Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 4

None of the kids in isolation were allowed out of their room today, not even to go to the preschool room away from the other kids. There was a very strict nurse on duty. We had aides in the room with us for most of the day, so it was quite crowded. None of the sick kids (Lea-Celine, Ion, Petre, Andreea, and Cristi) wanted to eat much today, but when they wouldn’t eat, they were given bottles with a weak tea, which they seemed to like. Malika, the preschool teacher, spent time in the kids’ room with us and is wonderful with them, of course. She sang to them and talked to them in Romanian.

Celine was in a better mood, for the most part. Mostly, she was tired, and that resulted in flip-flopping between cuddly and cranky. She had a leg massage and stretch session, which melted away most of the tension in her leg muscles. One of the Jeans (two volunteers are named Jean; they are both school physical therapists—in the same school, I believe—and they look like they could be sisters!) told me to try stretching her feet because they need to be at a 90-degree angle from her ankles for her to be able to stand properly. She has amazing upper arm strength; she has to! At first glance, I thought she had been pulling herself up to a standing position, but then I realized that there was very little weight on her feet—if there was any at all. She can hold herself up on things like a trapeze artist!

Ion seemed to be in a much better mood, as well, except at feeding time when he didn't particularly want to eat. Today was Petre’s “Name Day.” This custom originated with the Catholic and Orthodox calendar of saints; believers, named after a particular saint, celebrate that saint’s feast day. So obviously, today was the feast day of St. Peter. Petre adores praise; when we clap for him and say “Bravo!” he looks very proud of himself and claps along with us. So when Dan told us it was Petre’s name day, we cheered for him; he had no idea what was going on, but he knew that people were clapping and saying his name, so it was exciting for him!

Lauren and I met Raul today and got him out of bed. Raul is eight months old and has epidermolysis bullosa, a severe skin condition that causes horrible blisters, both internally and externally. It’s a genetic condition, not contagious, so the masks and gloves we have to wear to visit him are for his benefit. It is estimated that 50 in 1 million live births are diagnoses with EB, but as it turned out, Raul’s twin had it, as well, and he died at one month. Apparently “Butterfly Children” is a term often used to describe younger EB patients, because the skin is said to be as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. Raul requires specialized medical supplies that won’t harm his sensitive skin; almost his entire body is wrapped in gauze everyday, so that he looks almost like a mummy child.

Lauren found that Raul likes to look out the window, so after she left the room, I held him up in a sitting position on the changing table so he could look at the trees, the trucks, and the sky. At one point, I took a hand away to fix my glasses, and he reached up to put it back on his waist. It’s clear that he craves contact with other people. He was very calm, alert, and sweet. My heart has been stolen. :-)

I held Maria-Cleopatra today, and she has gotten a lot bigger since last summer. I couldn’t hold her very long because my arm was incredibly uncomfortable, and I didn’t want it to give out and result in her head falling backwards. We settled her on the floor so that I could hang out with her for a bit. There seems to be some disagreement about the best way to position her on the boppy pillow, but she seemed to tolerate both ways.

I also spent a little time with Ionut, who is around 3 years old and has neurological problems. He gets overstimulated quite easily, so I tried not to bother him too much. I also played with Andreea and Roxana, a set of gorgeous twin girls. Andreea loves to dance when the music is on. I tried to feet Roxana her bottle in the afternoon, but she didn’t seem to want it.

When I visited the mobile playroom, I played with Alina, who grabbed my glasses and broke my mask string. She’s quick! And still as happy as ever. I don’t think she has gained much, if any, weight since last summer.

This afternoon, I brought my suitcase full of donations over. These were mostly clothes, thanks to gently used hand-me-downs from Savannah and a 90% clearance sale at Kohl’s (with an added 15% shopping pass!). I also brought some toys. Mihaela (country manager) dressed little Mihaela in the yellow dress that had belonged to Savannah, as well as a matching hair bow. I hope to play a little bit of dress-up with the kids tomorrow.

Many of the mobile children were taken out for a walk. The weather forecast called for 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms this week, but we had lovely weather throughout the day. It was a little overcast, but no rain, and a comfortable temperature.

Tonight we had dinner at the Trattorio Da Vinci (or something like that). It consisted of yummy pasta and our choice of dessert; I chose a fruit tart, which was quite good, and I also treated myself to a White Russian. After dinner, we went to the Interex grocery store. I’ve been hungry A LOT between meals, sometimes because I don’t like everything we have and partly because I just get hungry. So I grabbed some supplemental stuff to keep in my room—bananas, a loaf of bread (some kind of wheat, maybe with sunflower seeds?) and the obligatory bar of Milka alpine milk chocolate. I also got a box of shelf-safe soy milk to use at breakfast (because I don’t drink the milk here at the hotel; it was confirmed that it is boiled, not pasteurized, and that may have caused some of my stomach troubles since last summer) and a case of 8 Actimel yogurt drinks (kind of like Activia) to last me the next week. All of that for about $10!

Some people are going on trips this weekend, and others are leaving for good (most of the team, actually). I plan to stay here, finally settle in (for real) and relax. Do some blogging and reading and catching up on Glee and True Blood. Yay! I can’t wait.

P.S. for those who are wondering: Gabriella (Mihaela’s twin) is currently in Iasi for tests and should return on Friday, and teeny-tiny Nicoletta is in the hospital with pneumonia, hopefully returning soon.

Maggie and Andreea





Ramona (social worker) and Ion

Celine, pulling herself up at Cristi's crib


Lauren and Raul



Mihaela in a pretty yellow dress

Cristi, looking like a smurf


Genie and Daniela


  1. LOL love the picture of smurf Cristi!! Thanks for blogging and keeping me updated!!

  2. Thanks for telling us so much about the kids - I had tears reading about Raul. I want to get him something to watch when he can't be by the window!

  3. Give Petre a big hug and kiss for me. I miss my little guy so much! I was in Romania for 3 weeks at the end of April and into May. It makes me sad he's been so sick lately... Thanks for keeping me updated!

    Becky Reichel