfast, pancakes. Then he took blueberry muffins to school to share with his class. When he got home, he opened his gifts and cards (thanks to everyone that sent cards, gifts, messages, videos, etc). Then we had homemade pizza for dinner.And for dessert, Zack and I attempted to fulfill Daniel’s cake request. He loves the movie Eight Below. And he loves – I mean LOVES – dogs, and especially huskies. So we made a cookies and cream cake shaped like an igloo, decorated with Lego huskies. He was thrilled with it, and that is what matters after all!

We’ll conclude the celebration this weekend with an evening of pizza and bowling.

Double Digits: Daniel is 10 years old!

Hard to believe, but the youngest in our family has now entered the double-digit world. Ten years ago today, a baby boy was born that would bring joy, laughter, and lots of excitement into our lives.

We are so incredibly thankful that God has allowed us to be his parents, and thankful for what a sweet, thoughtful, fun-loving, energetic, and passionate young man he is.

Happy Birthday, Daniel – we love you to the moon and back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More baby steps

Photographic evidence of my short outing today

I got out this morning, for the first time since coming home from the hospital last Tuesday. One week in this house will definitely give you cabin fever!

I rode around with Zack while he ran some errands. I even went in a couple of shops with him (when we could park close!). We were only gone for about an hour and a half, and I spent the majority of that time in the car. It felt good to be out.

But I. am. tired.

Now I’m back home, resting up so I can stop by for a quick visit this evening for a dear friend’s birthday. Amazing how much motivation birthday cake can provide, isn’t it?

Speaking of the little things: what I’m thankful for post-surgery

  1. My giant Turvis tumbler that my mom gave me for Christmas – helps a lot when I need to drink lots of water
  2. Aeropostale warmup pants that I bought for $10 (@70nok) back in Virginia – comfy, stretchy pants are a must right now
  3. Good food – Zack has really done a fantastic job of keeping me well-fed and well-hydrated
  4. And not just food. Zack has been fantastic with everything – I haven’t had to lift a finger or worry about the things I normally take care of
  5. No nausea – this is huge. The last time I had surgery, I dealt with bad nausea afterwards. But none at all this time!
  6. Emails, SMS, texts, iMessages, Facebook messages, visits, gifts, and phone calls from family and friends – it means so much!
  7. Two helpful sons – packing their own lunches for school (yeah, that might continue long term!), walking to the bus in the snow each morning so Zack can stay with me, and looking for other ways to help around the house
  8. Good books – lots of good reading material to keep me busy
  9. NetFlix – sometimes you just need to watch old movies and TV shows
  10. Baby steps – Thursday was definitely my worst day this week. But each day I’m seeing small improvements. I’m now able to sit up from a laying down position (that is by far the most difficult task), stand up almost totally straight, walk around for more than 2 minutes at a time, shower, and stay awake all day!

 

It’s the little things

The snow finally arrived in Sandefjord early Monday morning. As we left for the hospital just after 6:00, everything was already covered in a nice blanket of white.

You never know when the temperatures will take a swing upward and the snow will change over to rain. So while we have a nice coating of snow (probably around 10-12 inches / 25-30 cm so far this week), Zack wanted to give the boys (and himself!) a chance to go skiing.
So right after school yesterday, they came home, had a snack, and headed out for the cross-country trails. Zack said they did great, and they all seemed to have a lot of fun. I’m disappointed I won’t get to join in this year,  but glad they are able to enjoy a fun activity, that also just so happens to be free! I hope the snow will stick around long enough for them to go out a few more times.

 

Healthcare in Norway

With my recent surgery, I’ve had a lot of questions and curiosity about the healthcare system and medical insurance here in Norway. While it seems like a very boring topic to write about, I know sometimes it can be interesting to learn about cultural differences.Norway has both public and private healthcare, though the majority of people access the public system (private is primarily used for elective procedures). The public system is managed and financed nationally. All legal residents have access to the same level of healthcare. So as legal, tax-paying residents of Norway, our family receives all of the same public service as Norwegian citizens.

For adults, there are co-pays for doctors visits, medication, and for procedures such as MRI or CT scans that are done apart from a hospital stay. Hospital stays do not require payment. For dependent children, all medical coverage is free of charge.

