Crap. Why am I crying all the time in this country?
My son spiked a fever of 101.9 yesterday. Five weeks of fevers. So far he’s received five days of IV quinine, seven days of oral quinine, two weeks of primaquine, three days of malarone, seven days of artemether, one dose of fansidar, one dose of mefloquine, a week of bactrim, a week of amoxicillin and a week of azithromycin.
It’s now officially unlikely to be malaria, typhoid, urine infection, pulmonary infection... well, it’s unlikely to be any normal infection at all. Or even any abnormal one.
We’re left with leishmaniasis, brucellosis, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, mononucleosis, mycotic infections, other parasites and even rarer things. None of this is likely. But I’m praying for one of these infections.
Because the alternative is either debilitating autoimmune disease or else cancer. Leukemia just fits so well.
Fevers with no obvious source. Weight loss. It’s all there. And I remembered last night that on one of his first peripheral blood smears, the lab guy wrote leuk+++. Lots of leukocytes. Leukemia.
Please God, no.
We decided last night to get Danae and Zane home. They don’t yet have their tickets. In fact, they don’t even have their passports yet. All our passports are in N’Djamena, waiting for the association to renew our expired visas. Hopefully she will pick up the passports this morning and bribe her way out of the country on expired visas later on today. If all goes well, Danae and Zane will arrive in Washington, DC Sabbath or Sunday. Zane will then be seen Monday.
(Can anybody get me in with the Washington, DC pediatric version of House Monday morning?)
We packed until 2am. We woke up at 4am. I carried my nine-month-old, the most precious and beautiful nine-month-old in the world out to Augustin’s car. And I held him. And I cried. And I kissed him. And I cried. I could not give him up.
Have you ever sent your nine-month-old thousands of miles away, continents away, for an unknown diagnosis and an unknown treatment. A potentially lethal diagnosis. I can’t stop crying. And I don’t feel like I ever will.
This place is too much. This place is too hard. This place breaks your heart. I can’t stop crying. My precious son.
I still can’t believe I just sent away two of the three most dear people in this world. Two-thirds of all I care about in life just drove off, leaving me standing beside the car, unsure of what state I will find them in the next time we meet. Will I see him next in perfect health? In a hospital bed in America, tied up to an IV and looking worse? Will I see him next in Heaven? I don’t know. I only know that I’ll never see him the same again. It will either be better or... not better. And I’ll see him through different eyes. I promise to never take him for granted.
I hate this. I hate all these tears. I don’t like sobbing. This should not be necessary.
Why didn’t anybody tell me about all this? Where were these missionary stories while I was growing up? Where did this fit into all the books about third-world family vacations, about baptisms, about... about everything that I’m not experiencing here. Nobody wanted to publish those books, did they? I suppose nobody wanted to read those books either.
I just can’t take this uncertainty. I’m not strong enough. I don’t want to be strong enough. It’s the not knowing that kills me. I’d trade anything just to not need to deal with the uncertainty anymore. The lack of a clear diagnosis. No. I take that back. I’d trade anything to have my son back in my arms and healthy again. I’d trade everything I own. Everything I could ever own. I’d trade my work. I’d trade my education. I’d trade my position. I’d trade my experience. God, I’d trade my life.
Next Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of losing the son I wanted to adopt. God, please don’t take this one too. We even named him Zane, because we couldn’t bring ourselves to name him Zeke. Similar, but not the same. Different ending, we hoped. God, don’t make their ending similar. Give Zane another 100 years. Just make him outlive me. After Zeke died, we made a deal. I’m the next person from this family to go. You need to hold up Your end of this deal.
Danae is now on her way to N’Djamena with Zane.
I was so strong last night for Danae. Now who will be my strength? I will go on. I will be the good missionary soldier. I will stay at my post and await further instructions. I will treat kids with malaria and watch them get better, just as I expected my son would.
I’m lying in bed, having slept two hours and unable to sleep any more. It’s just starting to get light out. My three-year-old is a room away. I’m sick to my stomach. My vision is blurry, my nose is running, my lips taste like salt and there are pools in my ears.
I’ve never been more alone in my life.
If this is not rock-bottom, I don’t want to know it.