Monday, May 30, 2011

The theme of this post- Where can I sleep?

THANK YOU FOR PRAYING!!!  Whoa. What a haul these last days have been.  It's been something else. This post is going to be long but so were the days. I need to jump back a whole week to catch up the small section of readers that don't follow me on FB too.

Monday- Quiet in Soroti. Really low key day. My lower back has been hurting for a week, since the accident and everything I keep reading says rest to recover. I've been a little, ok, really bad about resting. But Monday morning I couldn't hardly straighten when getting up in the  morning so I told myself this was it, I had to be good. The biggest event of the day was team meeting and I couldn't even sit for the duration of the meeting and the evening only kept getting worse. By early evening I was honestly reduced to tears. A plan was made to head to Kampala in the morning for some radiology studies that I'd denied needing for the past week.
Late Monday night/ early Tuesday- Fever of 102.9, vomiting, diarrhea, and deliriously happy that clearly it must be infectious and couldn't be muscloskeletal so I didn't have to go to Kampala. Well, maybe just delirious. I tested my urine thinking kidney infection. Nothing so simple. Malaria came back positive but the back still hurt so bad I couldn't remain standing for more than 10 minutes at a time.  I tried and tried to not go but 6 am found Beckie packing my bag for me and herding me toward the car even as I mumbled some not so veiled threats.
Tuesday- I now know what it is like to be genuinely suicidal.   My back hurt so bad I couldn't even move. My eyes were burning hot and my brain was pounding out of my ears. I get car sick anyway and it was inevitable that I was going to vomit at least once in the car. My temp was still 102+ even with meds on board. I'd started anti-malarials and anti-nausea med but nothing was touching it. I couldn't sleep, couldn't sit, couldn't lay down and then we were pulled over by the police. He started a conversation with Beckie but then looked at me and told her to continue on. Beckie was a champ because I didn't want any music, we have no AC and the roads are crap. I had multiple conversations with God during this few hour stretch of the road but honestly am glad I can't remember any of them because I'm not so sure they were overly christian on my end. We were pulled over twice more and the third time the officer leaned into my window and asked if we would give a ride. You can't really say no because if you do they can continue to detain you for whatever reason. So I mumbled yes and an undercover officer (?!?) climbed in the back and we were off again. Around this part of the trip I believe I started passing in and out of consciousness. I know Beckie was talking but little of it made sense and I can picture the dash clock but everything else is blurry. That is until I looked into the back and the guy back there announced he was sick and vomited. Beckie pulled over and I got out of the car but I couldn't feel my feet on the ground and the world would not stop spinning no matter how hard I gripped the car door. I don't remember the rest of that stop. At some point (hours?) later that guy got out and we finally!! arrived in Kampala. Then those 30 minutes through the city were the worst. Finally we arrived at The Surgery. They put me in a bed and a doctor (Ugandan) came in but most of this is gray. I remember clearly the last of 5 liters of fluid. I also remember drawing blood more than once but can't remember why.  Malaria. Lots of parasites. Talk of spending the night. We talked of the back pain and they assured me it was due to the fever. I was able to urinate eventually and around 6:30 we got discharged.  Beckie somehow found a new guest house in the dark of Kampala and I think I was asleep again before she had her bag open.
Wednesday- the morning found me feeling more human and cognisant so after a little discussion it was decided that because we were in Kampala it would be pertinent to be more persistent about the back trouble. We packed up and headed off to International Hospital Kampala (IHK). That doctor (Asian?) was pretty thorough so because I still had a significant fever- more blood, urine, then to x-ray. I tried and tried to talk her into a CT because I have radiating pain and sciatica in both legs but no dice. She looked at the x-ray, said she didn't see a herniated disc and since we wouldn't really do anything else I didn't need anything further. Well, so much for patient driven health care. I knew I