We had been here about a month and Christian and I got pretty sick. Stomach and head, and just felt like we got hit by a mac truck. All of our international friends convinced us after a week of this to go to a Doctor. The moment I had dreaded and prayed we wouldn’t have to do after hearing all the nightmare stories of hospitals and clinics here. So we went to a clinic we were told was the better of clinics. It was dirty, we were put in an office that had exposed framing with empty soda bottles sitting on 2×4’s. There was a desk and an exam table and barely room for two chairs. The exam table had no sterile paper on top, just ripped up vinyl with the stuffing exposed. Now, I am known to freak out over germs – real germs or the ones that I make up in my mind, but I was so sick by this point that I started laying over to stretch out all the while my husband was saying “Don’t do it”! I couldn’t help it, I didn’t have the strength to sit up while waiting on lab work to come back. Lab work – blood drawn and sample taken and someone on a bicycle took it to a lab somewhere. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the results came back. My and Christians blood tests came out almost exactly the same but the “Dr” said he wasn’t sick but I was dehydrated and and HPelori. But why did we have the same symptoms? He didn’t know but Christian was definitely not sick. Hmmm. So I was hooked up to IV’s – medicine and fluids for dehydration, which was terrifying in itself. After about 3 hours of this visit we were finally given a diagnosis of the flu (which our Dr in America confirmed after emailing him the blood test results. He also told me that the “treatment” give for the HPelori was not really the correct treatment) I was told to come back in the morning and get more IV’s, which I did. Then we were given about 3 antibiotics and antacid liquid because I was told all my stomach pain was from ulcers. I’m pretty sure I was not having stomach pain, just a little diarrhea from the flu. It was not an experience I wanted to repeat.
I have learned some more about these “Dr’s” and clinics. Some are quacks just out to take these poor peoples money, killing people in the process. To become a doctor, you only have to attend a University for 4 years. Presto – you are a Dr. (In all actuality, I could open a clinic myself and get away with treating people.) You can then go on a few more years for a specialty….or not. For a majority of the Dr.’s, they are not much more than a PA in our country and I would go as far to say some have about as much training as an RN in our country. What we have experienced with the people of the village that come to us for money to pay for medications and Dr visits, they pretty much tend to diagnose broadly and treat with everything they can think of to cover whatever may be making someone sick. Which means sometimes 3-4 antibiotics at a time. Diagnosis’s of Malaria and typhoid together is so common, even if neither is actually present. So there is an epidemic here of antibiotics becoming resistant and making the sicknesses and deaths, and the spread of sickness worse. We would get people at our door with 6 pages of diagnosis in their little medical notebook, and prescriptions that were just outrageous. I am not a doctor but even I could see that medical care here is in a way worse mess than what we thought ours in America is.
So I prayed. And prayed, for God to show me a Dr that we could send these people to that might actually help without hurting. I talked to people and I sincerely pleaded with God to help me find a better way, I feel for these people but I don’t have endless money to throw away and watch them stay sick or get sicker. Then it happened. I got pretty sick again. (God doesn’t always answer us in the easiest way!) Christian and I aren’t ones to run to the doctor over just anything, actually rarely. But we are in Africa. So, dreading and trying to figure out what to do, we decided to go to a new hospital that opened just after we got here. It was the answer to all my prayers so far about medical care. It was clean, and so organized. The only doctor we have seen there is Dr. Nelson and I told him he is a Godsend. He has had a practice in Kampala for a few years, and he told us that his aging parents started having to see Dr’s here in our area and they would send him their diagnosis’s and he was appalled. So he and some others opened this hospital to provide better (and cleaner) care for this area. The hospital has a lab, x-ray equipment, maternity ward, trauma center, operating theater. Clean beds with curtains and mosquito netting around them. And the medications that are normally given to hospitals for free but charged at high prices to patients – this hospital gives them at their cost (they are a private hospital) which is very inexpensive. Even more so than the pharmacies. I was tested and found that I was pretty anemic and had the very beginning of malaria. So slight that the symptoms I was having – severe fatigue – was probably just from the anemia. He gave me iron and malaria treatment and within a couple weeks I was back at it full speed! He said he could prescribe me a different preventative that might not make me as sick as the one we had been taking, but that since I had been here four months and this was the first time I contracted it, that I must be doing something right and it was up to me.
We have people at our door weekly, needing help with medical care, and we even have our workers giving us a very small part of their pay each week that we work them to add to a medical fund. We match what they put in (with our tithes that we split between the church and helping people). It was amazing to the guys how quickly their medical fund added up to a large amount. We can see how that has affected them, that they don’t have to feel shame and embarrassment in getting their families care that they need. It has been a tiring couple months though, because to get them to go to THIS hospital we have had to physically take them. Last week we saw Dr. Nelson some days 3 times in the same day. But we see big results and just a tiny bit of expense compared to what people were asking for to go to the other places and get medication. I think Dr Nelson has a hard time understanding, and I try to explain to him that it is God that brought us here, and that is why we do what we do. Yesterday we took two women and a baby to him and he asked me how do I communicate with these people. I told him they are our workers wives – one lives next door and she was at my house when the baby started throwing up. He said “No, you don’t speak the same language, how do you communicate? By sign language?” I laughed, told him their husbands speak some English and we also have a day guard that speaks pretty good English so he is always interpreting for us.
Now my prayer is that God shows us a way to help this hospital and Dr Nelson and his fellow doctors there. I know he is probably not making the money he was in his practice in Kampala, but I believe he, like us, is in it for different reasons. We have had many conversations on the culture and their views on doctors (most are scared of them) and I have been able to witness to him, I do not believe he is a Christian, so I use every visit to show him the love of Christ and that it is that love that compels us to do what we do. Please keep New Hope Hospital and all the doctors and nurses there in your prayers, for their selfless work and continuing help to this area.