Archive for the ‘ Stuff to take ’ 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.

      At the hospital (St Medica)

      After talking with Miro as well as a couple of guys who had surgery recently I pretty much knew what to pack for the hospital. I wore jeans and a t-shirt, ball cap and light jacket.

      In my back pack was:

      – laptop

      – power converter

      – power cord for laptop

      – power cord for iPhone (*which I used to get online as well)

      – two pair of loose shorts (*only wore one and before surgery)

      – very loose house pants (aka pajama bottoms) *wore when I left hospital)

      – two t-shirts (*used one to cover my eyes to sleep, wore the other when left hospital)

      – two pair of loose boxer briefs (*did not use)

      – wash cloth (*hospital has towels but no small wash cloths (aka face cloths))

      – anti-embolism stockings (one pair needed)

      – medications (T, pain meds, and antibiotics – even though they’ll give me pains meds and antibiotics via IV while I’m in the hospital) *only needed T and pain meds. Didn’t begin antibiotics until the day after I left hospital

        FYI – bring VERY loose pants or shorts. House pants, sweats, track pants, pajama bottoms, whatever, but make them a size or even two sizes larger than you usually wear! You’ll need LOTS of space. They also need to stretch out when you’re putting them on and taking them off. You will NOT be putting your legs together while you dress and undress.

      This is just outside my apartment. I was waiting a little before 8am for the regular taxi driver, Dorde (pronounced George), to pick me up. It was a good drive to St Medica – typical city traffic though it flowed amazingly well. It was interesting to see a few people sweeping the leaves from along the curbs with brooms. No street sweepers?

      Once we got to the hospital Dorde walked me in and took me where I needed to go. Then the nurse (pronounced Vessna) did my EKG and took me to my room.

      This is the bed in my room. It’s not too uncomfortable, as hospital beds go. We’ll see how I feel about it in 3 or 4 days, lol.

      I had a very basic examination by a physician here. One of the nurses took me to his office then retrieved me when he was finished. He asked very basic questions about my medical history, previous surgeries which involved general anesthesia, and any allergies. He also checked my eyes and throat, my blood pressure, and had me lie on an exam table so he could feel my lower abdomen. It was all over in about 15 minutes.

      Vessna just drew blood (6 or 7 vials). I made it a point to drink a lot of water last night and this morning. Good hydration always makes a blood draw easier! Or at least less likely to be difficult, lol.

      They provided a robe and slippers but I’m wearing my socks. I’m just not sure about slippers other people have worn, ya know? (by the way, if while in the apartment you want something other than socks on your feet bring slippers)

      I’m glad I shaved my genital area at the apartment. The shower here is just as small and at least back there I was alone. That maneuver is tricky enough without worrying about a nurse or doctor popping into the room at any moment.

      I had to stop eating by 8am and no water after 10am (I drank last at about 9:30) and I’ll tell you – I’m getting hungry (it’s 10.30 now). I don’t know when I’ll eat. Tonight? I’m guessing tomorrow but we’ll see. No biggie – I could stand to lose a bit of weight. Though I was already a bit overweight, I quit smoking in June and put on twenty pounds. Fortunately I’ve already been losing a bit simply from being active and eating less the last few days.

      By the way, I have photos of some food and the money here (dinar) as well as the apartment. I’m working on those posts and will get them up as soon as I can. I wanted to get this one up this morning so it may be a few days before I get that other information up for all of you. We’ll see when I have the energy to get back on here and catch you all up. Miro expects me to go back to the apartment Saturday and I imagine I’ll be able to work on it a bit at a time by then.

      I’ll try my best to give daily updates but I doubt there will be much more to report today. I’m wrapping up this post now, I think. It’s almost 11am and Vessna just came in and gave me a shot in the arm. I believe that’s the anti-embolism drug. I believe they’ll give me “something to help me relax” (lol) after they start the IV. At that point I’m sure I’ll go to sleep. I usually doze in situations like this and I’m sleepy now.

      I’ll keep you all posted.

      Leaving tomorrow – changes to blog to come

      Well, I’ll be flying out to Belgrade tomorrow. I was supposed to fly through Paris but I changed that to Amsterdam. I don’t want to get to Paris and be delayed or stuck due to fuel shortages (thanks to the strikes and riots).

      Today I’ve been doing laundry and getting stuff together to pack. I’ve been talking with a couple of other guys who have gone to Belgrade so I have a good idea what to take. When I come back home I’ll let you all know if I’d do anything different.

      Last of all, I’ll be working on adding more info to this blog. I plan to add a “Resources” page with books, groups, and links other guys might find helpful. If you have any suggestions let me know. I have a long layover tomorrow and I hope to work on it then but I can add things later too.

      Euros and compression stockings

      I picked up the Euros at the bank yesterday afternoon. I also found out that Walgreen’s carries compression hose so I didn’t need a prescription after all. I’m going to measure my leg and buy those – piece of cake.

      That’s about it for now. I’m on a plane two weeks from tomorrow. 🙂

      FMLA paperwork and prescriptions

      I went to see my primary care doctor yesterday. I got my flu shot, had the FMLA paperwork for HR at work filled out, and got prescriptions for the drugs and stockings I’m supposed to take to Belgrade with me. Today I picked up the medications but I still have to get the stockings.

      I’m a little nervous and I’ll be glad when this is over. I’m usually not nervous over surgery but I think the distance I’m traveling (alone) combined with the money I’m spending has me anxious. I’m accustomed to traveling alone so I think it’s more about the money.

      I’ll be getting on a plane in a little more than three weeks.

      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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