Monthly Archives: June 2012

Waiting on Doctors and Cultural differences….

We returned to the Neuro Hospital yesterday morning with our appointment time of 9:30am.  The taxi ride wasn’t bad – it has been much cooler since the rains have started.  Les was taken into an exam room fairly quickly, but after the resident had asked a few questions and done a brief exam, he said we would need to return at 4pm to see the doctor!  We looked around the waiting room with its hard metal chairs and decided to brave the taxi ride again back across town to wait in comfort.

We were happy to wait in cushioned chairs at our friend’s place, and enjoy a good meal at lunch.  We returned to the hospital a bit before 4:00 and joined what seemed like hundreds of others waiting to see the doctor.  A bit before 6:00, a nurse/receptionist came in and everyone in the waiting room surged to the front to hand her their charts – there didn’t seem to be a system of order at all.  Les turned his in as well, and it wasn’t too long before he was called back.  I wasn’t allowed to go with him, so I continued to wait outside with my book.  (I am so enjoying the kindle – it’s amazing to be able to borrow books from the public library in Ohio from the other side of the world!)

Les came back out after having seen another resident and was told that the doctor would see him later.  We found seats again – but this time we had some interesting encounters which re-enforced the cultural differences with which we still sometimes struggle!  A young man followed us across the room to where we were seated and wanted to look at Les’ book – then he wanted to take the book.  (It was our friend’s so Les said no…)  Then he wanted Les to give him a pen – and all the time was asking questions that are not uncommon here, but still can be uncomfortable to us – How old are you?  How old is your wife?  How long have you been married?  How many children do you have?  How old are they?  Are they married?  Did you have a love marriage? (as opposed to arranged).  What is your country?  Why are you here?  How much money do you make? Why did you come to the hospital?  What was your illness?

I (Debbie) also had a young girl beside me who wanted to practice her English and to find out my age, about Luke and Laura’s engagement, about my hair (it apparently feels like Barbie doll hair), about my rings, about my necklace……  It was an interesting hour.  I didn’t want to give my cell phone number, so I gave her an email address.  Then the young man asked to look at Les’ medical chart and copied his name and our phone number down on a piece of paper to take with him!!

Fortunately, soon after that the doctor came and Les was able to see him.  He told Les that he is a “free man” and could return to Tansen.  The doctor said there are no restrictions on activities, but I told Les he is still not free to run up and down the Tansen challenge again! We are thankful for the medical clearance and are looking forward to returning to Tansen – we hope to fly Wednesday, and avoid the all-day bus ride.  Les will not return to work full-time right away, but he is feeling so much better he will probably want to work again fairly soon.

We left the hospital after 8 PM, which has given us a new appreciation for patients waiting a long time to see the doctor.  (We were very glad to have taken a break in the middle of the day, even though it meant 2 round trips on the taxi!)  We also reflected again on our need for personal space and privacy, which is very cultural in the USA, but is not that way in much of the rest of the world.  Even though we often think that a missionary is sent to do  something, and that we are measured by our accomplishments, often it is who we are and how we present ourselves that is more important to the people with whom we live , and maybe to God, also.  Interruptions and intrusions into our lives can be a chance for us to touch another life in a meaningful way, while schedules and projects are not always so.

Now we will pack up our bags and get ready to leave the “big smoke” behind and return to Tansen.  Along with Laura, we are counting days until we get to return to the U.S. for the wedding and to see friends and family!  Much love!



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Healing Places

We moved out of the hospital on Monday afternoon – 2½ days ago – and Les continues to do better.  Our final days in the hospital were good for Les to rest, and we enjoyed visits from friends daily.  Since it has been so hot here in KTM, we were thankful for the air conditioned room in the afternoons.

Our first move out was to a friend’s house only 5 minutes ride by taxi from the hospital.  They were away for a short break, so we had the house to ourselves and just enjoyed the quiet – and not having nurses and cleaning ladies in before 6 am!  The care we got at the hospital was excellent and we are thankful, but it was nice to be in a house again.  We found a bonus for us there – DVDs of Brother Cadfael and Star Trek, The Next Generation!  Things to help pass some time!

