I have seen a rapid recovery in Bayo since he has been home for 24+ hours now. I had been a little concerned that I was bringing him home too early, but now I have no doubt that it was the right time to come home.
When visitors come to the house, they are often shocked to hear his booming voice even while they are still outside. He talked on the phone for a few hours today to various friends and relatives.
He is fascinated by hearing people tell their own stories of what they witnessed during those harrowing days of which he has no memory.
Tonight he asked me when he can start going out! I have hidden his car keys, but what can I do? He's a man of the people.
We decided that it was time to depart from Kenya and allow Bayo to continue to convalesce back home in Nigeria.
We arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport about 6 a.m. this morning. I had asked for wheelchair assistance for Bayo because he is still not too steady on his feet. The wheelchair escort was a real blessing. However, right near the end of the process, they almost didn't allow us to fly because I didn't have a letter from the doctor stating that Bayo was fit to fly. Oh no! Well, Kenya Airways called their doctor and she spoke with me. When she heard what Bayo's diagnosis was and the anti-coagulant he is on, she was satisfied. That was a close call.
We had an uneventful 4.5 hour flight westward from Nairobi to Abuja.
But here's where the story gets interesting. While we were waiting to deplane, we saw two wheelchairs waiting at the bottom of the stairs on the tarmac: one for Bayo and one for an old man on the flight. As we descended the stairs, Bayo decided that he wasn't going to use that wheelchair. It's like he had renewed strength now that he was back in Nigeria.
Bayo walked into the airport terminal on his own strength. We were then put in separate lines because of having different passports. He finished long before I did and then stood at the carousel to gather our two bags. I allowed Bayo to do the leading as we cleared through customs.
While we were on the plane, Bayo had told me that he wanted us to stay at a guest house in Abuja so he could rest before going to Jos on Monday. But then, while we were driving into Abuja from the airport, he said that we should just go to Jos. Ok, fine with me.
We ate at a restaurant that serves really good Nigerian food. Bayo ordered amala with egusi soup, cow skin (pomo) and cow leg. I could practically see him salivating as he sat down to eat it. He savored every bite--and ate more than he has since he's been sick. The Nigerian food infused life into him. I could see that this is the medicine he's been missing. Meanwhile, I enjoyed my own pounded yam and okra soup.
And then we headed to Jos which took about another 4 hours or so.
It was so good to see all of our family once again. It's just good to be together under one roof. It was definitely the right time to come home. I had purposely left Bayo's phone in Nigeria, but now that he has it, you better believe he's using it!
As much as I wanted Bayo to rest in Kenya for awhile longer, I can now see that this is exactly what he needs: to be in the country that he loves.
As we were in the car on the way to the hospital in Jos on Friday, Feb 20, I texted one of our doctor friends: "Bayo very ill. Bringing him now." The doctor made a point to meet us in the emergency room and get the process moving quickly. Bayo was cared for by a very competent team of doctors who also happen to be our friends--good friends. Our relationship with them extends beyond the hospital; even our children are friends.
I saw six different doctors working on him throughout the day and into the night--there may have been more. They really did their best for Bayo. I saw them going beyond their normal duty/time. They were working to save their brother.
After Bayo stabilized overnight, one of the doctors was absolutely giddy with joy! I saw another doctor come into ICU a bit later and touch Bayo's leg to do a quick temperature check for himself. He was thrilled that his temperature was now normal, along with his other vital signs. We all knew that the major storm had already passed.
They said we should proceed with the evacuation because Bayo was still very sick, but at least he was now stable enough to travel. Bayo was still not able to speak at that point. God did the major miracle right there in the Jos hospital. The rest of the medical journey was to investigate what the real problem was and to get his body healed.
We'll always be grateful for the initial work the doctors did on Bayo to help save his life right there in Jos.
One of the doctors texted me the lyrics to "Always" as we made our way to the hospital in Kenya:
My foes are many, they rise against me. But I will hold my ground I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm My help is on the way, My help is on the way.
Oh, my God, He will not delay My refuge and strength always I will not fear, His promise is true My God will come through always, always.
Troubles surround me, chaos abounding My soul will rest in You. I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way, My help is on the way.
Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.
On Friday, February 20, just after Bayo had his seizure at the hospital, I called my parents in Arizona. I knew I would be waking them from their sleep, but this was a life-and-death situation. I was crying and telling them to pray for Bayo. They immediately called their friends, also waking them, and asked them to pray for Bayo.
We continued to communicate throughout the day. At one point, my mom said, "Do you want us to come?" Without missing a beat, I said, "Yes." And then with a little fear, I added, "Do you have visas?"
Mom said, "Yes! Do you remember that the last time we applied for visas, we were given 2-year multiple entry visas?" Oh wow. That's right. We all thought it was a 'mistake' back then. They had applied for single entry visas, but were granted 2-year multiple entry visas instead.
In case you don't know about Nigeria and visas, let me give you a little tutorial. A traveler has to apply for a visa at least a month before the planned travel date. It might be possible to get it expedited within 2 weeks, but it's always best to allow more time than that. It is never a rubber stamp process; many visas are denied. If my parents did not already have their visas, they would not have been able to help us in this situation.
