Tag Archives: Women’s volleyball

Greece – 1, Kristin – 0

I’ve been dreading writing another blog because well, things haven’t been going as fantastic as all of my adventurous pictures have perceived. But instead of going into the volleyball aspect of my life, I’m just going to skip all of that because no one likes to hear about losing. No great story ends with losing, ya know? I gotta give the people what they want! So…we’re just not going to talk about volleyball. Other things have been going on…

Here’s a curve ball for ya – I was just released from a Greek hospital. I actually wrote the majority of this blog from the hospital. I was there for five days. Yup. I passed out on my bathroom floor Friday morning around 1 am and five days later, I was finally set free. I’ll spare you the details because it’s not the prettiest. They originally thought appendicitis but now it looks like it was a major intestinal virus or colitis (if you were on the PSU women’s volleyball team between the years 2009-2011 that word should just make you giggle) and it literally kicked my butt. Now that I’m out, here’s a review and some highlights from my time spent in room 369.

The last time I was admitted to the hospital was my freshman year of high school when I perforated my esophagus via an ice cream cone (story for another time). Every room had a TV, I could walk around the halls and there was jello. Here, there is no TV unless you rent one, which I thought was interesting. Americans would have a hissy fit about that. I don’t mind not having a TV so I really didn’t care (not that I would be able to understand Greek television anyways). Walking around isn’t really something you do here. If you know me, I always had a difficult time sitting still during class (when I wasn’t sleeping of course) so me being somewhat forced to stay in this bed….not fun. Oh yeah, no jello 😦

I knew this already but wow, my veins suck. This is a university hospital so there’s a bunch of students here helping out. My veins are tiny and roll very easily….let’s just say I look like a heroin addict with the amount of holes and tiny bruises along both arms and hands. Nurses/doctors come in with high hopes and then boom, four tries later they get my vein. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be. I would have to compare it to your coach telling you to serve zone two and you’re serving everywhere BUT zone two. Finally the ball hits the top of the tape to drop inside the 3 meter line barely in the zone and they count it. Frustrating. It doesn’t help that needles are definitely not my thing. Needles, bees, clowns…no thank you.

Communication. Now this goes many different ways. Communications with the doctors are fine because they speak English very well. Nurses and interns…not so much. No one can pronounce appendicitis which is hilarious but then again they can’t pronounce my first name correctly either. No big deal. I respond to Christine/Christina/Kreeeesteeeen. Oh, and when you tell someone that you’re not pregnant, and then they make you do 10 pee tests, 5 different ultra sound tests and a full questionnaire about your menstrual history…it’s a bit irritating. Then, after each test they go “well, you’re not pregnant!” Thank you, Captain Obvious. Another little frustrating point about communication…I couldn’t get a hold of anyone back home for the first 24 hours. No Wi-Fi. Sister was probably freaking out (the only person I honestly talk to or FaceTime every day). Boyfriend was on a trip to Switzerland for the weekend and wouldn’t be in touch for a few days. Dad was going to be waiting by the phone after the game that I never made it to see if the team had figured it out yet. And mom…I’m sure she reached a whole new level of panic when there were several missed calls from my phone and a voicemail from my president’s wife that she just couldn’t decipher. I consider myself a tough cookie…I mean not everyone has the guts to pack up and move to another country (twice) just to see what it’s like (and for volleyball). However, I would have felt a whole lot better if I could’ve just told my mom (or anyone for that matter) what was freakin’ going on. But God knew what He was doing because I have had wonderful moms over here every day taking care of me. They care a great deal for me and I am very grateful for them. They even left their families at home and stayed overnight at the hospital. I’m the 23 year old daughter they never had.

Here are the highlights:
Saturday: I love when old people are affectionate towards each other. My roomie, Analisia, is an old lady who to be honest, I had no idea what was wrong with her….but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. She was pale and had all of the tips of her fingers taped up like she was about to play a volleyball match. Spoke zero English but smiled whenever we made eye contact. Her husband came in and brought her soup (I would’ve paid money for that stuff because it smelled like it actually had flavor). He set up the table like it a date for just the two of them. He helped her out of bed and into the chair all while holding her IV bag in the air. Apparently, he didn’t see the portable metal hook that was in the corner because as she started to eat, he just held that IV as high as he could, making sure it was still working. It was adorable. What was even more adorable was her hitting him and calling him “stupid” because he could’ve just hooked it on the metal rod and eaten with her. I think that’s love.