Yesterday (Wednesday) morning we arranged for the UMN vehicle to come to drive us across town to another friend’s house.  The vehicle was too big to get back to the house where we were (small roads and tight corners), but it was close enough for us.  Les has been trying to walk out around the neighborhoods several times a day – very slowly!  The trip took a bit over an hour, and in spite of the better vehicle, a/c and good driving, Les was still ready to come into the house and lay down by the end of it.

We are fortunate to be able to stay with our friend Mark Zimmerman – but he leaves on Friday for home assignment.  (His wife and sons are already gone ahead to visit family.)  It is so helpful for us to be able to stay on in their empty place until Les is ready to return to Tansen.

We have a follow-up appointment with the doctor on Sunday, June 24.  If all is well there, we will plan to fly to Bhairawa and then get the hospital vehicle to drive us up the hill to Tansen (about 2 hours).

We continue to be overwhelmed by the love and encouragement we have received from friends near and far.  We are upheld by your prayers and thank you for them.  God has been so good to us – we praise Him for his mercies!


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Phase Two: Enforced Rest

They discharged me from the hospital on Tuesday morning.  By the time all the paperwork and accounting was finished, it was early afternoon.  I was wheeled to the front entrance, helped into a taxi by Debbie and Lisa Rouhouneimi, and started the trip.

It was almost an hour across town in hot bumpy driving to the house of David and Ann McConkey. On one of the bumps, I hit my head on the ceiling slightly, a common occurrence in Nepal.  By the time I got inside, I was feeling a bit more dizzy and nauseous, so I laid down and had a nap.

After supper, I had developed a headache again, so I went back to bed, and spent the night tossing and turning.  By morning, I was in severe pain, and it was apparent that I needed to be back at the hospital, so David got us a taxi for the trip back…30 minutes in the lighter, early morning traffic.

Back in the hospital, they did another CT, which showed no new bleed, and the previous blood dispersing, so I was basically put back to bed with pain medicine.  The doctors all said it had been a little hasty to send me home.

Apparently bed rest at home is good, but getting there through Kathmandu traffic is not!

By Thursday, the headache had mostly subsided, and now we are just waiting.  We feel we have received excellent care, and are grateful for the doctors and staff who have cared for me.  We have internet, but the connection is not so good, especially in the afternoons.

The cable TV has great channels of Bollywood movies and local religious channels, as well as Nepali news, but very poor reception of BBC and other channels of more interest to us.  So, we have been grateful for visits and calls from friends each day

We thank you for your prayers, notes, posts, etc.  Please also pray for the hospital in Tansen as they cope with fewer doctors and other difficulties.

Much love,

Les & Debbie


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Life doesn’t always go according to our plans….

Saturday, June 2 started as many of our Saturdays do – with a bit longer sleep as it isn’t a working day.  However, it is the day we go to church, so we were both up around 6 am.  As I was doing some bible study, Les went out for his usual morning run.

I was skyping with my parents when I heard Les return, but it wasn’t until I finished and went to ask him if he wanted to try skyping his mom that he told me he wasn’t feeling well and asked for a couple of Tylenol.  Les so rarely asks for medicines, that I knew something wasn’t right.  He said that he had been doing the “Tansen challenge” – running up and down the 500 steps (see previous blog) 3 times – and on the second time up his head started to hurt.  He started up slowly the 3rd time, but realized he really wasn’t well, so he walked back home.  He drank some water and ate some bread, but was breaking out in a cold sweat and starting to feel nauseated.  He laid down for awhile and then sat in a chair on the porch where I found him looking not well at all.  He took the Tylenol a bit before 8 am and when he tried to change clothes and move back to the bed about 20 minutes after that, he started throwing up.

I phoned to Dr. Rachel Karrach (a friend and colleague from our previous time in Tansen) and she came right over to see Les.  She thought that he needed to get a CT scan, so she phoned to another doctor who works down at the new medical college located at Parbas (about 20 minutes drive down the hill from Tansen) who sorted out the people there so they were ready for us.  We got a taxi down and poor Les was sick most of the way.  They put him into the CT scanner and I watched as the technician did the scan and announced, “Bleed Bhayo”. (There has been a bleed).

