Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Health issues

Anonymous question: Does anyone struggle with health problems on the the field? How do you deal with them? Has anyone had health problems keep them off the filed for an extended period of time? How do you prevent discouragement when you're sick?

This earlier discussion is somewhat similar, so you might want to read the comments there, too.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. We had the misfortune of having a son become extremely ill while on the field. God really cared for us during this time but my son has type 1 diabetes, a lifetime, chronic illness. He is insulin dependent and no diet or exercise can change that. We didn't even know what a pancreas was before his was destroyed by his immune system and now we realize just how important that little organ is.

    Here are my tips for dealing with health issues on the field.

    1. Know the language. Language learning never ends, but is is especially vital when dealing with a health crisis. A translator can NOT take the place of understanding your own doctor.

    2. If the illness is chronic, join an online support group. Someone pointed me to a facebook group for other parents who are dealing with type one. It has been a life saver to me. They have faster access to the latest news and treatments and have walked me through many a crisis.

    3. Don't panic. God is the same God on field as he is off the field. He loves us and wants what is best for us. Always keep in mind that our worst case scenario (death) is actually our best case scenario. Satan wants us to forget this.

    4. Let your team and local church know what you are facing. If they know about your illness they can choose to help. Let them know what is helpful and when they naturally do something that helps, let them know so they will keep on doing it. Our local Ecuadorian church became a lifeline of encouragement and prayers. What had been a stilted cold relationship suddenly became one of close family. THis church has been constantly praying for us during our year of furlough.

    5. While in the states make sure you spend a portion of time getting up-t-date on all your treatment and get any new training you might need to stay healthy on field. We took this time to get our son an insulin pump.

    6. Advocate for yourself or child. Speak up and know how to do so effectively in the culture where you live. We beat our heads against the wall with our Lojano dr until we realized that we have to deal differently with drs in Loja than we do in the states. Figure out how to have a good relationship with your doctors in both places.

    7. raise enough support that your health needs don't create an extra financial burden.

    I probably have a lot more, but will close with that for now.

    1. we don't really deal with any chronic issues, at least not so much any more as our oldest daughter's asthma is very well controlled now. that wasn't the case when we first arrived here. however, i can't agree more with Becka's points numbers 1 & 6.

      Everything she's included are excellent, fabulous ideas. But if we had to pick the ones that have made all the difference, it is those two. Knowing the language and being an advocate within the given system have been essential... or knowing someone who can (and will) fill that role for you.

    2. I would definitely agree with point 6. When I had a miscarriage a little over a month ago, our church and team really stepped up and helped us out with meals and babysitting!

  2. Great advice from Becka! I was going to say the same thing about knowing the specific words and terms that deal with your illness. My husband had open-heart surgery here, for a faulty aortic valve that didn't show up until he needed "urgent intervention", and then I had the wreck that ended with my broken leg. We've become intimately acquainted with the health system here.

    We found that the nationals were surprised and honored that we chose to stay here with both of these situations. We could have flown back emergency-style and had the heart surgery, and after my first surgery with the leg, we could have moved back for rehab. Considering that I'm still "rehabing" more than 2 years later, I'm very glad we didn't choose that route. Our decision to stay solidified us a bit in the eyes of our neighbors.

    We also have had to be purposeful not to speak poorly of the care we receive, although sometimes it's been crazy. For example, the nearest hospital that I was taken to immediately after my wreck, took me straight to their emergency room, where they proceeded to do things that made my situation worse ("Let's SCRUB the dirt of your leg so you will look better, even though you have a shattered bone that hasn't been stabilized"), all while about 30 random people stood around taking cell phone videos of me, a dog ran in and out, and other patients came by to check out my injuries. Because I have insurance, I fought (repeatedly and vehemently) to be taken to a hospital a few hours away in the capital. Knowing that most people don't have this option, though, I have been careful not to trash the public system by cracking on the care I received at that first place. It's their reality. And we choose to go that public medicine route for more minor situations, like IV fluids or dengue.

    As far as dealing with discouragement, I'm not a good one to ask. I've struggled a lot with the shock of these things happening to us and not having a strong support system in place. I've learned more about digging in to my relationship with God and I've tried to reach out for help when needed, but we are a bit "out of sight out of mind" and plowing through this with God's help. The internet is a great help, finding support groups, looking up home exercises, finding missionary moms who have been there and done that. ;)

    Wow, this got long! Sorry....

    1. we've been in the situation of stay or med evac - and we tended to go with the advice of the local physicians we've seen here. if they felt they could handle it, we stayed. the only time any of us have left was when our last was born and i went home for her delivery (after already having 2 here). there were complications that last time around that placed her health in danger and every doctor said they could try and care for it here, but if we had the capability to leave, that was what they recommended.

      it was also our experience, however, that staying solidifies relationships and allows our local brothers, sisters and friends to serve us and placed us in a more equivalent relationship for which we'd been striving but never happened until after that.

    2. "a more equivalent relationship" I have searched for a way to word that a trillion times--I like the way you said it!

  3. I would have to say that we're blessed with the healthcare in the UK as it's a nationalised one. With that said, you also need to understand how the medical system works in your country. Otherwise you'll get very frustrated!

    As an example, we needed a prescription for our son, and the dr was going to call it in for us. The only problem with that was, with the NHS, it took 48 hours to get the prescription filled when I could have taken it in myself and had it filled the same day. Ugh.