The Merry Family

Merry Mission Journal

November 18, 2004

Sick Days

Up until this point, we have been blessed with perfect health. This past week, however, was a different story. I (Beth) got a terrible head cold. Then Friday morning Brooke got up, threw up and then got dressed for school. “I have to go to school, Mom.”I told her to get back in her PJs and get in bed. She complained, but finally did. She continued to throw up all morning and started getting a fever in the afternoon. Dan called me from work to tell me that he threw up too, but of course, he kept working.

Because a holiday weekend was approaching (Monday was a holiday here because it was the last day of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan), I decided not to wait and took Brooke to the doctor’s office in the afternoon. I did not need an appointment, we were told to just show up and the doctor would see us.

The doctor was an Argentinean woman who had been in Malawi for 30 years. We were the only people in the office. A nurse took Brooke’s temperature and I wrote our name and address on a piece of paper, assured the nurse that we would be paying in cash, and were then ushered in to the doctor’s office. (No medical history forms, insurance forms, waiver forms, etc. etc.)

Her office had a huge wooden desk, which she sat behind, and an exam table on the side. She asked us a few questions, “Are you from Canada or the US? What type of anti-malarial drug are you taking? Does she have a temperature?”We were afraid that Brooke might have malaria, but she said that a blood test wouldn’t show us that, so she gave us pills to make her stop vomiting, some antibiotics, and another medication that she said to take if Brooke’s fever continued to rise, even after the antibiotics (which would mean that she did have malaria). She never examined Brooke at all. (Our doctor in Pittsburgh always checks throat, nose, ears, stomach, neck glands, blood pressure, etc.) Our bill for the entire visit and all the medications was $14.00. We paid the doctor herself and she got us change from her purse.

As soon as we got home, Brooke went back to bed after taking the tiny blue pill to make her nausea go away. It worked! She fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. and slept until 8:00 a.m. Saturday.

In the middle of the night, I heard someone throwing up in the bathroom –this time it was Heather. One thing you have to understand, Heather never gets sick. She went through six years of school before missing a day due to illness. She has only missed three days since then. The last time I remember her throwing up was when she was two years old. But she was sick, and she did not like it. I gave her one of Brooke’s blue pills. She threw up once more during the night and then slept soundly. She awoke with a fever, and both girls were very upset when I told them that there was no way they were going to go to rehearsal (orchestra practice for the upcoming school production of the “Wizard of Oz”). But they went back to bed.

Dan and I decided not to give the girls antibiotics right away. We thought that they probably had a virus. Sure enough, they started feeling a bit better on Saturday.

Now it just so happens, that Dan and I had arranged things so that we were going to travel on Saturday and Sunday. The girls were going to stay with friends overnight, while Dan and I and an elder visited one of the partner churches 500 kilometers away, in a remote region, on the east side of Lake Malawi. Needless to say, Dan and the elder went, and I stayed home with the girls.

The girls slowly improved, and I kept them entertained by watching DVDs on the laptop, and playing games. They also read and did homework. By Sunday afternoon, Heather had fully recovered and Brooke was feeling much stronger.

Dan returned late Sunday, exhausted from the long drive. He had a productive meeting with the partnership committee and Mvano at the Mangochi CCAP. Spent the night in a very hot room, drove 200 kilometers over a deeply rutted dirt road, preached at the Mpiripiri CCAP, fellowshipped and ate with the pastor and engaging congregation members (he said that this is an extremely poor region –the church has a grass roof, and there is no electricity or running water), and then drove all the way home. Gas for the trip cost over $100. He really enjoyed it, but was in dire need of rest.

Fortunately, he got it, and PTL, we are all much better now. It amazes us, that even though we were not feeling well, we still had a really good weekend. Dan spent quality time with Mr. Mandiwa (the elder who went with him), and the congregations that he visited and the girls and I had a delightful quiet weekend, while we recovered. God was looking after us. Again.

By Monday the girls had sufficiently recovered so that we went on a hike with a group of other missionaries at nearby Machiru Mountain Conservation Area.

We didn’t see any animals (a dozen people trekking through the forest with a puppy makes a lot of noise,) but we had a good time and ate a picnic lunch along the way.

When we got home I noticed that my shoe had given me a blister which had popped. I put antibacterial ointment and a bandage on it.

On Tuesday we all went about our usual activities, work, school and the Ndirandi handicapped center. However, I was really not feeling very well and spiked a fever that evening. I called my favorite doctor (my Dad) and asked him if I should start an antibiotic for the head cold, which had turned into a sinus infection. He said, “yes”so I did.

My head started to clear up a bit on Tuesday, but the blister on my foot was badly infected by this time. I decided to wait a day and see if the antibiotics helped clear it up as well. They didn’t. On Wednesday evening when Dan got home from work, I had a red line of infection running up past my ankle so we went to the Emergency Room at Miawathu Hospital. It is located across the street from our house. It was a beautiful building, nicely decorated and freshly painted. The man at the reception desk recognized Dan as his pastor from St. James. We filled out a form and paid about $12 for the visit. Then, in the exam room, a nurse took my blood pressure and temperature. A young (28) Malawian doctor examined my foot. He prescribed another antibiotic ($5 from the hospital pharmacy). He was very professional and answered all of Dan’s questions cheerfully. We chatted for quite some time. We were very pleased with the medical care that I received. The entire visit lasted about a half hour. (When Brooke broke her arm in the US, we were in the ER for seven hours!)

Today I will rest with my foot up, as I was instructed. I am already feeling better. Dan is up in Zomba for meetings all day. The girls perform in the “Wizard of Oz”tonight. I will let them tell you about that on another day…There is never a dull moment in Malawi.

Beth Merry

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