They put Les into a bed in the hospital and Rachel phoned to Drs. Niranjan and Savana Sharma who came right down and helped so much by making phone calls and organizing some pain meds for Les as his head was hurting quite badly.  They all stayed with Les while I went back to our house in the taxi in order to pack some bags.

I tried to pack so that if we had to go right to the U.S. I would have everything with me.  It was hard as our place in Tansen after 3 months was really starting to feel like home – but being frightened about possibly losing Les, all the “things” were suddenly much less significant!  While I was packing, Rachel and Niranjan were sorting out things like helicopters and hospitals in KTM.

I got another taxi to the Tundikhel (a large, flat area in Tansen) and went there where I was soon joined by about half of the Hebron church who had just let out and were not far from the helicopter landing area.  Many people were praying and it was moving for me to have all their support.

The helicopter arrived in Tansen at 1 and Les had come up in the hospital vehicle and was loaded in – Rachel and I were on each end of the bench seat in the helicopter, and Les had his head on my lap and Rachel was holding (or being held down by) his legs.  I wish I could have enjoyed the ride more – it was amazing to ride over the hills of Nepal and to look down on the roads, paths, houses, rivers, etc – many of which I could recognize from our travels in buses.

We landed in the field next to the Kathmandu Neurological Hospital just before 2.  The staff whisked Les off to the ER and soon decided that an MRI would be needed.  Thank goodness for visa cards!  (Actually, the cost of the MRI was very affordable here….)  I was so comforted to have David and Anne McConkey, Olak and Jasmine Jirel, and Mark Zimmerman (friends of ours here in KTM) all come to the hospital to help and pray and wait with us.

After some discussion about whether or not Les could get the MRI due to his gold filling (they were concerned about metal in the MRI machine), he did get the scan done.  The doctor, a very highly respected neurosurgeon, came in and took time to explain the results to us.  Les had an angiogram negative subarachnoid hemorrhage.  Fortunately, it was a small bleed, and there were no aneurisms to be seen.  The doctor told us that they wanted to keep Les in ICU over night and in the hospital for 3 or 4 more days.  Then he wanted him to stay in KTM for at least 3 weeks while he is on medicine to help prevent side effects from the bleeding.

Les looked much better when we were allowed into the ICU to see him.  (We had to remove our shoes and put on pink crocs and a pink apron before being let in to see him! – and only one at a time)  I’m sure by the end of 3 weeks, he will be so bored and ready to be doing things again – but we will see how things go.

Sunday morning, Rachel Karrach and I headed back to the hospital for morning visiting hours (7:30 am) and found Les eating some breakfast.  The neurosurgeon did a transcranial Doppler of the cerebral arteries and thought everything looked fine, so Les was moved into a “cabin” (read private room) in the hospital.  I have a narrow bench (rather hard) in the room with Les and we have a basic toilet/shower and a small room with a sink but nothing else.  Friends here in KTM again came to the rescue – providing me with pillows, sheets, and a pad to make the bench more comfortable, a kettle for boiling water, tea, mugs, utensils, etc.  I can walk out to the road and buy fruit – read mangoes – (which I am soaking in a bucket in iodine) and other food items.  There is also a hospital canteen.

Les is doing better, eating a little bit, but still has poor appetite.  His neck hurts and is quite stiff, but I guess that is normal.  The doctor has just told us that he will discharge Les from the hospital tomorrow (Tuesday) but that he has to do NOTHING (except rest) for 3 weeks. We will stay with friends here in KTM during the coming weeks.

Thanks for keeping Les in your prayers for his continued healing – and for me as I try to figure out how to try to take care of Les and encourage him and not worry about things left undone in Tansen.

This is not the blog I had intended to post next!  Even though I don’t understand, I am holding on and trusting in a God I am convinced loves us and has a plan.


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