Another rush of adrenaline. Another desperate cry to the Lord to preserve my son’s life.
I was resting upstairs this afternoon, still recovering from a week-long bout with the flu, when I heard Paton’s distinct cry of pain. I rushed downstairs to see Nate bending down, “Where does it hurt, Buddy?” To which our little two and a half year-old responded by pointing to his legs. This was odd, because for more than a week, he’s been battling a painful ear infection, including pink eye, fever and a host of other awful symptoms. Nate picked him up and we examined his legs further. We noticed a rash forming, his feet started to swell, and it seemed to be traveling rapidly up his leg. Nate had given him his antibiotic twenty minutes or so before, so we could only surmise that it was an allergic reaction to the meds. I rushed upstairs to get the Benadryl, and after administering the recommended dosage, he started to collapse, immediately flashing us back to his seizure episode, several months ago. “We have to go to the hospital NOW,” I told Nate.
You see, there is no 9-1-1 to call, no reliable ambulance with qualified medical personnel to show up at your door in 5 minutes.
“Where should we go?” was his response. There is one hospital within 6-8 minutes, but the quality of care is questionable. There is another one 15 minutes away, that supposedly has higher standards, but we had already had two negative experiences with medical staff there (where the interactions with the doctor left me feeling like I knew more than him, with my limited medical knowledge as a dental hygienist…though, a year of pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, CPR and various other required courses, have been extremely useful!). The only reliable clinic is the international clinic across town, and it would take 30 minutes or more. So, that was out of the question. What do you do when your son’s life hangs in the balance, and you have to decide between substandard care that’s close, or a slightly higher-than substandard care that was a few more minutes away…minutes that could be lifesaving.
We decided to try for the better hospital, weaving in and out of traffic as fast as we could, praying that we wouldn’t hit any of the many sporadic motos, drifting constantly into our path, as we raced toward our destination. A minute or so after passing the first, lower standard hospital, we realized that there was a roadblock on our main thoroughfare, and that the only way to get to the better hospital was to follow the detour of very slow moving cars, bumbling over a dirt road. I sat beside Paton, observing his every breath, and he seemed to be getting worse. At that point, we decided that we’d have to go to the closer hospital. We raced to an area labeled “Emergency”, thinking it was an “Emergency Entrance” (silly us), but it seemed to be locked up. A helpful parking guard quickly motioned us to the larger, main entrance. We walked in and it seemed completely deserted. There was no air conditioning in the main room, so the huge glass doors were left open in an attempt to alleviate a little of Cambodia’s humid heat, resulting in numerous flies and mosquitoes buzzing around the lobby. We ran to the front desk, manned by two people who looked like they were watching the desk while the “real staff” were out to lunch (which, I later realized was probably the case). They spoke very little English (well, we ARE in Cambodia), so Nate started explaining the situation in Khmer, while holding our limp, though conscious son. No one rushed up to us. No one started checking his vitals or taking control of the situation. It was almost like they were waiting for us to tell them what to do. They were asking questions, but they weren’t questions that needed to be asked when you rush into a hospital with a sick baby. As they continued their query, I couldn’t take it anymore, and loudly exclaimed, “Luen! Luen!” (quickly, quickly), as in, “My baby may need emergency care and we’re having a useless conversation!” The crazy foreigner lady yelling seemed to do the trick, and they finally brought us to a hospital bed, and started to check his pulse. They still seemed to be uncomfortable with taking charge of the situation, and finally moved him to a bed that would monitor all of his vitals. Nate sat with our little boy as he laid on the bed, gradually coming back to his normal state, his vitals strengthening with every breath as the anti-histamine (which we had administered at home) worked its way through his body. He was observed for 30 minutes and then with no additional treatment needed, we were released and headed back home.
I share this story because several of you asked for details. We are so very grateful that the Lord graciously spared Paton’s life once again. We are so grateful that we had Benadryl at the house, and that our little boy fully recovered within the hour. There is nothing quite like placing your son’s life on the altar…again. We so appreciate your prayers, as we seem to be beset by a host of health issues, especially with our sweet son. This has been one of my hardest struggles living in Cambodia–the constant threat of disease and the constant lack of quality medical care. We are forced to put our trust in the Lord, in ways that I never thought imaginable. We must TRULY rely on the Great Physician–a loving, sovereign Lord–we can do nothing but trust Him with the two precious souls that are our children.