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Sunday: I came across the nicest Greek nurse ever. She had to take more blood to check my white blood count and enzymes. I warned her about my veins and she turned and smiled at me saying “not to worry, I’m here to take care of you.” Some serious relief came over my body! She tried one vein on my right arm and there was no luck. The look on her face was extreme disappointment, but to be honest I wasn’t exactly surprised. It’s taken 3-5 stickings before nurses/doctors have found my veins all weekend. I told her I was used to it and not to worry…I wasn’t going anywhere. She tried the left arm and NAIIIIILED IT. I was like wow! She was the first one who has done it in less than three tries! Her response with a cocky smirk was “yeah, I didn’t wanna show off too much.” She made me so happy.

Monday: Today was not exactly a good day. My belly pains were at an all time high and it was the first time I noticed how small my legs had gotten. A week ago, I squatted 220 lbs for 8 reps. That would probably blow my back out now. Anyways, I needed to change my IV to a different arm because my left forearm was currently bruised up to my elbow, which I assume is not normal (especially since I don’t bruise easily). This one lady comes in, who is the teacher of the “how to stick people’s veins correctly” class. Finally, someone who knows what she’s doing! Six tries later, she literally gives up. It was the first time in her life that she hadn’t gotten someone’s veins.

IMG_2147.JPG Right now the count is up to 23 times I’ve had a needle in me (successful or not) and I was hoping to get out of here today…obviously not the case. I’m extremely dehydrated, super weak, and I’m pretty sure I smell like bad grandma. Seven hours later and still no requested anesthesiologist, a lady comes in asking if she can give it a try. Before mom #3 can explode on this poor soul I tell her she has one chance, one opportunity (yes, quoting Eminem). She smiles politely, sets up her station, and actually cringes when she sees the amount of failed attempts my (now skinny) arms have endured. I say “okay, there’s a chocolate bar in the drawer that could be yours if you do this on the first try.” She giggles as she replies to me that she likes chocolate! Perfect. She takes probably ten minutes picking her vein of choice. One and done. I was so happy, I told her I loved her in five different languages and reached into the drawer and gave her the chocolate (she thought I was joking…but I’m true to my word). Best night ever.

Tuesday: I had a pretty restless night but woke up feeling more like myself. Today was overall a good day and the night got even better. I got two new grandma roomies tonight! The majority of the Greek population over the age of 50 either doesn’t know English or legitimately thinks they know it, but really don’t. I had been alone for the past two days, minus the plethora of visitors I had received. The first lady came in with her husband and they’ve been very quiet since then. Her dinner looked like something out of a magazine compared to my no salt, no skin, bland chicken breast and yummy plain white rice. Then just a few hours ago I got another roommate. She kept getting up and looking out the door, so in the slowest English I could muster up I asked, “do you need a nurse?” This very Greek woman responds in a very British accent and continues to carry on the conversation after turning up her hearing aid. Finally someone I can talk to without making caveman sound effects. I wanted to have her say Harry Potter, but I figured it wasn’t the right time….after all, we just met.

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Wednesday: Best morning ever. I’d actually compare it to Christmas, which might sound silly but I only woke up twice in the night and had absolutely zero stomach pains. My new friends made a small space for me to eat my breakfast crackers and drink my tea at the table beside them. We talked about my Greek experience so far and they thought it was the coolest thing that I’m playing “volley”. Not volleyball, just volley. They told me about their kids and their kid’s kids and what they were doing at my age (married already – of course). I’ve also made some friends down the hall who’s son is a car mechanic in Michigan. One of the funniest things about my experience is that no one wears hospital gowns. BYOP…bring your own pj’s. It’s amazing. I was required to change from my sweat pants because they’re not pj’s into some awesome sleepy panda pajama pants. On my walk yesterday, this one old dude was in a full silk onesie. Possibly not his first rodeo, but even with the probable previous experience, I still named him Best Dress. The slippers are also elaborate. It’s like a big slumber party at the hospital which makes me happy. Who doesn’t love a slumber party?

I’m out and currently in my own bed with no more beeping, excessive Greek, or needles. Although my “living the dream” was put on pause for a few days, another life experience in the books. I appreciate all of the prayers and happy thoughts that were sent my way.

