“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Week two here in Argentina can basically be summed up as hellish, inferno-like, from the pit of hell. The worst weeks of my life quite possibly. Oh, where to begin?
It is now Sunday, the end of our second week here.
Tony got sick last Saturday. We thought it was only a cold.
The next day, Sunday, we were visiting Tony's sister and my ever-active 2 year-old was bothering one of the dogs. Everyone has dogs here. One minimum, sometimes up to three. The dog got mad at being bothered and snapped at my baby. She didn't puncture the skin, but grazed her forearm with her teeth, breaking the skin.
By Tuesday, my baby started getting a fever. When I checked on her at 11pm she had a high fever and I heard the all too familiar seal-like cough. Croup!
After that it's a blur of nerves and thinking either she would die or I would. As I grabbed a few things to take to the hospital (not that I even knew where a hospital was, let alone how we were going to get there), Tony and his sister tried calling the ambulance. Since 911 is for police emergencies only, his sister tried calling the number for medical emergencies and it was busy. BUSY?!
I was waiting outside when the baby started to gasp and heave. I thought she was arresting or unable to breath. Then she vomited all over and began crying even more. I was so scared I could have thrown up.
I called back into the house for Tony, he finally came outside and said to get in the car. We had to leave the kids sleeping at their aunt's house.
My BIL was passed out and couldn't drive (too much vino), so Tony said he'd drive. My SIL doesn't know how, so couldn't. Most cars here are stick shift, only Tony doesn't know how to drive stick shift. Earlier that day his BIL, providentially, gave him a 15 minute TOPS quickie driving lesson, and that was it. I wanted to drive, but Tony insisted he would. So I jumped in the back with the baby on my lap praying like a crazy woman while Tony attempted to get the car out of the garage. I was sure he would stall out 10 times. He did surprisingly well.
As we were pulling out, still not sure where a hospital was, as his SIL is yelling which one to go to and quick directions, the neighbor who had heard the commotion, came out and told us no, go to La UPA. It is closer and they wouldn't make us wait there. She gave quick directions, and off we sped.
I can't describe the pain in my gut and the nerves I experienced as we drove down the highway towards this hospital, gasping baby in my lap, praying for her to be able to just breath until we get there, whispering "JesusJesusJesus" over and over and over again, and telling Tony, "You're doing great honey" so he would be able to calm down enough to not stall out.
We made it, walked quickly in, and thankfully were attended pretty quickly. Laryngitis, they said [in the States, our doctor called it croup]. Classic case. A shot of steroids in her bum, a megadose of Ibuprofen, two nebulizer treatments, and some steroids to pick up at the pharmacy. We drove down the deserted streets at 2am towards the 24hr pharmacy and were able to get to sleep finally by 4 or so.
The next day, after she started responding a bit to the meds, I remembered the dog bit/graze. We were too late to go to the Anti-Rabies Center here (there are tons of stray dogs in Argentina, and rabies exists). So we had to wait til the next day to take her there. The guy (I don't even know who he was, a doctor, a nurse, a completely unqualified person off the street, who knows?) said she would need 3 preventative Rabies shots. He scolded us for not covering her scratch, squirted something that looked like Iodine on a gauze, taped it to her arm.
Ugh, sinking stomach feeling again. Because she was being treated for croup, she couldn't get the shot. So we scrambled to get a copy of the rabies vaccine my SIL said she had.
When we got home she was crying that "ow, my arm burn, hurting me, hurting me, owy, owy". I took the gauze off and her arm was burned where the Iodine was. I almost lost it!
I gave her Ibuprofen for all her discomforts and told Tony that's it, I need some meds myself. Do they sell Valium over the counter here? I need some. Now. Or I'm going to lose my mind.
All I wanted to do was leave Buenos Aires. Convinced in Patagonia could get some relief. [Update: Ha ha, that was wishful thinking]
We got a copy of the rabies vaccination for the dog (I literally kissed it when I saw it!), Tony's paperwork arrived in the mail, paperwork we had been waiting for before we could leave BA, and baby seemed to be improving, so we decided to blow the crazy town.
