Tag Archives: kids

Of kids and hospital stays

29 Jan

I’ve now had both my kids end up in the hospital for multiple-day stays. I can’t say I recommend the experience! We just got home an hour or so ago from the latest saga, my daughter and a seriously wicked norovirus, which led to a 2 night stay, tons of IV fluids, and jello. Well, she doesn’t like jello, so she skipped that. But the rest of the tray was pretty similar to jello, so not very great.

While I was concerned for her and upset at what she was having to go through, I was never afraid for her life. As long as she wasn’t dehydrated and her electrolytes were kept stable, she wasn’t really in any danger, however miserable. Plus we were in the United States, where we have unlimited access to meds, wonderful medical technology, cable in both the ER room and the private room, linens and good food. (Okay, good is a stretch, but the cafeteria wasn’t bad and had a fresh salad bar.) I don’t have a bill, but I’m guessing these 3 days probably cost about $7,000, especially since they did a CT scan to rule out appendicitis.

My son was in the hospital for 4 nights in Uganda about a year and a half ago. We didn’t know at the time that he has asthma, and he fell very ill to pneumonia in about a day. (This was his 5th trip to Uganda and he’d never been sick before!). By the time he was admitted to the ER there, which was on the first day he even felt bad, his oxygen saturation level was 82%. I was in a village about 2 1/2 hrs away and had to arrange for a driver to take me back to Kampala, pay a bribe to a police woman, and only have contact by text message with my friend who’d taken him to IHK. When they got him there, his fingernails and lips were blue (which they hadn’t been able to see at home because they hadn’t had electricity at the house).

My son's room at International Hospital Kampala

My son’s room at International Hospital Kampala

That time, I was scared. Really scared, actually. Throwing up is bad, but oxygen is pretty vital, and he wasn’t getting it. Plus we were in Uganda. Okay, IHK is the best hospital in the country, founded by an Irish doctor who is now in Parliament, and well run. Everything was opened from sterile packs, we had sheets, we paid for a private room that had a bed for me, we had mosquito nets, and everyone was really nice. But the nursing staff was woefully undertrained. The way they do IV medication is to put a shunt in and manually push the medicine through (collapsing my son’s veins every time). They did an arterial blood gasses draw (very painful) and then someone unplugged the fridge so they lost it. They had one nebulizer for the whole hospital and didn’t start using it for 2 days. The tv only got two, very bad Ugandan stations.

My son got better, and the whole experience only cost me 750,000 shillings, which is about $300. When we needed more meds because Delta wouldn’t change our ticket to come back in time to get to our doctor here before the weekend, we just went back to the hospital, met with the doctor, and got another week’s worth for 60,000 shillings, or $23. Everyone was very nice, and they had ice cream at the cafeteria, which is all he ate (food was included for him, which is very unusual in Uganda — usually you have to bring your own food and linens — but beans and rice with chapati isn’t really what you want when you’re really sick!). The main inconvenience was having to go to the finance office every day to pay for that day’s services, and not having towels (my friend brought some to us). But it was frightening and gave me a huge appreciation for our medical system. And I have to give a shout-out to American Express, who was ready to evacuate us to either India or Nairobi if he needed more extensive care — they had a doctor monitoring his case, calling IHK and talking to our young British doctor, and calling me several times a day for updates.

Being in the hospital for days at a time, even when you’re not the patient, is extremely exhausting. (Note to anyone who has to stay with a child or loved one – EAR PLUGS!!) I stayed with my daughter the whole time, even though she’s twenty, because there’s not much worse than being in the hospital alone. Plus the patient really needs someone who can advocate for them. Nurses are great, but they’re really busy, and if you don’t have an emergency sometimes you get lost in the shuffle.

Plus, it’s what moms do… She may be getting married in a few months, but she’s still my little girl. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else!

The end of the beginning… or something like that!

28 Jul

This picture has nothing to do wtih the post, except that this is my “baby” with his new car (my grandmother’s former Torrent).

I’m 47, and in my family, that’s not even halfway to the usual life expectancy. (My grandmother will be 99 on December 1 and still lives alone, walks her dog, goes to parties, goes out to lunch, dresses to the nines, and only recently – and rather unwillingly – gave up driving.) My grandmother’s grandparents both lived to be 96, when the average life expectancy was around 50. So, while I never take having tomorrow for granted, I don’t feel particularly stressed about the years going by.

I’m not a Paula Deen fan, but I like her story, that she didn’t start doing things (even leaving her house!) until she was 48. For women, especially, the season of child rearing is a full time job, mentally if not physically. Sure, some people are creative and self-aware and firing on all cylinders in that period. At least, so I’ve heard. Me? Not so much. I dabbled in things, but with kids and homeschooling and their other activities, not to mention our business and, of course, our marriage, there just wasn’t a lot of extra time and energy for creative endeavors or new long-term projects. I might think of them, but they’d stay on the very back burner in my mind. Definite “some day” material.

So the last few years have been really exciting and fun for me. When my daughter went to college – 3 years ago, as hard as that is to believe – I had just started Ten Eighteen, my non-profit to Uganda. In fact, my daughter had visited, but I didn’t visit until September. I had taken a creativity workshop, and was starting to try my hand again at painting and photography, but mostly I was still homeschooling my then-freshman son, doing business stuff, being a wife and mom.

But as my son has gotten older and more self-sufficient, and after we made structural changes to our business that allow us to be very part-time, and after reading “No Plot, No Problem” by Chris Baty, this writing thing took hold. I wrote the non-fiction book back in May of 2011, did the November NaNoWriMo, and have since been on a marathon writing spree (you can read about that in this blog). Ten Eighteen has been doing amazing things in Uganda, and the people are doing so, so well. I’ve figured out some health issues and feel good. Basically, for the last year, I’ve been in the end of the beginning… The end of the very active child-rearding phase, and the end of the self-doubt phase, and the end of the insecurity phase. I am coming into my own.

Now, as a Kingdom Christian, “my own” isn’t really. I try very hard to follow what I hear God telling me, and change course quickly if I get it wrong. But He knows there are seasons, too – He set it up that way, with plenty of examples in nature to follow. Even in Uganda, along the equator, with no winter, they have wet and dry seasons. So this is the season for a new bit of growth. To stretch upward and outward, to try to follow “the next thing”, wherever that leads. It’s pretty darned exciting, I have to say. As usual, I have no idea where it will lead… But I’m loving the ride!