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Little bit of Traveling: Part 1

It’s been a very exciting past two weeks for me! First we went Santorini, debatably the most beautiful and romantic island in Greece. We travelled by ferry (more like a cruise ship) where it took around 6.5 hours to get there. It wasn’t the smoothest of rides but it was still fun. I went a little crazy on the “almost Titanic sunset photo”. IMG_6357-0.JPG Everyone got a nap and I taught some of the girls how to play BS with cards. It got pretty intense. We get to Santorini and it’s around midnight. We board a bus and not even kidding, the bus goes straight up a mountain. It was really dark so we couldn’t see much but the lack of side rails on the edge of the road and that we were driving upwards. We get to our hotel and it’s seriously the fanciest and most beautiful hotel I’ve ever seen. There were gorgeous flowers everywhere and we each had a pool or jacuzzi in our rooms.

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IMG_6395.JPGIs this real life? I slept on the sleep sofa and let the taller girls get the queen size bed upstairs. Oh what is that you ask? Are sleep sofas actually comfortable? The majority probably not but this one was freaking awesome. I slept like a rock.

So Santorini is famous for the bright white and blue houses on the sides of mountains and the loveliest of sunsets.

IMG_6371-0.JPG Unfortunately, we played every day around 6 pm so we missed the sunsets. The sunsets are so famous because it looks like the Aegean Sea is actually devouring the sun. I’m sure you can google Santorini sunsets and get an idea of how spectacular it is. I did however, get to see a sunrise! It happened around 7:30 in the morning so I didn’t even have to wake up that early. I got to sit with my toes in the dark, black, volcanic sand and watch the sun start the day.

IMG_6492.JPG It was so peaceful and relaxing, I wish I could do it every day. It was so warm, with a nice breeze and well, the only thing that was missing was my man! Everyone says that it’s a couple’s island and I had to come back with him to experience the magic. We saw a few weddings that were seriously genius, (and probably cost the same amount as both Manning brother’s salaries combined) like things you only see in movies.

Volleyball:
We lost in 5 to the 2nd place team in the league (preseason ranked) . In the second game alone we had 18 errors and to be honest I’m surprised we scored 13 points. We’re a very giving team…..not exactly in a good way. If we can hang with that team though, it should give us some confidence when our season starts this Saturday…since we are up against the same team.

The second match we played wasn’t as close. The team had one experienced player and she was 44 years old. I repeat, their best, most experienced player, was 44 years old. 44!!!! I’m hoping to still be walking and not have a hip replacement at 44! God bless her. It was quite impressive.

Living the dream has kept me pretty busy the past couple weeks! Look for another blog coming soon about my experience in Turkey 🙂

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Cheers,
Kris

Back to the Drawing Board

After our weight session today, my coach and I were talking about how productive our afternoon team practice was yesterday. Even though yesterday was physically exhausting for me (setting over 1,000 balls in our morning technique practice…feeling like I’m at a Sports Performance camp), the evening practice showed how much we, the girls who participated in the morning practice, had learned and we were actually doing things very well. When coach says there is a morning practice and only a handful of girls show up, you can imagine my surprise. We had both setters there, all three middles, and one outside. That’s it; six girls showed up to practice. I say “that’s it” in kind of a negative voice because it was very frustrating to be there with only half of our team when there’s so much to work on and improve. Of course half of the team is under 18 years old, so a few had school lessons and a couple had big girl jobs to go to. However, it’s very tough for me to think differently about this subject because for as long as I can remember, all throughout my 23 years of living, I’ve made volleyball a priority. Partially because it was the one thing I loved more than donuts and my late cat (may he rest in peace), Goober. Ok, it’s probably like a three way tie. Another reason was because it’s a team sport and that’s where all of my friends were (didn’t have many school friends…because of volleyball). I loved working hard and competing. When people would miss tournaments because of prom, I would always ask why? Just like last year in Sweden, we had some girls not show up for practice because they had to study…when they had all day to study. Or in college when people would want to go home during the summer for a whole month when everyone knew that’s what set us apart from the rest of the country: commitment. I just never understood it because that’s how I’m wired. If you want to get better, you have to put in the time. And it can’t just be one person…the time must be put in together as a team. That is the only way you will improve.