(A side note: when we arrived at the airport in Kenya, we got our visas within 10 minutes. Cost: $50 each. This is normal for a Kenyan visa; the visa is issued at the border or international airport.)
My mom called a travel agent at Menno Travel and asked him to get them a flight on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. He called them back and said they were booked to fly out of Phoenix on Saturday at 10 a.m.! Amazingly, the fares were the lowest they have paid in years! Normally my mom takes about 9 months to prepare for a trip to Nigeria. This time they did it in a day. Some of their friends and relatives pitched in and helped. My aunt and uncle took my mom's shopping list and went to the store to buy goodies for the grandkids. I don't know the rest of the stories...but I'm sure she'll fill me in when we meet face-to-face.
When some of our friends heard that my parents were coming, they thought my parents were going to join Bayo and me in Kenya. I said, "No, I need them in Nigeria for the kids; I can handle Kenya." Knowing that they were with our kids and being a stabilizing factor for them made all the difference in the world for me. I was really able to focus on Bayo in the hospital without worrying about how our kids were doing. In fact, I knew the kids were probably having a great time enjoying their grandparents and all their goodies.
Although the Atlantic Ocean separates us most of the time, my kids have actually spent quite a bit of time with their grandparents. We get to spend time with them every other summer in Minnesota, and then during our off-years, they come to see us in Nigeria. Because of this closeness, I knew my parents could walk in the door and pick up right where we left off.
I will always be grateful for their help and presence during our time of great need.
At 69 & 70, my parents still have a lot of spunk--as long as Grandpa gets his afternoon nap!
Bayo's MRI on Wed night (checking something near the gall bladder) did not reveal anything abnormal so he was discharged as planned today. Unfortunately the discharge process took about 5 hours, and that was even after I had run around a couple of days earlier trying to line everything up. It was too much of go-here, go-there, check-this, check-that. I had to tell one of the administrators that their discharge process does not match the otherwise excellent services we have received at the hospital. It felt like an archaic system that they are all used to, but to a newcomer, it was terribly frustrating and convoluted. This is the only bad mark I would give the hospital. Otherwise, we were both completely impressed with the level of care Bayo received.
Bayo was loaded up with an arsenal of medication. The blood thinner (for blood clot prevention) is the most important medication. We need to be very faithful with him taking it every 12 hours. The doctor said he needs to be on this medication for at least the next year.
I said good-bye to two of my main hospital friends. They were so sweet and encouraging. I really enjoyed my visits with them and the things I learned about Kenya from them.
The ride from the hospital to where we are staying was a chance for Bayo to catch a glimpse of Nairobi and form some impressions. That will probably be his main tourist outing! He doesn't have the energy to see any of the sites or animals of Nairobi.
We are still talking about when to fly back to Nigeria. We both want to get there soon, but I want to make sure he has the strength for the journey.
Thanks for joining us on this journey! I hope to have a few more stories to share on Caring Bridge before I slow down my activity here. I'm hoping that I'll be able to carry the momentum back to my blog Establish the Work of Our Hands atwww.marybetho.blogspot.com.
Well, we are hoping to be discharged on Thursday. That's the plan from the docs. Bayo had an MRI about 5 p.m. on Wed to check for something near his gall bladder. If we get the all-clear on that, then we'll be able to be discharged as scheduled.
I've been looking at flights from Nairobi to Abuja. I think I'll give Bayo a day or two to adjust to life in the real world before we make that flight. I want to be sure he's strong enough for it. At least he'll get to start wearing 'civilian' clothes tomorrow. But actually, we can't complain about the hospital attire. He's been given a clean set of blue pajamas everyday--at least it's not one of those gowns!
That's all for today. Thank you for your continued prayers.
So, what led up to the drama of Friday, February 20?
About a week before that Bayo was not feeling well. He had a blood test at the lab, and it was positive for malaria parasite. The doctor prescribed treatment for malaria.
Let me give some background on malaria in Nigeria. Malaria is the main sickness that everybody gets. If it's caught in time and properly treated, the body will resolve it very quickly. Bayo probably has malaria about four times a year. I refer to his own cases as 'walking malaria' because it's never bad enough to keep him down. He still goes out to work as usual, but he may go to bed earlier than usual.
I remember hearing Bayo comment at least twice during his treatment, "This medicine seems too strong." It was the usual medicine; there was nothing unusual about it. I think he was making that comment because his body was not responding as it normally would.
On Thursday afternoon, a doctor prescribed a stronger malaria medication for him. After Bayo took that, he ate and then fell asleep.
By morning, I knew that he was really sick, but I didn't know how sick until someone took a good look in his eyes and said, "He's semi-conscious." Finally something clicked in my brain, and I said, "Let's go!" About 4 people struggled to load him into a car; he couldn't walk or talk by this time. I sat in the backseat with him and thought it strange that he couldn't lean against me. His body was rigid; his neck and arms splayed at stiff angles.
In the emergency room, they got an IV into him, and then they started wheeling the gurney to the ward so they could place him on admission. And here's where the real nightmare began. While he was being pushed on the gurney over the bumpy sidewalk, he suddenly went into a seizure. A friend of ours told me later that when I called the name of Jesus, he looked at Bayo's face and saw a moment of calmness come over him.
The continuation of this story is in the CaringBridge story of Feb 22--The Power of Prayer.