was well on my way to dehydrated again because it took almost 2 liters of water to produce a stupid little urine sample between the sweating, the diarrhea and the malaria meds. But still feeling tolerably well we went grocery shopping and then got the heck out of Kampala. I slept the entire way back to Jinja where we planned to spend the night with missionary friends before continuing on to Soroti. Well.... Our friends had a wonderful dinner for us and after a day of being up and around I ate my first meal since Monday. I don't think the food had anything at all to do with it, timing was just bad, but I spent the whole night up again. My good friend the back pain there with a vengeance, vomiting over and over again, I don't remember my temp but it was back up there in the "I can't think clearly" range.
Thursday- morning found me not getting out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time and the afternoon found  us looking for a trustworthy doctor in Jinja as I couldn't keep down the malaria meds and still needed treatment. Not to mention the dehydration was rearing its ugly head again. The room was spinning and I wasn't moving. My eyes felt like they were on fire but the chills were so bad my teeth were chattering. The doctor was a nice woman (Australian?) but not super helpful. She gave me a bed and some nausea meds but those didn't help. She suggested it was possibly Typhoid, gave more meds and took more samples.  She then gave me IM Reglan to stop the vomiting which only kept me until her parking lot before I threw up again. The nice thing she did do for us was a letter to an area hospital for a few liters of fluid BUT NOTHING ELSE. This is actually pretty important and helpful as it meant I didn't have to see a doctor there, hear that I should be on a quinine drip, get more blood drawn, put up with incompetent Ugandan staff..... I just got in, poked a couple of times (she muttered something about collapsing veins) and got some fluid hanging. Amazing how much better a body feels after a few liters. By then it was nine pm and we headed back to our friends house and you guessed it- back to bed.
Friday- back to feeling more human and mildly rational again. Rested all day. Head still pounding and low grade temps but feeling simply like terrible flu giving me hope I was on the road to recovery. Even managed some soup!
Saturday- Headed to Soroti! (Only not really.) I got up feeling like I could manage the couple hours in the car. So we packed up and hit the road before it got to hot. And about 30 minutes and the breaks on the car quit. We stopped safely in a small town that had a "garage" as they called it (a junk yard with a bunch of never-to-move-again cars as we would call it) and a mechanic who would look at the car for us. Yikes!!! For the sake of the fact that I cried over the day once already and I don't want to do it again I'm just going to say that the nausea, diarrhea, back pain and headache were back and now were were two single girls in a random Ugandan city sitting in a car in a 100+ degree junk yard when every cell in my body was calling for a bed. For 6 hours. No where to go sit, not even a bench in the shade (we did sit on a dirty old tire for a while). But we got back to our friends in Jinja and eventually our car made it back too.
Sunday- First thing in the morning off to a clinic again. Why am I still having fevers?! Nausea? Diarrhea? The good news- malaria smear negative. Typhoid negative. No answers to my questions, an elevated white count and a very apathetic doctor (Ugandan). But reassurance that I SHOULD be getting better.  Back to our friends house and back to bed. Then a shower and a nap while they went to church. Then a small bite to eat and an afternoon nap.  Up in time to get some other clothes on and go back to bed.
Monday- I'm very happy to report we are finally home.  We took it slowly this morning and Beckie drove the whole way again. I'm going to talk for a few minute with my family then it is so bedtime.
Thank you all again who prayed. I was sicker than I'd like to admit and some of those days I was pretty low. But last week is just that- last week.  I AM GOING TO REST THIS WEEK and give myself and this back a chance to really heal.  It is hard being sick so far from home when I know I can't trust myself and with a medical system that can't be trusted but I was surrounded by friends who were trusted and more importantly I know that I was held in a world wide net of prayer by a God who is trusted above all.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

