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.