I Hate Typhoid


Shannon Dingle talks about her trip to Uganda and the hospital visit that made her truly appreciate medical care at home.

How do you learn what it means to be scared?

When a little one with HIV, who just became your child the week before, spikes a fever and headache and body aches, and you have to rush to a hospital in the middle of the night for help, and the first hospital doesn’t have any nurses or doctors there at the moment, “scared” takes on a whole new meaning.

As you hold your dear one, burning up and lethargic, on your lap down dirt roads and past boda boda stands, it doesn’t matter if you’re not much of a crier. Tears fall.

As a kind man who has become a friend comes with you into the second hospital, you are thankful, even without knowing that he asked your husband’s permission to stay with you and protect you since it was dark and late and could be dangerous. The same dear man walked an hour to a different hospital two nights before because his baby had croup and he didn’t have the resources to get a ride there. The same dear man walked to another hospital a few years before with a sick baby who died in his wife’s arms during the two hours before the doctor arrived to see their child. 

Yes, I learned what it means to be scared, but my friend taught me a greater lesson about kindness and sacrifice. I learned much more too…

How callously I treat the riches available to me at home. 

How spoiled I am to be able to reach an on-call nurse or doctor when I need help in the middle of the night. 

How blessed I am to be able to quickly and easily go to our local children’s ER whenever my kids need care, knowing that everything medically possible will be done for them.

How little difference it makes if I carried a child in my womb for nine months or in my arms for a few weeks… my heart hurt in the same way as it would have for Jocelyn or Robbie as I waited for medical attention for the one I carried through the hospital in the dark.

How encouraging social media can be, as I returned home to find that our internet had run out but still had ten comments to read that had come through on my phone before the web cut out.

How thankful I was for a medical experience that, despite not meeting the standards expected in the US, was perfectly adequate as professionals did what they could with all the resources they had.

How the 37,500 Ugandan shillings – roughly 15 US dollars – were a small price to pay for seeing two doctors and two lab techs, getting test results quickly, and leaving with two prescriptions.

How precious it was to return home to one sleeping baby girl and four awake children who couldn’t sleep without kisses from Mommy and assurance that their sick sibling was home safe.

How exhausting and joy-filled parenting can be, all at the same time. 


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