soft collision of worlds

I'm still running low grade temps and honestly I'm pretty whinny so this post is sure to sound.... well either slightly delusional or incredibly toddler tantrum-ish of me. But I'm writing right now anyway.
I want a collision of two worlds. I have no idea what it would look like but I want to get up in the morning with an equatorial sunrise, to have my fresh ugandan tea with 2% milk FROM A JUG and cereal that I don't have to pick the ants out of.  I want to pack up my medical bag and head out to the village, then come back in time to have grilled cheese and tomato soup with my mom where we'll talk a mile a minute about everything from nursing to new recipes we each want to try. In the afternoon I'd love to take Betty and Abella to the public library, after we finish their homework and the 6 times tables of course. I'd love to go out to dinner with Nick and catch up on his life or invite myself over to Ben and Christina's and play with Isaac for a while. Then I'd like to spend the rest of the evening preparing material for the next time I head to Karamoja to visit the VHTs.  That is all. Just a simple day.

And all this may sound silly to you but it actually makes me tear up as I write. I love both my lives. I just wish they were closer to each other.

Don't worry- the play by play of last week is coming....

6 clinics/hospitals in 6 days. Is that a record?

So this past week may qualify as one of the worst weeks of my life but things are finally looking up and considering I can tolerate having the computer on in front of me is evidence of that. I don't have the kind of energy it is going to take to write this thing down yet but blood work an hour ago failed to find any malaria parasites (finally!). The CBC did show anemia and an elevated white count and other stuff that I can't quite figure out yet. But today- rest. tomorrow we will try (again!) to head back to Soroti. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I'm sure that it was the power of prayer, not the power of the Ugandan medical system, that has me feeling better today. I love and miss all of you guys who put all those encouraging things on my face book!!
*Small side note: Beckie you did a great job putting up with me- thanks. If this missionary thing doesn't work out for you, you should look into nursing. I appreciate all you did this past week. I'm really glad though I never lost the ability to shower myself. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

go read somebody else's stuff

To think, I thought maybe I'd post everyday this month
Too tired to dwell on that now
Beck wrote about our day in the junk yard here: waiting
I'm still alive and mostly happy about it

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Following up in Amuria.....

On Monday I went out to Amuria with Josh to follow up on the HIV/Aids teaching from February. (Feb story here) Several of the participants presented their action plans of what they left the training planning to do and what had resulted. It was really encouraging to hear in a variety of different ways how stigma was reduced in their homes, churches and communities. They told about a good number of people who became open about their status and were willing to discuss it. The pastors talked about encouraging people and teaching what they had learned. It makes me excited to prepare to teach it again the middle of next month in a different location. For those of you praying for me it will be another week long session in Katakwi the week of June 13th. Once again my prayer is that I can communicate something that helps people and is relevant but most importantly communicates God’s love and biblical truth.

Small side note- Unfortunately on the way home from Amuria there was some trouble with the motorbike and we took a spill. God was watching over us and it could easily have been worse and we ended up with mostly bruises and scrapes though Josh's bike is finished. My back hurts more than I care to admit but it is getting steadily better. I’m not up to running yet, which as anyone who knows me can guess, is driving me far more nuts than the discomfort but I’m trying really hard to just rest and give it a chance to heal. Thank you Lord for your protection!


Lets see.... water on the left or hill after hill on the right... which is the lesser of two evils...
I’ve been traveling around a bit more by car in the last few weeks visiting kids. This is just a glimpse of the road to Job and Lazaro’s home. It is raining nearly every day now, which is wonderful for people’s fields and crops, but makes things a bit more challenging for me. I’m proud to say I haven’t been stuck (yet) this wet season but is hasn’t been for lack of challenging roads. For some reason (possibly a good one) some culverts were added to this road. But for some other reason (possibly less of a good one) they didn’t dig down and put them below the level of the road. They just set them and brought the road up to them. I’m not sure how this will work out when there is flooding….
If only I could just follow the bike path right down the middle....

In which the fruit roll up becomes a success in remote villages of Uganda!

Enjoying the mango to its fullest extent.

Saturday morning Mandy and I headed out to a little village church about 20 kilometers outside of Soroti where a group of women wanted to learn how to preserve mangoes. It was a really fun day and overall very productive. Nearly 3 basins of mangoes were turned into fruit leather that will hopefully stay for a few months. Better than that, more than 10 women learned how to do it themselves and became very excited about other possibilities, things they could try and selling it to generate a little income. (They had never cooked mango before and were even pleased with the sauce. Their kids were too!)  They were a fun group of women to work with and I really enjoyed the day.
So many mangoes!

Peel, pit, cut, repeat.

Simmering for awhile to reach the right consistency.

Spreading it out on plastic to dry in the sun.

Having some of the left over cooked mango.

Final product.
On sunday, after church, the pastor commended the women for their hard work and he showed off the new product they produced. Everyone was really impressed and the women seemed really proud of themselves.
Everyone wants a taste.
They produced about 5 this size.

