Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Lost in Coswig

Thanks for all the support, guys. I appreciate it, we both do. I think being able to write stuff down in this blog also helps a bunch, though I was feeling pretty embarrassed and sheepish about it afterwards. But Kevin was like, "WTF, we've been through cancer and you're feeling shy about a blog! C'mon! No shame!" and I was like, "You're right! No shame!" But thanks all for the kind words.

Since Kevin was feeling a lot better, I decided to take a ramble about town. Since we've been mainly posting grisly things about cancer and surgeries and being mentally bummed about cancer, I thought I'd write a normal, boring post about what it's like here and insert some photos so you guys can have a glimpse of what it's like here. (Ps: I uploaded the photos as an album on my FB, so apologies if these are dupes of what you've already seen)

I don't know jack about Coswig except that it's close to Dresden and has a hospital that is the leading center for thoracic surgeries. Also, the cafeteria (kantine) food is pretty decent as hospital food goes, but it's closed on weekends. I've already decided that I am going to eat a butt load of sushi when I get home. Kevin (the human, not the cat) concurs.

The heat finally let up, which not only improves the environs, but also moods. I woke up early, did 45 minutes of yoga in my dorm room, did another round of laundry for Kevin in my shower, and made myself yet another bread, pate, and salami sandwich in my room. I even went so far as to add some cucumber slices. I am going to miss super cheap, delicious pate when I go home. Also, I am getting better at doing laundry by hand. Being a pampered suburban brat, I have never done laundry without the aid of a machine. Also, Kevin is extra stinky. I don't call him my stinky tomcat for nothing. The first load (whites and grays) turned out okay but now that I am less pissy about doing laundry ("What? I have two degrees, speak three languages, am a games industry professional, and you want me to do... laundry!? You'll pay for bandwidth but not laundry service???" I keed, I keed. I was joking. Mostly.) I was determined to do better with the next load. The trick is to pre-scrub the stinky areas with bars of soap, rinse, then stir and soak with detergent, and then drain and rinse/soak a third time in clean water. It also takes FUCKING FOREVER. In my book, washing machines are now up there with air conditioning, the internet, and iPhones.

Then I started off for the hospital to see Kevin, a very short gravel/cobblestone walk through a bit of forest. Kevin's down to 4.0 on his epidural painkiller, which is really great progress. They also stopped one of his oral painkillers, the crazy effective-for-24-hours-and-not-approved-by-the-FDA-in-the-US one. He's feeling it a little bit, but not anything like what we experienced earlier this week. Thank the stars aligned for that.

I think being at the hospital has made both of us pretty antsy, but unfortunately Kevin is stilled tethered to his epidural. However, with the weather having cooled down, Kevin was feeling up to a nap so I thought this was a good opportunity for me to get outside and work out some of the anxiety I've had from being cooped up for the last week or so. I'm hoping Kevin can join me later this week!

I grabbed my Trader Joe reusable shopping bag (something I'm going to recommend on the guide I'm working on for English speakers who come to this hospital for similar procedures) and set off for a mild adventure. There were some ominous clouds looming ahead, but after about 2 weeks of being here, I realized the weather is very similar to Japan. Liable to change at any minute, but with the way the winds were blowing, no rain shower was going to last longer than 10 minutes.

Once I got out of the main road leading up the hospital I just turned down a side street and started walking. My vague goal was to get lost in the suburban area near the hospital, using the church spire we could see from our hospital room as a directional guide.

 I took this shot with my iPhone after I'd been wandering towards it for a while. I found the railroad tracks and followed the path next to it. I suppressed to urge to play with several dogs on the way. I think several of the people around here think of me as the crazy foreigner who speaks no Deutsche but lavishes affection on their dogs.

The area is really lush with greenery, especially this time of year. It rained nonstop when we got here and was actually a bit cold (SF cold) before it turned muggy and hot. Most of the homes in the area seem to have gorgeous gardens. Here's a sassy, splendid example:

After picking my way through several apartment buildings, I ran into a freakin' sweet playground. It had all sorts of cool structures to climb up on, including a well with a chain ladder that you could climb down into, a bridge made of logs that was actually pretty sturdy, and some wigwam-looking structures.

I feel sorry for Irvine kids with their plastic, child-safe playgrounds, in boring sand.
After threading my way through more apartment buildings I stumbled onto what seemed to be the main street. But it was Sunday, so almost everything was closed. Except for a schwarma place. With the cafeteria closed, I bought me some foodz for lunch/dinner and continued onward. I also bought a very interesting salty yogurt drink. Hm.

Meanwhile, I kept trying to make it towards the church spire.

Got sidetracked by a boarded up old building that looked interesting purely because its windows were broken and boarded up. I wonder if anyone lives in there or if it's still being used for something. I can see cloth peeking through the top windows, but the doors are all boarded up... SOME KIND OF GRISLY HORROR/GHOST STORY, PERHAPS?