For the past four weeks, we have been practicing a lot of individual training, basic technique drills and conditioning (and I mean a lot of conditioning). When you have such a young team, it’s kind of essential for these things to happen in the beginning. It’s also taken some time to adjust to everyone on the team because let’s be honest…there isn’t one team in the world who didn’t graduate someone, transfer anyone, or gain a player to their team. There’s not one team that’s the same from the previous year and my team was not used to anyone. I mean if you come to our practice you’ll hear Greek, Serbian, English, Portuguese and Engleekerbinese…also known as broken English. I get it though. We need time to become a team. However with some girls not showing up to practices and our first match in a couple weeks, some things need to change.

Random photo shoot

We obviously didn't get the memo to act tough or smile...
We obviously didn’t get the memo to either act tough or smile…photo cred Milenko Tol

Now knowing, and thanking The Lord, that there are not many people in this world like me, I need to step back. First off, I need to respect their decisions because people have different priorities. I’m here for my job (gosh that’s so cool to say). Secondly, I am faced with two choices: not worry about it and just go on with the slower progress, or figure out a solution. Since I’m not one to just sit back and let things happen, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and create some opportunities where my teammates and I can get more repetitions and get better. A little adversity never really hurt anyone, right? Gotta keep finding ways to continue living that dream.

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Welcome to Greekland – My First Volleyblog

Just like everything else my sister has done in life (besides the whole kids and marriage thing), I’m following my big sisters footsteps (I have bigger feet and let’s be honest, neither of us got bit by the “tall” bug but I got her by a few inches) and starting a blog. Warning: it won’t be as funny, entertaining, or interesting because she has those kids who are hilarious and well, her life is a lot more complicated and eventful than mine. Oh yeah, and she’s awesome. I figured though, while I’m living in Greece, I might as well write about it….so here goes nothing.

I’ve been here for about three weeks now. It’s hot. It’s 98% sunny (the 2% is when it downpours like the first rain scene in Jurassic Park but instead of a dinosaur coming out of nowhere, flooding occurs in the streets within five minutes because of the lack of drainage system). On a happy note, it’s not very humid! Even without high humidity, I’ve notice that I sweat a lot more than the average human. When my body even thinks about diving on the volleyball court for a ball, there’s an automatic baby pool of sweat that appears. It definitely brings back fond memories of Club South, or for those who graduated before 2012: South Gym

Rain coming in on the Sea
Big storm coming in..
The Mediterranean Sea is super salty but the beaches are luxurious. Clearest water I've ever seen.
The Mediterranean Sea is super salty but the beaches are luxurious. Clearest water I’ve ever seen.
Peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, oil, vinegar, herbs and spices, and of course a giant block of feta cheese
Peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, oil, vinegar, herbs and spices, and of course a giant block of feta cheese
My new gym! Of course being occupied with the most popular sport in Greece, basketball.
My new gym! Of course being occupied with the most popular sport in Greece, basketball.

Speaking of volleyball (the whole reason I’m here), it’s great! My team is young but with that being said, it creates a lot of coachable moments throughout practice and gives me opportunities to practice my future profession. The scary part about that is I’m beginning to sound like my father (not as long winded) with a side of Russ Rose (censored of course). My coach on the other hand is a brilliant Serbian man with lots of experience with this wonderful sport. I consider myself extremely lucky to have a guy who cares a lot about us and who is so knowledgable coaching this team…though sometimes I can’t understand him, and all of the Greek girls are looking to me to translate Englerbian. That’s not very pretty.

Besides being most people’s honeymoon destination because of the gorgeous scenery, my favorite part so far is the food. That’s a very bold statement, I know, but everything is sooooooo fresh. Since it is so warm still, people are continuing to harvest their gardens and vines and they give some of that fresh produce to ME! It’s like a free paleo plan (minus the obsession of feta cheese that they have).

Of course some things haven’t gone as planned, like the broken washing machine that four different people have “fixed,” or not having a light in my room besides the moon when the sun goes down. A couple of cold showers because the water heater was broken never really hurt anybody either. Project mosquito was at first a success but now I’m having to rethink my plan of action. I’ve also learned how unnecessary TV is and have read three books already. I have a great bed, fresh food in my belly, amazing support from near and far and clothes to change in and out of during practice (they also got me a sweat towel which was very nice)….seems to me I’m still living the dream!

Υγεία,

Kristin