Monday, March 7, 2016

The Good News is that I Don't Have Cancer


Dear Family,

So this week has been an interesting one--I wouldn’t describe it as fun, actually, it's been pretty downright scary! I suppose it is a learning experience, but I haven't yet found the lesson to get out of it yet. 

So, ever since Tuesday evening, I have had pain. It started out small and I didn't think too much of it. It didn't go away though. I started to take some Ibuprofen, which helped to mask the pain, but after two days the pain came back when I stopped taking the medication. And while it was a mild pain, it was constant. I knew something wasn't right. And then, I started getting a headache, chills, cough, feeling weak, diarrhea, etc. I wasn't sure if those symptoms were related to the pain or something else. And then I noticed swelling in the area where the pain was, so I decided to call Sister Morin. She said she would get me an appointment for Monday. 

I wasn't sure about the timing of the appointment because: 
1) Elections were on Sunday and the crowds could be unpredictable (remember last year?). And also, 2) Transfers were happening Monday, and we would be all over the place. And we wouldn't even know the details of the transfers until the last minute. 

With the transfers, Saturday we found out that my comp, Elder F, is going to Porto Novo (Cool!! He will love it there. And he will be working with a Tahitian, one of the two left in the mission.) Since my comp would be changing, I would have to go stay with the Cococodji elders for the morning (since I would be without a comp for the morning), which would make getting to a doctor appointment difficult. However, I learned that if I didn't get in to see the doctor on Monday, that I would have to wait until the following week. So, I eventually found a Cococodji elder who was willing to go with me to the appointment. I told Sister Morin to go ahead and make the appointment. The clinic was closed, so she couldn't call until Monday.

So I went to Cococodji not knowing if I would have an appointment or not. Unfortunately, it made goodbyes with Elder F really stinky because my mind was elsewhere. I was with the Cococodjians when Sister Morin called to say she had confirmed an appointment for 9:30. I was relieved to have an appointment, but when I checked the time it was 8:30!! I had an hour to get dressed, find a taxi, make the 40 minute drive to the bureau and from there find the hospital that I'd never been to. Didn't seem possible. It took 25 minutes just to find a taxi that was willing to go to Cadjehoun. The whole way there, I was so worried I would miss my appointment just because I was late. We made it though! And Mom, do you remember that pillow you got me before I left for Africa? I have to thank you for making me  stuff it into my suitcase--I brought it with me for the taxi ride and it totally helped manage my pain on the bumpy ride to the hospital. 

The doctor I saw is from Algeria. She checked me out and said that she didn't think it was anything to worry about like cancer, etc. PHEW! So much relief right there! She says that I just walk too much, and with the heat and humidity here, it just makes it worse. She is putting me on an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory. I will go in for an ultrasound tomorrow, just to confirm that it isn't anything serious. I am supposed to take it easy for a week as well. Not the best timing since I have my new comp, Elder M. 

Elder M will be a zone leader with me, and will probably end up replacing me here. We worked together in the same apartment in Porto Novo, so we already know each other pretty well. Hopefully, there won't be that awkward getting-to-know you relationship stuff. And hopefully, he knows my work ethic, and knows that I am not trying to get out of doing work for this next week. 

So that's basically been my week. We did go out teaching--I thought it would help take my mind off the pain, but it didn't really work. I will rest this week and hopefully be in good shape to get back to it next week. I have been sooooo worried--I've never had anything like this before. I didn't know if it was cancer, some sort of blood disease or what. And then I was worried it was something that would cause me to have to come home early, or have to have surgery. So, it is a relief to know it isn't anything serious. I should be just fine. 

One blessing of this whole situation--it has helped me focus on being HERE, in Africa. With being close to the end of my mission and having to start thinking about getting things arranged for going back to school, my mind has started to think about going home. But this week has refocused my thoughts to my work here. 

One funny sight this week. A motorcycle driver here was trying to rev his bike too much and totally pulled a wheelie that threw him and his two passengers onto the ground. No one was hurt thankfully. You see a lot of crazy drivers here!

I love you guys.
Elder Walls

PS Mom, I really am going to be fine!

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