My personal experience began in late August 2014, when I first visited our primary care physician in our city. From there, I met with several different specialists and went through a CT scan and MRI. Referrals were extremely quick. Even getting my initial date for surgery didn’t take very long.

Most things about the hospitalization didn’t seem that different from being in an American hospital. There is much less fanfare to checking in. You walk up to the nurse and confirm your name and personal number (like a social security number), and receive your bracelet. You’re given some medication by mouth to help you relax, and you change into hospital gown and wait. My wait this time around was FAST – I arrived just before 7:00, and around 7:30 they took me back.

Post-op/recovery seemed normal compared to what I’ve experienced in the states. It’s a typical ICU type set-up: a large room with lots of bed spaces separated by curtains, so that the nurses can quickly get in and out to each patient.

From Zack’s perspective, it was a bad experience in that he could never get anyone to tell him if I was out of surgery, or how it went, or anything at all. Thankfully after an hour in recovery, I asked if I could call him and they brought me a telephone.

Maybe the biggest difference was the regular room. I was in a room with four beds. The first few hours was just me, but two other ladies came in later in the evening, and one more the next morning. This was a lot different for me, but I managed okay.

Each floor apparently has its own small cafeteria/lunchroom. So as you begin to recover, you are encouraged to walk down the hall and have your meals there. It’s really not a bad idea: it encourages getting up and moving, and it means you have a bit more choice in what you’ll eat (probably a lot less wasted food that way, too!).

I was also waiting for lots of paperwork in order to be discharged. But there was nothing much to it. I met with the doctor and he gave me info on what to do if I have any problems. And that was pretty much it. I could go whenever I was ready. And I just walked myself out. No wheelchair.

Overall, the system and process have been good. I have been very pleased with the level of service and care I have received. There is not too much I can really complain about.

There’s no place like home!

Lunch before leaving the hospital – don’t I look thrilled?

Monday night was a long night. I think I had been so in and out all day Monday that I just wasn’t very sleepy when night came. Add to that the elements of being in the hospital with a lot of activity around, and two other people in the room, and it just made for a long night.

I got up Tuesday morning and made my way down the hall to the patient cafeteria. This was quite different from my experiences in American hospitals! The nurse will gladly bring food to your room when you aren’t up to moving around, but I was encouraged to try and start walking a bit so I could be discharged. So I had a bite to eat and then went back to my room, exhausted but happy with the progress.

Zack dropped the boys off at school and then came to the hospital. We sat around a bit, and then I had a meeting and exam with the doctor, who said I could go home after lunch. I managed to get myself dressed while Zack went downstairs and fill my prescriptions, and then he accompanied to the cafeteria.

Around 13.00/1:00 PM Tuesday afternoon I was released and we made our way home. Again, exhausting is the best word that comes to mind. Everything is exhausting right now. But I slept much better last night, and I feel a bit more energetic today. I’m trying to get up and move every hour or so, and each time it gets a little better. I just keep reminding myself that this will take a while!

I survived surgery in another country!

Disclaimer: I blame all typos on medication!It’s just after 20.00/8:00 PM and it has been a long day. Long, but successful.

I arrived at the hospital around 6:45 this morning. By 7:30 they were taking me back for surgery. And just after 11:30, they wheeled me into recovery. Everything went really well, despite being a bit more complex than expected. I will have a bit longer recovery period, but I can manage! And thankfully, they only removed my uterus. (Yeah, that was probably more info than you needed, but get over it!)
For those who have asked, I managed about 95% of everything in Norwegian. The last couple of minutes before the anesthesia really kicked in, I explained that I was having a hard time putting sentences together, and the nurse assured me it was fine to switch to Englsh. The recovery nurse (who was amazing, by the way) and I communicated in Norwegian, but she asked the doctor’s assistant to speak English when she came in afterwards, so I could be sure I understood all the details of the operation.
Now I’m just resting at the hospital. I had a couple of handsome visitors earlier (and one other handsome guy behind the camera) – I think it was important for them to see that I’m okay! Now they are home and I’m settling in for what I pray will be an uneventful night.
Thanks for so many emails and text messages that were sent to check on me. I hope to report tomorrow that I am home!