**On December 26 Tatum woke up with a very swollen eye. We talked with a Doctor and had her on antibiotics just hours later. I was concerned it was more serious so on Tuesday we saw another Doctor, and got on a different antibiotic. It was improving—swelling down, fever gone, etc. when New Year’s Day she woke up with much more swelling, and I could see an abscess. We went to urgent care, who directed us to the ER, who called in an ophthalmologist, who said we needed to transfer to Portland.**
The first battle was emotions. Just telling Tatum we were going to Urgent Care sent her sobbing uncontrollably. We got through that with prayer, a lavender Aroma Ring under the mask, reassurances, and a kind doctor who took one look at her eye and sent us to the Emergency room. We picked up my mom on the way, and with each new thing at the ER–repeating the story of the past week, doctors asking the same questions, doing the same exams–she grew braver and more confident.
Then a certain ophthalmologist who could use some compassion training showed up and said bluntly we needed to go to Portland, probably by helicopter, and when Tatum asked if I was going with her he said, “maybe.” Uhhhhhh…Mama is going, no question about that, but it sent Tatum into a panic. Thanks, dude. He just gave a thumbs up and said, “Cool, a heli ride!”
I thought my mom was going to murder him right there.
After hours of waiting to figure out transportation up there, we learned we were flying up there in a small plane. I made a frenzied trip back to the house (trying to follow my mom’s directions of where she parked the car and hopping a fence to get there faster), where I threw stuff in bags, not knowing if we were going through airport security or if I needed to follow the 3 ounce rule so leaving most liquids (like toothpaste) behind, and trying to grab as many comforting things for Tatum as possible but forgetting things like underwear for myself…priorities, right? I hugged my littles hard and kissed my old dog as I flew out the door. Driving back I listened to the song “Waymaker,” and felt that inexplicable peace wash over me. After parking I still decided throwing the bags over and hopping the fence shaved off a few minutes since we thought the plane was leaving very shortly. I pulled my quad as a thanks for that decision, LOL!
After wearing the mask in the ER I was starting to get a migraine, and often if it develops it can last 4-7 days. I did NOT have time for that. I literally dumped Cool Azul oil blend on my neck and shoulders and took a mystery OTC pain med from my mom’s mixed bottle of things, and then God fought the next battle for me. The transport team was totally great with Tatum and I not wearing masks in the ambulance or the flight, especially after they commented on the good smelling oils and I told them why I had used it.
Then Doug, one of the EMTs, asked if we had any congestion or physical problems flying. I haven’t flown in 3 years because the last two times I’ve flown I’ve had intense sinus pain. Living in Oklahoma my allergies got worse and worse, and on a flight home the pain hit me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was having an aneurism or something because the pain was worse than pushing out a 10 ½ lb baby naturally! So when I did mention that, Doug looked a little dubious and said I might experience some pain. I told him you could chop my arm off but I was going and he nodded his approval.
At this point, Tatum was almost chipper. She’s so polite and friendly, she won over the team right away. Even getting loaded up in the gurney, hooked up to vitals, strapped down for the journey, making sure her stuffed dog was there, she had a great attitude and the fear and panic of before was nowhere to be seen. Thanks God–You handled that battle.
The friendliness and calm of the transport team helped Tatum have fun in the ambulance ride to the airport, and I snapped a few pics of her smiling as she was being loaded onto this tiny 5 seater plane. By that point my migraine had dissipated as well–chalk another one up to God for winning that battle.
We loaded up on the aircraft and Doug asked her if she’d been on a small airplane before. She said, “No, but my mom has when she went to Africa.”
“You were in Africa?” he asked and I told him I’d been to Uganda and we flew to northern Uganda in small planes. I got to share a bit about what Far Reaching Ministries got to do in Gulu, Kitgum, and Mucwini as we taxied around, and then we took off. As we climbed, Tatum had fun watching the lights and trying to guess the layout of the valley floor in the dark.
I thought I would be on edge, waiting for that stab of pain in my sinuses, nervous about such a tiny plane, worried Tatum would be scared…but none of that existed. You’d have thought we were off on the grandest adventure and we were both relaxed and content. Peace that passes understanding–just like He promises. It was loud on the plane, so I pulled out my kindle and read another chapter of Love Does by Bob Goff. And wouldn’t you know it? He goes to Gulu in that chapter…I love God winks. After we landed, I also realized I had experienced zero sinus issues…thanks again, God!
Loaded up in the ambulance where it was quieter, Doug asked more about the mission trip. Tatum piped up, “Was that the time the guy tried to drive you and another lady off in the night?” To which I chuckled, “Nope, that was a different trip.” Haha, there were some big eyes on that.
Doug asked if I was afraid when I told him about Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) being active in the area when we went. I replied we’re safest where God wants us (and still very much believe that), the ministry was monitoring the activity, we traveled in armored vehicles, and had been briefed on what to do if there was an attack.
