Monday, September 30, 2013

In case you missed it…

…somebody in Rzeszów went too far. Read about it here.
Apparently, the headmasters of public primary school #27 in Rzeszów have lost it. As they do every year, this school is celebrating Christian Culture Week.
Here’s the breakdown of the schedule:
Z internetowej strony SP nr 27 w Rzeszowie - propozycje tematów realizowanych na lekcjach (pisownia oryginalna):
Informatyka: Utworzenie prezentacji o Sanktuariach Maryjnych naszej diecezji
Matematyka: Rozwiązywanie zadań tematycznie związanymi z sanktuariami
J. polski: Pisemna prace: List do Papieża Franciszka z podziękowaniem za Sanktuaria Maryjne z zaznaczeniem o obchodach Tygodnia Kultury Chrześcijańskiej, który stał się tradycją naszej szkoły oraz prośbą o błogosławieństwo dla wszystkich uczniów, nauczycieli i pracowników naszej szkoły
Religia: Omawianie i poznawanie sanktuariów w naszej diecezji
Historia: Chronologiczna segregacja Sanktuariów Maryjnych diecezji rzeszowskiej
Język angielski/niemiecki/francuski: "Zdrowaś Mario" w różnych językach
Muzyka: Śpiewanie i nauka Pieśni Maryjnych
Przyroda: Tworzenie mapy wybranych Sanktuariów Maryjnych diecezji
Plastyka: Malowanie lub wyklejanie obrazu Matki Bożej
Świetlica: Film o tematyce Maryjnej
Wystawa na korytarzu: Figurki Matki Bożej, książki o Matce Bożej, obrazy, prace uczniów. W czasie przerw prezentacja multimedialna o Sanktuariach Maryjnych
Did somebody say “ja pierdole”?
Kids who don’t want to participate in Christian Culture Week can go to the library, but the main principal meant only during mass. Yep, mass. Where can those kids go to escape the above lessons with a Catholic theme? On the list there’s IT, math, Polish, catechism (as expected), history, foreign languages, music, science, art and even in the day room (the place kids who don’t go to catechism are often sent). What can non-Catholic teachers say? Probably nothing, unless they want to wave bye-bye to their jobs.
I teach a boy who goes to Catholic school. They had Jewish Culture Week last year and every year. It involved Polish, history and music lessons and was very well-received by parents and students alike. I see a distinct difference between those two “Culture Weeks”. In my opinion, Jewish Culture Week was just that, a week to become more familiar with the culture of the Jewish faith. Christian Culture Week in this school in Rzeszów sounds more like “Our Parish Days”.
The headmasters defend themselves with this:
The topics for the lessons are only suggestions, but are appropriate to each subject and within proper learning objectives. No one or almost no one protested in the past and the majority rules. Children are not required to participate (they mean only mass and catechism class).
In my experience, most people that I have talked to who support catechism at public school feel that the possibility to opt-out of catechism is enough of an allowance for non-Catholics. And that’s the core of our disagreement. If my children were students of this school in Rzeszów, I would most likely keep them home for the whole week. They would receive the dreaded “1” which is an “F” in the States for all the assignments. Older kids can straighten out what they believe, what the school promotes, and what their parents think about it, but this is elementary school. Not fair in my opinion and quite nachalny.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Part of my getting my shit together plan is to come to terms with the past and resolve any conflicts while looking ahead into the future. At least that’s what it says on the list.
Well, I’m not exactly going to do that.
I have one personal conflict in the family with my mother-in-law. It doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m not in need of patching things up just in case one of us were to pass on. It is what it is.

