Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Final Day in Belgium: Leuven and bus ride home

Saturday April 30, 2011

Saturday was our last day in Belgium.  I awoke around 6 am with an extreme pain in my back.  It hurt so bad to breath or lay down so I got up, packed my bags and took a small walk around Jette (the suburb where our hostel was).  At 8:45, the teachers packed up the bags and we headed to St. Pieter's College to pick up our students.  The students said good-bye to their host families and we boarded the bus.  The Belgium students were going to take the train and meet us in Leuven, a small town outside of Brussels.  We were not leaving for Czech Republic until around 6 pm so we had all day to explore the beautiful city.
    As the day went on, my back pain got worse and worse.  It felt like if my ribs were in my back, stabbing into my muscles.  It hurt to breathe, sit, stand, basically I was a mess.  But the trooper that I am, I didn't let on about how much pain I was in until later in the day (to be explained later in the story).  When we arrived in Leuven, we split into two large groups.  Each group was led by some Belgium teachers who took us on a tour of the historic city.  Even though it may not look it, it actually costs A LOT more to live in Leuven than it does to live in Antwerp or Brussels.
   We started our tour in another  Beguinage establishment.  Just like in Brugge, women came there to live and created a community.  Nowadays, it is used for University Professor housing or for students who are at the university on scholarship.  Leuven is mainly a university town.  About 80 percent of the town is attending the university or once they have graduated, have settle down in Leuven and opened a business.

   After our tour, we gave the students an hour for lunch, and us teachers, had a great lunch at a cafe in the market area.  The market has over 37 pubs and restaurants and is a favorite spot for university students to come for lunch and in the evening to relax...or party....depending on your preference.

At the end of the market is a statue of a lady on a bench.  The lady is "nanny" of sorts.  There is a Dutch word, but I cannot remember it.  She is like the "house mother" of the children at the dormitory and watches of them and helps them with their homework.  She looks tired and exhausted...and we all know as teachers how hard it is to take care of kids all the time :)

We then met up with the students at the Grand University Library.  When the library was built, they needed help with the finances and so several American Universities help to finance the library.  All along the walls of the library you can find names of American Universities sketched into the stone.  We gave the students a couple hours for shopping and us teachers did the same. I only did some window shopping, since my back hurt to bad to try on any clothes.

They ran out of money to finish building the church
that is why one side is shorter than the was suppose
be much taller as well.
This is my favorite picture.  You just
turn down a side street, and you find
yourself seeing the most amazing views
This picture is for my dad.  A local
artist created this to represent how
you preserve insects.  My dad has
a butterfly collection done the same way
    Finally we all met up again at 6pm and said our good-byes to our new Belgium teachers/friends and the students said good-bye to their Belgium partners.  Some students were sad to leave their new friends, we even had an exchange romance between a Czech girl and Belgium boy that had started three months earlier when he had come to Tabor.  Some students were very happy to leave their Belgium partners.  Not every student made long lasting friendships, or friendships at all, but everyone appreciated the fact that they got to experience a new culture and learn new things.
     We left Leuven at 6pm and didn't arrive in Tabor, Czech Republic until 6am.  That was the worst 12 hours of my life.  My back was in excruciating pain and there was just not comfortable position to get into.  I managed to sleep for an hour here and there but the bus stopped about every two hours on the way home, so there was no way I was sleeping much.  About 2am, I was in so much pain, the tears flowed and there was no way to stop them.  I was in so much pain, I was so tired, and I just wanted to get home so I could sleep in my own bed.  To give a simile as to what I was feeling, it was like a hundred knives being stabbed into my back and being twisted and twisted and then re not good.
   I finally made it to my own bed at 7am and tried to sleep.  The pain became worse so I called Romana and she took me to her doctor.  The doctor was very nice and I was so thankful that she would see me on a Sunday.  I got an injection and some pain medication and hoped that I would feel better.  The diagnosis:  a strained muscle.  My stupid back muscles were inflamed and not happy with me.  I am only 35 and my body should not be falling apart.  I guess I slept wrong and all it took was one wrong move of my body and my muscles raged war against me.  I stayed home from school on Monday because I couldn't move and Romana took me back to the doctor.  I got another injection and made an appointment to see a rehabilitation massage therapist on Tuesday. Here in the Czech Republic some massage therapist are licensed doctors...the Czech Republic actually sees the medical benefits of massage here, unlike in the USA.
It is hard to see, but the darker brown colors
are the acupuncture band-aids.  Beneath
those "band-aids" are needles stuck in
my ear.
   She is AMAZING.  She worked on some pressure points and was able to get me so that I could breath a little bit without pain.  She also did some acupuncture in my ear.  I am willing to try new things, so this was a first for me.  I have never had acupuncture before but now I have three needles stuck in my ear.  It is the coolest thing.  It really does help my back.  You can't tell I have needles in my ear, it just looks like band-aides, but on the other side of those band-aides are needles in my ear.  I am suppose to keep them there for about a week. I had to stay home from work on Tuesday as well and went back to work on Wednesday.  I saw my massage therapist again on Wednesday and I am definitely making progress.  I still can't take large, deep breaths but at least I can breath, walk, sit, and lay down with minimal pain.  Always so new adventure for me....if things went the way they were always suppose to go, or if everything went smoothly, well then...I would have nothing to blog about :)

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