Yesterday, I walked out onto an outdoor second story landing. The sky was clear, and I was surrounded by green hills full of maize and tea trees. There was a nice breeze. It wasn't blistering hot like Tennessee currently is, or bone-chilling cold like Michigan inevitably will be. And it's been pretty much this way for the last seven months. I could be lulled into a sense of "I haven't given anything up. Look at this great life!" And it is a great life, but there are counter moments, when I feel quite the opposite. My primary conclusion, though, is that we do sacrifice, but not necessarily the expected sacrifices.
What we don't give up:
1. Nice weather. This is not the Sahara desert. I'm beginning to forget what cold feels like. And hot, for that matter. I don't have AC, heat, or a coat.
2. Food. Yeah, there are a few things that we pine for, and Pacific Rim is at the top of the McLaughlin list, but it's not really that big of a deal. Today, my lunch was a choice of leftovers, muttar paneer or pad thai.
3. Work lifestyle. Yes, I take more call than I would in almost any family practice job in the US. But, I go home for lunch everday, and almost everyday I get a tea break. I work with people I really enjoy, and almost all of my schedule requests get honored.
4. US Medicine. You can keep your billing and coding regulations, and continue to order your CT scans for no other reason that you're afraid of future lawsuits. There are things we give up, but there are also things I don't miss at all.
What we do give up:
1. Friends and family. This is expected and it is correct. It's quite difficult sometimes, and for those whom we left in the US, it may be even harder, since this was not their choice.
2. Education. Not a big deal for the McCropders currently, but as Anna is heading to kindergarten next year, Heather would deem this list incomplete otherwise. Homeschooling can be phenomenal education, but it seems like a lot of work.
3. Feeling at home. Partly this heals with time, but I don't think I will ever feel as comfortable in Africa, as I do in the country where I spent the first 28 years of my life. In the US, I know how people generally think and conduct everyday affairs. I know what it's like to be from there. Not so now.
4. Assurance at work. There is no confirmatory test. There is no letter from the specialist to confirm or correct your initial impression. To be here is to endure a very expanded feeling of not quite knowing if your diagnosis or treatment is correct. I always wish I could see the answer key at the end. I think I would provide better care in the future. Alas.
5. Good outcomes. It comes to this. If you want to be where you can make a big impact, you have to be there in the times when you couldn't. Hands have to get dirty. And it can be very very hard.
And so it was that Saturday was a tough morning. Overnight call had brought patient disasters, some of which we should have been able to handle, but for a variety of reasons didn't. Those are the moments of doubt, not the inability to drink the tap water or sleeping under the mosquito nets (which is actually kind of fun, if you ask me).
In other words, I have given your our requests for prayer. If you are willing, pray for us along the lines of the issues above, that we would persevere and be willing to sacrifice these things as we need to, in order to glorify God through bringing health to the needy.