We have been so blessed to have lived in Kenya over 2 years without sickness being an issue. That was until the middle of July this year. My (Erin) belly had been hurting a good part of the summer, and to be fair Keith’s belly had also had a little bit of an issue. We both followed the stomach issues with a dose of Cipro for traveler’s diarrhea, twice. That may be too much information, but it is a common occurrence here. The food from the guest houses we stay in, while teams are here, can agitate your belly. I thought that I was over the hump as the last team arrived, my mother in tow. Mothers make everything better, especially my mother. We headed off to Mbita and the Suba Islands. This was on Sunday July 17th. However, by Sunday night, it was evident that my insides were fighting against something with a vengeance. As luck would have it, we were staying on the campus of an international pest research facility, that is equipped with a good clinic and lab. So on Monday I walked down the road to the clinic to see if they could investigate what war was waging on my insides. They tested my stool and said that I had worms and two amoebas living in my belly. Yikes… Gross… Yikes. Are you sure? Yikes. They stated that it was pretty severe, and prescribed some medicine to kill both things. Yeah! Relief. I thought to myself, “Soon, I can eat again.” I had begun to fast each day, not to draw me nearer to God but to avoid the toilet. The fasting would end, and I could enjoy the delicious snacks that our teams left behind. So, down went the first dose of medicine. I was uncomfortable as I went to sleep that night, but thought it was just the medicine doing a number on my belly.
The next morning, I awoke with severe Gastrointestinal distress and vomiting. I asked my mom to just hook me up to an IV, since she is a nurse, as we have them on hand for team members in case of sickness. She proceeded to tell me that “I was going to die if I did not go back to Kisumu.” Maybe a little dramatic, just a little. However, I did feel really bad at this point, so Keith decided that it was best to bring me back to Kisumu. My husband had been an incredible leader, working with teams tirelessly over the summer. Now, I was adding major illness to his plate, while a team was still in country ministering in a place we had looked forward to all summer. This trip was to visit two places that were the least reached and darkest areas that the teams. To make matters worse, Joy, a nurse who had just moved to Kenya with her family, had contracted malaria and wanted to go back to their home near Kisumu as well. We packed up the Prado (the SUV that we own) and headed back. Upon reaching Kisumu, we dropped Cooper off at our house to stay with the sweet Kenyan, Risper, who helps us with him each week. Then off we went to the hospital. I want to pause here and say that when we said our vows, we said in sickness and in health. This is the sickest I have ever been at any point in my life. Keith cared for me so well. He fixed liters and liters of Gatorade over the duration of the hospital stay. He attended to me and cared for me so well. He hurried the doctors and nurses along when they were being less than timely. My husband was my advocate and my champion.
Back to the hospital… we walk in to the ER after parking. I am pretty exhausted and weak at this point. I immediately proclaim that I need fluids. It is unusual to have a white person in the hospital seeking emergent care. Life in Kenya does not move at a break neck pace like the US. Therefore, emergency treatment does not move very quickly either. It took 30 minutes and 3 iv kits later and fluids had started. My electrolytes and system were not in sync with one another. I was experiencing muscle cramping in my hands and my feet, tremors, and I was in and out of consciousness. My blood pressure was low and my heart rate lower. Scary stuff… I am sure scarier for Keith who was watching me on the hospital bed. The doctor came in and stated they wanted to admit me to the hospital. Of course, we agreed. Anything to make me better. Anything!!!….
In Kenya, even in the private hospital where we were seeking treatment, there are only three private rooms. By the hand of God, we secured the third and final private room. We move upstairs and wait for the doctor to come. The doctor did not come in until later that afternoon. By this time, multiple tests had been run with no results pointing to what was wrong. To make matters worse, they said that there was no presence of worms or amoebas in my belly… What? I just had it tested the day prior, and they said their presence were high. Is this real life? What do we do now? I am still sick. Fluids are running, 7 bags in the first day alone. They start liquid antibiotics just in case. They give me more medicine for the amoebas even though they do not see them. The nausea is still intense. So they do a direct iv injection of nausea medicine into my arm. (Direct, as in it burns like the dickens….). Now my arm hurts so bad, I do not notice the nausea. That night I am still sick throughout the night. We had to leave Cooper at home with Risper, to care for him, while Keith cared for me overnight. The next morning, sicker. No answers. At this point, we had let our families know of the situation, but had not reached out to anyone else to pray for us. The second night my mom had arrived via a private car at the conclusion of the medical clinic in Mbita. Bad night again. More tests, more liquid antibiotics, and still dehydrated. Cannot keep anything down. The following morning, they decide that even though there are no answers as to why I am sick, that they would stop the diarrhea. Now we are getting somewhere. I am behind that decision. If they can stop the diarrhea, and I can keep fluids down, I can go home. I just want to go home.
The third night did not go much better. I now had blood in my stool. That is not good. That is not good at all. I hit an all-time low. I would need to be moved to Nairobi to seek better care to find out what was going on inside my belly and intestines. No..no… I am not going to Nairobi; I want to see my baby; I am not going. I knew that I could not go home without healing, and I do mean the supernatural healing power of the Lord. My mom tried to console me by telling me maybe we will not have to go. She knew good and well that we would have to go if it is still there by morning. So I had a lightbulb moment. What is the best way to collaboratively get people to pray? Social media. I usually do not like to reach out to social media. I can feel like a bother. Those people in Africa need prayer again?!?! I was so desperate. It was like 10 or 11 o’clock at night. So I created a post. I communicated my plight, and I prayed. I begged the Lord to heal me, to give me deliverance from the issue going on inside my body. My phone began to light up. People liked the post, people were praying, people were commenting. Every single comment and like encouraged me. Emails followed and personal messages. There truly were prayers lifted up around the world for me overnight last Thursday. Then Friday came. I did not want to use the bathroom for fear of what I might see. But, when nature calls…. The blood had dried in my stool! It was not active bleeding. That was enough to allow me to go home! Praise the Lord. After a three hour discharge process, I was free from the hospital and the IV that I had a love hate relationship with for the past four days.
I returned home and saw my sweet baby. I sat on my couch and soaked it all in. Little by little I have been recovering each day. We have had several setbacks along the way, but today is my best day yet. It is nothing that I did. It is through the intercession of believers praying on my behalf and the Lord’s faithfulness to answer those prayers. That is the ONLY way I am well. The Power of Prayer and the Great Physician. I do not type these words flippantly. I honestly believe this. Do you? Is there a situation in your life where you need prayer, where you need the power of the Holy Spirit to heal you physically, emotionally, or spiritually? If so, reach out to someone, a group of believers, and have them pray for you. The power of Prayer is serious, it is alive. Prisicilla Shirer lists it as the seventh weapon in the Armor of God. Put it on today. Use it. It is POWERFUL!
Ephesians 6:18-19 “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for the saints, and pray….”