Every morning

“I have been spitting up blood all morning, so I am going to the doctor. I’ll be in as soon as I can after that.” – a text I sent to my boss on June 16, 2014.

This morning my Timehop app reminded me that a year ago today was the first time I spit up blood in America, after doing so for ten months in Uganda. I had only been home for about a week. DSC_0364

This continued, sporadically, for days at a time, until January 2015. No amount of blood work, CT scans, X-rays, hospital stays, scopes and other procedures would ever let us know the cause. I guess all that matters is that it stopped. Hopefully for good.

It’s quite terrifying to wake up one morning in a third-world country and spit up blood. To thoroughly exam your mouth for a cut or bleeding gums, and find nothing. To then spit again and see straight blood.  To then see a doctor who says, “Hmm. That’s strange.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, it happened again the next few mornings.

Then it stopped. Then it happened again the next month for a few days. Then it stopped. Then it happened again the next month. This went on for a year and a half. I never knew what to expect in the mornings. Would there be blood? Or would I be OK?

There’s really only one thing we can count on every morning, and that’s the mercy of the Lord. Despite what we did the day before, despite what we did the night before, He has mercy on us, and as it says in Lamentations 3:23, “His mercies are new every morning.”

Some mornings I wake up fearing that the blood will be back. And it might be someday. But that doesn’t change the fact that God is on my side and by my side. My fears are quickly erased when I remember that I’m not alone, and that His mercies are new every morning.

Just a morning trip to Surgery…

It’s quite disturbing that the clinic the school sends us to is called, “The Surgery.” It gave us all quite a scare the first night we were here and were told, “If you start to feel sick, have a fever, chills and body aches, let us know and we’ll take you right to Surgery.” (Imagine hearing that and NOT knowing “Surgery” had a capital “S.”)

With my poor excuse of a digestive system, I figured I might end up there eventually. I just didn’t think it would be only a few weeks into my stay here in Uganda. But sure enough, some nasty things started happening on Friday, and by Monday, they were no better.

And I wasn’t the only one.

Many went to the Surgery over the weekend, and three others were headed there in IMG_20130819_084704the school van on Monday morning. It was suggested that I go, just to make sure I didn’t have a parasite or anything.

Richard, one of the drivers at school, took us downtown to Surgery. Once we registered, they asked if we wanted to go in as pairs to make things go faster. We agreed. ANYTHING that would make the process quicker. Wayne and I were having similar issues, so we went in as a pair.

HIPPA does not exist in Uganda. Patient confidentiality…none. Let’s just say Wayne now knows my entire medical history, including the starting date of my last menstrual cycle.

After talking about my symptoms, I was handed a small Dixie cup for a urine sample, a clear little bottle for a stool sample, and a paper for the lab where they would take blood. I was shown to the restroom where I would uh… you know, and then told where to take everything.

So there I was, walking with my urine-filled Dixie cup and stool sample (in a clear bottle) to the different places they were to be taken. Dropped off my stool sample a few doors down, and then took my urine up a flight of stairs to the lab.

Then came the really tough part. If you know me well, you know I hate having my blood taken. I have horrible veins and am often poked and prodded multiple times until they find a vein, and then it’s a matter of finding a vein that doesn’t collapse or “roll.” Can you imagine my horror hearing they were about to take blood from me… in a clinic… in Africa?!

I was led to a room where I was told to lie down on a padded, wooden exam table. I looked around and saw a few spider webs in the corners, wide open windows with no screens, a couple of giant canisters of helium, and I told myself not to freak out.

Another nurse came in and the two of them searched my arms high and low for a potential vein. Finally, they found one in the back of my hand. They ended up using a butterfly needle that they typically use for infants, and the pain began. They were young, very kind ladies, but it was frustrating to hear them frantically speaking in Luganda and me having no earthly idea what they were saying.

IMG_20130819_095811I felt like the process was taking forever. Naturally my anxiety began to kick in, but then something stopped it. What was there to be afraid of? Of course God had me safe in His arms. Sure it hurt as they moved the needle around to get the vein, but I had faith that the pain would be over soon. And it was.

I returned to the waiting room to wait for my results. It had completely filled up since I left. There were people of all nationalities spread from one side of the room to the other. Once Stephanie came out we decided to get some fresh air. As we did, we saw Richard talking to a young man with both his hands completely bandaged up and some nasty open wounds on his legs.

“Boda accident?” Stephanie asked.

“Yes!” he said, shaking his head sadly.

I asked if he was the driver or the passenger, and he was the passenger. He went on to tell us how he is a musician. He can’t work without the use of this hands, and from the looks of things, he wouldn’t be using them for a while. I told him that I’d pray for him, and I loved the look of joy on his face when I said that. I feel like today God gave me peace in that clinic and also to this young man we met.

Finally, after we had been there for a few hours, I got my diagnosis: food poisoning, bacterial infection, and a yeast infection in my stomach (same as a few other people from school). Apparently my digestive system is depressed. Who knew that your digestive system could be depressed? Poor thing. So it was all kind of a chain reaction- food poisoning, bacterial infection, depressed digestive system, yeast infection in my stomach. I got a whole bag full of pills I’ll be taking for the next week or so.

The doctor and nurses really were wonderful, and the facility was clearly better than any I could have gone to in a village. What I’m really thankful for today is the fact that school administration wanted us to go see a doctor. I’m so blessed to work for people who care about the wellbeing of their teachers. Although I’m still feeling icky, I realize that I’ve still got so much to be thankful for.