Archive for the ‘ Lodging in Belgrade ’ Category

Doing laundry

TIP: Take stock of the apartment upon arrival. You never know what may have been added or left behind and you’ll probably need to go shopping for a few things.

The Soap

I brought laundry soap (travel-sized liquid Tide) with me to Belgrade. As it happened, there was laundry soap in the apartment (an open bag beside the machine and a unopened bag in the cabinet below the bathroom sink) though I didn’t see them the first couple of days.

I did use the Tide for the first couple of loads but once I spotted the powdered stuff I began using that. I would think the machine will operate sufficiently with liquid but I saw only powdered soap residue in the machine so from that point I used the powdered soap.

At home while using powdered laundry soap, I typically place the soap into the washer while the machine is filling with water. Once I’m relatively sure there soap has dissolved, then I add the laundry. Though I added soap to this machine before starting the wash/dry process, I did not have undissolved soap in my laundry.


The Machine

The clothes washer/dryer in the Jovanova apartment (address Gospodar Jovanova 25) is a Hotpoint Ariston model ARMXXL 129. There was a operator’s manual in the apartment (lower kitchen drawer while I was there) and I even found the manual online – but not in English.

I have no doubt that any of you who go to Belgrade and have to use this unit will be able to figure it out for yourselves. Then again, since I’m sitting here doing nothing anyway, why don’t I give you the basics so you have a head start?

In short, this unit both washes and “dries” in one very long, uninterruptible process. Here are some high points:

  • I say “dries” because it’s more like “steams” and the clothes do not come out completely dry.
  • Uninterruptible because while the unit is in operation the door locks.
  • Long because the process will take a minimum of 3 hours to complete.
  • Though the unit is a XXL, the load capacity is pretty small.
  • The more laundry you put in, the more wrinkled the clothes will be when you take them out.


    Sometimes I did laundry at night, other times during the day. The machine is not very noisy and there is no buzzer to indicate it has finished.

    The first load I washed included a pair of blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a fleece jacket, among other things, and the jeans and t-shirt were very wrinkled when I took them out. Fortunately, there is a ironing board and an iron in the apartment.

    For those items you don’t want or need to iron, there is a rack from which to hang the laundry so it can finish drying.

    Because the machine could not hold a lot I washed laundry as I had enough to fill it (after the hospital this was every second or third night).

    I did not use fabric softener nor did I need it. Since the clothes did not dry completely there was no chance for the fabrics to build static electricity (aka static cling).

    The clothes on the rack in this photo were the sum of one load (7 towels both small and medium, 2 t-shirts, and 3 boxer briefs). As I mentioned, while in the apartment after surgery I only had to do laundry every second or third day. I spent the vast majority of my time in underwear and a shirt.


    Operating the machine

    Operation is simple:

    1. Add soap
    2. Turn machine on
    3. Set dials
    4. Press start


      Here is what you need to know:

      Since I was without a readable owner’s manual I just tried to figure out the symbols. Most of them are unfamiliar but decipherable.

      Click on the photo to see more detail

      The settings on the dial on the left match the symbols further left.

      I decided to use setting #3 and used that the whole time I was in Belgrade.

      The left side of the panel opens so the laundry soap can be added. The bag of soap calls for 150ml of soap for a normal load (more if the laundry is more soiled). There was a plastic scoop with measurement markings in the bag of soap while I was there.

      To the right side of the panel are the dials and buttons you’ll use to get your laundry on the road to cleanliness if not dryness.

      You’ll want to turn all three dials to the desired setting. As I said, I used setting number 3 on the first dial. On the second dial I used 60° and on the third I chose the symbol which resembles a bureau or closet. (For a couple of loads I used setting number 6 and 90°. Though the symbol shows a medical cross, 90° is not hot enough to provide sterilization)

      Why the closet? I decided that setting was likely to get my laundry as close to dry as it would get. The two symbols below it (a hanger and an iron) seem to imply less dry because the clothes will be hung or ironed. To me that meant the bureau (or closet) setting implied the clothes should be able to be folded and put away. Of course, they weren’t quite that dry but they were very, very close.

      As for the uppermost symbol… For all I know the symbol that looks like a sun means the laundry will be as dry as if it were on the surface of that great star. I don’t know. I didn’t try it.


      Post-op Day 6: A good day and a shower!

      A Tylenol day.

      This was a great day.

      I slept until around 0900 (thanks to the blackout blinds) and woke feeling really good. I had plenty of energy and almost no pain so over almost 3 hours I had two cups of coffee, put a load of clothes in the washer, fixed food, washed dishes, put a few things away, and even took a bunch of photos for the blog. By the time I settled down I was ready for it, lol. The bandages were a little irritating with the walking (waddling) but not painful.

      Don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t buzzing around the apartment like a mad man, lol. I was moving pretty slowly and was definitely being careful to keep my legs apart. We’re supposed to be walkin’ like a cowboy, remember?

      The only issue I really had was that my suprapubic catheter just wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing. After all of that productivity I was sitting (slouching, lol) on the couch and chatting online with a couple of people when I realized that my urine bag wasn’t filling. I went to the bathroom to take the tubes apart to flush them but just from moving around and messing with them they started working again. I chalked it up to a pinched tube and went back to my relaxing afternoon on the couch.

      Around 1730
      Marko showed up to check on things. He removed the bandages except the tape around my penis and said everything looked really good. He actually said that from appearances I seemed closer to two weeks post-op. I don’t know if I believe him but ok.