The bus ride that night was about 14 hours long. Everyone was coughing the whole trip. I felt bad, like we were getting others sick, but we needed to leave.
We got to Neuquen, and fortunately our friends, Lee and Edgardo, were waiting for us. We had lunch, but Tony's head was killing him. His cold had gotten much worse. The baby's eyes also started getting red, swollen, and goopy. Oh, God, I thought, WHAT NOW???
Edgardo was so kind - they fed us, let us shower there, then took us all to the hospital. We are thankful for the free hospitals here, at least we didn't have to worry about a huge bill. As we were driving there and walking in, it was very dusty and very windy. Edgardo said it was ash. From the volcano. It was blowing everywhere, making our throats feel scratchy, skin gritty, and eyes irritated, on top of the . Plus just regular dust from the desert landscape.
The doctor attending saw both the baby and Tony. Conjunctivitis and sinusitis, respectively. Tony was really sick by this point with a splitting headache, and baby was noticibly deteriorating.
Tony was sent home with antibiotics, and the baby with a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. Which she screams bloody murder over because they sting. It's a nightmare and I can't help but think at those moments, Oh God, why did we come here??? To see our kids suffer like this? One night she looked at me and said, "Mommy you hate me." Ugh, knife to my heart. I said, "No, Mommy loves you! That's why I'm giving you your medication." She just looked at me with sad little eyes and said "No, you hate me, you hate me."
I wanted to get on a plane right then and there and go home.
Our other two got sick as well. Hopefully it's just a bad cold. But I am so sensitive and traumatized that I am just sure they will be next to the hospital.
Our first night in Patagonia, we were invited to a dinner at church for all the moms. Today, Sunday, is Mother's Day here in Argentina. Tony was sick in bed, the baby had fallen asleep, but he encouraged me to go with the kids. It was just around the corner.
My throat started hurting as soon as we got there. I found it hurt and I had trouble speaking. I felt rude, but as soon as we ate, I had to excuse us to go home to our little, tiny, one bedroom temporary apartment three blocks away. I came back to Tony hacking up a lung, spitting out green stuff, and with a migraine type headache. All I could do was pray for him. I put my hand on his forehead and just prayed desperate prayers. And cried. After we prayed he said he felt better, his headache was almost gone. At least for a bit. It came back in the middle of the night.
So here we are, our second day in Patagonia and it's impossibly hard. So hard that we have even thought of returning. Going back. We had such a good life, what on earth were we thinking?
Even Tony said back in Buenos Aires when everything started hitting the fan that if God gave him a plane to get on, he'd get on it in a second and go back to the United States.
Feeling like complete failures at the moment. But, honestly, all I care about are my kids. I'm okay with admitting maybe we made a mistake, maybe we didn't hear God? Maybe we were wrong to come here. It's certainly not worth losing one of our children over. Does that make us lesser Christians? Weaker? I don't know, maybe. But my first ministry is my kids. If they are not okay, neither are we.
Tony really surprised me when he mentioned going back. We never thought our trials would come in this way, regarding the health of our family.
I have had stomach issues since we got here. I've been to the bathroom at least half a dozen times today. I never have diarhhea. Never. It's hard to be sick and see your kids sick and see your husband lying flat on the bed sick as a dog and being in a foreign country. It makes you just want to cry, really.
So, that's what it's been like here. Please pray for us. I have no problem asking, begging at this point. We are desparate for prayers and direction.
UPDATE: It's Tuesday now, things are getting worse, if that were possible. Will write about it as soon as we come out of this hole. Our little one-room apartment has turned into a hospital. I'll get to writing about it when I get a spare moment between nursing my family and trying to care for myself in the process. Thanks for all the prayers - we miss you all. Lots of love.
Romans 8:18 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
2 Corinthians 1:5 "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
2 Corinthians 1:6 "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."