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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ebola Bundibugyo, the Emotions

I am making this two separate posts, to separate the facts from the emotions.  And since my mother and my son both read this from America I probably won’t be fully honest.  But I will say that the emotional toll of the last 72 hours has been tremendous.  There is first of all the wrenching anxiety about the patients that we know.  Since about a third right now are hospital staff, they are not mere numbers in a list.  Jonah of course top of the list of people we love who are in danger.  A virus that selectively attacks the people who care for the sick seems positively diabolical.  Then second there is the small but real possibility that one of us, mostly Scott, would fall ill.  Since the only other two doctors who have seen these patients are down, we can not ignore that risk.  We have been careful and pray that we’ve been careful enough.  The full protective MSF biohazard garb is arriving today, before that we’ve worn masks and gloves only.  And related to that sobering hypothetical scenario is the responsibility we feel to protect and care for and make good decisions about our children and our team, a third area of gut-twisting thoughts.  It is unbelievably painful to consider that we (Scott, Scott Will, and me) might be dangerous to them.  So over the last day we’ve been growing in our conviction that we need to get the non-medical team members out of here, away from us.  It is an impossible dilemma, to look at my beautiful three children who are here with me, and think that for their own good I need to send them away from me.  To look at our bewildered team scrambling to make plans and feel that we can’t go with them.  So far we are all well, but if our medical exposure stopped this minute it would still be at least two weeks, maybe three, until we were sure we were safe.  Over the last three days since we knew it was Ebola, I have only been with one patient who may have been a case (she died), while Scott has continued to care for the ill until MSF arrives (hopefully soon).  Clearly it would be good to keep one parent healthy, but where does that leave the support we need to give each other?  And if those three areas of stress are not enough, there is the parallel crisis of the collapsing medical system.  Scott has been gone all day again, third day in a row of juggling the medical and surgical emergencies that would have fallen to Dr. Sessanga and Jonah.  How do we weigh ethically protecting ourselves and our children and our responsibility to the community here where we’ve spent  a large portion of our lives, in their time of greatest need?  

So those are the thoughts that wake me up in the middle of the night and make it hard to sleep, that catch me unawares in the middle of hot afternoon sunshine and make me cry.  The hymn that keeps surfacing in my head is the one about protecting soldiers and sailors . . .Eternal Father, strong to save . . . Oh Trinity of Love and Power . .. We are clinging to that love, and that power, as our only surety.  Please pray.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was shocked to hear about this through an elder leading prayer this morning in church (as I've not had the opportunity to check the site since Thanksgiving). Please know that I (as well as my community group, friends, family etc.) are praying for you.
Larissa

Patric said...

Please know that I have been reading your blog daily for the last several months. I continue to stand with the rest of the WHM staff to support and pray for your. My family and I are fiercely praying for your safety and ability to rely on our Father in the midst of the crisis.

Patric Knaak (the new guy in GRN at the sending center)

Brad & Stacey said...

Our hearts are heavy! We are praying and telling everyone we know to pray too!

Brad and Stacey

cynthia said...

Jennifer: My heart goes out to you as a wife and a mother and a care giver. I am Rachel Locker's mother and have been reading your blog for sometime now. Know that we, our university students and church are praying for you and your teams continued health and strength.
Cynthia

Joanna said...

oh friends...my grief for you...

Lee said...

Jennifer and Scott,

We prayed for all of you at Trinity this AM and shared your blog site. We will continue to pray and many new people from Trinity will be checking the blog for updates to enable them to pray faithfully

Lydia said...

My heart is aching for you all, the rest of the team and all of my nyahuka friends. I wish there was some tangible way to be there to help relieve some of the load of the medical work (Although I would have little to no knowledge of what to do in a crisis like this). I am so happy to hear that MSF is sending in Doctors to help. The only thing I know to do is to pray fervently for you guys...for God to protect your health (and the health of the other health workers), give you stamina, and wisdom for the decisions you are making. I am praying for Jonah as well.

Lee said...

Jennifer and Scott,

We prayed for all of you at Trinity this AM and shared your blog site. We will continue to pray and many new people from Trinity will be checking the blog for updates to enable them to pray faithfully

Anonymous said...

Many prayers are coming your way from Tennessee! The Rodgers family

Andrea said...

I'm praying for you, the team, Bundibugyo. Many from my campus are praying for you as well. May God sustain you in this time.
Andrea

Anonymous said...

Praying for your children - for your families in the states - for the team members evacuating - for the caregivers and patients.

Praying for faith to endure-

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways . . . He will call upon me in trouble, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.

Psalm 91: 11,15

Tara
friend of Annelise

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer and Scott and all of you fighting this terrible disease, Praise God for Jonah's improvement. It gives me hope that he has gotten through the worst of it. I am praying hard for Dr. S, and I am praying for you, Jennifer, that your children will be away from you for a while. Reminded me (I'm old) of the
British children who were moved north to strangers because of the bombing in the towns. Hard for their parents and for them, but they were safe. I pray
God that you two will find God's loving arms around you comforting and preserving. Judy in HMB

Kurt said...

We're praying for you all at New Life Glenside. .

amazedlife said...

Came over from Finding Joy in Liberia - this post makes me cry, because my family evacuated from Liberia during the war in 1990 (when I was 10) and I still struggle with it sometimes. But I know that even though I would stay myself, as an adult, I would send my kids to safety. You did the right thing, however hard it is. I'm praying for you and the people of Western Uganda.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the "web" of prayer for your situation (my boys like spiderman) is very large by now with strands reaching around the world, criss-crossing this way and that. I trust the "web" to be a strong support for you and your kids and team because our God is strong. Our small group prayed for you tonight.

Krista, a memeber of Rocky Mountain Community Church, PCA, the sending church of the Eldeens who serve with the Tricarico's.