Trauma. It hits when you least expect it. Triggers surface without warning. Sometimes it’s even a repeat of similar circumstances. It’s been almost eight years ago now since my husband and I went through the trauma of medical care in Africa which ripped open my soul. If you haven’t read my story, you can read it HERE. Sometimes it is hard to believe the reality of the past.
Now I find myself sitting here in South Africa once more as I type, my husband life-flighted from Uganda because of heart problems once more. His heart back in rhythm now, we are waiting for another surgery. But this experience has been so different than the one just eight years ago now. Instead of increased and ever present trauma, we have only relived it with past fears and been given great care each step of the way. We are grateful.
When his heart went out of rhythm over a week ago now, extreme nerves instantly flew within. It took everything in me to hold back the fears of the previous experience. Focus. Think. What is the next step? What is the right step? Travel to Kampala to the place approved by the medical insurance to see a doctor and get that ECG done. Check. Let him try the medication by IV which wouldn’t work. Check. Contact the insurance for a request to fly to South Africa. Check.
Wait! What? The doctor refuses to sign a “Fit to Fly” letter unless medical personnel is present? Our plans are interrupted. The insurance refers us to another agency to prepare for an air ambulance to come get Bob and fly him to South Africa. Oh, my … the fears resurface as a flood in my soul. Questions fly around in my head at what feels like a hundred miles an hour. What if they say he must try the cardio version in Uganda before they will approve the flight? What if they say he must be readmitted to the hospital and try the IV medication longer before considering medical care in South Africa? What if … wait! I must focus. Focus!
God gently reminds me that He was with us before, has been with us all along, and is with me now. He is working ahead of us, behind us, with and in us. People are also praying. Peace returns. I can focus again. I know the drill this time. Wait for approval. Pack a carry-on sized bag for each of us. Get back to the medical facility. Get checked out by the same doctor. Ride an ambulance to the airport and meet up with the medical personnel and pilots to ride a small jet to South Africa. It’s all too familiar. And yet. This time it is also so very different.
This time we know what to anticipate and are aware of the improvements along the way. The medical clinic we went to eight years ago has now moved to another place. Their facilities and equipment are newer. They actually send a nurse with us in the ambulance. Bob is not strapped to a hard board this time but there is actually some padding to lie on. The ambulance driver is smart. He uses his siren but only as necessary. Weaving in and out of traffic, he actually stays on the road the entire way. Even the road system has improved and part of the journey is on an expressway. It’s almost as if the journey ahead has been cleared for us as people give way.
Once we arrive at the airport and enter the jet, it is clear that Bob is being given the highest of medical care once again. We are safe in their hands, delivered into their care for the next five hours of flight. Reaching South Africa, he is admitted to the Intensive Care Unit as expected and we wait until morning for the requested doctor to examine him. After that, it is only a matter of a few hours and his heart is back into regular sinus rhythm once again. Relief. Unbelievable relief floods my soul.
The journey is not over. We are still here in South Africa, now waiting for another ablation surgery. Trauma triggers may still resurface. Nightmares may still ensue. But at the same time, I can relax somehow. We have a level of confidence in the medical care here and are so grateful for it. God’s peace has been so evident throughout the journey this time. He continues to remind us that He is faithful. He is here. He cares for us and He will continue to. Yes, He will.
And I can focus again without so much effort. Focus. Focus on Him. When those fears threaten to return, I will do just that focus. Focus, remember and rely on Him. If you find yourself reliving your trauma on any level, I encourage you to focus on Him and remember His faithfulness to you in the past. And oh, how much He cares for you, too.