The year was 1979 and I was just about to pass my 48th birthday. Rodney and I were on a trip with two Institute elders visiting and checking on places where great work was going on.
On Sunday morning, having arrived in Nairobi late Saturday night I had a touch of diarrhea, but thought nothing of it. We’re supposed to do such things when we visit other countries. And besides I had a bottle of Lomotil with me…so no problem. We had a great walking tour through Kawangware then came back and Joyce and Rob shared with our staff everything going on around the world where we have staff. “Global Catch-up” we call it. We then took a break to get cleaned up for House Church.
I had another go at it, but still wasn’t alarmed. By the middle of House Church I had begun to shake rather badly so knew I was headed for bed when we finished. We celebrated one of the young African staff’s first year with the ICA so it was a great occasion. They have three African couples and four African single men plus five Americans on the staff in Kawangware. There also is a young German girl working with them for a while.
By two in the afternoon I was in bed shaking like a leaf and taking “big big breaths” like Mother told me to so that I would not throw up all over the place. There upon followed the worst nine hours of my life. Since my temperature the next day in the hospital soared to 104 ½ at one time I know on Sunday afternoon it was much worse. God alone only knows. To reduce the grim details – by midnight Nancy Lamphear called her doctor and she and Rodney rushed me to Nairobi Hospital Casulty (We call that Emergency in North America)
They immediately got me on an IV going in my arm and gave me an injection for nausea and I decided possibly I’d make it. Days in a hospital flow together pretty much the same except sometimes you feel better than others. I think here the saving grace has been the incredible care and the darling student nurses (who are all appalled that I haven’t seen anything of Kenya).
It turns out I had Bacillary Dysentery from Shigella Flexner. They treated me by injection with the antibiotic Kanamycin. Not until Thursday afternoon did I get the IV out of my arm and get off the bed at all. As one of the student nurses said, “It is good to be free.” I wasn’t sure how many under-and-over-tones that statement had, but I heard a lot.
Dr. Somen, an Israeli woman wouldn’t let me have my hair washed until Saturday and wouldn’t let me leave until Sunday. I must say if I had to do this I chose the right city to get sick in. The care in this hospital was constant, excellent and pleasant, including the Indian doctor who admitted me to Casulty Sunday night.
Rodney, Rob Duffy (Australian) and Joyce Ollison (black woman from Washington DC – our team) are due here any minute. They leave this afternoon for Zambia. I must confess even in the midst of being the sickest I have ever been it took me about three days before I could decide to live the situation the Lord had given me instead of what I had planned.
I was so grateful that I lasted long enough to walk through Kawangware Sunday morning. I was greatly impressed, especially with their demonstration farm. I knew they were exporting beans and stuff to Europe, but the size and scope and future plans of it are very impressive. One of the African staff pointed out to me that they had planted rows of strawberries between the passion fruit rows. His comment, “You know here in Africa we musn’t waste any of the soil.”
The farmers meet every morning in an office around a table to plan the day, then work various sections of the farm in teams of five. They spend one whole day at the end of every week in training on the theoretics of agriculture. Their methods, as they try various types of things are then picked up and begun to be used by individual households on their own small plot.
I left the Nairobi Hospital about noon on the 19th and checked into a lovely room in the Norfolk Hotel looking out onto the central garden and aviarys. It was a most restful spot and I was delighted with it. Rodney’s plane in from Lusaka that night was four or five hours late so he didn’t appear on the scene until about two thirty in the morning.
We spent the next day and a half mostly just resting. On Tuesday we did have Rob Duffy and Ray Spencer (who was also in Nairobi from Chicago) come out to the hotel for lunch and just sat around and talked most of the afternoon. Rob was waiting for a plane out that night as he was headed for Australia.
Priscilla H Wilson