      So I no longer have the bandages on my testicles and I just wear my [one size too large] boxer briefs with a sort of sterile cotton gauze pad (photo at right) to absorb any fluids leaking from the drain holes. There is very little of this fluid leaking now and I’m not sure how much longer it will continue. I do know that these particular pads bother me because they’re like over-sized cotton balls. Little bits of fuzz stick to me as well as my underwear.

      I’m thrilled to be rid of all the gauze and tape. Moving (and sitting, and lying down…) is so much more comfortable now. It’s still tricky, mind you, but it’s better. I also no longer have gauze around my penis. Basically the pad is placed just along the mid-line beneath and behind my penis and to the rear. The loose boxer briefs are perfect because they hold the pad in place but are loose enough to keep the fabric away from the stent in my penis. I do not want pressure on that stent, believe me. It’s just too sensitive right now.

      Also, I get to shower now! A couple of hours after Marko left I removed the bag from the catheter and took a shower – it felt great. Then I used baby wipes, cotton balls, saline, and cotton swabs too clean well, but gently, around my testicles. I also applied baby powder to a rash inside the crease between my right thigh and my testicles. Marko said the tape and walking had irritated it but it should be better in a few days. I’ll just keep it clean and dry.

      After that I had a great evening. Chatted with folks, worked on the blog, watched television. I stayed up really late because I was feeling so good, late enough to feel the earthquake.

      Well, dang it. By the time I finally headed for bed I was having catheter issues again. The flow had slowed and finally come to a stop. I tried to flush it again with little success and went to bed with a trickle moving through the tube. I planned to call someone in the morning if I couldn’t get it to work.


      Here’s a nice way to spice up your stay in Belgrade. The epicenter was a few miles west of the town of Kraljevo, a large town of about 80,000 which is approximately 123km (75 miles) from Belgrade (as the Serbian crow flies). No damage here in Belgrade, just an attention-getting several seconds of jigging followed by 20 or 30 seconds of lateral wobbling (how’s that for scientific?).

      There were, however, two deaths and many injuries in the town of Kraljevo. My thoughts go out to those affected. I’m glad it wasn’t worse.

      Map and earthquake data below taken from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

      Magnitude 5.3 – SERBIA

      2010 November 03 00:56:56 UTC

      Earthquake Details

      • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
      Magnitude 5.3
      Location 43.718°N, 20.624°E
      Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
      Region SERBIA
      Distances 40 km (25 miles) SW of Kragujevac, Serbia
      110 km (70 miles) WNW of Nis, Serbia
      125 km (75 miles) S of BELGRADE, Serbia
      125 km (80 miles) NNW of PRISTINA, Kosovo
      Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 4.2 km (2.6 miles); depth fixed by location program
      Parameters NST=154, Nph=154, Dmin=271 km, Rmss=1.06 sec, Gp= 32°,
      M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=7
      • USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
      Event ID usb00009t6

      Post-op Day 5: Only so-so

      A Tylenol morning and a Norco afternoon.

      I actually slept well last night and hardly moved. I think I was exhausted.

      In the late morning I had a bowel movement and I was concerned that the back end of the bandages was a little too close. I’d already spoken to Miro on the phone (he called) and I knew a doctor would not be stopping by until the next day. I decided that carefully removing then replacing one end of the tape was easy enough to do myself rather than call him back with no real issue. After all, I wasn’t sure there was an issue.

      NOTE: Do not take risks or do something about which you are unsure. If you are hesitant to do something yourself, or to have a loved one do it for you, check with the doctors. That’s why they supply us with their email addresses and phone numbers as well as a cell phone containing their phone numbers for use while we’re in Belgrade. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.

      I removed the tape from both buttocks and gently from the insides of my upper thighs, leaving the tape attached to my lower abdomen. I removed just enough tape to be able to see the last piece of gauze while using the hand mirror. There was a very, very small fecal stain just at the back edge. I was sure it had not been in a place where it would reach any wounds. (If I had not been sure of this I would have called a doctor immediately. I’d much rather they had cleaned the wounds had such a situation come about as I’m sure they’d do a better job of it.)

      I cleaned the area of my anus with baby wipes again (taking advantage of easy access with the rear portion of the bandage away from my body) and replaced that last piece of gauze with a new one from the supplies here in the apartment.

      That was pretty much the only “event” of the day. I flushed the stent 4 or 5 times, took my antibiotics as well as fiber capsules and Cranberry extract, ate a bit and drank a lot of water.

      Speaking of water, in the afternoon I realized my urine was darker than usual. Because I was uncomfortable when I moved I was not getting enough water. Immediately I began drinking more water and keeping more of it within reach of my nest on the couch. I do not want a bladder or urinary tract infection.

      In the morning I took two over the counter pain pills but late in the afternoon I did take a prescription pill (generic for Norco 5/325 – which equates to 5mg of hydrocodone and 325mg of acetaminophen). Just to give you an idea, I typically do not take pain medicine, even over the counter stuff, unless I’m in pain that either won’t go away or is uncomfortable enough to be distracting. I have a pretty high tolerance to pain in general (unless it’s a tooth, lol).

      Day 5 was a little more difficult. I was tired and dealing with discomfort and a little pain. I spent little time online and mostly watched TV from the couch. Pain wasn’t a major issue, just enough to be uncomfortable and distracting most of the afternoon and evening. My energy levels were on the low side most of the day.

      Euros ordered

      Well, I ordered the Euros I need for the apartment in Belgrade. I’m staying a total of 19 nights at 60 euros per night plus 14% tax. I added an extra 100 Euros just in case. At the current rate, 1400 euros cost me US$2053.62.
      I should have them by Friday.

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