Initial diagnosis and what we know now:
*The doctors in Jos were focused on cerebral malaria or meningitis at first and then later said possible viral encephalitis.
*The doctors in Nairobi saw no sign of malaria in the past two weeks--so maybe Bayo had a false positive on his initial test.
* Bayo had a CT scan, MRI, EKG, EEG and a whole host of blood tests in Nairobi. Basically everything came back clean except for blood clots in the lungs.
*The Nairobi doctors could not test for meningitis and encephalitis because they had already determined that Bayo had some blood clots on his lungs, and doing another lumbar puncture could result in a blood clot at that location. Since Bayo arrived with a diagnosis of possible encephalitis, the doctors are continuing to treat for it.
* The big question is: when did the blood clots occur? Were the clots the cause of all the drama on Friday, Feb 20? The neurologist told me that blood clots in the lungs could potentially cause a seizure if the brain is not getting enough oxygen and this could also cause the brain to lose the ability to speak.
*Or did the clots occur after we arrived in Nairobi? Generally clots can occur if someone has spent a long time being bed-ridden, but that was not the case for Bayo. He was only bed-ridden for 3 days before the clots were detected.
*The high fever (104) in Jos would not have been related to blood clots, but most likely to some infection.
*If he had the clots in Jos, then how did he stabilize when none of his medications was for treating blood clots?
There is some mystery in Bayo's condition and diagnosis, and I'm ok with that mystery; I don't have to know all the answers. I truly believe that God heard the prayers for Bayo from around the world and chose to allow him to stabilize overnight. Bayo was still very, very ill at that time, but nothing like the night before.
Medical mystery? Miracle?
Well, I have had a front row seat in this drama, and I will have to say, "Miracle!"
Bayo's team of doctors came around this morning. One of the head doctors said Bayo will be discharged on Thursday. It seems that some of the junior doctors were calculating Bayo's days in a different way. This head doctor wants to make sure Bayo gets his full 10-day dose of medicine. Ok, so we'll plan for Thursday.
I've made friends with a woman I met in the lounge where I nap a few days back. We had a great talk about Kenya, Nigeria and life in general. Her 19-year-old daughter is in the female ward recovering from meningitis. She was on admission back in Nov/Dec and basically recovered, but then in February, she lost the use of her legs--a residual effect from meningitis. So now she is undergoing physiotherapy and learning to walk again. She's really making good progress. We have developed a pattern of visiting each other on a daily basis--one day we will visit her, and then the next day she will visit us.
I've met a handful of Kenyans during our time here--mainly taxi drivers, doctors and nurses. It is always so interesting to hear their impression of Nigeria and Nigerians.
For starters, they simply can't believe that we have come from Nigeria to Kenya for medical treatment. I have heard this from the doctors, nurses, casual acquaintances, and taxi drivers. This just doesn't fit with their view of Nigeria as the "giant of Africa." They feel they are far behind Nigeria in many areas. They are largely influenced by all the Nigerian movies that air daily on their TV stations.
I've heard a few of them refer to Nigerian women as being very strong and powerful. Once again, they are seeing a lot of this from the Nigerian movies, but I really feel that this is true. Nigerian woman are incredible leaders--and this skill increases with age.
The women here love Nigerian clothing--and especially the beautiful headties. One nurse was talking about all the beautiful colors of headties that are available to Nigerian women, and how they find the perfect matching color. In general, women don't wear headties in Nairobi on a daily basis--maybe just for a special occasion.
Well, that's all for today. I'm tired so good night!
Bayo continues to improve every day. The doctors told us that they expect to discharge him on Tuesday. We're happy about that! In general Bayo doesn't have much of an appetite--or is it just that he's tired of hospital food? Rice, rice, every day. Honestly, we can't complain. Bayo is just someone who likes lots of variety with his food. I made some guacamole for him this morning which he devoured with corn chips--and asked for more. So I'll make some before heading to the hospital in the morning.
Now that he's in the general ward, the visiting hours are shorter than when he was in the other wards. Visiting hours are 12:00-1:30 and 4:30-8:00. They are very strict! In fact, at the closing time, the guard comes around and kicks you out--even if you're sitting quietly behind the curtain. It's actually good because then everyone on the ward really gets a chance to rest. But that means I have 3 hours to kill every day. Sometime I rest in one of the lounges that has lots of couches, but recently I've been walking to nearby shopping centers. It's just fun to see what's available here. They have a lot of really beautiful malls. I even got my hair cut one day. I have also enjoyed going to an outdoor vegetable market right near the hospital. They've got all the same fruits and vegetables that we can get in Nigeria plus a few I've never seen before. Today I bought roasted corn from a man who was roasting ears over a charcoal fire. In Nigeria, only the women do that.
Bayo and I were both thrilled to have a family from Jos visit us in the hospital today! I had not remembered that they were living in Nairobi, but they heard in a round-about way that we were at Aga Khan in Nairobi. The man even wore his Yoruba cap in honor of Bayo. Guess what they discussed most of the time...Nigerian politics! Bayo needed that connection today.
All of the doctors and nurses have been calling him Adebayor because they are fans of Togolese soccer player, Emmanuel Adebayor. I was surprised that he has been Adebayo and now Adebayor--and they say it easily--I guess because they have a frame of reference for the name.
