Monday, January 25, 2010

We Have Been to the Edge

Today is January 21st and we’re together in a bush hospital near the village of Adefa, Togo…where Mark has been the patient this week. We certainly never imagined that most of this New Year to date would be spent with Mark being sick.

He began to not feel well on January 4th and on January 8th Mark's illness 1-09 009a blood test revealed strong malaria and by then he was very sick. He took two “cures” but still wasn’t feeling good again. We saw a Togolese doctor who did another blood test, which showed him to be malaria free but it revealed a very high level of infection in his body. The infection seemed to be in the lymph nodes in his neck and was contained in a golf ball size lump. He took the prescribed antibiotic for a week but the doctor was baffled because the lump had grown into a softball size lump by then. Mark was becoming sicker each day and was experiencing severe pain.

We heard about the Tsiko Hospital, located about three hours northwest of Lomé, and that there were several American missionary doctors serving there. After making contact, we were told to get Mark there immediately. So, on January 19th he was admitted and an immediate surgical procedure was performed to begin draining the abscess. We are very thankful for Dr. Dave, the surgeon who gives much of his time to serve the sick and dying people of Togo!

Mark's illness 1-09 015Mark is recovering but has been very ill in the process. Because of lack of medical equipment, there is no way to determine exactly why or where the infection began. Most likely, lymph nodes in the neck or a salivary gland became infected and an acute, bacterial infection developed. Having malaria in the process made it impossible for his body to fight it and it became an emergency. While in the hospital, he experienced a severe septic attack where the bacteria entered the blood stream and sent his body into convulsions…quite a scary experience. He has received mega-doses of antibiotics through an IV and the incision on his neck continues to drain the infection.

Through the experiences of the past three weeks, we’ve most certainly felt the prayers of countless friends and we are so thankful for a bush hospital in the middle of Togo with wonderful Christian doctors who have given up their practices in America to come and care for the neediest people one can imagine. This week, Mark has been very needy too, and we thank God for His mercy and His great compassion for all His children.

We’ve smiled through our time here this week and have compiled a few thoughts to describe our stay:

  • You Know You’re In An African Bush Hospital When:
  • You have to bring your own food and water
  • You have to bring your own blanket, pillow, TP, towel and soap
  • The roads are so bad it takes 1 hour to go 15 miles
  • People come to see the white folks sharing their hospital
  • Etc.

It is now Monday, January 25, 2010. Vickie has shared with you some of our early thoughts and feelings. We are now in our home in Lomé and I am recuperating and feeling much better. Just as we were saying our “good-byes” to the doctors they told us that they have had several people who have died from the same problem I had. When I arrived on Tuesday my air passage was beginning to close and if I had waited a day longer I would have had a real emergency. I am glad they waited until I was leaving to let me know this. We now know that I was in a much more serious situation than we thought.

My nurse Vickie will remove the drain from my neck in a couple of days and I am now resting and gaining my strength back. Vickie as been amazing as she has nursed me and taken charge and done everything that needed to be done.

Being “down” for the month of January has taught me that my priorities and plans are not really that important. We had to cancel speaking engagements and water well research trips, but it gave me time to pray and see things a bit differently. I feel God has given us new vision for His ministry.

I CAN NEVER THANK YOU ALL ENOUGH FOR YOUR PRAYERS! We have received hundreds of notes of love and concern from people and churches all over the world telling us of your love and prayers. We truly believe that the prayers of God’s people everywhere have made the difference in saving my life and giving Vickie and I the strength we needed. God Bless you all.

Mark's illness 1-09 022 By the way, on one of my better days I took the opportunity to make a few balloon animals. Then I took my IV stand and shuffled off to the Pediatric ward to share the m with the children. That was fun.

Again, Thanks to you all. We have been to the edge and now we are climbing again.

Your Servants,

Mark and Vickie