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The past year has been one of the most trying in my life to be utterly honest.  As hard as navigating immigration bans and waivers and suffering through years… it really pales in comparison to returning home.  You all know that our oldest son Dax went into diabetic ketoacidosis last year when he went into his diabetic debut shortly after we received our approval.  It hit us pretty hard to realize our son was so ill, that we had missed the signs of diabetes, and realizing that it probably would have been caught earlier if we were in the States.  However, that was not the last curve ball that we were thrown since we returned.  In October we found out that Lukas, our second born, who we had tested for autism in Bolivia, was actually legally blind.  Something, we definitely would have found out earlier in the States.  In November, our youngest son had his first seizure while he was asleep. He has since been diagnosed with epilepsy, we do not have a final diagnosis, but they are suspecting Doose syndrome.  Thus far the medication is not controlling his seizures, and we are just starting a second medicine. I blame myself for not returning to the States to have him; like I did with our daughter Ella.  I just couldn’t handle being separated as a family again.  I am thankful that this happened in the states though, I don’t think I could have handled this at all if we were in Bolivia.  And to be terribly honest, I didn’t handle it very well here at first either.

Coming back and dealing with all this, almost destroyed my marriage, it was just too much.  I was losing it, I think my husband was having his own issues with it which caused a lot of tension between us, and a lot of fights.  It was horrible, as we had spent all those years united in our fight against immigration, that when we finally won, it all started to fall apart.  Sometimes I think that my husband did not think he would ever be approved, because when we were, he was adamant that he did not want to return to the states, did not want our children raised here.  This broke my heart, as I had fought all those years and we spent all that money and I hadn’t seen my other children or family for over 7 years.  Now, of course, I realize he was scared, we worked hard and built a reputable company in Bolivia, my husband was living his dream as a musician and was able to work with some really famous people from all over the world.  He saw it as I was expecting him to just give it all up.  I don’t think he really considered the fact that the plan was always to come back, or he just expected a denial and figured I wouldn’t fight it.  He changed his mind after our oldest got sick, though he now claims he came back for me.  I did tell him I was going to leave either way… Yeah, maybe that was a little bitchy.  Damn though, sometimes a girl has to put her foot down when she has had enough.

Anyways, I ended up losing my job a few months ago that I started online in 2011 because of the stress and my inability to handle it.  You know, when you are living in exile, you have all these dreams about how perfect it will be to go home… not realizing how much you will miss what you do have. Nor that there will be a shock once the honeymoon wears off.  I have come to terms with my un-adventures in Bolivia.  I miss so much about being there…mainly having four perfectly healthy children, but that is not all.  Bolivia is part of me forever, I have a lot of unfinished business there, so to speak.

Things are getting better, we are rebuilding our lives state side, it is gonna take some time, coming back, starting from zero, has not been easy, but I already know that life goes on, no matter where you are.  All I know is that we can make it through anything as a family.

I really should have posted before now. I know that, but there was so much to be done and in so little time. Even now, I have so much to do. However, I think this is a good time to stop and take a moment for myself and get it out of my head.

Tomorrow it will be 8 weeks since I entered the States with the kids. One day after my husband entered. We were able to obtain a free ticket thanks to Jane! A good friend in this same situation. Jane had miles and even paid the fee out of her pocket for my husbands ticket. Between that and our GoFundMe campaign, we only had to pay for one ticket ourselves. It is so amazing to be blessed with so many that love and support us.

I was lucky enough to be able to get us approved for an apartment before we returned and secured it. We were even able to move in a week earlier than initially expected. Which was nice, to say the least. We got a place right in front of the pool and the kids seem to be adjusting well so far. Our oldest son does hate to go shopping, but with his recent diagnosis, he cannot eat all the things that he wants to.

Slowly, we are obtaining furniture, craigslist has been wonderful. I went to my father’s storage and got a load of stuff I left there all those years ago. So far it has been mostly toys. A word of advice, take any rubber bands off of barbies…they melt in the hot summer heat. There seems to be quite a few loads left. I know we don’t have much furniture. I think I only have one table and a small recliner, both for a toddler, which is great for our youngest. There is still so much we need. But, we do have somewhere to sit, sleep and have a roof over our head in the States as a family. I am grateful for it all.

We lost two beloved family members in Bolivia in the past two months. One right before we left and another two weeks after we left. We are saddened by the loss and are trying to celebrate the times we had with them.  I also lost an Uncle a little over a week ago, I had not been able to see him since we left in 2006.  I was able to meet up with my Aunt and Cousins to celebrate his life over dinner, it made me happy to see people I loved after so many years.  Then this past weekend my husband lost another Aunt after a long time of suffering.  It is hard to take it all in sometimes, so many people just gone from this life, we can only hold the memories of them close.

