Our Children’s Accidents and Ailments

“We make our decisions and often our decisions then make us.” Anon

It was great to have a nurse in our family though Doris’ background in education also equipped her for the work we did in Brazil. But when I tell of some, just some of our family’s excursions into illnesses and accidents you may imagine we needed two fulltime nurses.

One of the saddest pictures I’ve ever taken was of our two children sitting on our couch in the city of Rio Preto—sad because they both had chicken pox. They had pox in their hair, over all their bodies and even on the bottom of their feet. Years later those pox scars showed on Monica’s face and no doubt they are still there. Doris was the only one that could make them as comfortable as possible —she was mom as well as a nurse. Soon I came down with the same bug. All that I recall about the chicken pox is that I was sick. Yes, I too needed that nurse.

Less than a year later we moved to the dusty village of Neves that was surrounded by coffee farms. Vernon was not yet two years old when Doris discovered one evening that he had a very sore arm. She was giving him his bath and he complained when she touched it. So off to the local doctor in the village. He declared that Vernon had a fracture. This is how it happened–at least we guess this is how it was. The only thing from which a little boy might fall in our yard would be the low wall between our home and the street. No doubt that wall was mountain climbing to a little boy but he ended up with what is called a “green stick” break. No cast was necessary but Doris kept it bandaged to make it more comfortable. Another broken arm happened when we lived in Rio de Janeiro—that time the break gave him another elbow.  We have written that story up in detail in another posting.

The hepatitis Vernon picked up in Rio was of course more serious than a broken arm. We lived in a nice home and paid limited attention to the dirty creek that ran behind our lot. We had warned our son not to go near it but that was difficult to do when other boys would gather minnows from it in bottles or cans. Nothing worked to keep him away from the creek. When other boys played there—his inner logic would be, “If they can, then I can too.” The water there was especially dangerous for some of it came from a local hospital—with the result that Vernon picked up hepatitis A. The doctor we contacted had worked among the indigenous Brazilian Indians during an epidemic of hepatitis and with his experience he knew to prescribe an antibiotic that within weeks solved the sickness. I believe his help was an act of Divine care for without proper treatment hepatitis may leave severe liver damage. But it was not long before Doris picked up the hepatitis bug from Vernon. So the two of them were in bed with severely restricted activities. That was tough for an active young lad. During that time I was the nurse–does that make you smile? It should, though I did my very best.

It was there in Rio that a young lady came to our home looking for work as a maid. Since we had been in Rio only a short time, had no maid yet and being of a trusting mind we hired her. For a while we thought everything was going well till our children told us they were being mistreated when we were both absent. We learned that Vernon would sit on the top step of the stairs in our two story home anxiously waiting for us to return. That picture even now in my mind brings me to the verge of tears. At the same time we found the maid was stealing from us. She had to go.

Still there are good things that come to moms and nurses to make life easier and balance out the hard times. I’d call it Divine providence. The good side of that coin there in Rio is that both of our children enrolled in a private school run by a wonderful Baptist family. It was a delightful experience for them for the language of the school was the same as that of our children–Portuguese. I have pictures of Monica and Vernon dressed up for graduation decked out in robes and mortar boards. Just imagine–Vernon’s graduation was from Pre-Kindergarten and Monica from grade one. We are still friends with Noemi, one of their teachers. It is unfortunate for our children that our family soon moved away from Rio to Sao Paulo. That is another story, a difficult one that I may not tell about,.

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