One night while there, however, my roommate had a cold and had taken Nyquil and passed out. The generators went off at 10, and I was sitting in the dark on my laptop writing out my thoughts for the day when the screaming started. Over and over, blood curdling screams from just over the compound wall outside our window. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty. “Don’t open the door, stay inside,” is what we had been told. I tried to wake my roommate with no luck. I made sure I was right with Jesus and prayed.
I looked up from telling the story and noticed Cindy who was doing all the paperwork had stopped and was listening, and the EMT to my left was not working on his tablet anymore. I glanced at Tatum who was sitting there with a smile, knowing the tale.
Eventually, the screaming stopped and somehow I was able to fall asleep. The next morning everyone looked a little tired but no one said anything about it…so I wondered, was it a dream?
We loaded up into the armored truck and as we pulled away from the compound someone asked, “Sooooo….did anyone hear screaming last night?” The truck erupted with everyone talking at once–What was that? I thought we were being attacked! I was so scared!
Then we hear laughter and look over to see Francis–a Ugandan–cracking up. Through his laughter he said, “The GOATS–they scream when they are stressed!”
I love the relief laughter that story gets 😉
Doug asked if I was of any particular denomination, and I replied, “I love Jesus, I don’t think he was particularly concerned with denominations and divisions. Just love God, love people.” The EMT to my left nodded and said, “Right on,” and told me his wife had done missions in South Africa.
We arrived at the hospital and Tatum and Doug fist bumped that she was one minute off her guess of arrival time. Once we were in our room we were greeted by a flurry of doctors and nurses. More relaying the story, more exams, and the kindest nurse ever flying around trying to get us situated and apologizing for all the commotion and working her darndest to get us feeling settled.
I was ready to battle for our medical choices, but we were completely respected and it was not an issue in the slightest –God handled that battle.
We hadn’t been told if there was a limitation to visitors with Tatum but when Matt arrived it was not a problem at all. Another army down.
Tatum was still in unbelievably good spirits, and our nurse said she had her choice of who to work with that night and had hit the jackpot with our kiddo. Seriously–through the night Allie made our transition and all the craziness great and I so enjoyed talking with her.
They wanted Tatum to do a COVID test, and I decided that for that night and the urgency we needed to get things going that this was not going to be my hill to die on and not push back on that. She was nervous, so I offered to go first. Turns out I didn’t need one, but I still offered so Tatum could watch it being done. Not pleasant, and my test swab went straight in the trash, but it helped put her mind at ease and get through it.
A few hours later she and I went to get the CT scan. When the technician asked me to step out of the room Tatum had a moment of panic, so I asked if I could suit up and stay. I got to wear the super cool lead clothes to stay close.
Earlier in the day at the ER, the abscess had spontaneously started to drain and did so for two hours before drying up on the flight. Around 4 in the morning I suggested a warm compress to help clear the crusties, and when she pulled it away that abscess was draining a ton! I don’t want to get graphic if you’re not into medical stuff, but Allie and I sat on her bed with her tag teaming wiping all the pus draining. A bit later we had the results from the CT scan, and confirmation there was an abscess along the eye and that it went pretty deep. Initially they were talking about draining it in the emergency room, but after learning how much it had drained decided to take a “let’s wait and observe” approach. As of writing on Monday night it’s definitely looking like we’re getting out of here without surgery–another battlefield God decimated for us!
She and I fell asleep around 6 in the morning, and thankfully the nurses let us sleep until about 10:30 when Tatum woke up. The day passed with lots of check ins and more draining the abscess, Matt bringing tacos and Thai food and doodling markers and a stuffed animal for Tatum. We listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she played chess and tetris games on the kindle, and Marco Polo-ed Matt’s parents to chat with the girls. We actually were able to get a really sound night of sleep…do they test the nurses here on how quiet they can be because I’m a light sleeper and hardly noticed them!
Being a super light sleeper, I sleep with earplugs and usually an arm over my ear. I could still hear each time the door handle open or someone was walking around in the room. In the early hours I woke up to hearing multiple sets of feet walking around much louder than the nurses and turned my head expecting to see a few doctors.
No one was in the room that I could see, and as I looked around I heard in my heart–Just us.
Just us angels here making sure you’re ok. I said out loud, “Cool guys–thanks!” and went back to sleep. Like I talk to angels all the time, you know. Me and Mary and Zechariah and Joseph.
When I woke up again I was thinking about the biblical portrayal of angels. Not Precious Moments looking ones, but warriors. The Hebrew word is messengers, and I got the message. Just us–nothing else to worry about.
As I write this it’s Monday evening, we’re still on track for no surgery, and switching to oral antibiotics tomorrow to transition to getting us home. We get to be with our favorite nurse again tonight, Tatum is not going to know what to do transitioning to limited Kindle time after this, and I’m going to hop in the shower before settling for the evening.
Thank you for all the prayers–we have felt them all and seen God’s hand in this during every step. He has granted deep peace, joy, and laughter during this very unexpected New Year’s week. I’m sure there’s more miracles and victorious battles to come, so stay tuned.