getting some perspective

Headaches & Hospitals

So I had my first Botswana hospital experience. I suppose it was only a matter of time. After all, I headed to the Emergency Room in Pakistan only a month after moving there in 2009. This time I made it almost two years in Botswana before being forced to navigate the bureaucracy, fluorescent glare, unknown medical infrastructure and curious medley of bedside manners that compose an ER in a foreign country. I had so many chances to avoid the encounter. TUESDAY: It started as a faint throbbing behind my eyes, as if I had been peering at my laptop too long in the dark (which is almost certainly the case). WEDNESDAY: I made a series of good decisions including calling in sick to work to soothe what I now believe were the beginnings of my first migraine headache. THURSDAY: I got too cocky. With no headache in evidence, I plunged full speed back into my normal work, gym, social and home schedule. I was punished for it around midnight when a wave of the worst pain I have encountered since childbirth hit me and I could do nothing but stumble around the bedroom howling, hoping not to wake Lila.

Do It Yourself Flood Relief

After my blog post in August on Pakistan’s flood crisis, you responded. Six of my friends back in the U.S. wrote in to ask how they could help. There are tons of great relief organizations working in the area of course, but my friends were looking to do something a little more “hands on.” Enter our grand plan: collect some funds, gather supplies, and get the stuff driven to the flood relief areas ourselves to deliver items by hand to families there. A wee bit more ambitious, but totally do-able with the support of a few friends stateside, a rented car, and my energetic house guy who took three days off from managing my life in Islamabad to launch operation flood relief. The flood-affected families have been receiving a lot of food and water, thanks to the aforementioned flood relief organizations, but it’s starting to get cold in Pakistan (yes, it gets surprisingly cold here) and warm clothes are an unmet concern for people who have lost everything. So we concentrated on getting as many fluffy sweaters, comfy sweatshirts, and woolly pants in the hands of people who would be needing them soon. Our stash looked pretty good before send-off, in Islamabad, complete with (subtly American color-coded) sign. Coming Next: Part II, Handing Out the Clothes. Thank you, everyone who pitched in!! […] Read More


Right now where I live, in Islamabad, the wide, clean streets are dry as a bone, the air is clear, and the sky is sunny. In the rest of Pakistan, massive and continuing floods are threatening to take over the whole country. It’s been raining a lot here in town over the last few weeks too, but Islamabad is in a secure little spot nestled right at the foot of the Himalayas so we’re on high ground. The most flood-related inconvenience I’ve had to endure was stepping in heels over a 4-inch deep puddle in the driveway of my office, which disappeared pretty quickly. Does everyone around the world know how bad the flood disaster in Pakistan is? It has already affected more people than Haiti’s earthquake and the Asian tsunami combined, but maybe because it is a slower disaster, it’s a less exciting story for the media. There isn’t one, dramatic moment of destruction where the buildings fall or the wave hits the shore. Just hour after hour of unrelenting monsoon rain, water inching up slowly and then faster to cover people’s homes, possessions, and millions of acres of crops. The death toll will climb more slowly as well. The first case of cholera was reported today, and children are already dying for that slow, very undramatic reason of lack of clean drinking water. The aid pledged for Haiti and the tsunami victims was in the billions; here the total pledged is about 209 million so far. It certainly doesn’t seem fair that Pakistan has to face this, as if natural disaster ever is fair. (Although how “natural” is this, or the Russian heat […] Read More