Monday, October 3, 2011

Foreign Service Exam, Part 4. Or Maybe 5.

I took the Foreign Service written exam, way back in the dark ages of 1999 or 2000. I passed. But we were in Moscow, and they wanted me to fly to DC for the oral exams the day before Thanksgiving, my personal favorite holiday, so I said no, thank you. I took the written exam again in Kazakhstan. I passed. But have you ever priced a ticket from Almaty to DC? I couldn't afford it, especially when it was likely I'd fail - most people do. So I said no, thanks. I took the Foreign Service exam again, in 2005. I passed. We were in the States at the time, so I decided to go ahead and try the orals, knowing I likely wouldn't pass.

I was three months pregnant with Kyra at the time, not far enough along to show, but far enough along that my pants didn't fit. So I invested in an inexpensive pair of stretchy pants from Old Navy. I looked quite professional, if I do say so myself. That is, until I stood up after the interview section and the stretch kind of de-stretched, causing me to fear I was about to lose my pants. I clutched at them in a weird sort of desperate way that appeared to alarm my examiners, though no more than I'd already alarmed them when I answered one of their interview questions by telling them my family was more important than any job and I'd always put that first, yada yada, in a response that clearly had no place in a job interview. Seriously, what was I thinking?

But, here's the crazy part: I passed the oral exam. I did! And then I passed the Russian exam, and the security clearance check, and the medical exam. I passed them all. So they offered me a job. But, you know, Kyra had just been born at that point, and I couldn't find a nanny whom I adored, and then they informed me that they'd be sending me to Moscow just as soon as I finished A-100, despite the fact that my husband had his onward assignment to Beijing already and so I guess you can guess the last part.

Yep. I said no, thank you. I turned down the job.

But now I'm done having kids, and I'm tired of dead-end EFM jobs, so I decided maybe it's time to take the test again. I registered for the first available test date in Amman, which happened to be today.

"Get a good night's sleep," one pal told me yesterday morning, by way of advice.

And then I checked my voicemail.

Aidan stayed home yesterday with a nasty cough. The call was from him, but when I reached him, he could hardly talk. "I can't breath," he wheezed, so I rushed home to grab him and brought him back to see our Embassy doctor. (Who, by the way? Picture the most Norman Rockwellian doctor you possibly can, and that's our new doc.) The doctor checked him out and sent us to an ENT, not at our usual hospital, but at an entirely new-to-me and not-at-all-easy-to-find hospital. The ENT stuck a camera down Aidan's nose and told us that we were lucky: he didn't have epiglotitis, which would have earned him immediate hospitalization. Instead, he was diagnosed with a severe infection of the larynx, treatable - hopefully - with antibiotics.

Also, he said I needed to sleep near Aidan in the night, because if his breathing became more labored, we'd have to get him back to the hospital right away.

So much for my good night's sleep. But okay, I reasoned, I can do this. Not a problem, to get a bit less sleep.

We went home, ate dinner and started getting ready for bed.

Which is when some nasty bug caught ahold of me. I went from "my stomach kind of hurts" to full-on vomiting within about 30 minutes. I was sick, sick, sick, feverish and throwing up. So I curled up next to Aidan and spent most of the night next to him, awake, nauseous and listening to his raspy little breaths.

This morning we returned to the Embassy for a follow up with the doctor, who also wants us to follow up with the ENT. That's scheduled for tonight at 6. I tried to eat some breakfast, but gave up and went with apple juice instead. Right before the exam was scheduled to start, I gulped down some iced tea in an effort to calm my stomach and stay awake. And I dragged my carcass into that exam room and sat down and plowed through that test.

Now? Now I'm exhausted and still a bit sick. It's almost time to take Aidan to the doctor, so I'm going to get their dinner on and try to eat something myself.

What a day.


Shannon said... [Reply]

Are you beginning to think maybe a tandem isn't in your future? Actually I'm sure even sick as a dog I'm sure you passed! Hopefully both of you will be feeling better soon!

Adrian Pratt said... [Reply]

What a tough day. Hope everyone feels better soon and you get through this process - again.

Lisa said... [Reply]

This is eerily reminiscent of my relationship with law school. I think it's wonderful that you've always put your family first, and I hope it is finally time for YOU. Good luck, from one self-sacrificing mom to another.

Elaine said... [Reply]

I have no idea how FS works-- would they offer you work in the same country where you husband is posted? I found it impossible to work consistently outside the home, and I only had two kids. (But, actually, since our daughter had chronic illnesses and a physical disability, we always counted her as 'the first three,' since we set out planning four children.) There were always appointments, and when our daughter got the ordinary children's illnesses, she always have the absolute worst case! Nobody gives teachers THAT much sick leave!

Becca said... [Reply]

oh man, maybe the universe is sending you a massage

Emily said... [Reply]

I hope everything went well, and that you are feeling better. I can't wait to hear how it all turns out.

Daniela Swider said... [Reply]

Wow, hope you and Aidan are well and that the lack of sleep and not feeling well did not prevent you from performing as well as you have done many times in the past!

Popster said... [Reply]

You give new meaning to Harry Truman's expression "The buck stops here". You're also a trooper extrordinaire and a credit to Motherhood everywhere.

Give 'em hell Harry. Uh I mean Donna.


Connie said... [Reply]

Awww! I just saw this... didn't realize you'd just been through hell and back when I saw you this morning. Hope Aiden and you are both feeling much better now(!), and I am sure you did great on the exam. Hope everyone else stays healthy (start of school year cooties are mean) because you need a break!

Dorothy Handelman said... [Reply]

Sounds like a grueling set of events. Hope everyone is feeling chipper around your house now and that you pass your test. You go girl!

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

Hoping you are all on the side of well-healed and happy. When little ones are sick and mom too it is a very hard time. Keep resting.

Meg said... [Reply]

I just took the test for the first time this week as well. I have to say that I jealously hope we both make it so I have a chance to meet you at A-100. You have been such an encouragement to me as I have considered this life and your blog is my favorite of the (now) many I follow!

God bless and good luck!

Bfiles said... [Reply]

what a day! Hope you're all feeling better soon...and I wouldn't be surprised if you nailed it again, despite your illness. Good luck, if it's what you want.

Please. Write your own stuff.