Thursday, May 20, 2010
I guess life has slowed down enough to finally write about my first month back home. I got back just a little over a month ago, and I miss my kids, mamas, and the other people who became important to me. It has been hard being back in more ways than one. I’ll start the story here. I had a fever the Sunday morning before leaving Uganda. I was fine during the drive to Entebe, and even waiting almost 6 hours in the airport to leave. As soon as we took off, my health went down hill. I began feeling achy, I knew my temperature was rising, and I was shaking pretty bad from the fever. This lasted the entire plane ride, being sick coupled with being over tired made our 20 hour layover in London very frustrating. We got a hotel, and went to sleep right away. We woke up and went back to the airport to fly home. Again on the 2nd flight I was pretty sick and couldn’t sleep, I thought maybe I just had the virus that some of the other volunteers had been fighting off. We arrived in Philadelphia on that Tuesday, and no luggage was lost. It was so nice to see my Mom and sister, I wish I could have been more enthusiastic about reuniting with them but I was weak and tired. This was not how I expected to come home, after dealing with my fair share of illness in Uganda, it wasn’t allowed to follow me home! It was weird walking through those front doors again, everything felt strange. I tried to rest, but the high fever and body aches prevented any real sleep from happening. Wednesday morning my Mom made a doctor appointment because I wasn’t getting any better, only worse. The doctor did a throat swab, and I ended up having strep throat. We thought that was good news, that I would just take the antibiotic and I’d feel better in a day or two. The doctor also had me get blood work done, just to rule out malaria. At this point I didn’t even want the test because I had tested positive for strep already and was getting medicine, what were the chances I had malaria as well? I was frustrated on Thursday when I wasn’t getting any better. We got a phone call Thursday evening that my blood work came back, and I did in fact have Malaria. We went to UPenn’s ER and sat for 4 hours waiting to be seen. My fever got to 103, and at some points when the Malaria was cycling it got pretty scary. I remember praying and just asking God to make it stop, even if that meant Him taking me home, I couldn’t handle my body hurting that badly. We have a habit of doing that. Questioning God, and telling Him we can’t handle something, even when we know He won’t give us anything we can’t handle. Much easier to say that when you’re feeling better, or when you see how He has used that circumstance for His glory. At this point I had Malaria for at least 5 days, and it was only getting worse. I was admitted to the hospital and spent about 5-6 days, as they treated the Malaria, and monitored me. I was unable to eat, had high fevers, and low blood platelets for the majority of my stay in the hospital. My blood platelets dipped down to 17, a normal count is over 150. They said I would have needed a blood transfusion at 7. I’m grateful that I didn’t need that. My liver was still out of whack, and my blood platelets were still rising, but I was able to go home. I took it easy for a few days, and then was able to start hanging with friends, working, and I started summer classes. It was good to see friends, spend time with family, but I just felt and continue to feel a bit disconnected to everything here. I left so much of myself back in Uganda, and I’m just trying to figure out what God wants with my life, how He can use me to glorify Him even back here. Last weekend I went back to the doctor with what I thought was kidney pain, but it ended up that my spleen was enlarged. I was sent back to the ER at UPenn, and was admitted once again. They determined that I had reoccurring Malaria, this time it was Plasmodium Ovale, the first time it was Plasmodium Falciprum. They kept me in for only 3 days this time, and I was able to go home on a whole bunch of medications which they assured me would get rid of the Malaria this time. Through all of this people would ask me, “so are you going back”, I guess expecting me to say, no way. Spending over 8 days in the hospital in the last month I guess isn’t what most would determine as a successful or enjoyable trip overall. I would do it ten times over before regretting Uganda, or forgetting about going back. I know what Malaria feels like now, it definitely wasn’t fun, but I am so grateful that I was able to get the medication to treat Malaria, and that God has purpose and a plan behind everything He puts in our life. You hear about villages in Uganda where 1 in 5 children die from Malaria because they can’t even get to a doctor to receive treatment. How could I sit here angry or bitter about getting Malaria?