This morning is also the first day of school for my older three.  I am a little nervous with my oldest being type 1 diabetic, but I know the school and he can manage it.  It does not stop the worry though.  I took the younger two to their Elementary school and then the oldest to his Middle school and made it home without shedding a tear.   Tomorrow, I have to apply for head start for our 3 year old.

Sometimes, I think that it has not really sunk in that we made it here and I feel overwhelmed by the rush of things often.  Everyone is in such a hurry and many seem exasperated if you take a second too long to do anything (ie, checking out at the grocery store, stopping at a yellow light).  Of course, I did not drive often and my Spanish is not strong enough that I could not understand any griping back in Bolivia.   I am so happy to be back, but I still have this deep sadness, knowing that there are millions more families still suffering through this.

I really don’t have anything intuitive or some huge message here, but life keeps going even when we don’t.  It is almost like the past 7 1/2 years were the longest years of my life, yet passed by in a blur.  Yes, that is a contradiction, but from this side of exile, it seems like so long ago.

The hardest part about being back in the states is that I know my kids miss their Grandmother and Tias and Tios in Bolivia.  I must be honest, I miss our business.  I miss listening to music all day long and miss walking out my door and seeing the beautiful landscape.

All in all, we are doing well and so very proud of what we accomplished. Bolivia is forever a part of us and I look forward to returning someday and exploring the beauty of the country more.

So, here I sit, waiting. Much of this process has consisted of waiting for one thing or another. For a ban to expire, for documents, to save money. Add it all up and it has been 7 years, 5 months and 15 days or 2723 days that we have been waiting to step on a plane and go home as a family. Now that we are desperate to get our oldest son back for better care, I have lost my patience.

We have now discovered that it is nearly impossible to obtain enough needles for our son’s epipens to change them with each injection. They only give us 14 needles for a month supply of insulin. Even if we used the needles 5 times each like the Endocrinologist said we can, we still need more. He gets 3 injections of one each day and one of the other. We even went to a medical import company who has referred us to another company a 30-40 minute car ride away. All the while the embassy has put us into administrative processing. It states on the webpage that this can take weeks, last Wednesday we were told the visa was approved. On the website it states that visa issuance will occur within 2 days of visa approval. 3 business days later and it still shows as administrative processing with the date of June 4. They expedited the interview because of our sons medical emergency and now, nothing has happened since he last went to the embassy.

I am at a loss what to do next, should I go ahead and message them? Should I contact my legislators or should I just continue to wait? We also still do not have enough money for us all to fly home. We are a little over half way there on our campaign, and we also have not finalized our living plans stateside. Of course that is hard when I can’t get the embassy to finish up the visa issuance portion.

All I do know is I need to get my family home, now more than ever. I still don’t understand the timing of it all. I am just trying to put my faith in something more than myself, that we will get through this. Life sometimes makes it hard not to get discouraged though.

48 hours ago, I was not expecting the weekend that was thrust upon my family.  All 6 of us have been sick for a few weeks.  What started out as a cold has progressed quite far.  I should have know by the increase of temper tantrums that something was off.  This past Monday he was complaining of a stomachache and headache and could not finish his meals.  Monday also happened to be our daughter´s 6th birthday, all of which she has spent in Bolivia.  However, that is not a story for this post.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law took Daxito to one of the Dr´s they have at the pharmacies.  The Dr told them it was just indigestion, that he had eaten too much.  I decided not to go because I had already missed two hours of work for the day for Miss Ella´s birthday lunch.  Right now every centavo we have left over counts and I really can’t afford to take time off, for now.

When they came back with that my husband and I discussed all his symptoms, the main ones being burning/itching while peeing, stomachache, and headache.  We had also noticed a much higher frequency of urination and thirst.  So he went and spoke to a pharmacist that agreed it sounded like a urinary tract infection and gave him antibiotics.  As the week went on, he said that it no longer itched or burned when he urinated. Yet, he continued to complain of a stomachache and would not finish his meals.  The peeing slowed, but not back to normal by any means.  Saturday morning he woke up and wanted to take a shower.  I walked in and noticed he had lost a lot of weight, his eyes and cheeks were suddenly sunken in and he had dark circles around his eyes.  We started the process of having inlaws come help us. They took me and Daxito to the emergency room while others watched the three kids as the hubs had to work for a bit.  It was a lifesaver, my Spanish is nowhere near fluent and my sister-in-law knows me well enough to know how to help translate with her equally limited English skills.  Shortly after they got the IV started, the sickly look of death left his face. 

