Sunday, August 20, 2006

I had planned to do an update on Dixon for some time now, but then there was Adjuah, and then there was other stuff, and then I fell a little sick. I’m feeling much better now – better than before the sickness in some ways. I’d been healthy for a long time, and it’s easy to forget how it is to be sick here. I think a lot of the people I work with and see every day are frequently getting by at some level of sickness. A little malaria here, a little typhoid there, some stomach or intestinal parasite, plain old tiredness due to any number of factors contributing to poor quality sleep – the list could go on. So it’s a good reminder of what so many people go through regularly – granted, I accompany people through it regularly – going to hospitals and pharmacies with/for them – but I’m not usually sick (although being healthy/not-sick doesn't make it a pleasant experience). It’s easier to wait in crowded waiting rooms, sometimes with only the wall to hold you up, when you’re feeling fine. It’s a different story when you’re less than fine and waiting three hours to get your blood drawn so the doctor can determine what’s up (and that’s 3 hours just for the lab, it doesn’t include the hours waiting to register so you can then wait hours to see the doctor before being sent to the lab, and then the time waiting after the lab to give the doctor the lab results, and then the time waiting at the pharmacy for whatever drugs are prescribed, and then the time waiting to pay the bill –all while feeling you’re in another world and wishing you really were in another world. Fortunately, I only needed to wait the three hours for the lab – I knew the doctor and he knows the work I’m doing, so he didn’t have me wait to see him or do the rest.) And for me, I can take 2 ½ days just to sleep and wallow in my misery. I can get the medicine. I can get fresh fruits and vegetables and other food to help me get my strength back afterwards. And when it’s over I can feel more than 100% and even grateful for being reminded how good it is to feel fully healthy. I live in luxury here – I can see sickness as an experience for me – even as an experience I can be grateful for – how ridiculous is that? (As I’m wallowing for those 2 ½ days I’m not necessarily grateful, though.)

Dixon on the way home from the hospital,
enjoying some chicken his hospital roommate gave
him for the ride home.

Anyway – Dixon. On 24 August he’ll be going back to the hospital for his one month review. It’s great to see him. He’s so happy with the results of his surgery. He still has pain. He still has some limited mobility while recovering, but he feels the difference within. Fortunately, through an organization in Holland (Liliane Fonds) and through other donations (a significant portion from the congregation of an aunt, who’s a Maryknoll missionary in the Marshall Islands, that decided to donate this past Lent’s offering to help Dixon) he not only was able to receive his spinal surgery, but he’ll also begin attending computer hardware and repair school tomorrow (Monday, 21 August). He should be completing the full course about the same time that his recovery from surgery is completing and he’ll be returning to Liberia.

While Dixon was in the hospital, the roof on the house in which he was staying collapsed. There was even enough money to have the roof repaired. (A man I know, Sackor, who has a significant hearing impairment, is also a mason. I went with him to have his hearing assessed, and afterwards the audiologist gave him a hearing aid to use while the results of his assessment were explained to him. The look on his face when the hearing aid was turned on is one of those things that make being here so worthwhile. Sheer joy, amazement and disbelief does not come close to even adequately describing it. One of his questions was – “you mean, if I have one of these then when I’m in bed with my wife at night she won’t need to shout in my ear to talk with me?” He just wants some intimate moments to actually be intimate – and not to be shared with all their neighbors. Anyway – Sackor volunteered his time and skills to help fix Dixon’s house.

Sackor begins repairs to the roof Dixon's house Now, he’s rebuilding a collapsing wall on the house of this sweet little girl, Princess, who has cerebral palsy – also with no charge for workmanship. We’re hoping to come up with the money for his hearing aids, and he is doing the work as an advance payment - in exchange for the hearing aids we believe will come. Faith – that’s what we operate on. Back to Dixon . . .) So, the workmanship was donated, and some of the roofing sheets and wood were salvageable, and Sackor was able to keep the rest of the costs for replacement supplies as low as possible.

Dixon,inside his roofless kitchen

Another side-note – speaking of operating on Faith – that’s how Dixon came about, too. The doctor quoted the amount for his surgery, and we went ahead and scheduled it some months down the road. We had no idea where to get the money from, but we just moved ahead. Several weeks before the surgery, Liliane Fond approved about half the cost of the surgery. We continued to move ahead. Then days, literally days, before the scheduled surgery (the first time for which it was scheduled) I heard from my aunt, telling me about the donation her congregation was able to make. Crazy how that works. We’ll do the same with Sackor – I have enough for one hearing aid now – we’ll go ahead and order them, I think. And we’ll just go on Faith that by the time the pair arrives we’ll have the other half. It’ll work out.


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