Saturday, February 21, 2004

Sunday 10:33 AM

Well, well, well. Let’s not do that again.

The reason I haven’t blogged lately is that, well, I’ve been in the hospital. No fun. If this was the best hospital in Cambodia, I would truly hate to see the worst.

I woke up in the middle of the night with intense abdominal pain, body aches and dizziness. I woke up Dr. John Campbell, who decided I should go to the hospital. It was too late to find a car, so Dave, Dr. John and I took motos. I thought for sure I was going to throw up or pass out somewhere along the route, but I made it more or less in one piece.

When we got there, no one spoke word one of English. We were finally ushered into some sort of triage or evaluation room. Dave entered first and advised me, “Don’t look to the right. Look straight ahead.” I could see enough of the blood and suffering out of my peripheral vision to know that his advice was sound.

We were met by a doctor who spoke only French and Cambodian. We met a young man named Reah, who spoke a little English. He told us that for $20, he could find us a doctor. Quickly enough, one appeared. Somehow, we communicated enough to get me a bed and an i.v. of electrolytes. Throughout the night Dr. John interceded with the medical staff on my behalf. The doctors took a blood sample, but they didn’t really examine me until this morning.

Throughout the night, I slept off and on. But mostly, off. My pain gradually subsided, and by morning, I was still feeling dizzy and achy, but the intense pain had subsided into moderate discomfort.

When the new shift of doctors arrived, we met one who spoke decent English. He pushed and prodded me, and listened to different parts of my body with his stethoscope. He discussed the test results with Dr. John. The two of them concluded that some of the results didn’t make sense. Apparently, the lab was not very careful in recording their findings. Big surprise. So, they took more blood.

After a few more hours and a few more dollars, we were told that the test results would not be available anytime soon. So John recommended signing myself out “AMA,” or against medical advice. Samouen and Dave arrived in a car, and John went to negotiate the bill. In the process, he handed his cell phone to Reah, who promptly ran off with it, never to be found.

Sigh. Welcome to Cambodia. We got the full ethnic experience today. Food poisoning (which is what we decided I had), bribery, squalor, theft -- doesn’t actually make for a good travel brochure. But I’d come back here just as often, even if I knew this would happen each time, because I love the people. They’re my friends, my brothers, my sisters. My children.

Speaking of the children, we are still planning on leaving for Battambang tomorrow. I’m praying that I will feel well enough to play with the kids at the orphanage. If not, I’ll just lie in the hammock and have them yell things at me Khmer. As long as I can see their smiles, hear their laughter and feel their touch. I also want to take their pictures.

The last couple of days, as Dr. John commented this morning, have been an exercise in learning to utilize ‘Plan B.’ Everything started out smoothly -- better than expected, in fact. But about 48 hours ago, everything started to go a little haywire. A million little problems, and a couple not-so-little ones. But so far, everyone’s spirit has been ‘up,’ and the team unity is quite high. So God is showing himself faithful, even in our adversity.

There are many, many things for which I can be thankful. For instance, I’m quite thankful that I was not seriously ill. You don’t want to have surgery at that hospital. I’m also thankful that we have the money to procure medicine and medical care. Many, many Cambodians have no such luck. And I’m thankful that we have American doctors with us on this trip. I’m glad I didn’t have to go it alone.

Well, I’m still quite fatigued. I should stop typing now. The rest of the group (minus Dr. John) is off having lunch. Somehow I don’t have much of an appetite.

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