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  • Susan Brown

Drama, Trauma, and Blessings

“Where are you going with that?” I asked suspiciously. My things have a way of disappearing, not to be found until days later in some unlikely place like in the tool box or in the boys’ clothes closet. Knives and cutting tools, especially, are almost impossible to keep around here.

Bang was carrying several of my card-making tools and some special paper I had been hoarding. He smiled angelically. “I’m just going to make something,” he answered.

I remembered that it a big birthday week with Preston, William, and I all having birthdays to celebrate, and turned a blind eye.

Truthfully, if he had some nefarious purpose in mind, I probably would have had an eye just as blind. It had been an exhausting week and I wasn’t up for a fuss.

The week Paul goes north for preachers’ training is always tiring. There never fails to be a crisis of some sort at home. This time it was a behavior crisis. I learned that the word the kids have been saying routinely, and which I understood to mean something benign turned out to have a rude meaning. Unfortunately, they told Kimmy it meant “what?” and she tried out her new word at the restaurant. The kids thought it was funny, but William was shocked and she was mortified to learn she had said a bad word. The children received a new lecture from Grandma and a heavy penalty was imposed for using rude language.

And the week was just beginning. More bad behavior challenges lay ahead. When kids come from a background of abuse and neglect like ours do, you have to expect some difficult weeks.

But we survived, and so did Paul. Teaching the men for so many hours a day about such important subjects is wearing. He has a good group, though, who are eager to learn. He comes home pressed out, but knowing he has accomplished something eternal.

  No rest once he came home, though. He had promised to take the kids to the local lake when he got back, so as soon as weekly housekeeping chores were done on Saturday, we took off for the lake. We enjoyed lunch in one of the little bamboo huts on the water.   As usual the kids ordered the “dancing shrimp” which are a specialty here. They arrive at the table literally alive and kicking. The kids catch them as they try to escape their plates, pop them into their mouths and crunch them up. Not me. I’m game to try most foods, but I do draw the line at living critters. It has to at least be dead before I eat it.

After lunch an afternoon of fishing and hiking left everyone pleasantly tired and ready to go to bed early. But that didn’t happen. Andy showed Paul the rash that had come up on his back. He was covered with hard red bumps. I Googled one of his meds to see if the rash could be a side effect. The Web site warned, “Contact a physician immediately at the first sign of a rash.” Upon questioning Andy, we learned that he had had it for a week.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” I asked.

“I didn’t want to make you sad,” he replied.

We noticed that his face and neck seemed swollen, too, and were afraid he would begin having breathing troubles. We immediately packed up and headed for the emergency room again. The waiting room was full, but they took him back right away and began monitoring his vital signs. The doctor eventually told us that it was likely a drug reaction, but that neurological drugs were tricky and needed to be adjusted by a neurologist. She made an appointment for us the next day, which was Sunday, and sent us home.

We rescheduled our church service until later in the day and took him back to the hospital the next morning. There we learned that, yes, it was a side effect, but not from the drug that is killing the parasite or the anti-seizure medicine. It was a reaction to the steroids he was on to prevent brain swelling. Evidently, Prednisone causes the onset set of drug-induced acne, facial swelling, and several other unpleasant things. It also spikes the appetite, which explains why he has been eating everything he could lay hands on. He has gained about six pounds in the week he’s been home from the hospital.

We were relieved that it was nothing more serious, especially since he was at the end of his course of steroids. We brought home topical medicine for the rash and hope to see him get back to normal soon.

We take him back for another CT scan next Saturday and, if he is okay, will let him go back to the mountains to spend the semester break with his family. Some of the kids don’t want to go home, but we insist. We don’t want them to lose contact with family, and we don’t want them to lose their language and their heritage. Andy is always eager to go back to see his family, though. He packs a week in advance and counts the days. We are sending him with his medicines and with warnings about how not to get another parasite.

Incidentally, EVERYONE here has had a dose of worm medicine. We don’t want to go through this drama again!

We had a small, but blessed gathering for church service and then celebrated the October birthdays. Pizza, birthday cake, and ice cream are a tradition now. I was touched to receive a lovely handmade card from Bang and Kimmy and the gift of a new wallet from Molly and Nora.

One more week and the kids leave for their long-awaited semester break. They’ll be gone for three weeks. I have at least three months of activities planned for the time they are gone!

Truthfully, though, we are all ready for a break. These last weeks with serious illness and unusually bad behavior have been tiring. But God’s grace has been sufficient – and He is good, all the time!

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