March 10, 2016

One year later...

One year ago today on March 10,2015.... 

I was immediately admitted to the hospital in Kenya. A year ago today, I never would have imagined still being here on this earth.I still can't believe that I experienced all that I did. ONLY BY GOD'S GRACE. My eternal gratitude to HIM can never be expressed through words, for getting me through some really dark days. When I posted my last two blogs I was still struggling with some serious anxiety.

A lot of the medicines that were used to heal my body of the malaria really caused a lot of uncertainty, doubt, and worry. I was not thinking straight and could not quite grasp the concepts of reality. 

However, here I am a year later, better than I ever thought I would be, but yet SO humbled by God's goodness and faithfulness to me during this time and all the time.  My anxiety levels are completely gone. I obviously still have my struggles of worry at times. And yes, I still carry some fears with me that are somewhat unreasonable (such as hippos haha) but again I know that my God is bigger than any of that and HE holds me in HIS hands through life and eventually death. MY GOD IS EVERYTHING TO ME. He has been with me through it all and for that I will forever be thankful. I have been given a brand new perspective and hope for the future. I am thankful to all of you who have continually prayed for me. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.
Psalms 73:25-26, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire beside you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

In this blog there a few pictures that I have never shared before on social media of me in the hospital in Nairobi. I never thought I would get to the point that I could even look at the photos without anxiety and pain but again God's grace has brought me through. 

Let us always to remember to keep Christ as our center and live in light of eternity. 

(Previous blogs found here

September 26, 2015

Malaria and Me...Part 2!

Continued story from my previous blog which you can read here:

…..They told me I would be in the hospital for three days because the treatment needed to be extensive. Once they began treatment I was quite scared. Normally, in American hospitals they would hook you up to a heart monitor and possibly oxygen and so on...well in Kenya they just hook you right up to the treatment and go for it. (without having any of my prior medical records) As soon as the medicine began to drip, my heart began to race so fast that I was sure that was the end of me. I was struggling to breathe and stay calm. The doctors however continued to assure me “you will be fine”. These words began to haunt me. Every doctor or nurse or just random person walking by would say “you will be fine”. (This is a big Kenyan term that they love to use often) Every time they said it I again was sure they were just trying to comfort me before my death. I found out later that the medicine I was on had many side effects and one of them being paranoia and causes mind altering thoughts. I had four sets of treatments over the course of 2 and half days. The first one was eight hours long of non stop dripping of this medicine called quinine. 

Iv treatment. In an infected hand
 and all! 
 Let me tell you those eight hours were some of the longest and worst. I couldn't talk. I couldn't hear. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't do anything. Nurses and doctors never checked on me. I literally would have been alone in my tiny closet, if it wasn't for my friend Christina. She was able to get the nurses and doctors if I needed them. Those three days were the longest and the most scary days of my life as of now. I had hallucinations in the nights. To this day I still have some huge fears because of these thing. (one of them being hippos haha!) I remember being in a ton of pain and so sick to my stomach I thought I would never eat again. After I got through that first eight hours of treatment I thought to myself, “I can do this” I will get through this but then the pain would hit again and the four hours of break from the treatment would fly by and I would be back to square one. The night before I was suppose to get out of the hospital was the worst. I wanted to rip out my IV. My friend had to keep me from ripping it out. I was going insane. I couldn't sit still I was so anxious and wanted to move but hurt so badly that I couldn't do much. I was sitting there (for the first time) trying to read my bible and couldn't. Not because I didn't want to but because I literally could not focus or concentrate or anything. Christina told me I had been sitting there looking like a crazy person just turning and flipping through my bible like a maniac.