However, I thought I would just write something about the time I was ill, just to get it out. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t even like to think about and avoid the topic altogether if anyone asks me about it.
I started to think about it again after reading an article about pain. You see, pain was my most dominant symptom.
The article which appeared in Gazeta Wyborcza’s supplement Duży Format. Wyłam z bólu. Oni pytali: co za śmieć tu leży? is the title of the interview of patient Anna Kleszcz by Grzegorz Sroczyński. The title in English would be “I howled in pain and they asked: what’s this piece of trash lying here?”
“Przez dwa lata prowadziłam prywatne śledztwo, na ile powszechne jest to, co mi się przydarzyło. Tortury w polskich szpitalach są niestety zgodne z prawem.” (“For 2 years I have led a private investigation of how common it is what happened to me. Torture in Polish hospitals in unfortunately in accordance with the law.”) Anna Kleszcz is fighting so that what happened to her and still happens to other parents each day will change. I wish her all the best. After reading her story, I felt like I knew her.

Ms. Kleszcz suffered from an abscess on her spinal cord. I cannot imagine the pain she suffered, but I can identify with what I can only call cruelty of the medical personnel which by not easing her pain, in fact, tortured her until she lost consciousness and almost until she lost her sanity. It reminds me of one of my doctor’s commenting to the other, “Do something. You are turning this poor woman into a crazy person.” And crazy with pain, I was.
In my case and in Ms. Kleszcz’s, the hospital did not lack the drugs or the means to administer them. The drugs are neither expensive nor addictive. They simply lacked normal human decency, and it is not an isolated incident. Ms. Kleszcz has the data to back up her claims. Additionally, she is collecting cases of patient suicides. People of all ages some with serious illnesses, others without, all sharing in pain, throwing themselves out of hospital windows or down hospital stairs. This is the determination and desperation of patients to end not their lives, but their pain.

I’m not surprised by Ms. Kleszcz’s shocking treatment. I was once that crazy lady writhing and screaming in pain in many a Polish hospital and no I’m not referring to giving birth. For that you scream in pain for awhile, but soon it all goes away and you get to go home with a baby. I just got, “We don’t know what’s wrong with you, but we suspect it’s all in your head.” Then they write on your release papers that you’re sick in the head but in Latin. You take those papers to the next doctor who starts out prejudiced against you and that’s how you go without diagnosis or treatment from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital.
In the hospital they ask you to stop screaming, then they tell you sharply, then they start screaming. After that they send in the head shrinker. In my experience when you tell the head shrinker to go and fuck herself, you’re not any closer to getting the pain meds you need, but I did thank her (give her the finger) for suggesting meditation and acupuncture. That was right after I begged her for mercy. She showed me none.
I was tested and examined inside and out over more than a year. Every orifice was probed and if you could camera in there, then they did. They even cut some pieces from some pretty strange places and tested them but all was normal except the pain, the pain which kept growing stronger and encompassing more and more of my body.
In one hospital when I told the doctor that my bladder hurt (the main, but not only source of my pain) she said it was impossible. I insisted. She laughed and asked, “How do you know it’s your bladder?” I pinched her arm hard and twisted. She screamed, “Ow! What do you think you are doing?!”  I asked, “Did that hurt?” She shouted, “Yes, it hurt! You pinched my arm!” “How do you know it’s your arm?” I asked. That doctor didn’t help me either.

Countless doctors visits, hospital stays, tests, procedures, research. After 2 years of constant and increasing pain,I could tell you what I didn’t have. I didn’t have stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, stomach cancer, intestinal cancer, or bladder cancer. I did not have ulcers on the inner bladder wall nor bacteria embedded in the wall. There definitely was not a parasite of any kind in my bladder, stomach or intestinal tract, believe me, you don’t want to know how they check it. Additionally, I did not have TB of the kidneys, an ailment I did not even know existed. Although a very stupid ER doctor diagnosed me with kidney stones, my kidneys (as well as my liver) were all clear. Incontinence was not a problem either and bladder capacity seemed to be normal, well, normal for me (no gold medal bladder awards for me even before I was ill).
What did I have? Constant pain, at first starting in my bladder and then taking over practically my whole body along with the never-ending urge to urinate. Add to that intestinal spasms and the slow numbing of my backside and thighs and I was a wreck.
That’s the first time I ever thought that life was too long. I had ‘lived’ 2 years already with this pain and I couldn’t imagine living 2, 3 or 10 more. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I barely ate or drank. I daydreamed about death the way people dream about winning the lottery. But just like the lottery, winnings rarely come right before you spend your last penny, and quick and painless accidental deaths rarely come to those contemplating suicide. I was gonna have to take matters into my own hands.
And I will leave that subject there.

