Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Week With Malaria...and a few other things

It’s been a bit of a rough week for us here in Niger.  If you’ve read "A Brief Look at a Day in the Sandbox" you got a glimpse of one day this week.  What wasn’t communicated there was my fear in hearing that there was no medicine in town for my sick baby.  Talk about a moment of helplessness.  I knew that it would probably, most likely be on that bus that would eventually show up at some point before the end of the day, but I also knew that it was quite possible that it wouldn’t.  And if it didn’t show up that night, I guess it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.  We could have sent someone to Tahoua, 2 ½ hours away, early the next morning and we would have had it by that afternoon.  Still, though, my fear was there.  Once it was confirmed that she did have malaria, I wanted to start treatment right then and there!

That was Monday.

On Tuesday she didn’t seem too bad.  Her fever from the night before had come down and she no longer felt super hot to the touch.  That evening there was a little less throwing up with medication administration.  I was feeling optimistic.  Again, that night there was fever all night long.

Wednesday morning the power went off at 6:00 AM.  This is not uncommon.  In fact, what is uncommon is a day without any power cuts.  Their frequency and length varies, but lately they haven’t been too bad, often only lasting a few minutes.  The day continued and Emma’s fever persisted despite around the clock medication, cool baths and compresses.  On Monday and Tuesday she still played some throughout the day but this day she was lethargic, not making hardly a peep, when she wasn’t sleeping her head was buried in my chest.  I was scared.  She’d already has two out of the three doses of malaria medication and I had expected her to be doing better at this point, not worse.  That afternoon after she woke up from her nap not in any improved state I called on of the doctors at Galmi, the SIM mission hospital about 5 hours away.  He said he might expect her to maybe be the same, but not worse.  He said we should probably think about coming in if things continued this way.  I decided that if she had not improved by morning we would make the trip.  By this time it was nearly 5:00 PM.  The power had come back on (briefly)but the water had cut off in the middle of giving her a cool shower.  Thankfully, though, much to my relief, her fever came down.  She only spiked a fever once in the middle of the night but it came back down quickly after a dose of Tylenol.

Thursday morning she was still afebrile.  I passed her off to Donnie to go get dressed.  When I came back I noticed a rash starting on her face and it was quickly spreading.  Another phone call to the doctor to say that she was doing better, but what about this rash?!?  He said it was probably viral, which was what I thought too.  It looked kind of measle-like and I recalled the red eyes and copious amounts of green nasal discharge a few days back that I didn’t think anything of at the time.  So not only did she have malaria, but she also had some other virus on top of it that may or may not have been measles…my poor baby!  Despite the quite alarming looking rash, she had a better day.  She was still quite clingy and cuddly but was starting to ask for food and water.  
By the end of the day she was playing independently for brief moments.  She started to make some vocalizations and I even got a little smile and a laugh out of her.  What a relief!

With all of this, we had less than 3 hours of power in three days and virtually no water since Wednesday afternoon.  This morning (Saturday)the power came back on, but we still have no running water.  And, did I mention that October is the mini hot season in Niger?  Most days it gets up to 94F inside the house.  Our air conditioner (that is just for our bedroom, mind you) isn’t working at the moment and Wednesday morning I discovered that the water shut off valve in our wash machine is broken…we noticed a puddle, I heard dripping and opened up the door and a whole load full of water came gushing out! 

I don’t share this with you all to feel sorry for us, so please don’t!  Some people ask what it’s like to live in Niger.  I share this because this is what real life is like here sometimes.  Not by any means all of what life is here, but definitely a part of our reality.  And I know we’re not starving, and we have money to buy medicine for our sick kids (when it’s available!), and compared to most Nigeriens we have it pretty darn good, but sometimes it’s hard for us and we struggle.  So please, you Humboldt folk who live with the luxury of outside air conditioning (oh, how I miss it!), think of us when you step outside.  All of you with reliable power and water, think of us when you go to flip a light switch, or turn on your faucet, pray for us that we would have the grace to deal with times like these that try our patience and make us wish we were home.  When you look upon your healthy children, pray for ours to remain healthy too.  But more than that, pray that we would keep our eyes on our Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Pray that our ministry here would be fruitful and that our time spent here would not be in vain.

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