You know, sometimes Africa gets hard.
Last weekend Hannah started complaining Friday night of a headache. Having spent the day playing in the heat we sent her to bed with an extra cup of water. “Headache” to a four year old has various meanings. Sometime it means her body in general doesn’t feel well, sometimes it means she’s thirsty, sometimes it means she wants to get out of the responsibility of a consequence. So there was no telling what exactly that meant that Friday night.
Then Saturday came with a fever. And a stomach ache. And lethargy. Her face lost most of its color. And that meant only one thing – a trip to the clinic.
In America, this entails a happy little pediatrician’s office or after-hours clinic that gives out stickers and smiles along with their diagnosis. In Africa? Well… here goes…
I took her in with Wanne. I knew it wouldn’t be a good family affair. I purposefully told her nothing. No need to instill panic. Apparently she didn’t need my help because panic hit when we walked out of the house. She was crying and clinging to me as we rode to the clinic down the street. I tried to make things casual and talk up the benefit of having the right medicine to treat her. I’m still not sure if she bought it. 😉
Thanks to Wanne’s Portuguese, registration was pretty simple. Hannah informed me that she thought she was going to throw up so we took a casual trip to the bathroom. The place reminded me of a 1970’s hospital, only with minimal electricity. There was however enough electricity for some spoiling AC in the patient room.
The doctor was a sweet lady, whom Wanne informed me had started this very clinic. The doc knew a phrase or two in English and tried to comfort Hannah some. Hannah was nervous about everyone’s touch… ad even their looks. She had long since decided that she could heal just fine without their presence or their opinions. 😉
Then we were led down a hallway, through a dark room with a sickly man lying facing the wall and into a sterile, latex gloves zone. The mask on one of the nurse’s face made Hannah nervous. The tray of instruments made Hannah nervous. When they reached out for her hand I decided to talk through what was going to happen. Hannah is a needle phobe. It was best she didn’t know until absolute last minute. They used a latex glove as a tourniquet. Hannah was compliant but panicked. I held her face to my chest while they inserted the port and drew a vial of blood for her malaria test. With bandaid applied and port still left in her hand, Hannah donated all the contents of her stomach to the floor. The medical assistants were very quick and managed to save their own clothing. Hannah felt momentarily better, but still couldn’t bear the thought of the port in her hand. Neither could I. I understood why it was there should the results be pretty intense, but still hurt for Hannah that she had such fear.
Then the waiting. And the rocking. And the kissing of her little forehead. She really is still so small. Her port hand tucked under my arm, we just rocked and she rested some.
Thankfully negative malaria test and revealed bacterial infection sent us home with a relieved little girl (once they removed the port) and a few bottles of medication. I went in to check on her fever before I went to bed and discovered she needed a second dose of fever meds. We also made a second sad discovery: Eden was warm as well.
So Sunday sat with a decision: to the clinic or not?
A group decision regarding shared symptoms put us at a two kid count on medication.
Abi felt that two was too low of a number and added herself to the medication count on Sunday. And then Rachael joined the rest on Monday. Naturally Monday became a distraction day and thankfully Hannah and Eden were almost back to normal. It’s like one started feeling better as the next one fell ill. We’ve now moved to minimal upset stomachs and four happier girls. But the memory of Hannah’s clinic experience still lingers.
You know, sometimes you’re just standing there with the toddler crying for her Daddy on the third day of his daytime pastors conference. The water is on rations again and you’re left in the aftermath of solo language learning, running the household, and counteracting the mood swings of four kids who miss their Daddy.
It’s there that you find out in Whom your endurance rests.
Africa will always get hard. And overwhelming. And tiring.
America did. So of course Africa will.
So here I stand, amidst the storm or even in the aftermath surveying the damage. In these challenge and the challenges that will come our way I have found and will continue to find
That His Strength is Perfect when our strength is long gone.
All Sufficient Savior, thank You for how You continue to carry me. Your love is unchanging. I am staking it all on Your Name alone. In Jesus’ Name.
– Thankful, grateful and beyond blessed.