After the IV, they took his vitals and temp, noting that he did not have a fever.  They decided to order blood and urine tests after discussing all his symptoms.  Daxito, unfortunately, has issues with his veins like I do.  I tend to get poked at least 4 times before they listen to me and put it where I told them in the first place.  This after they already had done the same for the IV!  I must add, this is not a problem exclusive to Bolivia, all the ones I encountered in the States were pompous too.

Well, several hours later, the lady came back asking for a second blood test to confirm the finding of the first one.    Apparently, his electrolytes where high,  she asked me if I had a history of diabetes in my family.  After that, my sister-in-law talked to the Dr about ordering a glucose test, he confirmed it had not been one we paid for.  You have to pay for all tests, drugs and supplies before hand here.  Even running down when upstairs to buy the requested items before they will do most of the services needed.   My sister, Melissa, told me the day before that we should go and run a diabetes test when I was discussing the continuing symptoms on the phone with her.

A couple hours later it came back that his blood sugar was 436! I spent 27 hours in the hospital and have not slept for almost 40 hours now. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  Dax Sr. is with Daxito now, he is still in the hospital for observation.  We were unable to find his rapid acting insulin at any of the pharmacies, including the hospital pharmacy and had to special order it.   The Dr is going to send him home with enough to get us through until the order comes in.  The financial toll of this is just beginning to mount and these items cost double to triple here for the good brands you see in pharmacies in the states.  This with everything else has turned me into a ball of anxiety.  I know it will take time to adjust for all of us.  However, I know with diet and insulin he can live a long healthy life.  Of course as a mom all I want to do is make it go away for him and I don’t have that power. 

If any of you can say a prayer, share our story, tweet it, or even donate just $1 for our trip home; we need it now more than ever. 

Some pics of Daxito below, he will be 11 in a week and a half. 
Image                  Image                     Image

The response to our Gofundme Campaign has been awesome to say the least. We are a week in and we have hit $1120, enough for one ticket for sure.  So many people are supporting my family I cannot help but feel truly loved.  We have had some really hard times here in Bolivia and we are really so very close to getting out of here.  The financial aspect of it all is overwhelming, as I have said before.  We rent and most our furniture and appliances belong to relatives so we are not going to recoup much from the sale of belongings.  Couple that with what people are willing to pay for things and we are where we are.  The cost has been prohibitive for me to visit my family in the states alone all these years, now trying to do it with six people is nerve racking.  Like, how am I supposed to believe the airline only has 7 seats left for every flight between now and September.  Really, couple that with airfare being double what it was when I last came here and I can only bring one checked bag now?  Wow!

Include it all with the typical school issues my kids have, which now that my daughter goes to school with the boys, seems to be escalating.  I had hoped that the bullying issues would disappear for my daughter, nope, she has a corn fed boy bully that just won’t leave her alone.  I got into it with the bully’s mom last week after my daughter scratched him in the face defending herself.  No mention of the bruise on her eye she got when he punched her in the face, first.  But, that is okay, he is a boy, right?  I did not let it go this time, I told them exactly why I was so angry.  Every single time one of my kids gets into an argument or a scuffle it is the fault of my children, they did it all, including the bruises and scratches on their own bodies. I had never complained because, well kids are kids.  But, when a boy three times as wide as my borderline malnourished 6 year old daughter is blaming it all on her, there is no keeping me quiet.  What do I expect though from a country that has a problem with violence against women?   All I can think is the sooner we get the kids out of here the better.

I am tired of all the things that come with being a gringa in this country.  Being sneered at for being a Yankee.  While most people that frequent our home actually know that I am not some rich snob taking advantage of a cheap living situation. Yet, when people see the color of our skin, that is what they think.  I go to the grocery store to buy things instead of going to the cheap markets, because I know I am paying the same amount of money as everyone else that shops there.  I call it the tourist tax…Sadly, I cannot afford that tax, I must admit it would be nice to live one day like a tourist and not have to live hand to mouth.  At least we have all our bills paid.  We have nothing left to save, but our children are not begging in the streets or working instead of going to school like so many others that are less fortunate in this country.

So no matter how hard life gets, there are always those that are worse off.  I try to remind myself how truly blessed we are to have a roof over our head and food on the table, even if the kids sometimes complain about said food.  It is amazing how much change and positive things can come from our darkest times.  I am really looking forward to what lies ahead for us, because after Bolivia, I think I can do anything.

