Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hair-doing, pythons, and God's provision....

It's somewhat early on a Thursday morning... early for it being a day off.  And yet, I am pretty wide awake.  It has been a long time since I have brought personal words to the keyboard and for that I apologize.  SO much has happened.  Just as I know so much as happened in the world and undoubtably for each set of eyes that come across this page.  It's been a mixture of goodness, hardness, and growthness... if that ever were a word.  Things seem to be shaking in this world.  So much to trust our God with.  Speaking of shaking... I was convinced that I had slept through an earthquake yesterday morning.  Now before you score me a drama point, let me explain.  I unlocked the main door just fine... no hint of a problem. My goal was to grab the clothes off the line before I headed to Kampala.  Getting the clothes was fine.... re-locking the door was not.  I could turn the latch, but I could NOT lock that door.  Eesh!  Mr. Ssettuba, the man who often drives us into Kampala, along with someone else, was able to apply the right pressure so that the door could be locked.  And once it was locked, we hopped in the vehicle and hurried off to Kampala.  And so here I sit. Ready for this day.  It's going to be full.  Been fighting some fevers.... going to get some blood drawn.  Been fighting not having communication with the world since my phone was stolen... going to go and rectify that situation.  And thanks to many, many very generous donations, I am God-willing going to be driving home a vehicle today that the Lord has provided.  It's a surreal sorta day and I find myself speechless at HIS provision.  Provision here and Provision back in the States.  Last Wednesday I received an email from my tenant.  He informed me that he had received a new job and was moving out.  And move out he did!  He was out of the house within a matter of 3 days! The house was left with a LOT of work to do.  Contrary to my wiring, I had a crazy level of peace.  An underlying sense of peace that it would work out.  My personality is to things myself, but being thousands of miles away with minimal warning left me in a position of watching and trusting.  And it has been an amazing thing to watch.  God has been bringing friends and family together.  A small army of people are coming together to work on that house.  And again I am speechless.  Absolutely speechless.  It is amazing to see how God is not only taking care of the details, but flooding me with HIS peace.  If you live in the Chicago area and are free, people will be working on the place at different times in the next couple of weeks.  Other good news is that house prices are increasing... it is very plausible that I can sell this house in the next year or so! Holla Holla! 
And in other news, the kids have been off of school for the last several weeks.  Their days have been full of resting, work in the garden, and time to be with others! The girls came over for a movie, pizza making, for a few of them, hair-doing.  It was so fun to sit and watch Parent Trap, braid hair, and make pizza together.  These young ladies are priceless and it is a joy to know them.  Looking forward to however many years God has for us to know each other.  

Another memorable event  from this break has been an opportunity to do community teaching.  On a Friday afternoon, my friend Wesley and I hopped into a vehicle and journeyed out into the bush.  We met up with the child care extension team and a group of mostly women who had gathered together.  Initially, they were quiet and reserved.  As we spent time talking and as I pulled out my Luganda, things warmed up.  We laughed together, learned together (I learned the word for fungal infection "lummu") and spent time talking about bacterial infections, viral infections, and malaria).  They were a lovely group of ladies (and one man) and I look forward to the next opportunity to teach. 

And those are a few of the highlights of the last few weeks.  It continues to be a season of stretching and growth.... times of laughter... and times of growing.  Though it has been a FULL season, I continue to be thankful that God has brought me here.... and that for this season (and for however long), I get to call this place home.  It is a beautiful place.... full of sweet relationships, growth, and laughter.... and going on a hunt for a spotted Python snake.... ( c : By God's grace it wasn't seen again.... which was to our benefit considering all we had was a stick.  That works for smaller snakes, but for a LARGE python... it doesn't do much... from what I have heard.  

Thank you to each and everyone of you are journeying along with me.  The internet has been such a challenge and with that comes a break in communication.  My apologies for not being able to keep up as much as I would like.  When the next team leaves, I am planning on sending personal letters back.... for many of you.  Love to you all! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Update on Ketty Okoth

An update written by Mary Britton on Ketty Okoth.  Planning on having a personal update sometime in the next few days! 

We’ve just welcomed Aunt Ketty home again. BUT, not from Nairobi!  She has only been away four days in Kampala!

Our hopes for completing her treatment in Kampala have finally materialized into reality!

Just three weeks ago Ketty was able to fly home from her second round of chemo and radiation in Nairobi because a generous, dedicated donor marked the funds specifically for the flight. We had received excellent care and two rounds of chemo and radiation by wonderful nurses and doctors at MP Shah hospital. We were cared for and catered to by a tremendous staff at a Christian guest house in Nairobi, and now we are back HOME receiving exactly what Ketty needs!!!

Just two weeks ago, those of us who are helping to manage Ketty's care met with Ketty and Okoth to discuss the way forward. We had been praying for God to show us which way to pursue and He began immediately to reveal the intricate weaving of his plan. 