The neurologist wants to meet with me in the morning so I'll be heading over earlier than usual. I guess the neurologist was asking Bayo questions about his sickness, and Bayo said, "I don't know. You'll have to ask my wife." He's definitely missing a few days from his memory. And that reminds me, I still need to fill in the back story to Bayo's illness...stay tuned.
When we arrived in Kenya last Sunday night, the doctors went right to work on Bayo with all kinds of tests as well as a CT scan. By the time they finished all that and shared their first impressions with me, it was well after midnight. The doctors told me I could go and then we would continue tomorrow. I’m sure they saw the confusion on my face. In Nigeria, we are used to sleeping in the hospital with our loved ones. That’s not an option here—unless you are in a private suite, I suppose.
So, they explained some places I could go—they said there was a guest house just 200 meters from the hospital, but under no circumstances should I walk there during the night time. They said it is only safe to walk from 8 a.m. til 6 p.m. Oh yes, what was it I had heard about rapes and robberies in Nairobi?
Well, the next problem was how to get a taxi because walking outside and flagging one down was just as dangerous. One of the nurses called a taxi driver that is known by the hospital. He took me to the guest house, but the guard said there was no room in the inn. So I told the driver to take me to a well-known place. He took me to a place called Mayfair which was nearby.
It was gorgeous—and expensive. I’ve never paid even half that price for a hotel room in the U.S. But it was almost 1 a.m., I was in a fairly rough part of town, and my husband had just survived the most harrowing experience of his life. This was not the time to go bargain hunting around Nairobi. I handed over my credit card without a second thought.
The room was beautiful and peaceful. I had deep peace in my heart from the miracle I had just witnessed. God had strengthened my faith through the experience. I put my head on the pillow and slept.
The next morning I made a connection with my friends who used to live in Jos and have enjoyed their hospitality immensely ever since.
Health update: Bayo continues to regain his strength. Thanks for your prayers.
A week ago at this time, I briefly passed through one of the darkest times of my life. I knew it would forever be a watershed moment--but at that time, I didn't know which direction the water would flow. Bayo is incredibly humbled that God saw fit to give him more time. Bayo is quite overwhelmed with emotion when he thinks of what God has done for him--and for the tremendous outpouring of love we have experienced.
We have experienced the Body of Christ in a wonderful way during this past week. Different people with different gifts have provided for our needs; some have even anticipated needs that we didn’t know we had.
The most amazing thing to me during this medical journey was the concerted prayer around the world that asked God to spare Bayo’s life on Friday/Saturday.How else did all of those out-of-whack vital signs stabilize over night?
There are so many stories of prayer that I will never know,but allow me to share just a few that I heard:
Late afternoon on Saturday, one of Bayo’s relatives called,and we told her Bayo had stabilized. She said she had just come down off the mountain where she and her pastor had been praying for him all day.
I know that Bayo’s siblings prayed all night long for his life. When Bayo was coherent on Sunday, he spoke briefly with his senior sister on the phone. She said she was not going to stop praying that prayer until he comes home from Kenya.
One of Bayo’s friends from young adult days told me he prayed in tongues for about two hours in the night for God to spare Bayo’s life. He said it’s been a long time since he’s prayed the way he did that night.
So many people have shared that they contacted their own network of friends to pray for Bayo’s life. Many told me they did an all-night prayer vigil for him that Fri/Sat night when his life hung in the balance.
The Body of Christ lifted us up in prayer and also met our physical needs. I can’t list them all, but let me mention a few.
Some went without sleep, running here, running there in the middle of the night to help us make plans for the evacuation.
Some showed up at the hospital with the plan of staying overnight with me in the hospital. And they anticipated the things we would need to have in the hospital.
A family in Jos gave us dollars for the journey. I sent them a text that they are “too much.” They responded that we are family. We are not actually related—not even tribally. What kind of family is that? That’s the body of Christ.
A friend gave me more phone credit than I have ever put on my phone at one time. I thought it was excessive at the time, but now that I’m out of the country, phone charges are very excessive, and I discovered that she anticipated needs I didn’t even know I would have.
My neighbors are just "too much." They literally jumped in and did anything they could to help us. On Saturday when I was preparing for the evacuation, one of them just sat in my living room and answered my phone so I could take care of some details.
We had not seen the people I am staying with in Nairobi for 18 years, but they opened their hearts and home to me at a moment’s notice.They now have some other visitors who just arrived so I have moved to a different apartment on their compound. Unbelievably, a woman I have never met before said I should come and stay in her beautiful apartment while she is out of the country for awhile. Oh God, look at how your people take care of each other.
Another family that I have known from years back loaned me a phone to use while I’m here. It’s much cheaper to call Nigeria from a local Kenyan line than on my Nigerian line that I have here.
The family of the old Kenyan grandmother in the bed next to Bayo prayed for him and encouraged him yesterday. They struck up a conversation with me, and when they discovered that we are strangers here, they asked where I was staying. I know that if I didn’t have a place, they would have offered me a place to stay.
I saw Bayo with a pair of bathroom slippers/flip-flops and just assumed the hospital had given them to him. Later I learned that the mother of Grace, a patient in the HDU ward, had allowed him to wear them.
People in my mission that I have never known before have come to encourage us and support us during our time as “strangers in this land.” They are genuinely concerned about us and strive to meet any needs that we have.