I was wholeheartedly shocked when 4 days after receiving an approval we got the instruction letter for visa issuance.  The only issue, is time, 3-4 weeks for one police report, while the narco trafficking report came back in one day.  So, we have already obtained a new birth certificate for my husband, my updated taxes and my father’s updated taxes as he is my husbands financial sponsor.  Yeah, you have to make enough money to sponsor your loved one or they cannot receive the visa, I fall short because we are a family of 6.  All we need to do now is update his medical and DHL in everything, once the one police report comes back.  After they receive all the requested documents they will schedule a new interview.  Between the medical and the new interview we are looking at around another $500 in fees.  Then we have the $165 fee just to print his green card.

After that, of course, there is the airfare home for a family of 6, currently coming in at $1060 a ticket.  Not to mention we have to get started in the USA, thankfully I have a job that can keep us from starving.  However, it has hit me that I still have to figure out a place to live and that takes additional money.  All the while continuing to pay for our life here until we leave, it is pretty overwhelming to say the least.  Of course, we cannot make any definite travel or living plans until we have the interview and know they will be printing his visa.  Because it could take 2 days, or it could take weeks, making planning nearly impossible.

Now I am not usually one to ask for handouts, but with the great financial leap we are facing is demanding it at this point.  My family is included in this fundraiser, through Fair Unity.  I also found this awesome site where you can gift as low as $1.  I thought about asking for AA mile donations, but it costs $150+ dollars per donation, kinda ridiculous if i do say so myself.  Anyways, I will accept anything.  I will also be creating a store soon on my facebook to sell some Bolivian items to help get us home.  Also, if anyone has any additional ideas I have not thought of…let me know!!!!

Hopefully, we will be able to be home sometime between mid-June and early July, in time to get the kids registered for the new school year in the States.  They keep asking when we are going despite the fact that I have told them they have to start the same school year all over again that they started in February.  We are also making them continue until we are leaving.  So much to do there, I have not even though of what I need from here to register them in school back home.  I keep finding more things that have to be done!!!

Update: After several requests I have created my own gofundme campaign. I also have been told that if someone has 55k-75k AA miles they can get one ticket for us.  I may actually have one lined up.  I am amazed and thankful with the outpouring of people that want to help in any way, even by just sharing our story!

There are defining moments in every person’s life.  Moments that shape us, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better.  Being human comes with a spectrum of possibilities.  We choose our paths always without knowledge of what the future holds.  It does not matter where you come from, there are no guarantees in life.  Whilst we plan away and hope for the best, unexpected things will always happen.  I am nowhere near being at peace with all the time lost.  I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for missing out on over 7 years of my daughter’s lives.  I was faced with a choice, with limited knowledge, believing this process would only take a year.  That will always be my regret, not knowing what I was walking into.

Monday was a really bad day for me.  I was so angry with the entire process.  I had several crying bouts throughout the entire day; without trigger.  I would just be writing a contract for work or reading a news story and burst into tears.  Honestly, we all have our limits and I was so close to hitting mine.  Of course, again, I prayed for patience and peace.  Somehow, with each prayer I was seeming to lose both quicker.  Then I just stopped looking at the blue dot of death on our case status check.  Tuesday and Wednesday I checked 3 times each.  Thursday I checked twice and didn’t even bother checking at the end of the work day.  I even went as far as telling my friends that someone had prayed for too much patience for me.

I stayed up till 2 am last night making cupcakes for my oldest son’s class.  He did not have to bring anything but asked for me to make some at 9:45 pm.  That is when I realized 40 kids in one class are way too many.  Obviously, I was tired when I got up to take them to school in the morning.  Thank goodness they did not have to wear uniforms today since they are celebrating Dia del Niño today.  I got them off to school, all three with goodies for their classes.  When I got back my husband was still in bed, I was so tired I am not sure what time he got home from his Translator gig.  He is a very lucky man, he gets to work with some really great bands when they tour in La Paz. The money is still crap compared to the same work back home, but today he is working with Axl Rose so…

My husband was gone when I got back up this morning.  I almost didn’t check USCIS…but it made me burn my breakfast.  It’s two hours later and I still have not eaten.  You see, that little blue dot move to post decision.  On April 10, 2014, they mailed the notice that they approved my husbands applications.  He is approved, we can go home as a family after all these years.  Of course we still have to wait for instructions from the embassy on what they want next.  It could be weeks, but hopefully we can be home to get them registered for the next school year.  I have actually checked it about 20 times since, just to make sure it’s real.

Of course this is just the beginning of the end.  We still have to navigate visa issuance and get back to the states where we will have to rebuild our lives again.  I am just grateful we have the opportunity to do so.