This post is super late after the events but here is a little insight into the events and my thoughts around the health scare I had in April..
So on Wednesday 18th April (my birthday, thanks for all the birthday love btw) I started getting excruciating pain in my upper abdomen/under my ribs. I was admitted to hospital here in Gulu and stayed for 3 days as I was unable to lie down or breath deeply without extreme pain.
Staying in the local hospital was a real eye opener, I was placed on the maternity ward but in my own room. The room was very basic but relative luxury to the conditions of the general ward or worse still for the dozens of women who were sleeping on the floors in the corridors and outside, heavily pregnant or with their new born babies. I was unable to be left, as the pain meant I couldn’t move on my own or even call out for help. With no buzzer system and very stretched staff the only way to see someone would be for Joe to go and pester someone to come, which may or may not result in actually seeing someone. Having said this I am super thankful that both in Gulu and Kampala there were some real treasures among the medical staff, including one midwife who came to see me when she wasn’t on duty. It really felt like God had placed them around me. Eunice picture below even prayed with me and read to me encouraging bible passages.
Eunice, one to the lovely midwives.
As the patient you are responsible for looking after all your own needs including feeding yourself so again that meant Joe getting food and water, helping me to go to the toilet or wash. Thankfully he was allowed to sleep in the room with me. We are unaccustomed to these things with our wonderful NHS, where the care we receive is so incredible but I was the fortunate one; a husband and friends with me to assist, with money for food and my own bed and space. My heart broke for the ladies on the floor outside my room. I was able to consult with medical friends to make a treatment plan. For these ladies, with little of their own medical knowledge or anyone to refer to they are at the mercy of the system, which sadly lacks in so many ways.
With limited equipment and a lack appropriately trained medical staff, unfortunately they were unable to work out the problem here in Gulu, but there was concern I had something which was potentially super serious, maybe even life threatening, which they were unable to test for here in Gulu, so I had to get an emergency transfer out of Gulu. They wanted to transfer me to Nairobi but I had already been away from the children for 3 days and the thought of being in another country was too much for me so it was agreed I could be taken to Kampala, where the children could come if needs be. In hindsight, if I’m getting flown out of Gulu, I should really have gone to Nairobi as although Kampala is better than Gulu it is still limited but thankfully it wasn’t that what they thought it could have been!
I should have been grateful for the amazing medical insurance that BMS provides us with to give us this option but instead I was filled with an overwhelming sense of anger and guilt.
Why was my life literally worth so much more than that of the other ladies here on the maternity ward?
I don’t know how much was spent of keeping me well but probably more than the rest of the scores of women who also needed treatment that day. I have three children to think about and I’m wasn’t going to risk my life or that of my unborn child, that wasn’t going to help anyone, but the contrast of my circumstances compared to the average acholi mama felt like an blanket of darkness over me. I just wanted to scream and shout and cry. The injustice of it all is something I am still trying to process.
I had a series of tests and another echocardiogram on the Monday and found I had pericarditis, (inflammation on the fluid sac around the heart.) Sounds serious but isn’t too bad. It was all a bit complicated by being 19weeks pregnant at the time, having had a previous miscarriage our greatest fear was that it would effect the baby, but to our utter relief in all the uncertainty the baby was fine! Once a treatment programme was agreed between the cardiac and obstetrics teams, I was able to return to Gulu.
So we arrived back in Gulu having been away from the cubs for nearly a whole week! (They were looked after by our AMAZING colleagues the Darby’s, with help from or beloved Eva and Stella) The cubs had a fantastic extended playdate, Connie even told me she wanted to stay for longer.
It’s was a tough week but God has surrounded us with fantastic people the whole time who have loved us in every possible way, too many to name here but your know who you are! It’s times like this when we are reminded just how incredible our community is here in Gulu.
I went back to Kampala next week for follow up but this time we’ll all went. I couldn’t be separated from the cubs again, that bit was too much for me.
Anyway, in summary I am fine and I have THE most amazing husband who, when I apologised for ‘all the bother I was causing’ responded…
“What are you talking about? I’ve married you, which is basically promising it’s ok to be bothered by you for the rest of my life.”