Carlene- July 24, 2014- First UMC Lakeland

To say that this mission trip has been memorable is an understatement. John (my husband) and I have thoroughly enjoyed being here in the DR…. working at the school with the construction of the wall, clearing the side field for the future basketball court, laying concrete block, enjoying the time with the kids at VBS, being on a “save the dogs of the DR” mission by feeding any and all that we came across (That was JP Phillips and my goal. If we could have, there were 3 dogs that were at the VBS site that we would have taken home with us in a second.) It has been a total memory maker that we would never trade.  Everything had been awesome until last night.

Our normal time to go to bed has been 10 p.m. Last night the adults decided to let the kids stay up a little later due to the fact that is was going to be a beach day on Wednesday. The kids did not have to work all day.   They could sleep on the two- hour trip to the beach, and could relax all day while on the beach.

We were all in the living room area of the housing facility when some of the kids thought it would be fun to try to scare Sarah and Juan Pablo who were out on the porch talking. Of course, one of those kids would be our son, Toby. Toby was crawling around in the plants trying to be stealth.

I decided to go on to bed, leaving a handful of kids out in the living room area with John. It was about 11:00 p.m. at this point. I had not been in the room 5 minutes when Toby came to the door and said that he needed some Campho-phenique (a liquid we use for bug bites). I was irritated that he had been bitten outside, but found the medicine. I swear it wasn’t 3 minutes later Toby comes busting back into my room in a panic… “Mom… it itches so bad… please give me some Benadryl!” Being the kind, loving mother that I am when I am woken up 2 different times in a matter of 5 minutes (NOT) I proceed to tell him that I was not happy that he chose that particular hour to go crawling around outside… what was he thinking? I went ahead and found the Benadryl and told him to go take a shower. He did… and 2 minutes later my husband comes to the door and says, “ Uh, Carlene, Toby is swelling up… I think you need to come and look at him…”

Begrudgingly I got out of bed and went to his room. I was not ready for what I saw. Toby’s face, arms, stomach and back were bright candy apple red and his eyes were swelling so fast that they were about to be swollen shut. He looked like he had been on the losing end of a prize-winning fight. I immediately went into full Mom mode. I turned and told John that we had to get the hospital NOW! Sarah came in, the Kelfi and Juan Pablo (our drivers) were there, and we were off to the hospital.

I began to pray immediately that we would get there fast, that the doctors would take care of Toby, that they would understand us, and that we were acting on his recovery quickly enough.

We walked into the emergency room (keep in mind that there were 6 of us… myself, John, and Toby, Sarah, Kelfi, and Juan Pablo.) and went straight back into the exam rooms. The triage person starting saying “una persona… una persona…” Thank goodness Sarah was there to translate that Toby was the patient and that I could not speak Spanish and needed her to translate. They told the 3 men to go sit out in the waiting room. Toby was continuing to swell as the Dr. walked in. He was super kind and spoke English! He had grown up in the DR, but had studied medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital in New Jersey. Thank you God for your provision!   He quickly examined Toby and said that he needed treatment. They came in and took his temperature (no fever) numerous times because his skin was so hot. He was shaking, and still swelling.

At this point Sairy and Luis walked in. I was shocked to see them there, but also thrilled. Another provision from God, as Luis worked at that very hospital, and was able to translate and interact with the various employees. J

The nurses needed to start an IV for fluids and to inject his medicine. Toby was so swollen that it was very difficult to find a vein for them to use. They finally found one on his left wrist. They gave him 2 vials of what they told me was high-powered Benadryl. Toby fell asleep quickly. After about an hour (it’s now 2 AM) we were told that we could go home. YES!!! We got him up, and walked him out to the car…. No sooner had he started to step into the van, he vomited everywhere. Not good. I ran back into the ER and they told me to get him back inside. I started apologizing to Kelfi for the mess in the car…. L

Once inside, Toby started having diarrhea. John had to take him to an extremely tiny bathroom and clean him up. John had to be outside the bathroom as Toby was inside. The Doctors were concerned because the medication that they had given him should not have caused that. It was back to the drawing board again. They determined another IV was necessary and another medication to try to settle his stomach. We were instructed to go next door to the pharmacy and purchase the needed medication as they did not have it in the hospital. Again, it was very difficult to find a vein that would cooperate. An hour and 4 prescriptions later we were once again released to go home. This time Toby made it all the way home without getting sick. We all crawled back into bed at 3:30 a.m.

As I lay down to go to sleep I took a deep breath and the tears flowed. I could be vulnerable now. My child was going to be ok. The doctors, nurses and other staff had helped him in his time of need. I thanked God for everyone who had a hand in his recovery: Sarah, Kelfi, Juan Pablo, Sairy, Luis, the medical staff, but most importantly God for answering the prayer of one of his children. He had answered the prayer I prayed on the way to the hospital. We had arrived in time, the medical staff was competent and was able to communicate with me, and Toby was going to be fine.

A few hours later we woke up and went over to spend the day at Sairy’s house. I called home to my good friend Roxann Cook who is a Dr. in the states to give her the low down on what had transpired last night. She gave us instructions to get us through today. Toby is resting comfortably now. He is still a bit swollen in his face, but otherwise he is doing fine. The rest of the group was going to the beach for the day.

This momma is grateful for the universal language of love, compassion, and help for those in need. It didn’t matter that we were foreigners coming in to a hospital with an emergency. What mattered was that we needed assistance, and it was given. Thank you God!

Please pray for Toby’s continued recovery. We will be back in the U.S. tomorrow afternoon, and rest assured that I will be calling his pediatrician first thing Friday morning for a follow up appointment. J

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