Another burial

Job was one of the little guys that I visited periodically. He was a 4 year old boy with very severe cerebral palsy and often had more than 20 seizures a day, even on medication. Sadly, he died last week Wednesday and the burial was Thursday morning. His family knows they will see their child again, with a restored body and a fully functioning mind and they know his struggles are over so the burial was not a horribly tragic day. However, it is still hard to see the grief of a mother over the loss of her child. Innocent (Job’s mother) was a great example to her community. It is so common for a family to have a handicapped child and literally neglect them to death. The reasoning is that this child will never contribute to the family so why bother to “waste” resources on them. But this family did so well. Job’s family was told that he died of malaria which I seriously doubt as he became sick Monday, they took him to the hospital Tuesday and he had passed away by Wednesday. It seems that somehow the hospital killed him but that isn’t something that I’m going to even think about further. The point of this post is that I feel like I'm getting really good at attending burials and I don't like it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

OK, sorry about the complete lack of posting for a while. Here is my list of excuses- for a while phone and internet were hit and miss to say the least. Then internet went back to its normally faintly reliable self and we lost power for 5 days.  Now that has partially resolved and we have power about 6 hours out of 24 so I should have been able to catch up but I’ve had a friend from Karamoja staying with me this week and traveling with me to visit kids. It has been really nice to have her along and have company in the evenings so I have taken a short hiatus.  But there are a bunch of posts on their way now....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political unrest

So the drama continues in Uganda.  The leader of the opposition party was in Kenya for medical treatment after he was arrested last time but he is reportedly coming back to Uganda today ( and if you read between the lines it is to stir up more trouble).  There was an attempt to meet (peacefully?) in Constitutional Square yesterday and once again the police got involved. Two other former presidential candidates were involved and arrested. Tomorrow is the inauguration  of Museveni which will be a big todo. I also read this today which will not make people happy: "President Museveni yesterday announced plans to amend the Constitution to deny bail for murder, rape, treason, defilement and riot suspects...."  This is all potentially a lot of tinder in a smoldering city. Please keep praying for peace!

Update: Not sure if this is good or bad....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Flora and Fauna

I found this guy on my tent as the sun rose. He was as big as my hand and when he spread his wings he  had those two spots that looked like eyes. 
 We had a chance to take a quick trip to Jinja to get away for two days. The Nile is such a beautiful place. I know this stuff is much better in real life but until you come and visit for yourself you'll have to just enjoy the pictures. 
This is "just" a snail but it really impressed me because it was a big as my fist. This picture doesn't do it justice. 


Monday, May 9, 2011

Authority in Prayer

I'm reading a book by a guy named Dutch Sheets and something he wrote has been tumbling around in my head for quite a while now. I spliced together several pieces (left out the bible references and other examples for the sake of retyping) and want to give you a chance to read and respond. I'd love to start a discussion so just post your thoughts.

Though many dictionaries and lexicons include “power” in their definitions for authority, strictly speaking, authority and power are not the same. Power is the “strength or force” needed to rule; authority is the “right” to do so. Authority without the power to enforce is meaningless; power exercised without authority- the right to use that power- is usurpation and is morally wrong.
Where God and Satan are concerned, the issue has never been power, including control of the earth. God is all powerful. It is always and only a question of authority. The same is true with us and our struggle against the kingdom of darkness. Satan didn’t gain any power at the fall and didn’t lose any at the cross. His power or ability didn’t change at either event; his authority, or the right to use that power DID. In fact, though Christians often state otherwise, Scripture nowhere says that Christ delivered us from or dealt with Satan’s power at Calvary. He dealt with Satan’s authority.
This is more than a mere technicality. If Jesus stripped Satan of his power, as some teach, then we no longer need to concern ourselves with him- he becomes a nonissue. Or if we Christians has been delivered from Satan’s power, as some teach, then he can no longer affect or control us. We would be able to tgnore him completely, which is precisely what many Christians do.
If on the other hand, Jesus dealt with Satan’s authority- the right to use his power or abilities- then we would need to deal with him as an usurper, a rebel, a thief that has no right to steal, kill or destroy but will if not stopped. If we have been delivered from Satan’s authority and given a higher authority in Christ’s name, then we must exercise that authority over the devil’s works and power. (Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!

