As promised, heeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrssssss Susan May Warren!
They called it “Pucker and Burn.” And right then, I should have figured out that something bad awaited us. But no, I let twelve teenage girls concoct a drink out of three or four different soda flavors, coffee, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce. Perhaps I was counting on the fact that they’d take one sip and curl their noses and laugh.
I never expected my eleven year old boy, in an act of MANLINESS to down the entire thing (just to make the girls giggle…oh, the silly things boys do.) Twelve hours later, he is writhing in pain, and we are on our way to the emergency room.
Now, I have to interject here that I’d seen the writhing in pain look before. Six years ago my eldest son had such a look that resulted in an appendectomy. The big difference was…while Son #2 was treated in a clean sterile, up-to-date ER, Son #1….
It’s 6am, and my ten year old has been on the sofa, in great pain for twenty four hours. Being a doctor extraordinaire (not, but I’m a mom, so I have my Mom Doc/MD), I’ve determined that we need to go to the emergency room. Only problem is, we’re not sure where it is. You see, we’re in Russia. And they don’t do emergency services. The ambulances are old made-over station wagons without medical supplies. It’s a well-known fact that if you call an ambulance…you may disappear for-ev-er. So, I get on the phone and call the only friend I know who has medical connections and track down a hospital in the south side of the city. Loading up my son into our van, my husband and I trek down to hospital. We do speak Russian, but sorry, no one ever included “Appendix” on my word list, so I’m reduce to pantomiming pain and body parts to a tall doctor wearing what looks like a pastry hat on his head. He sorta raises one eyebrow and gestures us to follow him. Down the hall and up three flights of stairs. Son In Incredible Pain is groaning until my hubby sweeps him into his arms.
We enter an office. In the corner, locked to the wall is an ultrasound machine. They put David in a rickety wooden chair and ultrasound him. “Da,” Pastry Man says, and does the appendix pantomime. Then he does a scary gesture that I can only assume means surgery.
Hmm, let me think about this…Go under the knife in a Russian hospital, or hope for a flight out in a day or two….
I send my beloved son off on a rickety gurney that creaks as it rolls. David comes out of surgery, groggy and sore, half his body painted orange. The nurse arrives with a needle, and before I can take her down, pops my son in the bum. I’ve never seen someone come out of anesthesia so quickly. Poor fella hits the roof, yanked out of his dreams. And thus, the suffering begins.
There is hardly a mother born who doesn’t feel every one of those shots or endure the searing pain of the incision as she watches her child struggle to sit up, walk, or use the bathroom. Russian hospitals aren’t for the weak at heart. They make David The Trooper get up that day, and lest he have to limp to the potty in agony, I scrounge up a sawed-off plastic Pepsi bottle. (No, no bedpans). His mattress is the size of a Russian blini and I spend the first night hovering over his bed with a shoe, whacking roaches.
The worst are the shots—penicillin every four hours in a backside cheek. The nurse switches sides after the third day. They’re running out of space.
I stay round the clock for two days and nights until he felt comfortable enough for me to leave. And, while he slept, what do I do? Pray. Read the bible and other wonderful books, meditated on the awesome protection of God in our lives.
This memory is fresh and even brings a smile as I help Son #2 into a wheelchair. He’s sent to a room while they fill him with painkillers and fluids for a CT scan. He watches Ice Age. I doze in a chair. Midnight passes before we decide it’s not an appendix attack. But it’s given me a chance to go back in time, reflect on our crazy moments and be thankful for the lessons.
I have a new chick lit book just out (my first one!) – a zany story about a missionary who goes to Russia for a year to escape her life…only to find that God has a better one waiting. Yes, Everything’s Coming up Josey is fiction, but it’s filled with enough true stories that it feels like my story. Sweet memories of my mistakes and God’s grace. Of going under the spiritual knife. And coming out stronger. I hope that you pick it up, that you laugh out loud, and that it encourages you to trust God for every Pucker and Burn moment in your life.