Having been home from Nairobi just one week when we all met together, she was already getting stronger each day and was anxious to get chemo started. The Nairobi staff had set her next appointment for September 1st, but she was not comfortable waiting that long for the next phase of her treatment (neither were we).

Ketty shared her heart with us that she truly didn't want to return to Nairobi and be away from her family. We reiterated that such was our first and strongest desire as well. But, where to go in Kampala? Was there even an option open to us? Were there any doctors giving chemo outside of the large government hospital where we had attempted treatment, without success, back in April? Most of us who left that meeting left with some sort of research assignment.

Geoff called upon a friend who now works in Kampala, but had worked for years at Kiwoko hospital. His request was simple, "Can you help us to understand our options for Ketty to receive chemo in-country?"  Shortly after our committee meeting with the Okoth's, in which we had all prayed for an in-country doctor, full of humility and willing to pick up where we left off from Nairobi, our friend called back with the name of an oncologist who administers chemotherapy from the International Hospital in Kampala!

A week ago Friday Geoff, Ketty and I met with Dr. Omoding, a humble, Christian man willing to pick up where we left off in Nairobi. He was gracious and thorough and wanted to start chemo the following week! In addition, his chemo choice is the most up-to-date regimen for esophageal cancer!

Last Monday, in preparation for chemo on Wednesday,  Ketty went in with her daughter and had the necessary blood work and a couple of other helpful pre-therapy tests completed. When we returned on Wednesday, unfortunately the red blood count report showed she was too low to receive chemo and instead she was admitted for a transfusion. Being that we arrived on the ward near shift change, they waited to start until after 9 p.m. After 9 p.m. turned into 1:30 a.m. as, when they hung the blood, Ketty noticed it was not her O+ blood type and asked the nurse to stop. The nurse reran the type and cross match again from the tubes used in the earlier draw and confirmed A+. A third and completely new draw and third type and cross match revealed indeed Ketty is A+. She had been typed O+ a few years ago at another medical clinic in Kampala. Thank the good Lord for the diligence and dedication to accuracy here at the International Hospital!

During our time of waiting for the blood transfusion, I asked her what kind of foods she eats often or likes most. She included liver, ground nuts, eggs, millet porridge with milk, and chicken. When the cafeteria representative arrived and told her the options for meals Ketty smiled when she realized she would be receiving liver for supper, millet and eggs for breakfast, and chicken for lunch! God is the perfect provider! She is strong and eating very well. 

Though a broken radiation machine--currently the only machine in Uganda--was the catalyst for sending us to Nairobi in the first place, our heart’s desire to have her near her family has never waned. Now that the radiation portion of her treatment is completed, we are thankful that God led us to a doctor we didn’t know existed when we started this journey!

Here we are three weeks earlier than the intended start date projected by Nairobi and she’s already receiving a harder hitting and more effective chemo than originally planned!

God's timing and orchestration is beautiful and beyond what we could arrange ourselves.

God is GOOD!

Without the guesthouse accommodation fees and travel costs to and from Nairobi, we will be able to treat Ketty here for much less of a financial investment as far as those two entities are concerned. 

Thank you for standing with her and the entire family in prayer and financial support.

As we move forward in this journey, given the nature of a patient receiving chemo, any fever of 37.5C or above is considered an emergency requiring blood work and a possible jaunt into Kampala. 

Here in are two important prayer requests: that she have no fevers during her treatment and that she will not require hospitalization from this point forward in the treatment cycles! 

Usually, chemo does not require an admittance. It is the need for a blood transfusion this time which required her being admitted. I spoke with the oncologist yesterday and asked if for the following courses of chemo we could check her red blood count from Kiwoko, possibly even receive a transfusion from Kiwoko if necessary, and only travel into Kampala for the chemo administration. He agreed that was possible.

I made such requests of the doctor as we had to jump through quite a few hurdles this week when we found out her hemoglobin was too low for chemotherapy. The admission meant I could not attend to her in the hospital as there was no bed for me to sleep in next to her. It meant two extra nights in a guest house. It also took much longer than I expected for her to receive the two units of blood (more than 24 hours as they split the infusions more than 12 hours apart.) Together we arrived around 6 p.m. to the guest house on Thursday evening after the final blood transfusion ended late enough that the delay ensured we would have to wait until Friday for the chemotherapy infusion.

We arrived bright and early at the hospital Friday morning and found her hemoglobin well above the doctor’s set parameter of 10--she was 13.2!! However, another delay meant she waited from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. before the chemo was actually started. I had left her with Aunt Lucy as I needed to get back home to attend to my own family. She and Lucy arrived back at the guest house just short of 9 p.m. Friday night. All the waiting made for a very long day. 

Me, Ketty and Lucy at IHK on Friday morning

Having her back home in Kasana is a real blessing! Her first follow-up appointment as a part of this first round of treatment will be toward the end of this week.

The projected ending date of her sixth and final chemo treatment is the week before Christmas.

Home for Christmas! Hallelujah!

Blessings, thanks and appreciation to all of you!