We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Lost Ambulance, Flying Ambulance, Hospital, Hotel and Home

The local ambulance was lost. We were waiting at home early on Friday, two weeks ago, for the ambulance to arrive to take Amisadai straight to Mwanza airport where an air ambulance was waiting. It would medically evacuate her to a Nairobi hospital, after she was put at "high risk" due to respiratory attacks. But after several phone calls in which the ambulance was "on the way" and obviously very close, we told the driver to stay at the bottom road and piled into our land cruiser to go and find it ...which we did! And somehow this didn't really seem odd at all.
Saying goodbye to Tim.
Tim is giving directions to the driver on the quickest route to the airport!
After some quick goodbyes with Tim, Amisadai and I were off to the airport. Arriving there, it really didn't seem long since we'd been there with our last flying debacle on Flight 147! We were ushered quickly through immigration and security and onto the tarmac to board our very small Amref medical plane. Amisadai, who was feeling fine now, enjoyed her comfortable stretcher bed, while the nurse, doctor and myself squeezed onto the only three passenger three chairs alongside. And we were off. The team (Doctor, Nurse, Captain and Co-pilot) were all fantastic... I was impressed with how smoothly and efficiently everything was done (especially after our local lost ambulance situation)! Vital signs were checked continually throughout the hour flight, in between drinks and snacks, and everything thankfully remained normal.

And onto the Amref plane.
Settled and strapped in for flight
But maybe now I should back up and explain ...

For about two months, Amisadai has periodically been having what first seemed to be asthmatic attacks, usually during PE. We had seen a doctor who agreed it looked like exercise-induced asthma and advised she could try a ventolin inhaler and if that didn't work, (which it didn't), a preventative inhaler. We thought things were starting to come under control. But then one Monday, she had a more serious attack at school which was unconnected to exercise with no apparent trigger. Without adequate emergency services (the ambulance was at the time "not available"), it was very concerning. We emailed and phoned doctors who all agreed we needed to take immediate action and get her out of Mwanza as quickly as possible. They warned us another attack could be more serious and without either emergency care or the necessary facilities at local hospitals to treat her or even stabilise her for evacuation, the risk was high.

The following 48 hours were a confused blur with calls to doctors and insurance agents, and during a sleepless night on Thursday, things were finally put into place for medical evacuation. The final call at 7:30am on Friday said the ambulance would be at our house at 8am. Which of course, it wasn't, but I have told you this part of the story!

We arrived in Nairobi and were hustled straight from the plane into an ambulance just off the runway. With flashing lights and sirens we whizzed through crazy Nairobi traffic to the hospital. I was in the front with the driver while Amisadai stretched out in the back with the lovely Christian nurse who enjoyed chatting to her in Swahili and prayed with her most of the way!
Straight into the waiting ambulance in Nairobi
Once at the Aga Khan hospital, all the testing began. Other than passing out in the hallway after a blood test, Amisadai did really well! We were finally settled into the paediatric ward for another rather sleepless night in which amid the cries and screams of the young children on the ward, we had numerous visitors coming wanting to clean the room, take orders for the next day's meals and even waking us up to see if we fancied a hot drink!

Cheerful Amisadai ready for some supper
The next day we had more tests and then waited for results and further consultation with the doctor. While we waited, we had a visitor who arrived with a smile-bringing gift hamper! Wonderful hot German coffee, yogurt, granola bars, bacon buns....! Such a treat! This lovely family, the Kroppachs, live in Nairobi and are good friends of many of our friends in Mwanza. They were an amazing blessing to us throughout the whole ordeal.

On Sunday we met with the doctor, who basically couldn't say what was causing the attacks. As Amisadai was stable, he discharged her from the hospital with instructions to stay close by while we considered other tests, arranged for some counselling to see if panic attacks were a cause and planned for us to visit him again for further lung testing on Wednesday.

It was one thing for the doctor to say we could go, but quite another to actually get out! What an ordeal! So many forms and slips of paper to take from one office to another office, needing confirmation from insurance and waiting for calls and emails to come through. Then back to the first desk and back again to the second... Once again, Daniel Kroppach was a huge support, coming to walk us through the whole procedure!

We were given accommodation through our insurance company at a nearby hotel which was perched on the top of an Indian shopping market. What we originally thought would be weekend stay, had now turned into a few days, and then just when we thought we were going home (on Wednesday) it was extended again. Suffice to say, we became quite friendly with the lovely staff at the Cloud Hotel!

The small, 30-room Cloud Hotel on the top floor
The Kenyan/Indian market just outside
In an unfamiliar city on our own, with Amisadai's worrying medical condition a mystery, things were all very uncertain and at times, (particularly sorting out insurance issues) rather stressful. But in the midst of that, it was wonderful to know the support and prayers from so many people. The benefits of Facebook and WhatsApp at such times so far away are appreciated all the more! It was a wonderful surprise when the hotel brought in a gorgeous huge arrangement of flowers from my sister and family, who had phoned the manager from Canada! And when the manager heard from my sister that we had come from the hospital and Amisadai was undergoing tests, he was hugely sympathetic and gave her a present as well!
The beautiful flowers!

A gift from the Cloud Hotel Manager
Grandma Monger had the awesome idea to send Amisadai an I-Tunes gift card so that she could download some movies and music to enjoy. We enjoyed our little "movie parties" ... making the most of good internet at the hotel! We also had two visits from Dave Richards, from our church in the UK who happened to be in Nairobi at the same time! He so kindly came with other friends to pray with us and also bags of delicious treats to cheer us up!
A visit from Dave!
The Kroppach family continued to be an amazing support! They live in Nairobi to serve in this way. Their ministry meets a huge need, to people, like Amisadai and me, who just need help and a little loving! People like us, without family or friends, stuck in a strange place and a stressful situation. Theirs is such a valuable ministry, so needed and so very much appreciated by many! We were invited several times to eat with them and Amisadai made fast friends with their eldest daughter and was able to go along to Youth Club with her one afternoon.  We joined them for a church service on Sunday as well. God is so good!
German sausages with a great new friend on our last day!
And we enjoyed some treats along the way!
We found a Subway! Awesome treat!
To cut a long story... of hospital appointments and taxis, emails and calls with doctors and insurance agents... short, finally after ten days, we were able to return home. The doctors eventually came to the conclusion that Amisadai's attacks were due to laryngospasm, caused by GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease); basically, as stomach acid crept up to her vocal folds, airways and lungs, it caused  swelling of the passages, leading to the atypical asthma reactions. By getting Amisadai on PPI medication, decreasing the amount of acid in her stomach, we should be able to prevent further attacks and breathing difficulties.
Running laps at the hospital for a stress-lung test!
We are so thankful to now know what has been causing the problem! So thankful we caught it before the attacks got any worse! So thankful to be able to easily treat it! We are thankful for many of you who have messaged us with your love and encouragement. Thankful for God's protection and care of us throughout in so many different ways. And so thankful to be home in Tanzania on Monday, all together again!

4 comments:

  1. It's good to read thru the whole story & it's conclusion and give thnx along with you, you only came to our notice thru Dave R's FB, so we weren't sure we'd ever know more!
    Lotsof love from Amasingstoke xx

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    1. Thanks, Sue! It was great to see Dave and also Pastor Masinde and his daughter while we were in the city!

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  2. So glad to hear she's OK - what an amazing woman you are - so cool, collected and full of faith.

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    1. Thank you! It's God's amazing grace that I do have faith, but I make no claims whatsoever to being cool and collected!!

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