This past week I have been sick. Really sick. And let me tell you something, being sick sucks. No matter where you are.
But being sick is even worse when you are in another country, especially a country that speaks another language. At least for me.
I didn’t know how the medical system works, where to go, what to do. My brain was barely functioning in English, let alone in Spanish trying to answer questions about how I felt. I really just wanted to curl up in my bed in Edmonds with my kitty, and I wanted my mom (and no I am not ashamed to admit that!). It was a recipe ripe for disaster and misery.
But strangely enough that’s not how everything happened. Rather it was an opportunity for my community here to really absorb me and shower me with love and affection. Let me show you what I mean.
Sunday morning I woke up and I was in bad shape. I had barely slept all night with a horrible fever and a throat that was starting to hurt. It was all I could do to get out of bed and stumble into the other room to tell my friends that I wouldn’t be going to church with them. I stumbled back to bed and when I woke back up Pastor Octavio was there to check on me and had brought with him a doctor who is a member of the church. She was able to examine and diagnose me right there in my room! (I have a bacterial throat infection that is in the same disease family as mononucleosis) She gave me her cell number and told me to call whenever I need anything and that she would be back with medicine with me.
I spent the day in my room, feeling crappy. But every hour or so one of my friends would come in and check on me unless I was sleeping. I was miserable, but a manageable miserable. But as the evening went on my fever was getting higher and higher. We couldn’t get a hold of the doctor or Octavio (their phones were dead). My friends were really concerned about me and decided that the best option was to go to the ER. So we went, and when I say we I mean we. Everyone who was around that night accompanied me to the ER so that I wouldn’t have to go alone. So instead of just me, there were five of us sitting and waiting. We got the diagnosis and some drugs and headed back home.
But the love didn’t stop there. One girl offered to let me sleep in an empty bed in her room so I could just poke her if I needed something. Another friend offered to, and did, sleep in the tv room right next to my room so I could bang on the wall in the night if I needed anything. It continued like this all week. The doctor came to check on me almost every day, and brought more medicine and home cooked meals with her. My friends were constantly coming in to check on me, and worrying about what I would eat when they weren’t around to cook something for me. When an older couple from the church found out I was sick they stopped by with cake, and the first words out of her mouth after “how are you feeling” were “why didn’t you call me?”
It was such an outpouring of blessings, that at times it was almost overwhelming. And as hard as it was at times, in some ways it was almost better then in the US. When I am in the US I don’t have a doctor that I can call any hour of the day to come and visit me at my house. I wouldn’t have had this many people who would have wanted to go to the hospital with me.
I was shown in so many ways that I am an important part of this community, one that is deeply cared for. My being sick allowed them to show me this in ways that might have been difficult or taken longer in “normal” life. Maybe being sick was a blessing in disguise because of the way it allowed me to be loved by my community. Would I want to go through it again, no (fingers crossed!). But was it worth it, yes!
Towards the end of the week when I was doing more than just sleeping and watching tv a couple of the girls were joking around with me saying, “You aren’t sick anymore, you just don’t want to go to work do you.” I was arguing back saying that I am still sick even though I look a lot better. One of them looked right at me and said, “You can’t lie to us, we’re family.”
“You can’t lie to us, we’re family.”