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Monday, January 12, 2009

Part 2 of The Trip

So I've been struggling with what to write regarding the trip to Addis. There's so much to tell and I'm so inadequate to tell it but still I feel compelled to keep trying.

I guess I have to move on chronologically. I touched on the issue of equality in the first post I wrote about the trip. The issue of equality is probably the truest theme of our visit with Hope for the Hopeless. I'll tell you what experience drove the point home for me personally. A trip to the Cardiac Hospital in Addis.

In the interest of time I won't go into all the details of my symptoms leading up to the decision to go. If you want a taste of what I was feeling read this post. It was pretty much the same though my hands weren't as purple. I will just say that as I lay on the bed that first day after we had arrived I thought to myself that 14 days might as well be eternity. I was scared for my health. I listened to the sounds of the Guest House neighbourhood outside our window begging God for a way out of this experience. I felt so vulnerable to be so far away from my comfort zone, all that was familiar to me AND (big AND there) Western medicine. I needed help. I told Dustin, "That's it. We gotta go. I can't do this for the next two weeks. I can't stay here feeling like this. We gotta go to a Hospital." It was terrifying to have to come to that conclusion.

Dustin had to carry me down the stairs and a taxi was hailed while I waiting lying on the floor of the Guest House entryway. The wonderful staff at Ethiopian Guest House was terrified. One of them rode with us to the Korean Hospital. The cab ride would cost us $45.00 US. The whole ride there I lay head tilted back listening to the music the driver had playing which was indistinguishable to my ferengi ears while the warm African sun warmed my face through the back window. Bumpy roads and noxious fumes mixed with prayers from the bottom of my heart. "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." Habakkuk 3:19 the amplified version was on repeat in my brain. I recalled the time not too many months ago when I was driving our kids home from the pediatrician and I was trying to wrap my head around the doctor/patient ratio in Ethiopia and trying to imagine what life would be like as a mother in Addis. I tried to imagine being in need of an ambulance and not having one be available. The irony was not lost on me. Believe me.

Aki, Mark and Julie were already there when we arrived (they had been out shopping around town and met us there.) As soon as I walked in I was whisked straight back by Aki (our dear friend Aki) and didn't even notice the fact that there would be no waiting to be seen for me, despite a waiting room full of dark eyes following me as I walked straight back to the triage room. It wouldn't occur to me until later what had just happened. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I was told there was no cardiac specialist at the Korean Hospital. We would have to go to another place. Amharic words passed between Aki and the Australian nurse and we were off to the next stop this time in Aki's taxi. A short drive later we pulled into the gates of the Cardiac Hospital. A woman lead me past an old woman sitting in a wheel chair in a dark corner wailing in pain, beyond a curtain to an examination room. No waiting for the rich woman. Again.

I surveyed Addis Ababa's finest Cardiac Facilities with a keen eye. It is here that I find I struggle for the right words. I would NEVER wish to degrade the facility or the fine people who work there. I never want to be a snob. Only accurate. The walls were plaster and painted about 3/4 of the was up with gloss paint. the rest was flat. There was no trim around the floor. Just rough edges where the plaster ended and a gap between the wall and the floor. It was dark. There was an EKG machine. A huge (oxygen?) tank and some other piece of equipment which I don't recall it's use. I was led to the staff bathroom to leave a urine sample. I won't even begin to describe the conditions there. Let's just call it different.

We prayed with Mark and Julie. The woman relentlessly moaned through her pain. A young man who loved her tried to soothe her in Amharic. "Ishi," (okay) he'd say and whisper other quiet words to her. All I could think of now was Psalm 20:7 only I adapted it and added "and others in doctors and Western hospitals" after "horses".

My treatment would be pay-as-you-go. Total for the services I received: $28.00 US. Seemingly so small a price. So far out of reach for SO MANY in Addis.

After I returned to the Guest House, the following day the staff member who rode with us to the hospital was thrilled to see me much improved. She asked if they took good care of me. "Oh yes! Very good care." I stated.

"It's the best hospital in Addis!" she told me.

And it is.


Stacey said...

Wow Jen, I can't even imagine what you saw or felt! What an amazing yet scary experience for you. Why does it have to be so different and hard for those people? Can we not reach out to them and provide the things they need?

Brooke said...

That story has not left my mind from the moment you told me about it. Praying and praying for equality and what that means in the eyes of the Lord. This burden is all to heavy for you and I am praying for your healing. God is a Light that is shining is Addis, and you were there to give more of His light. What an awesome circumstance to be put in, to know exactly the needs there, not comfortable or refreshing to know, but to just be so burdened by the overwhelming-ness of being the rich woman. But yet, God still blessed you and saved you. He loves you so much!