My parents have been well taken care of by my neighbors and so many in the Jos community. So many meals have been brought to them that I don't even know if my mom has cooked yet. Someone else brought them a phone to use so they can keep in touch with us as well as people in Jos.
My sister-in-law got the CaringBridge site started—I just had to login and take over.
Those who have the gift of giving have given generously to help us with the weight of expenses not covered by insurance.
Friends in Jos temporarily covered the Jos hospital bill until I can get back to clear it. They anticipated that it would be difficult to scrape together that much cash on a weekend, and they didn’t want anything to delay our medical evacuation on Sunday morning. (In Nigeria, the patient can’t leave the hospital until the entire bill is cleared.)
For things I have forgotten to mention or don't even know about, God has seen, and is surely pleased that the body of Christ is alive and well.
Health Update: Another great day. Still making progress. Pray for his appetite to return.
Well, I had three goals for today regarding Bayo's health:
1) Make sure the procedure doesn't happen because he no longer has blood in his urine. 2) Get Bayo out of bed for the first time in 6 days. 3) Get Bayo moved out of HDU (High Dependency Unit) to a general ward.
Visiting hours start at 11:30 for the HDU. I got there by 10:30 so I could see the doctors in case they still wanted to take Bayo for his planned procedure. I was prepared to be an assertive advocate for Bayo's health. However, I didn't see any doctors as I was waiting to get into the ward.
When I entered the ward, I was shocked to see Bayo out of bed, sitting in a chair! He proudly reported that he had already been cruising the HDU and even taking himself to the bathrooom. Yay! I don't think he was even aware of my goal for the day. Throughout my visit, he got up a few times, and I was even surprised at how quickly he was moving without any assistance.
He told me that the doctors had come around in the morning and decided not to do the procedure because his urine is clear.
Then I told him, I'm going to ask these nurses about moving you out of HDU, and he said the medical personnel already told him he's moving out today.
Wow. My whole agenda for the day was already taken care of! Exodus 14:14 says: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. I know many people have been praying that for us.
Today Bayo got his first real shower in 7 days. Wow, was he happy!
Apart from all that good news, Bayo was even more upbeat today than yesterday. I really saw the old Bayo coming through today. In fact, sometimes I had to tell him to lower his voice--if you know Bayo, you'll understand that.
In other news, the 24 page magazine spread on Nigerian elections has been a big hit. We're about halfway through it. Whenever I take a significant pause, Bayo launches into his own political comments replete with varied inflections and accompanying hand gestures. I sat there thinking: Wow, this man is BACK! There is nothing wrong with his brain.
I was ready to pack our bags tomorrow, but the doctor rained on my parade. He said it's very important to finish the course of all Bayo's drugs: anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and most importantly, the drugs for his blood clots. He said it will take about 5 more days of hospitalization. Because of the blood clots in the lungs, the doctor cautioned us that Bayo's body will have to demonstrate certain readiness factors before he will be able to get on a plane.
No problem, but let me tell you, it's going to be hard to keep a well man in the hospital! I'll be looking for some more good reading material, that's for sure.
Bayo had a great day today! When I got to the hospital in the morning, it was immediately apparent that he was really starting to feel like himself. He was much more alert than he has been. I realized that he did not remember some of the stories that I told him since he regained consciousness--so I told him the stories again.
I'm so happy to report that Bayo no longer has any blood in his urine! That just cleared up today. The doctors had already planned to do a procedure tomorrow to figure out the cause of that bleeding. I had told them that it was all from the catheter. They wanted to figure out if he had blood clots in his bladder or even cancer of the bladder. I said, "No, he never had any blood in his urine prior to having a catheter." I really did not want that procedure because I felt there was no problem, and I really didn't want him to have general anesthesia after the trauma he has been through--unless absolutely necessary.
As the doctor was going, I said, "What about the EEG?" He waved his hand in the air, and said, "Normal."
They didn't talk about the blood clots in the lungs today. I guess he's on the blood thinner which should take care of the clots over time.
It looks to me like we just need to get him strong and back to Nigeria.
Speaking of Nigeria, today I saw a magazine called NewAfrican. The cover story (Feb 2015) was devoted to Nigeria's elections: New Hope or No Hope? It's a 24 page spread all about various details of Nigeria's elections which were supposed to take place on Feb 14, but have been postponed until March 28. I thought Bayo would enjoy this magazine so I bought it.
After his dinner, I started reading it to him. He hung on every word. As I would read a statement, he would say, "Yes! Yes!" or "It's true!" He was so focused. I had to chuckle at myself because I get so tired of constantly hearing about politics--and now, here I am, fueling the very thing! There are two things Bayo is really passionate about: Jesus and Nigeria. So, if my reading this 24 page article to him gives him joy and something to focus on, then that's just great. And maybe I'll even learn something in the process.
When Bayo's health deteriorated so rapidly on Friday, Feb 20, my friends and I started making arrangements for a medical evacuation out of Nigeria. Thankfully we have medical insurance which will cover most of the cost. I knew it would involve a small plane which would transport Bayo (and hopefully me) to the nearest adequate facility where he could receive care. My first thought was South Africa, but the company decided to send us to Kenya.
