Ethiopian Malady

24 Jun

(It is long, but please read, it may make you laugh)

I now have a new definition for the sickest one week period I have ever spent in my life.  That includes appendicitis, although Don and Susie may not agree with me on that one after their family accompanied ours on an Emergency Surgery Extravaganza Weekend Excursion (ESEWE for short, kinda’ like WAWASEE, only it is not a lake and you don’t need a speed boat) to Columbus, Ohio a few years back now.  And no, it was not from some critter I ate or from some critter that was eating on me.

What started as a common head cold, worsened to bronchitis and sinusitis four days before our staff prayer and planning retreat.  An antibiotic prescription, a slight recovery, a short airline flight all led up to Saturday night.  My head and ears just did not equalize when we landed in Bahir Dar and my head voice sounded like I was talking from inside of a water balloon.  I had not slept much for 48 hours and there was the Afrin nasal spray sitting on the bed stand in the hotel room.

Who reads the side effects on the little slip, all I could hear was the alluring call, “Come my darling, I will give you sweet sleep and easy breathing all night long.” After one squirt in each nostril and 10 minutes time, I began to notice two simultaneously developing parameters.  On each breath, there was actually more air passing through my nose than through my mouth on the way to my lungs.  That was the good.  With each passing minute, the little pain that started in the corner of my eye, under my brow, next to my nose, just above where the nasal pad of my glasses sat, just on the inside of that little B-B sized white thing that sets on the corner of your eyeball…oh yes, the little pain…it wasn’t so little any more.  That was the bad, but not yet to be the worse.  Time for a Tylenol.

Have you ever seen the furrowed brow of a headache victim on the Tylenol commercial?  Mine was furrowed, like a four-sixteens plow running behind a 4020 John Deere when I was younger, except we ran IH not that it made much difference.  It was digging deep and that little white thing on the corner of my eye seemed like it must have inflated in toward my brain about the size of a cherry.  Time for the Vicks salve.  According to my Dad, Vicks cured everything an IH tractor couldn’t cure.

Sorry, Dad.  I put the Vicks up my nose, on my eyebrow, on my forehead, through my scalp on my right side.  The further that pain went radiating back across my head, the farther I chased it with the Vicks.  By now that little white thing on the corner of my eyeball, grown into a cherry; it became a cherry bomb and the whole top of my head felt like it was bursting open.  I was not in bed any more.  I was quietly pacing in the dark, wanting to keep Susan from waking up and wanting to wake her up so she would make it feel better.  I stroked my Vicks oiled hair wondering if I could do Elvis, even went to the bathroom to check it out for a momentary distraction.  Elvis was definitely, “All Shook Up.”  That is when it hit me.  I know you are thinking stroke here.  Let me tell you, surviving that night was God’s comforting assurance that if I was at risk for stroke; it probably would have happened.  What hit me is, “You are going to puke!” (What would you have thought looking into the mirror and expecting to see Elvis reincarnate?)

It first hits you with the breathing rate.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Inhale.  Faster.  “Please, stomach get out of reverse.”  I’ll do anything if only…  You glance at the porcelain throne and in defiance say, “I will not kneel.”  “I will not kneel.”  “I WILL kneel.”

“I Surrender All”, is not a song about repentance by this time.  There are quite pukers.  Never could do it that way.  It starts in my toes.  They turn inside out and go up through my leg so they can push hard enough on my stomach for the earthquake-retching to gain “toehold” and bring results…after six or seven practice heaves.  Each accompanied with a Samson-esque bellow of exertion for each mighty effort.  (The door was closed,…Do you think Susan heard that?)  Ummh,…yep!  Then the epinephrine rush, after the trembling quits, when for a moment there is no pain, no nausea, oh so transient relief.  And the brief lingering view before the flush.  And the perspiration soaked tee shirt.  And the uncontrollable urge to blow your nose and rinse your mouth.

It happened seven times in the next twelve hours.  Long past dignity.  When our staff doctors came early the next morning before I went to the hospital, when the doctor at the Ethiopian hospital first examined me, when I went back to the hospital after the first anti-pain shot and anti-puke shots did not work…in front of a new doctor and nurse.

After two more different shots; finally came some sleep.  The next day; it was a miracle.  I am very serious now!  From the possibility of Medi-Evac. back to Addis Abba, to eating and laughing and praising God.

As far as the prayer and planning retreat.  Well, Susan and I were glad we had used our own funds for our own personal expenses.  The staff still had much time for discussions on the travel to Bahir Dar.  They went by car for it was a 10 hour plus drive.  The prayer time went on without us and even though some of that time was spent in prayer for us, it brought the staff together in unity of purpose and spirit.  We met the staff again on Sunday and shared our common hope and trust in the God who sends us to share hope with hearts each day to those children and women whose lives have a similar, yet quite different Ethiopian malady.  Not a malady brought on by sinusitis and Afrin side effects gone out of control, but by the side effects of poverty, hopelessness and sin.  Perhaps even more wretched.

PS: Does anyone need a once-used bottle of Afrin?

8 Responses to “Ethiopian Malady”

  1. Jeni June 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    The Vicks worked – eventually. 🙂

    • Andy June 24, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      You can keep the bottle of nose spray… I’m not sure there’s any amount of disinfectant that would clean that thing off…

      Praising God for your healing!

  2. LSM June 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Goodness. Glad you’re feeling better now Allen. That sounds terrible!

  3. James June 25, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    So did you wake up Mom 😉 I’m so thankful that you are all right!

  4. Sarah Fiechter June 25, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    Oh Allen – this sounds horrible! Your post made me smile (sorry!)…the elvis, the vicks, not wanting, but wanting to wake susan. Oh my, what a night!

    Glad you are feeling better!

  5. Don and Suzie Fiechter June 26, 2013 at 2:17 am #

    I’m so sorry, Allen, but I had to laugh – remembering our trip to Columbus ( if it would have gone smoothly, we might have forgotten it :)). We love you, pray for you and are so thankful you are better. Praise God!

  6. Jan Schwartz June 26, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    Allen I felt so bad laughing as I was reading this — but I sure am glad you finally recovered! God is good!!

  7. Sandy Lawrence August 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Sounds like some of the migraines I’ve had…First you’re afraid you’re going to die, then you’re afraid you won’t.

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