It’s hard to describe a typical day in the life of Andrew and I. I know a lot of people ask and I can usually paint a pretty picture of what the ideal day should look like, but no two days are ever the same. Sometimes I find myself thinking things like ‘God, just give me a boring, uneventful day today’ or ‘maybe we can just have a normal couple of days?’ Ha, we passed “normal” a long time ago and booked it on to “chaotic” with little hesitation. So our far too eventful life didn’t let up this past week. Last night we took a trip to the ER for Andrew to try and figure out what could possibly be causing a barrage of symptoms that seemed unrelated, yet connected somehow. Nonetheless, at least I was able to be with Andrew during his second ER experience.
Just around midnight, we woke up Pastor Maiko and asked him to go to the hospital with us. He agreed of course, after all, where would be without a little help from our friends? So off we go. There were only a couple of people sitting on the benches waiting to be seen by the one and only doctor on shift at night. Seemed safe to say that we’d be seen shortly. Oh, wait. This is Latin America. When will I learn to stop making such assumptions regarding timing and schedules while here? I digress. After much waiting and no movement on anyone’s part, Maiko walks inside the building and starts asking questions. We make our way in the building and to the admissions area which no one outside on the benches seemed to realize was the first step to being seen. Lucky for us, we bypassed the people that were “ahead of us” on the benches outside by being the first inside. One might think that a hospital employee might mention these things to people. One would be 100% incorrect in such lofty assumptions. The woman at the admissions desk asked for Andrew’s name and noted that he was already in the system. Thanks for adding insult to injury, lady. Luckily, from this point in the process, we actually didn’t have to wait that much longer. I glanced at the stoplight diagram that categorized the order in which patients would be seen, red meaning you’ve got a serious medical situation that needs to be dealt with ASAP and green meaning that you’ll be waiting a while. When Andrew got called back, I noticed the amarillo (yellow) status on his file. I wasn’t all too sure whether to be excited that we passed the green and were ready to be seen before the others or worried that we weren’t just at the green light. A quick glance back at the woman at the admissions desk erased all worry as she hardly looked qualified to categorize medical needs, in this case we just got lucky.
We went back to a little room that reminded me most of Mack’s old vet office. Clean, but not overly clean. There was a container on the wall holding bright red vomit bags. I have no idea why that caught my eye, but it did. The doctor did all his normal stuff when we got back there. Checked vitals, listened to breathing, checked ears and throat, etc. We had Maiko to translate, though the doctor hardly seemed interested in most of what we were explaining to him. My opinion is you need to be seriously afraid for your health to take a chance with the Costa Rican socialized healthcare system because it is all luck of the draw. No doubt, Andrew was definitely beginning to panic over his health last night so there was no other option. But it needs to be at panic mode to be worthwhile to roll the dice in the San Ramon ER. Alas, the doctor hands us four slips of paper and we head out of there with no real answers but hopefully some useful drugs. We check out with the admissions woman one last time. I thought at this point we would pay for services rendered, but she didn’t ask for any kind of payment. Albeit odd, we just went on to the next stop with our slips of papers.
Even though it was probably 1:00 a.m. and pitch black outside, you’d think they could turn on a few lights inside the hospital. Here we are wondering down dimly lit halls trying to find the ‘farmacia’ in an old and grungy looking hospital and all I can think about is the Walking Dead coming back on air in February. In the farthest possible location, we walk up to a window at the very end of the hall and turn in our slips of paper. After a few minutes, we are given a baggy of prescription strength ibuprofen and a vial to be taken to the ‘inyectables’ section of the hospital and administered there. This is just as horrendous as it sounds, especially if you have a fear of needles like Maiko and I do. Good thing it was Andrew going through this and not us. We get to the ‘inyectables’ section and the nurses takes the vial and prepares the IV for Andrew. I should note that it is also a good thing that Andrew’s veins are easy to find and the nurse got it on the first try. The guy sitting across from us – not so lucky. In fact, terribly unlucky as the nurses alternated attempts, six or seven times later. Once the drip was started, we all began to just watch and wait. There were three bags to go through and watching liquid flow drip by drip is more painful than watching the grass grow. We knew it’d be at least an hour. Maiko drifted off quite easily. I sat and watched the drip for a bit longer, trying to calculate exactly what kind of timeframe we were looking at. Finally, I began to drift off myself. On the brink of my own slumber, all I could think of is ‘God, please give me enough energy to get all these kids off to summer camp tomorrow!’ And just like that, I was out.
In general, I’d probably advise against falling asleep in an emergency room setting in the middle of the night solely because you have no idea what you might wake up to. In our case, it was a blood curdling scream coming from God knows where. After that, I didn’t care to fall back to sleep. Probably couldn’t have if I had tried after the next patient walked through the door. She was moaning and groaning, grasping her stomach, all of this in four inch wedges, a fuchsia halter top and a mini skirt… ain’t nothing getting in the way of a Latina’s fashion statement! There was another girl with her attempting to calm her down. The girl was holding a little, folded plastic red bag. Oh where, oh where had I seen that before? Ah, the vomit bags! As soon as I saw it, I took one fearful glimpse at Andrew. Now if you didn’t previously know this, let me inform you now… Andrew has a legitimate fear of throw up. The woman grasped the vomit bag and started making ungodly noises. I looked back at Andrew, sitting within two feet of the woman, and he’s got his hands to his ears blocking out the sound and his eyes closed slowly and gently rocking himself back and forth. I could hardly contain the laughter so I too just looked down and covered my face. She didn’t end up throwing up, thank the Lord. But nothing forgives those awful noises she was making.
Somewhere around 3:00 a.m., the drips were done and we were on our way home. I slept soundly last night and nearly jumped out of bed this morning when I thought about all I had to do today. God gave me the energy I needed to make it through the entire day and much was accomplished. Two full cups of coffee helped the situation along a little. I fielded countless questions from the kids, staff, and everyone else in between who wanted to know how Andrew was doing. Our neighbor even scurried over this evening with a homemade remedy and then 20 minutes later came back over with dinner for Andrew and I. We are very lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people here day in and day out. As I said, it was a busy day at the mission and there was much to be done but the highlight was, without a doubt, watching 39 of our kids load the bus for summer camp. They were so excited! I was so excited for them. And I am more than delighted to report on camp this week in my next blog post so stay tuned. I should note that Andrew’s highlight of the day was watching Alabama destroy Notre Dame in the Championship game tonight. Roll Tide!