The company was very easy to work with. We made numerous calls throughout the night to get all of the details worked out. My friends went and got our passports and took them to someone who could scan and email them. They did a lot of driving across town that night. I'm very grateful for all of the people who had their hand in the details so I didn't have to do that. Overall, I would say the evacuation process was much easier than I thought it would be.
Our medical evacuation plane from AMREF “Flying Doctors” left its base in Kenya on Saturday morning and headed for Nigeria. It arrived in Abuja, Nigeria on Saturday evening and the crew overnighted there. Sunday morning, we left the Jos hospital in a real ambulance (though completely stripped down and empty). Bayo’s stretcher was on the floor, and I sat on the floor next to him. The ambulance driver and doctor sat in the front. We had been trying to leave early enough so we could avoid all of the roadblocks on Sunday mornings in Jos. (There are major roadblocks around churches every Sunday morning due to ongoing security threats.) However, we got a bit of a late start, so we immediately ran into a roadblock at about 6:45. At first the soldier refused to let the ambulance through so the ambulance driver started reversing on the road to find another passage, but finally the soldier relented and let us pass. It took about an hour to get to the Jos airport which is far out of the city. This was the first time I was alone with Bayo so I started to tell him his story. He was amazed, and had absolutely no recollection of those two harrowing days.
I was thankful to have some of our friends at the airport to help us navigate various issues. The ambulance would not be allowed to drive onto the tarmac unless we paid an exorbitant fee. Since Bayo was stable by that time, our friends just took him on the stretcher and wheeled him through a passenger’s normal route. The small plane flew in from Abuja about 8 a.m. There were two pilots, a doctor and a nurse on the plane. With Bayo and me, the total was 6—and there wasn’t room for even one more person. We were a bit of a United Nations team: 3 Kenyans (one black, one white, one Indian) and a New Zealander, a Nigerian(Bayo) and an American (me). The doctor was an anesthesiologist from Auckland, New Zealand. He takes a month off from his job every year and does medical evacuations with AMREF. He really enjoys the change of pace and the challenge of the work.
The doctor from the Jos hospital exchanged information with the AMREF doctor and soon we were on our way to Abuja. It was just a 20 minute flight to the capital. They had to fly that route because Jos is not an international airport. We re-fueled in Abuja and then flew for about 1.5 hours to Yaounde, Cameroon for another re-fueling stop. We were the only plane there with any activity going on. While we were waiting, a young airport official came to get some information from us. She greeted us with “Bon jour,” and I involuntarily gave a Hausa reply of “Yauwa.” Oops! She quickly realized that none of us spoke French. She laughed and wracked her brain for a few English words, and we got the job done. I enjoyed her personality and her ability to laugh at the situation.
Bayo did very well on the flight--he was strapped onto the stretcher the whole time. He had oxygen and his vitals were constantly monitored. He was given drugs at the appropriate times.
The original flight itinerary had another stop planned for Entebbe, Uganda. However, the pilot said, depending on the weather, we might not have to stop there. If the winds were favorable, we could make it to Nairobi without a re-fueling stop at Entebbe. He made that call in the last hour of the journey. Thankfully we were able to make it all the way to Nairobi. We landed at a small airport at about 7:30 pm (5:30 Nigerian time) so we didn’t have to deal with the hassle of the large international airport. An official helped us quickly get our visas. $50 each; no paperwork; 5 minute process. Wow!
Bayo was loaded off the plane on his stretcher and into the waiting ambulance—a completely equipped ambulance—wow. This time I sat in the front with the driver while the doctors and nurses were in the back with him.The siren was not used because Bayo was stable.
While we were on the plane I had asked the nurse what hospital we were going to. I thought she said, “Anglican.” Then I asked the ambulance driver what hospital we were going to, and I thought I heard him say, “Akakan.” I said, “Anglican?” He said, “No, Akakan.” Then I saw the name of the hospital in bold letters on top of the building: Aga Khan University Hospital. Ok! Yes,I’m a visual learner.
Bayo was whisked in and immediately attended to in a very thorough manner. After the initial assessment, I was told to go and book him for admission. So I filled out paperwork, etc. The doctor drew all kinds of blood samples and then he was taken for a CT scan immediately. After that he was taken to his room in ICU.
Let me just say: this hospital is impressive. It feels like its on par with any well-established U.S. hospital. The ICU unit is comparable to an ICU unit in the U.S. Bayo was hooked up to all kinds of electronic monitors. The doctors and nursing staff are very professional and courteous. The hospital is sprawling and very aesthetically pleasing.
The hospital attended to him from about 8 p.m. til midnight. A second doctor met with me just after midnight and shared their initial impressions and plan. And then it was time to figure out where to stay…but that’s a story for another day.
Now, let me put in a plug for medical evacuation insurance. If you live and work overseas, do you have medical evacuation insurance? I have observed 3 medical evacuations from Jos over the years, but I never thought it could happen to us. What a blessing it is to have that option in case it is needed. Our insurance does not completely cover an evacuation, but it greatly lessens the burden. To my understanding at this point, we will have to pay about 15% of the evacuation bill. But any price is worth it to save my husband's life.
