Everything was going along swimmingly, until I had a terrible asthma attack. Northern Uganda is dusty and the burning grass didn’t help either. I was scared. Not being able to breath is an awful feeling. I made it through promising myself if I have another attack, I’d leave. I tracked down a nebulizer machine from a pharmacist and did my best to curtail the symptoms. Of corse with no time to slow down- we had babies, babies, babies and a traditional midwife meeting where we did a workshop on third stage and I didn’t want to miss the dance party!
A few evenings later I woke up in the middle of the night fighting to catch my breath. Bummer. With no time to think about it, I was up and at the birth center waiting on a baby. We ended up having to transport the mama postpartum on a motorcycle to the health clinic. So, I hopped on the back holding her in and covered my mouth to lessen the dust and rode away. I ended up doing 4 motorcycle trips back and forth on the dusty rode that day.
This was Friday and I changed my plane ticket for Monday
I made my way through Uganda using public transportation over 10 hours on the road- buses, motorcycles (with my bags!) and taxis. Phew and I felt ok. I could breath and eat and I was relieved. Albeit sad to be leaving 3 weeks early. Of corse I didn’t know I was about to get even sicker- thankfully, I made it back to Michigan before I spent the next 3 weeks in bed with Malaria.
I keep thinking about a trip to Jamaica I took. I had walked to the bay and was perched on a wall about 4 feet high feeling scared to jump. No real reason but I was hesitating. Next thing I knew, a young teenage boy was running towards me and offered a hand. I denied him. Because I was embarrassed and wanting to concur the jump myself. He ran away and I didn’t think much of it because I was too worried thinking about myself and how silly I was being afraid to jump. I did it and went straight for the sea and dove in. The kids dad came up to me and told me I broke his sons heart- he said those words! I broke his heart! He said in his culture when someone offers help, you accept! I was taken a back and felt horrible. I was the coward twice that day- for being afraid of a little wall and being too proud to accept the sweet help of a teenage boy. I did walk up to him, and looked him in the eye and said “I am so sorry I didn’t take your hand, it was because I was embarrassed for being scared so instead I made you feel bad. I am really sorry and I hope it doesn’t stop you from offering help to the next person that needs it. ” I feel like the memory of him beaming towards me with his out reached hand and then devastated running back to his family will be with me forever.
God, I hope I never do that again! And I hope you don’t either. It’s really a gift to help each other. And be helped. If I learned anything from malaria it’s we need help sometimes. I need help, maybe a lot. I hope if someone asks for help, you do it! I hope I do it! I hope If someone calls and asks for a ride from the airport you go. Even if it’s inconvenient- I truly believe some of the most magic moments are when life takes us off corse and out of our comfort zone and even when life inconveniences us.
I’m in Traverse City for the next few months, recouping amongst the big trees and beautiful lake. I’m writing and walking in the woods. I’m going to home births and working with a sweet midwife. Uganda was so good to me, despite the malaria and I feel lucky to have landed back in one of the most beautiful spots in the country.
Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!
And I’m sure more stories will continue to emerge.