Shopping trip back in February!
I can't explain all that I was feeling but one feeling I know was pretty much the most intense feelings of being trapped with fear I have ever felt. I just continued to think that I was at the end of my life. I thought I would never see my family again and constantly prayed that I would be able to see them at least one more time. Side note: In all of this we were suppose to be picking up two friends from the airport that were going to stay with us in Kenya for the last 17 days of our trip. Well instead of being able to pick them up they had to come to the hospital with our Kenyan friend. They were shocked at the conditions and at how I looked. My ears were still ringing and hurting so badly that every sound came through my ears sounded and felt like a freight train. This was not the welcome I had in mind for these girls. They arrived the day I was suppose to get out of the hospital. Well we had to wait a few hours before they would release me from the hospital. At this point I was ready to get out of there and get some fresh air. I still had fears about leaving because I still felt pretty awful. I mean I literally walked out of the hospital the same way I came in (barely moving and shuffling my feet). They didn't run any tests to make sure that I was better but just let me leave and gave me “pain medicine”. They took me back to Stephens families home and I rested and called my family. I was feeling a lot better and thought that I was finally turning a corner.

Road to and from Nairobi! 
The next morning, my first thought when I woke up was “I'm alive”. I saw the sun through the window and my mosquito net and thought again “WOW I AM ALIVE”. It was such a relieving and scary feeling all at once. I didn't know what the next days ahead held for me but I did know I wanted to get back and see the kids and then I wanted to go home. Well after I thought through all of that I went to get out of bed and could barely walk . Every joint in my body ached and my legs, stomach, and back were basically stuck. After a few pain pills I was okay again. Well we traveled back to the children's home. Again, the long excruciating trip back was painful and did I mention, LONG. A new normal for me was that I cried a lot! Once we were back in the orphanage we rested and slept and got eaten again by mosquitoes..again! My mom was looking into switching our flight but was having trouble getting through to the people. At this point, we were 9 days away from our original flight day. So finally I decided just to call the airline and do it. Praise the Lord that He got me through to THE nicest airline person ever! She helped me right there and let me switch Christina and my ticket to the next day!

Saying goodbye to the kids was so hard. Looking at their sobbing faces and knowing what we were leaving them to was painful. There is so much more I could say about that but I wont for now. We traveled all the way back to Nairobi, just 3 days after being at the children's home. The flight home was hard as I was out of pain medicine and only had Tylenol to work off of. Christina wasn't feeling well either and we both just needed to be home. I slept A LOT on the flight thankfully! When I saw my family at the airport I lost it. I just cried and cried. I was emotionally, physically and mentally spent. I couldn't even think straight. We got back to my house and they were all talking but I couldn't even talk. And for me that is a big deal. Haha! My family was shocked to see me how I was... Well I got back and got in my bed and thought to myself “Well God answered my prayer to let me see my family one more time and now I will probably die.” I know this all sounds dramatic but that is literally how my mindset was for months after I got home.

Taken back in February! :)
Let me tell you, God was with me every single step of the way. Your prayers were the peace I felt during those long trips to and from Nairobi. Now after 6 months and looking back at it I forget some of the details and I am actually thankful for that. This year has had many challenges and I have learned so much! This was all so very real to me. Every emotion I felt was real. Every pain I felt was real.

To close, I want to end with three things that I learned through this experience so far.

1. God will give you the peace that passes all understanding when you least expect it. I believe that on those trips to and from Nairobi, God gave me a peace that I cannot explain. I was extremely paranoid because of the medication but there were specific moments I can remember being completely at peace and having a calmness I did not understand. 

2. My faith was completely shaken during this time. I was sure that I was at the end of my life and that I was about to face God numerous times during my sickness and that scared me. I began to think of all the things I did not do right and then I was reminded that it is not our works that save us but by His grace! That he was going to accept me just as I am because I had accepted Him as my savior and had given my life to Him. 

3.  I believe that God has a reason for all things. At this point in time I do not know the exact reason why I got malaria or why it had to be so severe but I do know that God was in control the whole time. I know that God was with me comforting me and loving me.  

I am thankful for those that have prayed for me and kept up with this experience that I have faced. This was definitely one of my most challenging, honest and personal blogs for me but I felt that this story needed to be shared and how God protected, comforted, and guided me and my friend throughout the whole thing. Even if this story would of had a different outcome, God would still be good. He has everything in control no matter what happens. 

"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."
- George Bernard Shaw-