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!