Health Update: Bayo had a pretty good day. He was downgraded (or is it upgraded?) from the ICU to the HDU (High Dependency Unit). The doctors seemed more concerned about the blood clots on his lungs today than they had yesterday. They even suggested that the blood clots may have been the root cause of his distress in Jos. They said pulmonary thrombosis (blood clots on the lungs) could have caused that great difficulty he had in breathing. Bayo will be on an anti-seizure medication for about a month, but the doctors believe his seizures were secondary to whatever the main problem is. They are also trying to figure out why he has blood in his urine--is it just from the catheter or is it something else? Bayo had an EEG done today, but I have not heard the results yet. So far I have met 4 doctors on this particular team. I like the fact that they are really trying to solve this mystery.
Bayo is having a hard time regaining his energy--I suppose it will take time--and some of his drugs may make him a bit lethargic. He has not been out of bed for 5 days now. Please continue to pray for complete restoration and healing.
Bayo continues to regain his strength daily. He started eating food today. He is feeding himself and looks to be quite ravenous.
He has had a very thorough series of investigations at Aga Khan University Hospital. The CT scan, MRI and various lab tests only revealed a few blood clots on his lungs. He is on blood thinner to clear them out. He now needs to regain his strength from his near-death experience. Hopefully he will soon be allowed to get out of bed so he can exercise those muscles.
I specifically asked the doctor if there was any sign of the seizure and convulsions on the brain scan. He said no.
The night of our arrival, the doctor spent some time asking Bayo questions, trying to determine if he had any memory gaps. What is your name? Where do you live? Who is the President of Nigeria? When were you born? Who was the President of Nigeria when you were a child? Who is this woman? (pointing to me) Where did you meet her? When did you get married? How long have you been married?
I had to ask the doctor to pardon him on the last two because he doesn't even know those on a good day!
He knows current information as well as past information. Today he saw a woman he hasn't seen for 17 years, and he knew her. The only thing he is missing is a recollection of 48 hours in Jos. His mind is completely blank about that experience, and I'm really glad he doesn't have a memory of how awful it was.
There does not appear to be any residual damage from the seizure or the convulsions. I am so grateful, not only for his life, but also for his intact mind and personality.
O God, thank you for this healing. I will never forget it in my life.
Wow, Melissa. You did such a great job of capturing that timeline. Thank you!
We are in Nairobi, Kenya. Bayo is in stable condition in the ICU at Aga Khan University Teaching Hospital. I'm in a hotel room all by myself, and I'm at peace--incredible peace. I'm standing in the middle of answered prayer--and that's a sweet place to be.
On Friday morning, I knew my husband was sick--very sick, but I didn't envision we would have a brush with death that same day. He had an ugly seizure at the hospital in Jos while they were transporting him from the emergency room to his hospital room. His neck snapped to a terrible 90 degree angle (chin over the shoulder) and I knew that was bad. He started foaming at the mouth. I called the name of Jesus, and I had to move away--I couldn't watch the rest of it.
We got the word out and people started praying. Our friends sent the word out to their friends and on it went.
They worked on him and did a lumbar puncture to test for meningitis. That test later came back negative, but they had still started the treatment. He was basically comatose. Sometimes his eyes would open, but there was no recognition. At about 6 p.m. Friday he starting convulsing. He was on oxygen, had an IV, had tubes all over him, but he could not breathe. His chest was heaving involuntarily, trying to breathe. His eyes were bugged out, like a wild, drowning man. It was one of the worst things I've ever seen. To me, this went on for hours, but my sense of time may be distorted. I stood outside the ICU listening to his wretched breathing through the wall, and begged God to spare his life.
The doctors worked on him for a long time, but they could not regulate his breathing, his pulse, or his temperature. Two of the doctors called me into a lounge for a private conversation. At that point, they believed the sickness was viral encephalitis. They said they didn't have the medicine for this disease. In fact, they didn't even think it was available in Nigeria. One doctor said, "We have cast our bread upon the water. We have given him an anti-viral medication, an anti-bacterial medication, and even an anti-fungal medication." Without using too many words, they told me they had done all that they could do. Visions of widowhood kept lurking in my mind although I refused to dwell on them.
My friend who was with me throughout the ordeal said, "What about an evacuation?" That was the first time it had crossed my mind. Yes! Let's try. Through numerous phone contacts, emails, and scans, the evacuation was planned within a few hours to the nearest adequate facility. The company initially looked at Kenya and South Africa, and then decided to send us to Kenya.
We continued to get the word out for prayer for Bayo. Visitors continued to stream into the hospital. I couldn't meet them in the main reception area; I didn't have the heart to sit there out in the open. I kept myself in a quiet corner near the ICU and people met me there and prayed with me. I kept peeking through the ICU door to watch his chest. The heaving gradually reduced, but his breathing was still ragged.
Around 1 a.m. his breathing became much more regular. The doctor was very surprised. We found a ray of hope and grabbed it. By 3 a.m. I saw that he was breathing normally--and I allowed myself to sleep for an hour or two. By 6 a.m. ALL of his vital signs had STABILIZED. His temperature went from 104 to 98.6. The doctor was AMAZED. What an incredible miracle. I can never forget that.
