Continuing from yesterday's story where two missionary wives and their eight children seek medical help in the jungles of Uganda ... To read the beginning of the story, click here.
We entered the building and went down a long hallway, and the first person we ran into was a Ugandan workman. When we asked him about American doctors, he pointed us to some chairs lining the wall and hurried off.
I should mention here that running into other Americans in Uganda didn't happen that often. If you happened to be in Kampala and you saw another American in a restaurant, you would stop and at least exchange pleasantries. You know, what state you're from, where you're located in the country, etc. That sort of thing. It was a little bit like seeing someone from home. So we were excited about meeting these doctors, not just for the help we needed at the moment, but for the possibility of meeting someone from home that lived nearby.
Because of that, and because we thought we were close to our goal, we had a buzz of excitement as we sat waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Truly, these must be American doctors. It felt just like the waiting rooms at home. Finally an obviously American woman came hurrying down the hallway.
And I knew this wasn't gonna be good.
She had a professionally pleasant look on her face, and her mouth was almost stretched into a smile, but not quite. I introduced myself and explained that we were missionaries in Tororo. I got out the barest details of why we were there when she cut me off. The clinic wasn't opened yet, she explained. It wouldn't be open for another month. And when it was open it was an orthopaedic clinic. And it was strictly for Ugandans. There was no help here for anyone of any other nationality.
I blinked. We weren't here to visit the clinic, I maintained. But we did have somewhat of a medical emergency and we were hoping to find some help. The woman was adamant that there was nothing she could do for us. Quite frankly, in the time it took her to explain that they wouldn't help, she could have examined both boys. It wasn't like we were taking her from her patients. I kept asking if there was anything she could do, and tried to emphasize just how sick the boys had been.
With a look of exasperation, the woman reached down and plucked Nicky out of my arms. As she felt his forehead (all the latest medical advances here, people!) she studied Joel, who was sitting quietly next to me. Joel had nothing left to vomit, and I had given them both some children's tylenol before we left the house, hoping to make the trip a little easier for them. Neither child was very active at the moment, but they weren't writhing in agony either.
And that was the problem, I guess.
"They certainly look fine now," she commented, handing Nicky back to me. Seriously? Just because Joel wasn't throwing up all over her nice, new hallway? Just because Nicky wasn't having a seizure from excessively high temperatures? Would I make this up and go to all this trouble for nothing?
I don't think so.
"I can't help you," she insisted when I pressed her. "But I do know of a good Ugandan doctor in town. I can give you his number."
I started to protest, but she assured me he had received his medical education in Great Britain and then had come back to work among his own people. He was good, she insisted. Several of them had taken their children to him since they'd arrived.
She wrote his number down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. Then she gave us one last professional smile and hurried away.
I found out later that she wasn't even a doctor. She was one of the administrative personnel that would help man the clinic.
Can I just say, even writing about this part of the story made me mad all over again.
Discouraged, we piled back into the Trooper. I couldn't head back home because I still had two sick children who needed help. With no other choices, I dialed the number she gave me.
To read the final chapter of this adventure, click here.