I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I called the American doctor in our city to let him know my 2-year-old’s fever spiked after giving her one dose of antibiotics. He calmly but firmly said, “You need to get her to an international hospital immediately. Fly to Hong Kong or Thailand right now. This is serious.”
My heart stopped. My mind raced.
The previous week, she had been snacking on peanuts. Yes, peanuts. Third kid bad parenting move, I guess. While snacking, she saw me leaving, which upset her, and she started crying. She sucked a peanut down her throat and started coughing. I got her out of her chair and patted her back to get it out. One came out, and she seemed fine.
Over the next few days, she started developing cold symptoms, but with an odd wheezing. My local friend took us to a nearby hospital where the doctors thought it might be bronchitis or pneumonia and prescribed some antibiotics.
Right before we left, the doctor asked one last question: Has she choked on anything lately? The bells went off immediately. I told her about the peanut incident. After her initial shock subsided of wondering why in the world I fed my toddler peanuts, she mentioned there could still be a piece of one stuck somewhere. However, she knew the machines there weren’t strong enough to detect it. She also knew that hospital wouldn’t admit a foreigner. Too much liability! She suggested we go to a bigger hospital in a bigger city to get a bronchoscopy.
I called said international hospital asking for a bronchoscopy for my toddler. I’m sure they thought I was a crazy foreigner. But I wanted to ensure they would do it before I made the 3-hour train ride there. They said they wouldn’t.
After consulting with the American doctor in our city, he suggested she take a dose of antibiotics first to see if the wheezing would subside.
After his phone call telling us to get her help now, we moved into action. I relayed the message to my husband and we realized this is way more serious than we had thought. He immediately got online and bought plane tickets to Hong Kong. I called our teammates down and told them what was going on. They immediately said they and the rest of our team would take care of our two boys. No questions asked.
I hurriedly threw some clothes into a suitcase for the three of us, while simultaneously calling people to figure out which hospital we would go to once in Hong Kong.
We were driving to the airport in less than 2 hours, and taking off soon after. What a whirlwind!
After little sleep, we went to the ER the next morning. After another x-ray, the doctor confirmed there was half a peanut stuck in her windpipe, leading to one of her lungs. Since it had now been there nearly a week, it had blocked off 80% of the oxygen to that lung, and the other lung was enlarged to compensate.
They immediately admitted her. The rest of the story ends well, with a few mishaps along the way. The short version: During her MRI, she woke up and fell off the table because she wasn’t strapped down well and the sedative had worn off. Because the technician didn’t see how she fell, they had to re-do the MRI, this time of her head as well to make sure she didn’t injure it during the fall. The bronchoscopy went perfectly and they removed the entire peanut! However, during the process she somehow contracted influenza. Shortly after the surgery, we were moved to an isolation unit. They wanted her to stay there for an additional 4 days to ensure there were no complications from influenza. However, we were scheduled to leave for Thailand to our annual conference in 3 days. We eventually signed an AMA and left with masks and meds to keep her fever down.
During our trek home, I realized how many people stepped up to help us out during this crisis. Teammates, local friends, friends of friends in faraway places, multiple doctors on the phone, doctors who spoke amazing English, other people in our organization, as well as all the prayer warriors around the world.
It truly does take a global village to raise kiddos. Especially kiddos with parents who feed them inappropriate foods at such a young age.
Do you have an “it takes a village” story? How has your “village” impacted your life overseas?
While chatting with a friend I met in a VA Connection Group a few years ago, she mentioned wanting to share some recipes. What a perfect theme to collaborate on! Check it out:
This soup in PERFECT for sharing or freezing for a rainy or busy day and will serve 8 people. We are a family of 4 and very often eat half for ourselves and then share the other half with a neighbor or friends who need a little breather. It’s also perfect for a shared meal and stretches well with a side salad, a fruit platter, a basket full of bread or other fun sides. Enjoy!
Creamy Bacon Potato Soup
Ready in: 45 minutes
Recipe by: Tina Ferry
6 slices of bacon or ham (or more if you like!)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 pieces of garlic, minced
8 medium potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup plain yogurt or cream cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup meltable cheese, cubed or shredded
salt and pepper to taste
In a large stock pot cook diced bacon until crisp.
While the bacon is cooking, chop the onion and garlic roughly and set aside.
Once bacon is crisp, remove it from the pot and sauté the onion on medium heat in the bacon fat. Add a little oil if the bacon didn’t render enough fat to sauté the onion.
While the onion is cooking, chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces – no need to peel (unless you prefer) as the potato skins add nice rustic texture to the soup.
Once the onion is translucent, add the garlic to the pot and stir while cooking for 1 minute. Immediately add the potatoes to the pot and cover the onion, garlic, and potatoes with chicken stock. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan once the stock is in the pot. This will pick up all those yummy bacon, onion and garlic bits and make the flavor deeper and just plain yummier!
Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the soup to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Once the potatoes are cooked, turn the heat off but leave the pot on the stovetop. Pour in 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 cup milk and 1 cup meltable cheese. Mash or blend the soup to your desired consistency (we like to leave little chunks of potatoes). Add more milk or yogurt for the consistency and flavor you prefer.
Add the cooked bacon and diced green onion and stir to combine. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.