Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hospitals in Uganda

Round 1: On the first full day of custody, Ryan came down with malaria. I already told you about that little welcome to parenthood.

Round 2: Soon after court, Sarah got really sick. She was running a fever and, given the constant fear of malaria, we went to a nearby hospital. Our agency arranged for a driver to pick me up. This driver and I were talking about how in America, parents would just give a child Tylenol. He then shared with me that he lost his own daughter to malaria. He helped me carry Sarah as I registered at the desk, went down a ways to the cashier's office to pay, came back to registration, and then to the waiting room. The hospital, IHK, was a private hospital that was very different from our first round. They determined it was a bacterial infection (no idea what kind). I went to the pharmacy on site, then to the cashier, then back to the pharmacy. 

That night I posted this on facebook: I have 1 sick kid sleeping in my bed, Josh has been kicked out and will be sleeping in the other bed in the same room, and 3 jealous kids sleeping in the other room. This can't possibly be a good thing... I think I just failed a parenting pop quiz. :( October 29, 2011 at 11:27am 

From the other side of the world, 11 time zones away, my friends encouraged me. They told me I was doing the right thing and not to second guess myself. As a brand new, rookie, green as can be parent, this really did help. My connection can't keep up with me trying to "like" all of your comments. Thank you for the encouragement. October 30, 2011 at 1:30am

Round 3: A day or two after round 2, Sarah was still sleeping in my bed where I could keep an eye on her. I had given her antibiotics and Tylenol to control the fever and put her in bed that night with faith that the medication would do the trick. When I came to bed at about 10pm, Sarah was burning up. Her fever was no longer under control. I called our contact, but he lives in Jinja, which is easily a 2 hour drive away from Kampala where we were. He called me back and told me that he was unable to arrange a driver for us. He suggested that we go down the street to the Italian Market and hire a driver as they tend to gather in the parking lot there. This was a good 1/2 mile walk, in the dark, carrying a sick child. Now this is the kind of situation that Ugandan's face. Walking much longer distances trying to get help for their ill, potentially dying of malaria, children. This prospect was overwhelming to me and felt impossible. 

We were staying at a guest house that had multiple houses and cottages within the compound. I went down the hill looking for a woman I had briefly met for only a moment. There was no answer at her door. So I went back up the hill and spotted a light in the small cottage. I knocked on the door not knowing who was staying there. An American woman answered the door and I explained that I needed to get to the hospital with Sarah. She and her husband pulled out their phones and started calling multiple people. On the third try, they were able to arrange a driver. I was confused by how they had so many contacts but didn't think too much of it. And then the woman offered to go with us to the hospital. I stammered. At first I was about to decline the offer given that I had just met her and it was 10pm and it just seemed like to much to ask. Thankfully I agreed. She came with us and sat through the full 2 hour process. 

Sarah did not take well to the hospital. She screamed bloody murder when they pricked her finger for a few drops of blood. She fought against me. I had to use all my strength to hold her down. She went into a rage. This wasn't the first time and it wasn't the last. From a comical perspective, I did meet my first Ugandan rat while waiting for the blood draw. We were sitting in a chair and I was watching a rat outside running up and down a railing. Then it disappeared. A minute later that same rat came around the corner and into the door of where I was sitting. I jumped and it started and ran away. I was so thankful it didn't want to hang out! 

We returned to the compound at midnight. This woman who so kindly accompanied us was and is, our Auntie Sara. She gave Sarah a little plastic turtle from her purse and a piece of gum. While waiting she shared a bit of her story with me. She had been in Uganda for 8 months at that time. They had been denied guardianship of their daughter. So they stayed. At that time I felt like I was drowning, all day, every day. It was taking all of our strength to stay afloat. We felt like we were hanging on by a thread. We had been in Uganda for just over 2 weeks. It took my breath away. I couldn't even fathom how they could survive this. In the end, they came home with all of their kids. But not before spending a full year in Uganda. We prayed every night for Auntie Sara. Sometimes my Sarah still prays "Auntie Sara babies go to America soon" and I remind her that Auntie Sara is already in America with all of her babies.

Round 4: Then I began to feel ill. I posted on facebook: Want a laugh? I was trying to explain to JoAni that I was really too sick (this was a few days ago, now I am really sick) so I told her that I had boogers and pointed to my nose. I said that "I just feel boogery." Not long later, she scolded Sarah by saying "SARAH you put the boogery on Mommy!" I couldn't stop laughing. She was so confused by why I found that so funny. November 2, 2011 at 12:59pm

During the time that Sarah was so very sick and was sleeping in my bed. She would cuddle up to me and grab my face and put us nose to nose. There we would sleep (sort of, she is a pretty wild sleeper). Soon I became very ill. It got to the point that I was of no help at all to Josh. I just slept all day. Finally I went to the hospital where I was also diagnosed with a bacterial infection. 

It was approaching Thanksgiving and I wrote on facebook: TODAY I AM THANKFUL for access to medical care. Today was my 4th visit to a hospital in Uganda, although it was the first time that a trip was for me and not one of the kids. I am thankful to have the option, to be able to afford it, to not have to choose between medicine and food (not that I have an appetite right now). We tend to take these things for granted but they are not accessible to everyone in this world. Everyone gets sick but not everyone can afford a doctor. November 4, 2011 at 5:00am

Round 5: Then Ryan got sick. The germs were all being shared between Sarah, Ryan, and myself. I was still very sick and carrying Ryan around was so, so difficult. But it had to be done. TODAY I AM THANKFUL for a little bit of cake. Actually it was more like a small muffin. Purchased from the hospital cafe, it was just the right thing to bring a twinkle back into Ryan's eye. The crumbs covered his face (which was still tear stained from having his finger poked for a little blood testing), his shirt, his shorts, my shirt, and my lap. I think he lost 1/3 of it to crumbs but he enjoyed it SO much. It was the most fun to watch and I am thankful for that. November 5, 2011 at 10:34am

Round 6: Ok, I don't mean to be all negative, but I am still pretty sick. I'm not sure if I am getting better or worse. Based on some googling that I did last night, I think I had (hopefully had and not have) bacterial pneumonia or acute bronchitis. At this point Josh is saying that he wants to ship me home if this doesn't get better soon. It feels like a no win situation. Please pray that I get better and soon. It really is the only good scenario. November 6, 2011 at 12:41am

I went back in to the hospital to make sure that it wasn't getting worse. I was still so very tired. I couldn't allow myself to get any worse given that we had 4 kids to take care of and more severe symptoms could become life threatening due to the status of available healthcare.

I am feeling much better today. I am still tired easily but am able to help out with kids and life. :) Thank you for all your prayers. But still no passports. We are starting to feel very anxious and are struggling to be patient knowing that if we do not get them by noon tomorrow, I will likely have to fly home to the States alone on 11/19 in order to get back to work and earn money to cover the cost of a longer stay. But that would leave Josh alone with 4 kids in Uganda. Not ideal to say the least. November 8, 2011 at 2:15am

The whole process was very overwhelming. Adopting 4 kids all at once, having an "instant family", going 0 to 4, would have been overwhelming enough. The medical stuff piled on top stretched us to our very limit. We were giving every ounce of ourselves. We were beaten down and all out of steam. I am so very thankful that the in country process didn't take more than 6 weeks as I just don't know that we could have handled it. Which brings me back to thinking about Auntie Sara. 1 year! 1 year! While I barely knew her, my heart was tied to hers.

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