Sunday, May 15, 2011

A series of unfortunate events

We always try to share good works and the wonderful things we encounter here in Uganda so it was with forethought that we didn't tell you about our February experience; but now that it is over and we survived, we can now look back on it as a great learning experience and feel free to tell about our trying February.

We were having a wonderful time with our grandson Ryan and son-in-law Keith who were spending a week with us on the dental project when we found out our sweet Jacob (Keith's 6 yr.old son) was severly ill and taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Keith needed to get home quickly to be with him and Christie. After a frantic search for flights we took Keith and Ryan to the airport late on Feb 16th.

On the way back from the airport while we were stopped at an intersection, a man opened our car door and grabbed my purse. It was such a surprise, I forgot to be scared and fought with him for the purse. With a violent jerk he took my purse and broke my index finger.

It was midnight and we did not know where to seek help so we just went home. After a sleepless night and a finger that had swollen to twice it size we found medical care at THE SURGERY, a private British clinic. Dr. Stockley x-rayed my finger and acknowledged it was broken and would need surgery as the piece of bone that the tendon was attached to was pulled loose and I was unable to bend my finger. If I wanted use of the finger I would have to have surgery.

Dr. Stockly referred us to Dr Hodges at a hospital just out side of Kampala where they do corrective surgery for children. He said Dr. Hodges was a plastic surgeon who specialized in hands.

Farrell and Elder Thayne gave me a blessing. A feeling of comfort came and I was confident about seeing Dr. Hodges even though I was in Africa and everyone knows you never want surgery in Africa, even if it is just a finger.

We went to CORSU hospital paid our money up front for a consultation and were escorted to the surgery suite where Dr. Hodges was doing surgery. I was directed to undress and don surgical pajamas. I was having a hard time figuring out why I needed to put on surgical pajamas for a consultation but I am on a confidence roll so . . .
One young man was getting surgery for a deformed foot. Surgery for children at this hospital is free.
I was escorted into the surgery suite and Dr. Hodges looked at me and said , "What are you doing in here. Your brave. Don't you want a consultation before you have surgery." My confidence was growing by the minute.

After he examined my finger he said we should schedule surgery but not yet as it would have to wait for the swelling to go down. We were scheduled to go to Luputa and then to Johannesburg the next week so he scheduled the surgery for when I returned, telling me to come back for another consultation (+fee) when I returned back to Kampala.

So, with my extremely swollen finger we headed to Luputa. The ten days we were gone we had 7 flights and 4 days of 4X4 wheeling in the Congo all the time trying to protect my hand and also trying to learn how to be a Lefty as I could not use my right hand for anything. I mean it, really, NOTHING. Poor Farrell had to take over all the work plus dress me and even help me brush my teeth. Ever tried to brush your teeth as a Lefty when you are really a Righty. This explains my bad hair day in the Congo (see the Luputa blog). I looked pretty bad as I couldn't comb my hair or put on any makeup using my left hand. This is camping out when you go to Luputa. Besides my finger was p-a-i-n-f-u-l!!

We finished the work in Luputa and headed to South Africa for the end of our Country Directors conference (we only made 1 day of the 4 day conference) and to make a report to the Area Presidency on our trip to Luputa. All went well but we didn't get time to do any shopping in the big city which we had been looking forward to and ended up exchanging our rand we had gotten at the ATM earlier for dollars as we left the airport.

When we returned home we were able to get the surgery done on the "finger".

I had a pin down the middle of my finger and my tendon was affixed to a button on the outside of my fingernail, a pretty red button. My hand was put in a brace to be worn for 6 weeks.

Farrell was still going to have to wait on me while I read a book and complained..

About this time Farrell thought he might ought to check our bank account on line as we had used an ATM in So. Africa and he had a man try to help him use the ATM machine. He had to be very insistent with the man that he back off and let him do it himself. Suspicious? But the concern was lost in all we were trying to do. When he finally checked our account we were losing money like crazy. Someone had access to our account. Farrell was kicking himself for not being more careful. It took a while (time zones and calling from Africa to the US) but he finally got the account closed and the bank working on getting his account fixed.

We had been asked to return to Luputa in the Congo again this time with Elder and Sis. Bingham the new humanitarin missionaries for the Congo and with Elder and Sister Frandsen the water specialists, so back we went. Another 4X4 experience and me with my repaired finger. Everyone was very gracious and made sure I stayed up front in our 4 wheel vehicle so I wouldn't harm my finger but because of my own stubbornness I did re-injure my finger causing a delay in the healing process and requiring me to keep the pin and tendon button on for an extra 2 weeks. After the first week of my extended care my finger became infected and I couldn't get out to the hospital to see Dr. Hodges as we were having a little civil unrest in Uganda so we had to stay in the apartment. Dr. Jesse Hunsaker was visiting us to help us set up a vision project so he just took the button off and I "accidentally" pulled the pin out so that was the end of that .
Dr. Andrew Hodges, my capable surgeon.
 (Just a little reality check here - when you go to CORSU Hospital you get quite a humbling. There are many children there with extensive deformities, cancerous tumors and amputations. When I was sitting in the physical therapy room getting fitted for a protective cover over my finger there was a young man about 13 laying on a mat exercising his stump. He had an above the knee amputation the results of a hit/run by a motor cycle. His injury probably could have been corrected in the US but here the only alternative was to amputate. As I was visiting with him the PT put a cover over my finger and pushed it down hitting the pin in my finger and I yelped. I turned to this kid and said, "That hurt!" He just looked at me, nodded and grinned. I felt pretty dumb with my little finger injury next to his amputation.)

So February was not our best month here in Africa but looking back we see great blessings.
  • We were negligent in leaving our car door unlocked and we were very blessed that it was only a finger that was injured.
  • We were given an opportunity to revisit the Congo not once but twice and travel with the Binghams and the Frandsens. We can not express our love for these two couples. The trip was a highlight in our mission.
  • Jacob has come through the Diabetes Ordeal with flying colors. He is an amazing young man who just planted his feet firmly and at age 6 took charge of his problem. He is our hero.
  • The bank was able to recover all the funds missing from our bank account.
  • My finger bends! Well it bends at two joints although the top joint will probably never bend but I do have my finger.
Life is interesting.
Life just keeps moving along.
Life can be a series of unfortunate events.
But it is also full of many wonderful blessings.
We are going to call all of this a great learning experience, give thanks for all our many blessings and tuck these experiences away in our mission memory bank.


Bill said...

What a wonderful positive attitude you two have about the experiences you are having on your mission. The way you continue to do the Lords work even while under adversity and without complaint is what we have found with almost all the couple and young missionaries we have served with.

May the Lord continue to bless you but perhaps without so many chances to prove your willingness to serve no matter what.

Tiffany said...

Thanks for the updates. We are praying like crazy for you two...especially as Nate and Eliza's wedding nears.

We are proud of you!

Angela said...

What about you getting out of the car to chase him? That's my favorite part. We're so glad you are ok though.

LBJ said...

You're quite the trooper. I'm amazed that you made the trip to Lupta TWICE with that injury. You're definitely going for the superhero award. And you get it if I get to vote. Take care, have a good summer and let's hope that things keep looking up!