First I would like to say, "HAPPY SUPER LATE FATHER’S DAY" to all the fathers out there. Especially to my two dads. I love you guys and I super appreciate you! Now let me regale you with my tale of woe and health issues in the Philippines. Just kidding, I am going to make it sound to pathetic and unbelievable that you might find it humorous. 🙂
It all started on Wednesday, Scratch that, it was Tuesday night. I wasn’t feeling well in my stomach. We had been at Zone Conference all day and when we finally made it home I collapsed on my bed and tried to sleep. But sleep was not easy to find that night. The following morning I still wasn’t feeling my best so I thought, "I just need to eat something and then I will be alright." WRONG! I ate and felt so much worse! This pain had been off and on since January, but on that Wednesday it was the worst it had ever been. I was sitting on my bedroom floor not knowing what to do, so I texted the Mission President’s Wife, who then told me to go see a specialist.
So we ride in a tricycle, ouch, and we get to the hospital and turns out there is no specialist, so we are referred to a different health care facility. Tricycle again, double ouch. And again, no specialist. So we went home and I was lying in bed not knowing what to do, and we decided to just go see a regular old doctor and see what he had to say. So we go back to the first hospital and wait, and wait, and wait some more, finally I am able to see the doctor. He asks a few questions, then writes a prescription for a pain reliever. WHAT?! So we go home and I start taking this medication and nothing is changing. I’m eating soft, simple foods, like soup and lugaw (rice porridge), and bread. And every time I eat, it hurts.
Thursday, same thing. I was in bed all day. It felt like such a waste of time. My companion was texting Sister Peterson all day and telling her that she was really worried about me. Apparently I was really pale and she knew that I wasn’t really able to sleep because I was tossing and turning. So Sister Peterson told us to make the trip to San Pablo to see a specialist there.
Friday, the big day. We ride a bus to San Pablo, I can feel every bump in the road. We make it to the first hospital and we are told that we have to wait until the specialist’s secretary comes in to make an appointment. We wait for almost two hours. No one arrived, so we talked to another secretary and she said that the specialist probably would not be coming in that day because the secretary never showed up. So we are again referred to a different hospital. Tricycle, ouch ouch ouch! We get to the other hospital and are told that the specialist is out of town until Monday. We walk out to the front of the hospital and I sit down, defeated, and in pain. We try calling Sister Peterson, several times, no reply. I am familiar with the San Pablo area because I served there for 6 months. Turning to autopilot I get up and start walking to my old apartment. Every step hurts but it is more bearable that riding in a tricycle.
We arrive and start calling to the other sisters to unlock the gate and let us in. They thought we were yelling for their neighbors. When we made it into their house I just sat down on the floor and cried. The other four sisters in the apartment were rather startled. They started calling people because they didn’t know what to do either. After a few minutes we got in touch with President Peterson and he told us to go to the emergency room. The other sisters talked for almost ten minutes about which members had cars so that the ride to the hospital would be more comfortable, and while I appreciated the thought, I felt like I was dying so I was getting annoyed that they were taking so long. So I pointed to one sister and said, "go get a tricycle, I can’t wait."
We got to the emergency room and they gave me a shot for pain. But it really wasn’t doing a whole lot. I started asking if they could do anything else and they said they just wanted to observe me first. I heard the other sisters talking to the doctor asking if there was anything else they could do for me. I heard the doctor say, "we can’t do anything else unless she starts throwing up." Literally, two minutes later, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Most of the time when you throw up it feels better right? Well it didn’t this time, when I threw up it made me hurt worse, go figure. So the doctor said that there were two options, either I could go home with pain meds or I could be admitted to the hospital. I told the other sisters to tell Sister Peterson that I wanted to me admitted.
I got my IV in my right hand and was wheelchaired up to my room. The specialist came in to see me and told me that what I was experiencing was just acute irritable bowel syndrome. And I said, nope, it’s not just that, I would like some tests done please. And he said that he just wanted to keep me for a day and observe me. So there I was, in the hospital, eating soft, lowfat foods, doing nothing Friday until Sunday. The pain was only slightly lessened. On Sunday I was informed that I would be getting an untrasound, endoscopy, and colonoscopy the following day. So I was put on some pretty heavy laxatives and started fasting. so cheat sheet version, after some up-side down volcano moments I was ready for my procedures the following day.