Then I rounded the corner and made it to the church. Hooray!

What is this symbol? Does anyone know?

At this point, some dark clouds moved directly over me and gusts of wind were starting to blow. Armed with only schwarma and a reinforced plastic grocery bag, I try the church doors. So much for sanctuary. Despite it being Sunday (or perhaps because), this church is closed. But luckily, it's not coming down too hard and I escape the worst of it huddled under some trees, using my grocery bag as cover.

In about 15 minutes it looks like this:

Welp, since I've reached my destination I decide it's time to head back, using the most circular, roundabout way back I can think of. The sky is getting steadily darker and while I don't mind getting wet, I do mind replacing my iPhone. I've seen it come down hard when the clouds get this bleak-looking. Plus, I am wearing suede flats. Call it feminine vanity, if you will.

On the roundabout way back I run into a farm of some sorts, with horse and some geese. The horse flirts with me, extending its head out past the railing and flitting from side to side. Honestly, it probably thought I had apples or sugar, or whatever it is horses crave, in my bag. It started munching on the grass in front of my feet. I debate whether it will bite me if I pet its nose and also whether it will get sick if I feed it shit from my schwarma wrap. There are also some fucking angry geese honking at me nonstop.

"Oh yeah!? Whadda ya think you're lookin' at, punk?"

"I'm a horse. Dupe dupe dupe dupe."

I get so distracted by the animals, I fail to notice the sky has darkened considerably. Enter rainstorm #2. Except now I'm on a suburb street lined with dinky trees, and it's really coming down hard. I duck under the least wussy-looking one, and hope bugs don't fall on me. There's some gnarly looking fruit/nuts on this tree, spiky and fuzzy all at once. I really, really hope bugs don't fall on me. As the rain comes down harder, I give up. Luckily one of the houses next to the tree I'm standing under has a car port and the gate is open. I dash for cover and hope the people aren't home.

The last leg of this mini-adventure is pretty uneventful. The rain eventually stops after coming down hard, but it only lasts ten minutes, tops. I decide I better stop circling around and should head back towards the hospital in earnest, but I have no idea where I am. That was kinda the point when I started. So I pick the direction that I think I need to head back towards and cross apartment building courtyards and random little side roads, just so that I'm in a direct line back (I think).

Then I start to get worried, because I kinda have a terrible sense of direction, but fortuitously a pug walks by and distracts me. Add one more Coswig resident who thinks I'm weird. But it was SOOOOO CUTE and I love pugs! I decide if the next corner doesn't work out, I'm going to try and ask someone directions.

But round the bend I go and lo and behold, it's Kaufland! The supermarket where I pick up delicious cheap pate, salami, and bread. I know how to get back from here.

I make it back to the hospital, and who's waiting for me?

KEVIN, that's who!

I'd been trying to find him again for a while now. I wanted to get a good shot of him, he was such a pretty and friendly kitty. But every time I dropped low to take a picture, he'd come up and try and rub up against me. Since the other Kevin is deathly allergic to cats and is recovering from lung surgery, I thought it would be better not to uh, induce any asthma attacks.

But then, I guess I should have known better. Cats always win.While I was trying to get a decent shot, Kevin did this:

It's like he just knew I was trying to avoid coming into contact with him. He was also a bit wet. Did that stop him from curling up in my lap and nuzzling his darling little head into my arm, and kneading his cute little white paws into my leg?

Of course not.

"I'm a cute bastard and I know it. Kinda like the other Kevin"

I ended up spending the next 10-15 minutes assiduously picking cat hair off the front of my shirt and jeans, before deciding I better just go back and change. 

Human Kevin is still lying peacefully on his bed, trying to get some shut eye. There are two puppies barking right outside his window (of course). All is right with the world, a perfect end for a very pleasant day. 

P.S. Apologies for the weird formatting issues. The track pad on my Macbook is going out. Keeps thinking it's pushed down when it's not. Bah.


  1. Connie, walk across the grass field in front of the clinic and climb onto the other train tracks. There's an abandoned train station with weeds and broken bottles just off to the right. It's eerie and fun being there - almost like a visit into the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 2, or similar.

    Have you tried soljanka? It's a soup I recommend.

    1. Oh man, ok definitely gonna ramble that way. They cut Kevin loose, so maybe I can get him to come with me. If I see soljanka, I will try!

  2. Sounds like an awesome adventure. Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. Thanks for the update, Connie. Glad you got a break from the hospital with some exploring. You guys are awesome. We miss you.

  4. The symbol looks very close to a Masons symbol. Glad you guys are doing well! Can't wait for you to return!

  5. This srsly made me lol,

    "It also takes FUCKING FOREVER. In my book, washing machines are now up there with air conditioning, the internet, and iPhones."

    Happy to hear from you guys. Give Kevin our best and stay tough! :)