I traveled all over Poland for treatment. I also went to a private hospital in Germany which sent me back to Poland untreated but on the right path to finding a proper diagnosis. I finally found help with doctor #28. Despite my informing him that the medical community was a kurwidół and all doctors were kurwy, he still treated me. (translated to whore’s den and whores – such a proud moment of speaking Polish but I was too sick to enjoy it) He told me what he thought my problem was based on my symptoms and test results. He suggested a treatment method and a time frame. His plan included pain relief. It took almost 5 months before any noticeable change took place, but while taking the pain meds I could sleep a bit. I could eat. After one year, I could smile. After a year and half we starting a weaning plan. After 2 years I was pain-free and thinking about children. I’ve had one relapse since then which was taken care of in a matter of weeks of treatment by the same doctor. It’s a pity he was not doctor #1.
There it is. I’ve got it out.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Grają nie fair

The first day of school was Monday czyli yesterday. Knowing that the kids in Poland are automatically signed up for Religia czyli catechism, Misiu went to Rosie’s new kindergarten teacher to sign her out. The teacher told Misiu not to worry about it and that he could officially sign her out at the class meeting on Wednesday czyli tomorrow. No worries, right?
Today, czyli Tuesday, Rosie attended Religia czyli catechism and informed us that she needs a book for Religia. She’s only 5. This happened in pre-school as well. That’s why Misiu stepped up on Monday. I think the school is not playing fair.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The first day of school in Poland…

Today, I officially have a 2nd grader and a kindergartener. Our kindergartener is also missing her first tooth. She was so jealous of her older sister who lost 3 teeth in one week and cleaned up moneywise from the tooth fairy. Anticipation really must sweeten the situation because I have never seen a child more happy to find a coin under her pillow than our little Rosie. As per tradition, she asked the tooth fairy to leave her tooth behind as well, so I did. I mean the tooth fairy did. Of course, the tooth fairy did.
Anyhow back to the first day of school – The first day of school in Poland is always the first Monday of September. That you can depend on, and well, only that. Oh and maybe that the kids are supposed to dress galowa which had me confused at first until someone told me it doesn’t mean to dress for a gala, just to dress up a little. Let’s say today we were hipster galowa.
Anyhow, the time your child starts and the time your child finishes the first day of school, nobody knows, sometimes not even the teacher. In my girls’ school, the older kids started at 8 a.m. with the next smaller kids starting at 9 a.m. and the kindergarteners started at 10:00. By noon they were all back home and by they I mean kids plus Daddy because with the little ones, a parent (or other adult family member) has to take a day off from work to accompany the kids to school, collect all the papers and forms, and spend the rest of the day with the kids probably at Tesco buying notebooks and crayons and other school supplies.
Luckily, our Rosie got the kindergarten teacher we were hoping for. It is Lizzie’s former pre-school teacher. We had the choice to send Rosie to kindergarten in pre-school (subsidized but still paid) or to kindergarten in school (not paid except for materials, meals and extras). Lizzie attended kindergarten in pre-school for the sole reason that she had  great teachers. Rosie is attending kindergarten in school for the sole reason the her pre-school teachers really stank. One was fired for striking a child and she was the best one! Tomorrow, Rosie will eat in the school cafeteria for the first time. I can’t wait to hear her reaction.
As per Polish school scheduling, Lizzie starts and finishes at a different time each day. It’s odd for me that a 7-year-old starts at 10:45 and finishes at 2:30 one day and then starts at 8:00 and finishes at 11:30 the next day, but whatever. At least they put catechism as the first or last lesson. And let that be a lesson to you all, complaining loudly works.
Happy, happy school year to you all!