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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A blurry week, a miracle save, 4 countries, and not quite home

Typing this from an airport hotel en route back to Uganda after a family health crisis drew me back to America Sunday a week ago, and moving all our household goods from Kenya drew Scott there a few days go. Deo Volente, and I mean that sincerely because at this juncture we cannot assume the next minute . . . Scott and I and a truck loaded (and unloaded, and reloaded, and jumbled) of furniture and appliances will all reunite in Kampala tomorrow.
Monday 12 Aug 
Tues 20 Aug

Quick story because I've not posted here though about a thousand or so people heard and prayed via facebook, instagram, my sister's church, caring bridge, our mailchimp prayer letter, and a myriad of other networks. My sister's husband Steve felt unwell after mowing the lawn 11 days ago, sat down in the bedroom, and by God's mercy my sister and niece returned home from errands and walked in to find him gasping and passing out as he went into cardiac arrest from a life-threatening arrhythmia. Janie started CPR, the EMT's responded amazingly fast and well, four shocks later his heart was at least beating again, and so began a saga of vigil in the ICU under a cooling, paralyzing, induced-coma protocol to find out how much brain and other organ damage ensued from the period of near-death, and to find out what caused all this in the first place. I heard about it a few hours into the ordeal and by evening was able to pick up, pack, drive with Scott to Entebbe (a convenient 7.5 hour airport trip) and fly to Charlotte. At that point we knew the odds favored not surviving or surviving impaired, and I just wanted to be with my sister and her family in their moment of crisis. As the week wore on, Steve woke up and though we haven't had detailed neuro-psych testing he certainly seems very normal now, talking, answering Jeopardy questions and sports trivia, juggling details about future plans, telling stories. He's got a few sore ribs from the excellent CPR that enabled him to survive, and his body is weak from the long days of being on a ventilator. But with some physical therapy and time we expect he will rebound.  As to the cause, his cardiac cath showed 95% blockage in one of the three essential coronary arteries, which the doctor opened non-invasively by placing a stent. On the tiny possibility that the strangled blood supply to his heart was NOT the cause of it going into ventricular fibrillation (the non-beating spasm rhythm that caused his arrest) he has also had a medical device implanted under his skin below his left arm. Leads will continually monitor for return of the v-fib and if it is detected, deliver an automatic shock to re-set the electrical impulses to normal.

Needless to say, I've been reading and researching every couple of hours because the medications and procedures for a middle-age male in high-tech USA are NOT the ones I use in my day to day life in Uganda.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Scott stayed to deal with a sad (truly we grieve when young people make harmful choices) situation of some of the same kids at CSB who were inspired to riot in June deciding to steal several hundred kilograms of staple foods (rice, cornmeal, sugar) from the supply store.  And once that was sorted out, he's been working on the term 3 budget, complicated by lots of financial loose ends from the administration change (which gives us more confidence the change was needed), and then he headed to Kenya to meet a truck we hired to pack up our "stuff" from a storage container.  Back in December 2018 we left our rented house in Naivasha and packed everything (beds, curtains, mattresses, table, shelves, kitchen wares, washing machine, fridge, stove, photos, books  . . ) into a storage container thinking that we would save on rent since we didn't yet know where we'd go after our January to May time in Uganda. Well, we have been clearly asked to stay longer in Uganda and we see a lot of value in that, so we thought we should probably just admit it and move there for the next season. We've camped out in the Dickenson's house since January, but they return in early November.  Our old house will open up mid-October. We have a half-dozen things going on then and so we wanted to get the cross-two-countries move accomplished early, piling it all into storage in Bundibugyo until October.

Which brings us to tonight.  My flights were delayed causing me to miss my connection to Uganda, so I'm in Belgium for about 21 hours. Scott just arrived back in Uganda, but the truck is still at the border where it has been stuck for two days. We met with Uganda Revenue Authority people and border clearing agents before we even made this plan, and tried to go by the book and follow the procedure, and were told with our work permit and the East African community we would not have to pay taxes,. But of course the border agents seem to be holding things up for their own hope of gain. Praying that by this time tomorrow night, we're all together (maybe even my bags from the flight too, it was total chaos in Charlotte when I left with delays and cancellations on United so who knows).

As we wrap up this time of going in crazy disparate directions, this time of near-loss and intense-investment, here's a few things we're thankful for:

  • The technology and funding to respond to our family. Our families give up the day to day or month to month or even year to year assurance of relationship, and it takes a toll that cannot be erased by one timely trip, but it helps our hearts to be able to just BE with them.
  • The excellent response Steve has had to all his care, with hopes of a full recovery looking realistic and not fantastical.
  • The fact that 3 of our 5 (everyone but Luke and Abby) live in NC now meant Julia, Jack, and Caleb all came repeatedly to Charlotte to cheer us and help us. And the cousins got more time together than they usually get in several years. In spite of the somber circumstances, we had some good meals, card games, talks, walks.
  • The bonding blessing of serving each other that deepens ties.
  • The CSB staff resilience and unity as they worked with Scott on another week of hard decisions.
  • The safe trip so far of our household items across dangerous roads in Kenya. Still praying nothing is too badly damaged or stolen in the process and we don't get extorted.
  • Some good news in our Area, particularly a ten-year funding grant for medical education in Burundi, the LaRochelles flying into Nyankunde (DRC) tomorrow, the newest teacher for Litein Sarah Pleasant being cleared to arrive this month in Kenya.
I'm running on a couple hours of airplane sleep so that's about as clear or eloquent as it gets at this moment. Thanks for joining our story and rooting for Steve and praying for all of us. We do live under the Mercy.

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