There is a specific moment when a person must admit to themselves that they are in-fact ill. This moment is harder for some people to accept than others, but I find it particulary challenging for physicians to admit to themselves they are sick and even worse…they need to see an actual doctor about it.
On the mission field, it seems even more challenging. Most physician access is often limited to your co-workers who also happen to be your friends and neighbors. It can get akward quickly. Humility is essential and life-saving at times. It’s easy to ask a friend to examine your child when they are vomiting with fever, but when you are the one attached to the toilet for hours…not so easy.
A few weeks ago my mom made the trip to Kenya for much needed Oma-Sophia time and the chance to see our life here and maybe a lion or two. Unfortunately, she got a TERRIBLE stomach bug (or stomach monster) that left her very weak. She had be hospitalized overnight at our hospital. She was released within 24 hours and spent the following 3 days recovering in bed.
Unfortunatley within 24 hours of her arrival home, my own intestinal symptoms arrived with the same violent force. I called my friend, co-worker, and neighbor who is the Obstetrician (OB) at our hospital. She instructed me to go to the Casualty Department (Emergency Room) for rehydration and lab tests.
I convinced her to let me go home that night, which I then spent in between the bathroom in our apartment and full body shivering (rigors) in bed. Jared said it was like sleeping next to a Tickle-Me Elmo, without the laughing. I felt better the next morning, but within a few hours the fever returned, and my OB insisted I be admitted to the hospital.
The last thing a doctor wants to hear is that they need to be admitted as a patient. She was completely correct though. My uterus had become tight and uncomfortable with the infection and dehydration, and it was no longer about me, but the health of the baby. Two days and many, many liters of IV fluids and oral rehydration solution later, I felt good and ready to go home. Our baby boy is growing well, and there is very little risk of any pregnancy related complications from my illness.
“Releasing control” is something most doctors would admit is a struggle. We are trained to be the leader of a team, make life-saving, split second decisions and take the full ethical, legal and sometimes emotional responsibility for the outcome of our patients. This creates a person that is prepared to handle intense situations with a level of detachment that is essential to being objective and putting the needs of the patient first. When the doctor becomes the patient, control is taken away and handed over to another person. Even if this is a person you trust and admire, the absence of control can make you crazy.
Do not misunderstand the statments about doctors’ control. In reality, doctors have some influnce over our medcial team, but absolutely no power over illness and disease. Our “feeling of control” does not mean we actually command anything. We only use knowledge and experience to direct a team of people to administer treatments to battle illness. We cannot heal anyone or anything.
Only God heals.
Fully accepting that God is the only one who heals physically, and especially spiritually, is the most important lessons a doctor can learn. Really it is the most important lesson any human can learn. Not only does it change your entire world-view, it has the potential to flip upside down your entire life, heart, and eternity.
Wait! Why does God heal some and not others? This is the hardest question we face as Christian doctors working in a third-world mission hospital, because we see it every day. We look into the eyes of the patient who is dying, the family who just said goodbye, and the mother who will not see their child grow up and get married.
The truth: We have no idea.
Understanding and predicting the plans of God is one of humanities greatest desires and mistakes. Satan used the temptation of God’s knowledge to get Eve to eat the apple, and it continues to work every time.
We are not designed to understand God, but to live as His servants, give Him power over our life, and abandon our will to His. If we do these things, we will find peace and comfort in His presence.
Definitely, easier said than done.
Over the past several months and next several to come, there will be a lot of transition with our team in Chogoria. We have been blessed over the past two years to work with two incredible family medicine doctors from Samaritan’s Purse. They have done so much to bless the lives of our community. Their two-year commitment ended here in Chogoria at the end of last year, and we already miss them immensely.
They were not only a blessing to our community but to our family as well. While there have been some good-byes over the past few months, we are excited that several new family medicine doctors will be joining us. This month, an additional family medicine doctor with Samaritan’s Purse has joined our team for the next two years. Next month, we will also be welcoming a new family medicine doctor and her husband who is an engineer. They are also apart of Christian Health Service Corps, our sending agency and currently finishing up their language study.
In this transitional period of missionary doctors coming and going, it has been busy. We have had some long days and weeks. We have all taken some extra responsibilities and shifts to make sure good care is provided to the community during this “lean season”. We are thankful for the team and community of medical providers/missionaries and are blessed to serve alongside of them everyday.
In December, we welcomed a new class of residents who are apart of the Christian Family Medicine Residency here in Chogoria. One of the residents is from Kenya and the other two residents are from Uganda. They all have wonderful hearts and have enjoyed their time so far learning and serving the community. We pray that we can continue to help teach and mentor them over their time here so that they can then go out after their training and teach others how to care for the whole person, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The latest addition to the hospital is a Family Medicine Clinic. Jenny has been working to create and implement a clinic design that integrates maternal health, pediatrics, adult medicine and palliative care. Essentially, a clinic where anyone can be seen at anytime. Establishing a new program of any kind is an exercise in patience, but everyone is excited to see the Family Medicine Residents with a place to call “home” and the chance to model what the practice of Family Medicine can be in Africa.
Our family had a good Christmas and New Year’s in Chogoria. Jared did some Christmas caroling in the hospital with several from the community. We celebrated Christmas with a meal outside with our neighbors and friends. Jenny baked a pecan pie, which most of the Kenyans said was the sweetest thing they had tasted. Until she also made a King Cake for Jared’s birthday, which was equally as sweet and yummy.
Sophia continues to grow, she is finally potty trained (most days) and her vocabulary keeps expanding. Besides an occasional cold or fever, she has been healthy. We continue to enjoy family time after work, and the drier weather has allowed us to spend a lot of time outside kicking the soccer ball, playing on the swing set, or throwing the football.
Sophia is really excited about her new baby brother coming later this year. She is already talking and singing to him.
Hope you enjoy some of the many Sophia pics below.
We met our year-end fundraising goal!!! We are grateful for all those who helped us. So many gave generously, and it is truly a blessing! Many were able to get their employers to match their gift as well. We are thankful for those of you who continue to give monthly and continue to pray for our family. We are blessed that God has provided a wonderful family of supporters so that we can continue to serve.
If you are not a monthly supporter yet, are you interested in supporting our ministry monthly? We would love to have you join our family of supporters. Without their monthly support, we would not be able to serve this community. Go to: http://thedrsbrockington.org/partner-with-us/ to learn more on how you can give a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift to help us continue to serve.