I see the moon,
The moon sees me,
Down through the leaves of that old acacia tree.
Please let the light that shines on me,
Shine on the ones I love.

Mom, I think every time I see the full moon here in Uganda, I remember you singing that song to us in Kenya. I don’t even know what the real words are but they don’t matter.  I like remembering you singing it and I hope that you feel that little prayer that I send up on the full moons. I love you and miss you! Happy Mothers Day Mom!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This is a little update on Betty as she spent most of the morning here.  I’ve been so excited lately about her reading. She is doing remarkably better recognizing words, sounding things out and grasping the concepts of what she is reading. Feeling inspired with her improvement I decided that it was time to tackle math. On her end of semester math test she got a 31%.  She was able to bring me the test and we are trying to work on her weak areas, one of which was clearly long division. As we sat together to see where the confusion was it became clear that she didn’t know her times tables. So I figured that we could back up and start there. But then it became clear she didn’t know the difference between addition and multiplication. She also can’t count by 5’s, 3’s or even 2’s.  The up side is that once she begins to make progress we will really be able to see it!!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Amecet (the baby shelter) has been a little busy lately and their solo nurse had had a lot on her plate so I’ve been trying to provide help where I could. Consequently I’ve been around the place a lot in the past week. They have one little guy, Moses, who has not been doing well at all. Yesterday morning he was dehydrated and clearly painful. He was, fussing continuously, grunting with each breath and not keeping anything down. He has had diarrhea for several days but it seemed to be getting worse. Yesterday they put in an IV, put down a feeding tube, started antibiotics (as a shot in the dark) and tried to rehydrate. I just stopped by this morning and his abdomen is rock hard and he is feverish. He is vomiting everything they put down his tube (including meds) and we are just not getting on top of his issues.

He is only a few weeks old so there just isn’t a lot of wiggle room to figure out what is going on.
I keep trying to mentally run a differential diagnosis but medicine is so blasted limited here. We need some lab work, stool cultures, some imaging and let’s face it, none of that is going to happen. This kid should be getting a stat surgical consult.  But I have to come to terms with the fact that if it is anything worse than a c-diff infection (and possibly even that!) there is nothing we can do for this little guy but keep him comfortable and let him go. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate nursing here?!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Easter parties with the street kids

Just before Easter I asked you to pray about our Easter parties with the street kids. We held the two parties and here are a few pictures. We played some soccer and Frisbee, ate colored hard boiled eggs, juice boxes and cookies, and they were told the Easter story. We gave them a chance to draw a picture (most are illiterate) of something they wanted to leave at the cross. Then they colored a little necklace to remind them of all that Jesus had done. These kids are hard to read. They have all been through so much. They seemed to have fun and we just have to pray that God is working in their young minds. Thanks for praying!
Josh riding his table/donkey into Jerusalem. 


This boy’s name is Shida. It means problem in swhail.  What a curse to put on a child. Shida has been living on the street for a while now and has pretty much fried his brain huffing.  He was stoned for the entire time we were there. How much pain and suffering his young life must hold. How sad.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We make our own fun around here!

Thing have seemed a little heavy around here with sick kids and deaths but a few nights back Josh and Mandy’s girls came over and helped me make supper for their parents. It is possible I enjoyed it more than Josh and Mandy did. I suggested we make a restaurant and within seconds Lydia had voiced 20 ideas and had probably had 20 more but her brain moves faster than her mouth. She and Betty we off and running to make the “restaurant” look nice. Grace and Abella joined me in the kitchen and we rolled out pie crusts for chicken pot pie, stacked up some lemon cakes and mixed up some Kool-Aid.  They used the gazebo in my front yard, put out candles, set the table, even made a flag.  Betty, Helen and Abella had joined right in and I didn’t have the heart to send them home.  The evening was a ton of fun. They put on wraps and aprons, served Josh and Mandy like little waitresses and were so excited they could barely contain themselves. I expect we will be doing in again before too long.
Lydia and Abella after making flowers, setting the table, and hanging the welcome sign. Waiting for our "patrons" to arrive.
The kitchen crew takes a moment to eat!