So I decided that a sunrise photo from the upper floor in our Indo house was a much better picture for you today than one that actually goes with this story. I loved seeing this so many mornings…what a reminder that His mercies are new every single morning.
Oh, late-March Monday morning in the Chicago burbs.
You sure got me.
Ok, I might need to confess that my brain has this thing where when the calendar turns to March, I suddenly think that life should be daisies and green and NO. MORE. SNOW. (I realize that it IS still March in the Midwest.)
And alas, spring is not to be just yet, and here I sit looking out my dining room window, watching the inches of white fluff pile up onto Mae’s swing set, the same one she was finally able to play on in the last weeks after a frigid winter.
But I’ll get over it because there’s coffee and I’ve got words to share.
First of all, I took sort of a little unplanned hiatus from Indo stories the last two Mondays. My heart needed a break to process life, and it was time well spent.
Life is good, it really is, and I’ve got things to share. Soon. (AND they’re already written which is, like, a miracle.)
But today I want to keep doing what I said I was going to…sharing my stories and giving you a glimpse into Indo life.
This story is one that came up in a conversation with friends who were visiting last week. I warned hubby that I was going to share it…complete with maybe a little drama. 😉
His response? I’d expect nothing less from you.
He knows me well…and I love him. Truly.
And when I read this story, I’m reminded that I’m really blessed to be sharing this life with him.
Thanks for reading.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Tobin and I laugh now about a lot of things that have happened to us…and not just the Indonesia stories, though those adventures do seem to provide quite a bit of entertainment for people even a few years after our return to the States.
I’ve come to accept the fact that adventure just seems to find us…something that I have truly learned to appreciate and value.
Because hindsight is 20/20, it’s always easier to look back and smile. For one thing, my husband is here, home with me, and our family is safe and healthy and happy. But there were a few days in March of 2008 where every possible scenario ran through my head…the kinds when I feared a life without him.
So, it’s no secret to anyone who knows us that we love animals.
We brought home a golden retriever puppy when we’d barely been married a year. We had nothing but instant love for the newest member of our family…love to the point of, less than two years later, purchasing a one-way plane ticket to Indonesia for him. (Scoff not…at the time, it cost more to get him there than it cost for both of us. Combined.) But that’s just what you do for family.
Less than a year into our Indonesia life, we adopted Sammy…our other golden. Our lives were suddenly full of happy puppy days and tons of golden retriever love…we love it that way still, even now that we have a daughter, who only just makes the love overflow even more in our house.
Neither of us had ever been remotely interested in owning a cat though we have nothing against them. But in Indonesia, it almost felt like it made more sense than it didn’t. At our first house, especially, we had quite a rat problem that, thankfully, the dogs were able to somewhat keep under control, but we thought a cat might help keep them out of the house completely. Still, we never pursued actually getting one.
And then one Thursday night, my husband came home from the high school boys’ Bible study he co-led and immediately came to find me. Almost out of breath, he told me that he’d found a cat about a block away, huddled on the side of the road. It had been there for hours, just bait for another, bigger animal. He said it looked sick, and would I be okay if he decided to bring it home so we could take care of it?
I was a bit shocked that he asked, but I quickly agreed.
If only we had known what was coming.
That night we noticed, almost immediately, that there was something severely wrong with this cat. It could barely walk without falling over and would twitch almost constantly. We set it up with a litter box, food, and a blanket in a box in a spare bedroom and closed the door for the night.
I secretly wondered if there was a point to even trying to help it. The cat was in really bad shape, but we figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what happened for a few days.
Oh, a few days…we truly had no clue what those “few days” would actually look like.
The next morning Tobin was up early, checking on our new friend. He was sitting on the bed, holding the cat and petting it, when Sammy nosed his way into the bedroom, immediately frightening the cat.
The cat’s reaction? Was to sink its teeth deep into Tobin’s hand.
Here we are…5:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and dealing with a cat-from-who-knows-where bite.
I immediately got on the internet, and…to this day I have no idea why…looked up symptoms for rabies. We always hear about the foaming mouth stuff when it comes to rabies…never the symptoms that precede it.
One of the early signs is neurological issues…including twitching.
We made a quick, somewhat frantic, call to our school PA and tried to come up with some type of plan.
Let’s recount the facts…Indonesia. Possible rabies. We had no idea what to do…with the responsibilities of life staring us down.
While I got ready for school (and desperately tried NOT to freak out) Tobin called around and found people to cover his classes. Following the orders of our PA, he hopped on his bike and drove to the nearest hospital where rabies vaccinations could possibly be available.
I went to school; I had every intention of keeping life that day as normal as possible, but my emotions were exploding so much I could barely stay calm. After teacher devotions that morning, a friend offered to take my class for the first few minutes so I could get myself together.
And I finally cried.
Once I got the tears out, I went downstairs to my classroom, streaky eyes and all. My students, ever the prayer-warriors, wanted nothing more than to pray for my husband, and so that’s what we spent our Bible class doing.
Tobin showed up later that morning with the news that he hadn’t been able to find a locally made rabies vaccination, but that the hospital had given him a Tetanus shot.
I wanted to be snarky and make a comment about the fact that a TETANUS SHOT probably wouldn’t do much good, but I held it in.
I knew he was panicking, too…we just had different ways of showing it.
He had found an imported-from-France rabies vaccination in town, but our out-of-pocket expenses would be over $500…and so he was trying to find a local one first. Knowing that he had a window of 24 hours, he spent most of the day looking but eventually went back that afternoon for the imported vaccination.
So…rabies vaccination: check.
We thought it was over. (Well, once he finished the series of shots that would happen over the course of the next few weeks.)
But during a school music concert that evening, Tobin noticed something.
A redness creeping up his arm.
At the suggestion, again, of our PA, he took a Sharpie and marked how far the redness had spread. We were alarmed, a few hours later, to discover that the infection was progressing at a scary speed.
Oral antibiotics were begun the next day, but the redness continued to creep…and we were starting to worry.
In almost a curious way, Tobin asked our PA, So what will happen with this infection if we let it go? Will it eventually just go away?
She wasn’t being cruel, just direct, but her reply? No, it will kill you faster than the rabies.
We now realized that we needed to get this thing under control. But the problem was that every option was being tried. It wasn’t like people were sitting around watching Tobin get worse. They were trying everything.
And speaking of control, I was having major control issues by now.
Because cat bites, international medical care or the lack thereof…they don’t teach you how to deal with those things is training.
And I was terrified.
There was nothing I could do to help my husband, and I was scared he might not be okay.
As the oral antibiotics continued to fail, our PA finally found a series of antibiotic shots that, thankfully, worked.
The red that had crept halfway to Tobin’s elbow by this time was finally stopping and even receding a bit.
After several more shots and a few more weeks, the swelling and red were completely gone though Tobin still had a scar from the bite.
And we were so incredibly thankful…like the kind where I really can’t express our thankfulness in words.
I never imagined we’d be in a place like that…a place where something happened and there was nothing we could humanly do to help.
God taught me a lot during those few days. That He’s got it worked out, and when things seem hopeless, He’s still got a plan.
No matter where we are.
Oh, and the imported shot that cost us $500? Insurance paid every single penny. God is pretty amazing, isn’t He?
The stories I’m sharing are about a place and people who are in my heart forever…I never want to paint a negative image of them or their amazing country. Therefore, I ask for your grace over each word and story. I pray that I share these words well.
The above is an excerpt from Lessons From Indonesia: On Life, Love, and Squatty Potties. All words and stories are my own and are copyrighted through Amazon publishing. Feel free to read them, but please ask for permission before sharing them.