Saturday, October 15, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago–Another Very Tough Day

Friday Oct. 15, 2010

In the morning, Diana and I went to the hospital to relieve Hubby. Evidently during the night, Blake’s fever spiked very high again. Hubby’s night was awful.  In his own words, it was one of the worst of his life.  He was feeling very emotional and helpless. Blake was just so very sick and we still didn’t know why, or if he’d be okay.  I got settled in at the hospital and Hubby and Diana stayed until we got an x-ray for Blake but then they headed back to the guest house.  Hubby needed to rest a little and would take care of Lauren during the day. Thankfully, James (our translator) stayed with me for most of the day, but we didn’t talk much and it was still a very lonely feeling. It was very intense, the feelings we had for Blake. Here we just met him, but we loved him.  We felt very worried and protective of him. It was scary watching him so lifeless and not feeling confident in the care he was getting.


This is the only picture we took of Blake in the hospital.  His IV was in his left hand.  He sucks his left thumb and was beside himself that he couldn’t get to it.  Poor baby!

The hospital room itself felt almost like solitary confinement. It was a small room and very tall. There were windows at the very top that were open to the outside, but there was no way to see out of them. You could hear the street noise, but rarely did you see another person. The entire day I was there, I saw the nurses once – they came to give Blake his medicine around 2:00. The room was incredibly bare.  Stark white walls.  One table.  Two old style hospital beds.  One plain chair.  Thankfully, one air conditioning unit.  It either blew full force, or not at all.  We’d go back and forth between the two.

I left a couple of times to use the bathroom, always making sure that James wouldn’t go anywhere.  The bathroom was just around the corner from Blake’s room.  All day long a gentleman sat outside in the hallway.  He was friendly and we’d nod and smile each time I walked by. 

Around 5:30, James took a phone call and said that “Jim” said they were on their way and that he could go. The thing is, I don’t know a “Jim.”  Perhaps I misunderstood and he really said a different name?  That’s what I’d like to believe.  James really seems like a good guy.  He left right after that call.

For several hours I sat in a hospital room with my very sick baby.  In the Congo.  In the evening.  All by myself.  Waiting for someone to come. 

Needless to say, it was pretty stressful.

I tried to pray, to journal, to comfort and encourage Blake (although he was so lethargic, he just slept most of the time).  I could hear people fighting outside on the street.  I could hear car doors.  Each car door I heard I wondered if that was Hubby.  As time went on, I began to worry that something had happened to him.  Meanwhile, I watched the mosquitos beginning to swarm.  The window in our room had no screens.  It seemed ironic to me that he was in the hospital with “a little bit” of malaria (although the hospital’s malaria test turned up negative, so who knows) and we were sharing our room with dozens of mosquitos.  I just kept thinking that  if he didn’t have malaria when he came in, he’ll probably have it when he leaves.

Well, it was 8:45 and pitch dark before anyone showed up. I was beyond relieved to see Hubby walk in that room!!! Diana was with him. We hadn’t seen a doctor that day, so being that she spoke French, she asked for more information.  She and I were taken upstairs to an office to meet with a doctor while Hubby stayed with Blake.  The doctor pulled out Blake’s x-ray and pointed out some problem areas in his lungs.  He told us that Blake was very sick and probably couldn’t go home for many days. 

The problem was that we didn’t know if we could trust him.  Was that true, or did he just see it as an opportunity to make money?  It could have been pneumonia and been bad like he was telling us.  It could have been malaria.  It could have been a viral infection.  It could have been something else altogether.  We just didn’t know.  Back down in Blake’s room Diana was explaining to us that if it was a viral infection, there’s really nothing we can do and that we should all be prepared to catch it and be sick. So being the planner that I am, I asked her what we do if we all get sick. She said that she didn’t want any adults coming to the hospital. We needed to tough it out. She told me about the time she was here and caught pneumonia and had blood running out her nose, but she just kept on. And about the time the travel agent was here and got malaria and thought she was going to die she was so sick.

Um, yikes.  Bless her heart, Diana is one of the most amazing people I know, and I think she was trying to encourage me to stay strong, but after one of the most stressful days of my life, and already worrying enough about my son…well, I just couldn’t go there.

Our plan was to have Hubby spend the night with Blake again.  We got him all settled in and Diana and I headed back to the guest house in a taxi she had waiting.  This wasn’t a yellow cab, though, like in the States.  Taxis are unmarked in Congo, and are just someone who offers to drive people around for a fee.  It’s very hard to know if you can trust a taxi driver, and she was pleasantly surprised that he had waited for her.  We asked for his cell phone number in case we would need his help again and he wrote it on a scrap piece of paper for us.  Not super official.

When we got back, I pretty much broke down in David and Barb’s room. They were very supportive and encouraging. They had saved me some dinner, which I couldn’t eat much of, but I thought that was nice of them.  Through my choked-back tears I talked the guest house manager into keeping her office open just a little later than normal so that I could use the satellite phone to call home to my mom. No matter how old you get, sometimes you just need your mom.  I was nervous to call her because I was so emotional and I didn’t want her to be upset or to worry, but it was very comforting to talk with her. She just encouraged me to hang in there, that it would all be okay, and that there were lots of people praying for us there.

I got back to David and Barb’s room and they had talked. They were formulating a plan for the morning.  Barb had the really wise idea to call one of the missionaries we knew to go with us to the hospital to be an advocate. James is great, but he only translates. We just didn’t understand Congo’s medical system and needed more help. Plus, David and Barb asked if they could keep Lauren for the night and they offered me Ambien to help me sleep. I thought about it and accepted on all counts. I got Lauren settled for the night with them (she had been sleeping through the night just fine, so it shouldn’t be a big burden for them), took my Ambien, said my prayers, and slept like a baby.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Thanks for sharing your journey to bring your kiddos home, Missy. I've enjoyed reading along. I remember similar nights with sick kids in Congo to the ones you are describing.