Last week Ian was able to tag along on a climbing trip up Mt. Kenya. This is one of those things he has hoped to do while we are here, so we both agreed that it wasn’t an opportunity he should pass up.
It meant that he would be gone for a total of 4 days. The most he’s been gone while we have lived here in Kenya is overnight. I’m pretty ok being by myself here in Kenya now, but the thought of managing house and the work of the Centre was a bit overwhelming.
The running of the Centre and family proved to be quite manageable, with the help of Megan who is the Volunteer Coordinator at the Centre. She took over a great number of tasks that Ian might generally do, and watched the kids when there were meetings etc. that I needed to be in.
Just as I was about to pat myself on the back for a job well done on the final night 3 alone of Ian’s trip……drama occurred.
Drama isn’t unusual in our house though. Especially when it comes in the variety produced by 3 and 4 year olds.
It started with Eli and Lucy in the shower, taking baths. This is what our shower looks like:
Lately, bath time has turned into Eli and Lucy crawling around on the tile floor, barking like dogs and taking turns passing under the cold water spigot. It’s a thrilling and cheap experience for them. Kind of like a water park without the park.
Well, Lucy comes out of the shower room yelling and screaming that she slipped and bonked her head. I did a brief inspection of her head, and couldn’t come up with a bump or any redness so I told her to stop her fussing so we could get ready for bed. I think I might have also told both kids to knock off all of the craziness, that bath time was OVER! and to go and get their pajamas to put on.
I did the regular night time routine, brushing teeth, filled water cups, necessary blankies, books, baby dolls, hugs, kisses, about 20 random questions answered, zipped nets and the whole deal.
About an hour after falling asleep, Lucy woke up screaming that her head hurt. I gave her some kids Tylenol and laid her back down. She proceeded to wake up every 20 minutes or so for the next 2 hours until I finally decided to lay her down in my bed with me at 10:30 pm.
Just as I laid her down and opened my AWESOME “Baby and Child A to Z Medical Handbook” courtesy of Paula Smith to head injury and reminded myself of the symptoms…..well….then she proceeded to grace me with the symptoms of vomiting. Everywhere. All over my bed.
Thus the frantic search for her pediatrician’s phone number (he has like 6 numbers, of which 1 might work at any given time). I made multiple calls, and finally received a call back instructing me to immediately take her into the emergency room of the Children’s Hospital in Nairobi.
Does anyone recall how long that drive to Nairobi is?? I am certain I have talked in length about the perils of driving the Thika Road highway (yes, Erika, I know you can hardly describe it as a highway or freeway) and how awful it is. And, to mention that we rarely drive at night because of safety issues.
And here I was staring down the fact that I was alone, with a pretty sick kid, 8 months pregnant, at 10:45 at night getting ready to drive frantically to the hospital in Nairobi a minimum of an hour away.
I put on my calm hat.
Called Megan and asked her to come over and stay with Eli (who of course slept through all of the commotion) and changed Lucy into some clean clothes.
I load her into the car, and get in, and then realize I can’t find my phone.
As I’m hunting for the phone, I hear Lucy moan from the back of the car, and then she has vomited all over herself and the back seat.
So out of the car we go again. I stripped her down on the patio, and Megan helped me dress her again. Baby doll, blankie, and her crocs get left because, well, they’re covered in puke.
I make the drive to Nairobi without any hassle other than a 30 minute traffic jam just outside of town. We arrive to the hospital a bit after midnight, with just one more incident of car puking. A great smell when your closed in, but not that bad when compared to the usual smells of Africa I must admit.
We were quickly ushered through emergency (we didn’t even have to sit down on a chair), Lucy went through triage, and then the doctor was in to see her within a few minutes with the diagnosis of a concussion and the need for admittance into the hospital for observation for 12-24 hours.
Then we sat for a while. The typical ER room sit. A good 1 – 1 1/2 hour sit. Then we were checked into a room in the Felicity Ward (which was decorated with a walking purple grape that had eyes and antenna and bright green and purple paint) where I promptly crawled into bed. Lucy refused the “crib” because it was for babies, and crawled in next to me. Food service came in and asked if I wanted dinner. I thought, “Uh, no, it’s 2 am! LET ME SLEEP!” But I politely declined until morning.
Lucy or perhaps the nurses woke us up at 6 am, and thus our long day of sitting in an empty room on the children’s ward began. For Africa, the hospital was quite nice, but by about 9am, with a restless 3 year old, I was really beginning to question how they couldn’t have a single child’s toy or activity available. It was a children’s hospital after all. I finally scrounged 5 crayons and a piece of paper which bought a good 30 minutes of nap time on my part. I reminded myself that this was how sleep goes with a newborn baby, so this experience was just a good dress rehearsal.
By 10:30am I broke down and called in emergency reserves and begged a friend who was working clear across town (probably an hour drive) to bring me a coffee. I made sure to call a friend who has trouble saying no. We’ve all got those friends (Eve Stoughton) and love them in moments like these. He kindly obliged and then told me about the cafeteria downstairs in the hospital after he arrived. Whoops on my part, but please, cafeteria coffee (ie a packet of Nescafe) can never compare to real brewed coffee.
Lucy and I stayed in the hospital the rest of the day and then after a lovely 2 hour discharge process and payment to all of the involved parties, took ourselves on the hour drive home, after stopping off for a celebratory milkshake of course. Who stays in the hospital and doesn’t get an ice cream for goodness sakes? I cheated on my diabetes diet and had one too. I told myself I deserved it. Sorry baby May. I’ll try not to make it a habit.
And so, my week without Ian ended with a bang, but it was manageable and everyone made it through it, albeit with a few dents and a little puke later.