“Even with vaccines people get typhoid like illness. This sounds like that.” Dang, I knew it. I thought, staring at the e-mail.
I’d woken at 1:30 in the morning, my stomach gripped by painful spasms and spent the next 5 hours in and out of the bathroom. I can’t do this again. I’d been sick for the last week, but my symptoms had begun to improve. Now it was all back and even stronger than before.
In between vomiting fits I’d managed to send an e-mail to the local expat doctor. At 8:30am I had an e-mail response with her suspicions confirming mine and instructions to get to the clinic for a blood test.
Our driver licenses are still processing at the local police station so getting to the clinic wouldn’t be as simple as jumping in a car or on a moped. I texted an expat I thought might be able to take me. She responded that she could, but it would be later in the morning. Anxious for relief, I decided to make my own way to the clinic. I would walk to the main road, take a taksi to the bottom of the hill, and there hire a motorcycle to take me to the top where the clinic was. Easy.
I got dressed, filled my water bottle, and put on my back pack. I can do this. Ben and Isaiah prayed with me and I set out, only thinking of the medicine I needed to feel better.
I walked slowly to the main road and caught a taksi. So far so good. Getting out at the bottom of the hill near the clinic I looked for a motorcycle to hire. There were none. Perhaps if I walk up a little to the fork in the road I’ll find one. And I set out slowly.
The farther I walked, the more it became apparent there were no motorcycles to hire. Spotting some Papuan women, I asked for help. “You can’t get a motorcycle here” they told me. I thanked them and walked away in tears. The day was already heating up and what little strength I had was fading fast. I would not be able to walk up the 600ft hill to the clinic.
God! I prayed, because sometimes there just aren’t any other words.
At that moment a silver car turned the corner and my eyes met with the driver’s. It was an expat woman I did not know. Flagging her down I asked, “Are you going to the top? Can I have a ride to the clinic?” She smiled and let me in. Thank you, God! I silently prayed.
I got out at the clinic and went in for the blood test. At the check-in desk a bright blue painting caught my eye. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, written in swirly cream letters.
A half hour later it was confirmed; I had a bacterial infection similar to typhoid. I took the first double dose of antibiotics there in the clinic along with a deworming tablet for good measure. I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.
With no ride back down the hill I put one foot in front of the other, made it to the bottom, and caught a taksi home. Exhausted and again in tears, I took a cold shower and fell into a long sleep. 48 hours later my symptoms were nearly gone and even now I continue to improve.
Of course, it’s obvious that I should have waited a few additional hours for a ride to the clinic. I would have returned with much less stress on my body. Next time I will.
But now I know a little what it must feel like for many who become ill without the luxury of transport. I understand a little better how much emotional strength and determination it takes just to reach a clinic.