My latest new experience is being sick in Zambia. The care and concern has been overwhelming!
Easter week was a school break. Other than grading three sets of papers, I was planning to read, take walks, and watch a few movies. However, I found myself feeling tired, and I started experiencing sharp pain on the right side when I took a deep breath. As taking even short breaths became uncomfortable and a case of diarrhea hit, I finally decided to go to see a doctor. Jenny took me to the private clinic run by the mining company after Good Friday services.
Unfortunately, Friday was the beginning of a four-day public holiday. We were lucky to find a doctor on call, but they could not do a chest x-ray until Tuesday. The blood test showed an elevated white cell count, so I was given an antibiotic and pain pills and sent home until Tuesday. I spent a miserable few days, tied to the house by the severe diarrhea. However, the natural helping network was already mobilizing, as people stopped by to see how I was feeling, to pray for healing, and to offer help with transportation or anything else I needed. Sister Margaret, the MEF nurse, sent oral rehydration powder.
Long story short, on Tuesday I was diagnosed with giardia and pneumonia. The doctor prescribed a strong antibiotic and another medication, plus a week of rest and nutritious food. Jenny made homemade chicken soup. Students offered to spend the night, as Violet also had. Adrian asked for prayers in chapel, along with a request to let me rest. Violet stayed all day each day to monitor visitors and help in the kitchen. We made signs to alert the kids that I would not be making sandwiches for awhile. Women from church brought communion after services. People phoned to wish me well.
There are several lessons I have drawn from this experience. The first one was that I need to pay better attention to my body. The pneumonia probably started in late January, when I had a productive cough for weeks. I ignored it because everyone was coughing, and besides, my pride got in the way. I never get sick! So I was stoic about the cough, and gradually it subsided. (The doctor here says that the reason I didn't have more pain is because I take an anti-inflammatory, Piroxicam, and that kept the inflammation in my lung down.)
A second lesson is to ask for and accept help when I need it. I tend to try not to bother people and to do things for myself that others would happily do for me out of their caring. Too much self-reliance and self-sufficiency can interfere with reciprocity and support.
Through this experience, the MEF community has shown deep loving care and protection. I'm thankful to be surrounded by so much healing energy as I am recovering.