In April I came home! I said my goodbyes to my sister, my Mexican family, and many American, Canadian, and Mexican friends. I managed not to cry until I sat on the plane in Huatulco, bound for Houston. When I finally arrived in Tulsa at the end of a long travel day, I was so excited to see my parents and my friends Christine, Rebecka, and Brett waiting for me at the airport. It’s hard to go home when you’re leaving another home–but it’s so great to be at this home.
I had a lot of plans for my first month back in America, but things didn’t turn out exactly like I’d hoped. Also, it took me forever to write about April. But here it is, What I Was Into in April, inspired by Leigh Kramer.
Health and Food
After more than six healthy months in Mexico I got sick within 48 hours of coming home. At first it seemed like just a little virus, but after a series of unfortunate events (including many trips to the doctor, getting better then getting sick again, a blood test, and a CT scan) it turns out that I have some kind of kidney inflammation. I’m waiting to see a nephrologist (kidney doctor), but the earliest appointment I could get is in the end of July. Until then, I’m drinking a lot of water, sleeping a lot, and eating a low sodium diet.
That sounds easy, doesn’t it, just eat less sodium? Don’t add extra salt, don’t eat salty foods? Alas, sodium (and too much of it) is in almost everything. If I want to make a simple sandwich at home, I can easily eat over 1000 mg of sodium in just the bread, lunch meat, and cheese. That doesn’t sound terrible, until you learn that it’s recommended that you eat about 1500 mg of sodium a day, 2300 mg should be your upper limit, but most of us eat more than 3400 mg a day. I’ve been trying to eat between 1000 and 1500 mg a day (or less if I can manage it) to take care of my kidneys while I wait to see the doctor and see what’s going on. Some foods, like fruits and vegetables, naturally don’t have much sodium. Many, many other foods also naturally don’t have sodium but have tons and tons of added salt and sodium because that’s how we like to eat our food: salty. And eating out? Is nearly impossible. There is no such thing as low sodium fast food or restaurant food
I’ve had many friends who have eaten specific diets, some by choice but most for health reasons, like eating gluten or dairy free. No matter what your dietary need is, it’s hard to eat differently than everybody else. Eating low sodium is difficult–there’s no special section for low sodium foods, you just have to spend a lot of time at the store reading nutrition labels. Thanks to the amazing help of my mom, though, I’ve been able to consistently eat low sodium, even when it’s challenging. Believe me, no salt-added food tastes way different than typical food.
April was not all dreary health and eating problems. Ten days after I returned fro Mexico, I was offered a part-time job as a Bilingual Circulation Clerk with the Tulsa Library! I emailed a resume for this job in March, letting the library know I would be home from Mexico in April. The day before I left for Tulsa, my mom let me know that the library had called my house (thank goodness I put my house number and not my cell number on my resume) wanting to talk to me about the position. I was able to interview my first week back and the next week I got a call offering me the job and I started the next week. I still can’t believe I got a job that quickly and that I now work at the library. It’s been great so far and I’m excited to see where this position will lead me. It’s been so great to immediately use my Spanish at work. I worked really hard to learn that language–I don’t want to lose it now!
I had hoped to read a lot in April and get on track with my 100 books in 2014 goal, but being sick ruined that for me. When I’m sick, my brain refuses to concentrate on reading. So I spent a lot of quality time with HGTV, but that’s for another section. I did read five books in April, but here are my two favorites:
- Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by Elizabeth Esther
- Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
I won my copy of Girl at the end of the World in a contest from Elizabeth Esther. She eloquently tells the story of her abusive childhood in a fundamentalist cult, and how she was able to leave and start over: I highly recommend it. Boxers is a comic/graphic novel telling a story from the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China. If you don’t know what that is (and even if you do), I recommend reading Boxer to learn more about that important time in history.
Dear TV, Thank you for being there for me when my kidneys decided to misbehave and my brain decided to take a vacation. I especially want to credit HGTV, along with its shows House Hunters, House Hunters International, Property Brothers, and Income Property. I do not thank Love It or List It or Love It or List it Too, because they’re horrible shows. After watching a ridiculous amount of HGTV, I feel qualified to go buy and remodel a house. As I can barely keep my room clean and I have no money, though, it seems unlikely.
I’d also like to thank Parks & Recreation and Bones for having solid seasons (though Bones might not actually be over yet?) for me to enjoy when I returned from Mexico. I still have the P&R finale on the DVR and I rewatch my favorite scenes, especially when Leslie Knope meets Michelle Obama.
April didn’t go exactly as planned. Instead of reading, I watched HGTV. I started organizing and decluttering my room, but persistent fevers in the beginning of April made me lose my steam and not it just seems too overwhelming. I wanted to jump into new opportunities, maybe visiting a Spanish speaking church or finding a Bible study or just being with people, but I spent a lot of April exhausted and sick instead. I was very sick. And I’m better, but I’m not fully well either. However. I did turn 26 on April 16 and celebrated my birthday with some of my favorite people (just see the list of the people who met me at the airport). I got a job! And a bilingual job at that, at the place where I hoped to work. Here’s hoping for a healthier May as I figure out how to live my life here in America.
PS Please enjoy the pictures below. I’m sure it would be prettier if I interspersed them throughout the post, but that’s more work than it’s worth.