One of my least favorite diagnoses as a doctor is dizziness. There are just so many things that can cause it. Most of those processes are hard to diagnose definitively, and some of them can drag on for weeks, or even be permanent. The treatments are marginally effective at best, often. So imagine my disgruntlement when I, myself, contracted a frustrating case of vertigo.
So, most people would probably think to themselves, “oh shucks, I’m a little dizzy. guess I need to hydrate better, lay off the corn chips, and avoid the Monster power drinks.” But not me. No way: I thinks to myself, I got the Cancer…
The problem with being a doctor is that when you fall ill, you can never just have something simple like a cold, or a pulled muscle, or constipation. The differential diagnoses you are able to entertain are far broader, more debilitating, and potentially more sinister. Add to that living in a third world country in the middle of the jungle, and you can add several nasty infections to the list.
So instead of simply having ‘some inner ear problem,’ since becoming dizzy I have explored potential infirmities such as multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis, chiari malformations, neurocysticercosis, neurodegenerative disorders, and of course—Cancer. The problem for me with the last one there, is that I have had melanoma in the past. And Melanoma just so happens to like to metastasize to your brain. Enter worry, fear, panic…
Anyway, after consulting with my pal, Dr. Isaac, we decided I should have an MRI. The good news is that an MRI in Honduras only costs $374, as opposed to thousands in the States. The bad news is that you won’t really know if the interpretation of the results is valid, so you’ll have to find a really nice radiologist back home who can read it (thanks Blake!).
Tuesday Heidi and I travelled to the city of La Ceiba and found the public hospital, Medicentro. Funny thing here, you don’t need an appointment. It’s first come, first serve for MRI’s and CAT scans, as long as you have the cash… The young lady read me through the usual rigmarole of questions aimed at averting catastrophe (it just wouldn’t due for some long forgotten shard of metal lodged in your back from a go-cart accident when you were 9 to fly ripping through your body on it’s way to union with the giant rotating magnets).
She asked me when I last ate. Uh, wait, is this a trick question I thought? “I’m having an MRI of my head, not my belly,” I told her, thinking to myself that this was classic Honduran medicine. “Yes,” she said, “but you will be having contrast and we don’t want you vomiting your stomach contents all over our nice shiny machine. “Oh. Ok, I guess that’s reasonable.” “So when did you last eat?” she asked again. “Uh, 7 am, I lied.” I really didn’t want to wait around all day for that pint of luscious and creamy chocolate ice-cream that I had eaten at 10 am to digest (why did I eat a pint of chocolate ice cream at 10 am? well I don’t know, maybe it’s cause I might have a brain tumor, and besides, lay off I’m starving!)
They strapped me onto a board, getting ready to slide me in like an oven-fired pizza. They pack your head in pretty tight so that you won’t blur the images with subtle head movement, and shove ill-fitting plugs deep into your ears. Once in, I experienced some loud and disconcerting noises. It sounds a bit like you’re playing a video game from 1983. There was plinking, sirens, whirring. Why couldn’t they have made it with fun, encouraging, delightful sounds, like the slot machines in Vegas? Instead, It seemed that the Decepticons were about to rip me out of the tube at any moment and disembowel me.
At one point, I started entertaining thoughts of worst case scenarios. First it was, ‘what if I barf rancid chocolate ice-cream all over myself, and choke on my own regurgitant?’ But it progressed to thoughts of ‘what if I have Melanoma in my brain, what if my family has to suffer through a great trial?’ (these are thoughts I had entertained a couple years ago with my previous diagnosis of Melanoma). What finally came to me as I was laying there (for 35 minutes) was me floating in a boat, and Jesus inviting me out into the water. Our whole experience coming down to Honduras has been a practice of willingness and submission.
We feel like the process of becoming missionaries was like being asked to get into a dilapidated, leaky boat, with rotting oars. And being asked to take this derelict across a deep, cold, treacherous span of water. We had to bring our most valued possessions as well, our children, and expose them to unknown dangers. But once we got in the boat we found we didn’t need the oars, the boat was self-guided. And the boat took a quick turn down a delightful serene waterway full of beauty, joy, and peace. But laying there in that machine, I wondered, ‘Jesus, do you need me to get out of this boat and sink a little?’ Have I accrued enough character over the years of my life to be ready for the storm? Aren’t we all a phone call away from hitting our knees in crisis?
Well, I didn’t barf. And my bowels remained inside me. There was no clandestine bits of metal in my body that made a hasty exit. I survived. The good news is that I don’t have brain cancer. However, as with any Radiographic imaging, you are often left with, “there’s no cancer, but…” So we are sorting out the ‘buts.’
On a brighter side, Juliet and I attended the first annual Loma de Luz Daddy/Daughter dance. We realized we had missed our favorite shared activity this past year, so we decided to invent our own, with a ton of help from Heidi and the other LDL moms. Now that I think of it, here’s how it went down: Juliet: ‘Daddy, we missed the Daddy/Daughter dance this year! wahhhh…’ Me: ‘Oh shoot, hey Heid, we should put on a dance here.’ Heidi: ‘good idea!’ —and then she, Katie, Eliza, Meredith, and the Rileys proceeded to organize the entire event, as well as bake for it and decorate for it. But, in my defense, I did send out the email, and I did construct my own corsage to bestow upon my sweet little girl.
One of my beloved patient’s back home had recent surgery for lung Cancer. Please pray for Lynn, for complete healing.
Thank you to all of you who have joined in this ministry by praying for it, and us. Also, we are very blessed by those who are now financially supporting us. All of you are now a part of what God is doing for the people down here, every bit as important as the groundwork that is done on site. We are currently at 25% of our fundraising goals.
If you are interested in partnering with the Moultray’s in this ministry, click here.
And now, some pics:
That’s all for now!