Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Now that we've heard from Jessica, you should know her boyfriend Ryan is blogging his experience in Uganda.  If anyone has a beautiful mind it's Ryan, so the fact that he's sharing his thoughts during his time there is something not to be missed.  You can find him here: psalmseventy-three, and he's already posted a few times, so hurry and catch up.

First day

Hello family, I am alive and well!  I arrived here in Uganda yesterday morning (in the middle of the night your time) and have been going ever since.  whoa, where do i begin trying to describe where i am living right now and seeing.  I was picked up by Bruhan the director of the TASAAGA from the airport right on time with no problems (that felt good to have someone waiting for me).  It was kind of frantic and i just said a quick goodbye to ryan...that was strange. 
I am staying right now in a suburb of kampala (the capital city) called kawepe.  it is rural (not the bush or anything), but a believe a typical "small town" here that is very poor.  The people have been wonderful to me and I know I will enjoy them.  While english is their national language everyone speaks Lugandan to each other, but most everyone can also speak english.  There are also two other volunteers here working in a youth center that is for kids that are not in school (for many different reasons but mostly because cannot pay school fees) and trying to give them a community and different activities to work with.  It is really cool and I believe I will be doing some work with them.  Just to give you an idea, they have sport programs where the kids train everyday and play against other teams in the area.  They also have drama and dance groups and teach skills that will hopefully allow them to be able to make a profession one day.  It is important for these kids to be involved because non of them can get a job without an education and if not busy will start to become destructive.  It is good community, yet seems a little chaotic as it is run by ugandans.  The volunteers that are here are great.  The are two girls one from california and the other from switzerland and a third guy from UK who is building a school in another village right now.  I thought tasaage had more western volunteers but when bruhan was telling me how many volunteers they had he was including ugandan volunteers.  It is nice to have the two girls here to help orientate myself.  I have no idea really what i will exactly be doing yet, but think i will have an idea before the "orientation week" is over. 
So, it is hard being here.  Where i am living is pretty much a concrete room alone with only a bed (with my mosquito net of course).  My toilet (hole in the ground) is like an out house and my "shower" (place with a drain) is outside as well.  I have to fetch my water from the rain water that is filtered and literally you use a bucket to clean yourself....it is fine but is going to take getting used to definitely.  The adjustment is a struggle, but I am feeling confident that I will be used to this in a couple of weeks.  worst part of the accommodations honesty is that there was a roach in my bed last night and in the bathroom.  crazy.  I know the first couple of days will be the hardest and am keeping that attitude to trudge through right now.
I am in kampala using the Internet and it isn't expensive to take a taxi into the city (taxis are like small buses here).  I think i am going to be seeing ryan soon, but he is doing well.  It is also going to be a hard but good adjustment for him.  oh, i have a cell phone!  ryan and i have already talked.  So it doesn't cost anything for me to receive calls and I hear that skype has great rates.  
I suppose that is it for now, but know that I am thinking of you all.  Love you and miss you!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sans Tonsils

So, I did the deed today, 11 years after ENT Dr. Angus Phelts
suggested I do it. Post Abscess #1 he explained there was a 30%
chance I would get another one. Traumatized enough by needles in the
throat and my first surgery (when said needles failed to open said
abscess), I heard "there's a 70% chance you won't get another abscess."

Flash forward to a month ago (you Losties in the crowd feel me on that
line don't you!) and the telltale symptom began to manifest: throat
pain that makes you realize how many times a day you swallow, and
therefore how many times a day you would need to spit. I knew I would
face the horse needle in the throat again, it was only a matter of
when I would be trudging to the ER to man up and do it. Sure enough
when the time came my female ER physician brought with her a gaggle of
female nursing and medical students to watch, and I certainly hope
they were aghast at what they saw, and awestruck by my male toughness
at getting through it (only one tear fell, okay maybe two). With some
relief from the needle, a consult to an ENT, and a prescription for
antibiotics in tow, I made my way home from the site of my child's
birth, which made me ridiculously grateful the whole dreadful time I
was there ironically.

A few days later I'm in a patient's room waiting to meet Dr. Keith
Jackson who upon his arrival was of course asked the aforementioned
percentage query. His response: after Abscess #2, chance of Abscess
#3 becomes 90% (how badly did I want to respond "Whoa
Nelly"......badly, but I refrained). So there was really no decision
to be made, and the surgery was set, and more antibiotics were
prescribed for when I finished the first course curiously? It soon
became apparent that the abscess wasn't completely gone, and in fact I
was informed post op today by Dr. Jackson that I had them on both
sides of my throat pre-surgery (and this after 3 courses of
antibiotics folks)!

The surgery went well after I had some brief panic about the fact that
I would be getting narcotics post op. The anesthesiologist assured me
this was standard operating procedure even for people with addiction
problems, but I called Christie just so it wouldn't eat at me until I
went under, and she basically held my hand through the phone and put
me at ease. It later made me realize how my sobriety is not just
important to me, it's utterly precious, as precious as my own child,
and I had to fight back tears of gratitude so I wouldn't have to
explain to my nurse what my deal was.

Post op in the recovery room I was big time nauseous, and they did
indeed squirt some nebulous narcotic juice in my mouth before I even
had time to ponder it. Shortly thereafter in walk Stacy and Hollis
Bone, who then preceded to entertain the nurses taking care of me. As
one of the nurses was explaining my future of having difficulty
swallowing, Hollis chimed in and recounted how he had once swallowed
his missing tooth. Seriously, out of nowhere this came, so we all
need to be careful what we say around him now because the search
feature within the little database in his mind is getting much faster
these days.

The ride home was tough and I did vomit, but once I made it to my bed
and slept it off, I was decent. In fact right now I can honestly say
the pain doesn't compare to the pain of having the abscess, but
weirdly I'm just as randomly irritable as I was when after I had my
first surgery.......not that any of you are suprised by that. Right
now I'm vertical, eating bread, and drinking a melted but marvelous
vanilla Chick-fil-A milkshake, and I can't complain. In fact, this
blog post was about doing precisely the opposite, and is there a word
that captures being grateful that your grateful?!