Saturday, May 27, 2006

An Ex-Expat's Secrets for Recovering From Deportation

When people learn that I have been kicked out of a foreign country, the response varies from, "good! come home" (parents) to "this is not good, this is not good" (Belgian neighbors) to "oh my God, you're kidding, right?" (acquaintances/strangers) to "doesn't surprise me at all!" (friends).

Without fail, the follow-up response is something along the lines of "you certainly seem to be handling it well." Geez, people, what did you expect? Just because I went into a veterinarian's office and asked to be treated by a neurologist does not make me unstable. Stupid, yes. Unstable, no.

Perhaps it is because I am still in the early stages, but I refuse to let this get me down. I know I will beat the odds. I will defeat deportation. (I would add “will write best-selling book describing painful ordeal that makes Oprah cry”, but I’ve been told that I can’t write! See, “Speaking of Goals and Lofty Ambitions”, March 2005 archives.)

Fortunately, my friends and family have been a constant source of support throughout my battle. Any day now, I expect my friend Grace to design a “Fight for the Visa” ribbon; Elana to organize a three-day walk; Rach to donate money to research; Wags to stage a protest; and, Mojo and Joni to buy drink tickets at the fundraisers.

Although I may be “handling it well” now, this was not always the case. Here are some of the steps taken on my road to recovery:

MEDICAL ATTENTION: I sought emergency treatment at a facility (ok, spa) near my home. The initial diagnosis was critical, but after several treatments, there was slight improvement. I was released with instructions to drink plenty of liquids, undergo therapy, and follow-up with my counselor as soon as possible.

MEDICATION: Concerned that I may be suffering from dehydration after the fourteen hour flight home (I’m told that can happen), I immediately went to the local pharmacy (Miguel's) to have my prescription (ok, pitcher) filled. Plenty of liquids - check!

THERAPY: The next day, I woke up feeling a little out-of-sorts (ok, hung-over), so I decided to give therapy a try. After five grueling hours of retail therapy, I was beginning to feel a little less deported.

COUNSELING: Two days later, I took a turn for the worse. I called my counselor, Jason Brandler, and begged him to squeeze me in as soon as possible. I have been seeing him ever since he opened his downtown office (Crimson Chic), back when downtown was dangerous, not trendy. Detecting the desperation in my voice, and, like the true professional that he is, Jason agreed to work me in between appointments.

As a Brit who has lived, legally, in the US for the past 18 years, Jason has cut his way through the bureaucratic red-tape. After two hours in his chair, I felt, and looked, like a new person. As they say, change your hair, change your life.

DRUG TRIALS: After my counseling session with Jason, I attended group therapy. Seven of us got together and put the whole “laughter is the best medicine” to test. Initial trial results indicate that it is effective in treating the symptoms, but, unfortunately, it could not stop the progression of the underlying deportation.

ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS: Between therapy sessions, I researched alternative treatments to deportation, including contacting the Belgian Consulate, the premier authority in the US on the condition. I have an appointment in Los Angeles next week to be evaluated by a specialist. Hopefully, I will be on the accelerated recovery program and be back in Brussels within a month.

Deportation is a serious condition. The road to recovery is not easy. The Belgian Journal of Immigration indicates that it could take months before you are feeling legal again. Sadly, in some cases, there is no cure. For those in high-risk categories, I urge you to check your application process regularly. Don't wait until it's too late. Early detection can save you from deportation.

©2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.


Blogger woman wandering said...

Very noble, very brave, and your generosity of spirit does you proud. I think Oprah would want you on her show ... book or not.

I will take your advice and take no chances ... I have residency for now but who knows what 'tomorrow' in Belgium might bring and I would like to work one day.

The expat world will be a better place for your brave handling of the matter ... so thank you, on behalf of us all (or those who don't mind being associated with this message)

Keep up the fluids ...

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you would write a fabulous book. I would definately buy it!! Keep your spirits up and your dissapointments down.

A regular reader from Glasgow, Scotland

4:53 PM  
Blogger Cindy Lane said...

Interesting ... a Scot tells me to "keep my spirits up" and a Kiwi encourages me to "push the fluids". I think the world is sending me a message!!!

5:00 PM  
Blogger awomynda said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Cindy Lane said...

Dear Awomynda,

Thanks for sharing your unbelievable story -- now I'm terrified of having an invalid ID card! Just when you thought it would be safe to go back into the country ...


9:46 PM  

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