Monday. I went in to the Ultrasound and was told that I had gallstones and that my gall bladder was pretty inflamed. Next there was the Endoscopy, I was awake, and the medicines that they gave me to make me "Sleepy" and "numb" weren’t really working but I really couldn’t tell them that with a tube down my throat. I was much more vocal when it was Colonoscopy time. I kept talking to the anesthesiologist and telling him that I felt everything, and that I wasn’t sleepy in the slightest. He knew that I didn’t have the kindest feelings for him by the time the procedure was over. 🙂 hehehe. So after all these things, the Specialist told me that I have a bacteria in my stomach that causes ulcers, and I have red spots that are basically ulcer starter kits, meaning that they can become ulcers but aren’t quite there yet. He also said that I should get my gallbladder removed. No kidding?! So I was checked out of the hospital the following day, and moved I spent the night at the mission home with President and Sister Peterson, and then we all went to Manila on Wednesday.
Wednesday, I got dropped off at the Missionary Recovery Center, MRC for short and then went to St. Lukes Hospital to get a consultation with their specialist. I got in to see him around 1 pm. He told me that the symptoms that I was telling him pointed to classic gallbladder problems. After we had talked for a while he said,"From what you have told me, I find it amazing that you are able to sit here and talk to me, you should still in pretty bad pain. The other hospital should not have let you go, this is something that can be serious, and should be taken care of immediately so there are less complications." At this point in time, my pain was minimal, it was only slightly uncomfortable. I know that it was a miracle, one that came from a priesthood blessing from my mission president. The specialist then advised that I be admitted right away and start taking steps for surgery. I was really surprised, but was admitted to the hospital and was put on fasting again so they could get "accurate results" to their tests and also to prepare for surgery.
I had my blood tested, I got a chest x-ray, I got my heart monitored, I got another ultrasound, it was a long day. And I was alone. I had no companion, no senior couple, just me. It got boring so I started making friends with the nurses. I begged my nurse to put the IV in my left hand this time, but he was having a really hard time finding the veins, at this point I hadn’t drank anything in almost 8 hours so I was a little dehydrated. After almost 30 minutes of playing with my hand and tapping my veins he thought he found one in my wrist. He inserted the IV and it seemed to work for just a second, and then he lost the vein. He had to take it out and find a new vein. He left for a few minutes and told me to pump my hand to try and get more blood in it. i had a better idea. After he left I got down and prayed. I prayed for strength to be able to handle whatever happened. If that meant that I needed to get another IV in my sore right hand then so be it, just help my have the strength and the patience to deal with it. I was blessed that my nurse was able to find a vein in my left hand that was suitable for IV’s.
Thursday, was a very boring day. I went down to the pre-operating room around three and the operation was supposed to start around four, but it was late and ending up being almost 5. I got into the operating room and people started talking to me and no one told me that I had already been given the anesthetic, those sneeky people, next thing I know, I’m waking up in post-op. I was feeling a little nauseated, but not terrible. The surgeon came to talk to me and told me that they had made four ensisions in my stomach, one of them through the belly button. He said that it was good that we had not waited to do the surgery because my other organs were starting to form a wall around my gallbladder. He kept saying how my whole situation was just amazing to him, how he "couldn’t believe" I had waited and made it to manila to have the surgery.
I made it back to my room around 10 pm. I got up for the first time around 2 am. to go to the bathroom. It was quite an experience. Again, I was all alone. And I was alone until noon on Saturday when the MRC couple came to pick me up. And here I have been, at the MRC, with other missionaries, who are sick, recovering, or about to go home and are having troubles with Visas. We watch movies, we get to sleep during the day if we want to. It’s a very restful atmosphere. I should be here for a few more days and then I will probably be sent back to my mission, and put on "light duty", whatever that means. So these next few days are about resting and healing and making new friends. 🙂 It has been quite a week and I am tired. And while it has been a long and tiring week, it has also been a very spiritual experience. I have seen miracles over the last week. I have felt comfort from my father in heaven and also from all the prayers that are being said in my behalf and I am so grateful to all of you. I am so grateful to be on a mission in the Philippines and that the Lord has given me the opportunity to stay and finish out my mission. San Pablo Mission is the Best! Wala Nang Iba!
Love you all, God be with you till we meet again!