Throughout Saturday, Bayo was calm, but although his eyes were often open, he was still not quite there. Also, he could not communicate verbally. In the afternoon, I noticed that he would raise his eyebrows in response to what I was saying. I also saw him try to open his mouth, but no words would come out. We asked God to restore his speech and everything that makes him Bayo. I went home to be with the kids and finish packing for the evacuation. When I got back to the hospital, so many people were rushing out to tell me "Bayo is talking! He knows us by name!" Wow God. Another miracle.
Hour by hour, we have seen him coming back to this side of life.
I will save the evacuation story for later (I.must.sleep.now) but let me leave you with this anecdote: As Bayo was being wheeled into the ICU at the Kenyan hospital (a strictly out-of-bounds area with an automatically locking door and guarded by a soldier!!), I was directed to a lounge where I could wait. As Bayo realized that we were being separated, he said, "That's my wife! She's part of my healing! Let her come!" And they did. And that's the real Bayo right there.
Mary Beth and Bayo are currently getting ready to depart for a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. Rick and Sandi are currently somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, en route to Nigeria. Josh and I are here, setting up a Caring Bridge site to help keep all of Bayo's prayer warriors informed. I'm hoping to get Sandi and Mary Beth set up as co-authors as soon as they are able. For now, you are stuck with me.
If you are here, you may know some of this story already.
I will have to get Mary Beth and/or Sandi to fill in the back story later, but for now, I will start with what we know. Josh and I woke up for work Friday morning to discover a message left by Sandi at 4:30am, Minnesota time. Our hearts sank and our stomachs instantly knotted up. Calls at that time of day are NEVER good. We learned that Mary Beth had called to say that Bayo was in the hospital, and the doctor's thought he had either cerebral malaria or meningitis. They were to do a spinal tap to determine what was happening. We started praying, and we alerted our friends and other family to do the same. Soon, a whole army of prayer warriors had been mobilized
By the time we arrived at work, we were getting word that a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis was made, antibiotics were started, and the next three days would be critical. Bayo was in the ICU. Josh spoke to Mary Beth during his prep hour, and he reported that she had never sounded so distraught.... Scared. Our sister, who had walked through tragedy with countless individuals, was facing a very uncertain future as her husband was unresponsive and doctors had little hope.
A few hours later, we got a new message that sent us reeling. A diagnosis of viral encephalitis had been made. Bayo was fighting for his life--he needed a miracle. We updated our end of the prayer chain, and struggled through our day until we could get home to actually talk to each other and the rest of the family. By this time, the updates on social media had been seen by many people and we knew that many more were praying for Bayo. A med-evac was being considered, but we were not sure whether it was possible, or whether it would be to South Africa or Kenya. More prayers...
After supper, we got the most encouraging report of the day. Bayo's vital signs were stabilizing, and the med-evac would happen. Bayo and Mary Beth would go to a hospital in Nairobi while Grace, a family friend who is like an older sister to the kids, would stay home with Tobi, David, and Lily. We also learned at this time that Rick and Sandi would be able to leave for Africa Saturday morning. God paved the way for them to go. They still had current visas, tickets were available (and cheaper than the last time they went), and family and friends in the Phoenix area were able to help them make all the preparations necessary to depart on an international journey on very short notice. We were thankful for their ability to join the Oyebades. More prayers were lifted up.
At bedtime Friday night, we prayed for uncle Bayo, Aunt Mary Beth, and the kids with Evan and Marin. The worry was evident on their sweet little faces, but we assured them that God was in control, no matter what happened.... I was secretly praying for wisdom to help them deal with an outcome that did not match their request for God to heal their uncle.
We woke to another ringing phone at 4am. Oh no. We both grabbed our phones, and while Josh listened to a message from our county sherriff's department about a windchill warning (to take effect at midnight...), I checked my Facebook feed. I could hardly contain my excitement when I read Mary Beth's most recent post. Bayo had stabilized during the night, his doctors were "giddy with joy," and Mary Beth knew, without a doubt, that a miracle had happened. She had been told to prepare for the worst, but our God had provided hope where there seemed to be none.
This was great news. On our way to the Twin Cities to visit with Jason and Sonja Saturday afternoon, we got another call. Rick and Sandi were on a layover in Minneapolis, and Mary Beth had called to say that Bayo was alert. He recognized his family, and the kids were able to see him. A text message from Mary Beth moments later confirmed that Bayo was not only alert, but he was talking, and "his personality was coming through." Praise the Lord! The trip to Nairobi would still happen to continue treatments and monitor Bayo's recovery, but the journey felt much less like a life-saving mission than it did just 24-hours earlier.
Our family is thankful for so many things. Above all, we are thankful for God's provision and protection for Bayo. We are thankful that no matter what happens going forward, He holds us. We are thankful for the faithful, prayerful people who pleaded with Him, and who continue to do so. We do not know what lies ahead just yet, but we go forward confidently and in faith. God is good! All the time, He is good!
If there is news before Mary Beth or Sandi can take over, I will certainly update here. I imagine they will fill in details that I do not have. Feel free to leave messages here for Bayo and Mary Beth to read. Your thoughts and prayers are indeed felt.
Life has taken me from the Midwest to Africa. Africa was firmly planted in my heart at age 17. I realized that dream when I landed in Nigeria at the age of 26. Currently I am doing the hardest work I have ever done, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Every day is full of challenges. At times life is too painfully raw, but God reaches down to us in those times of great need and helps us to press on and offer hope.