I Can’t Pee – PART I

There are some things in life that I know I take for granted.

Like electricity. Or shelter. Or running water. Or access to food. Even hearing and sight. Even my new smart phone.

But until now, I have never really appreciated my ability to use the bathroom.

Yes, I am writing to you about a rather awkward problem – a problem that has escalated to the point of a visit to the emergency room at King Faisal Hospital this afternoon.

You have to admit, it’s kind of funny.

I can’t pee.



Last week, I went to a sketchy neighborhood clinic to get tested for malaria. I had slept for almost three days straight and, in addition to extreme fatigue, I had perpetual nausea, muscle pain, and sweating. The doctor took my temperature (he didn’t take my blood pressure, no questions about chronic illness, allergies to medicine, etc) and then said he would test me for malaria.

I’m one of those people that really hates needles and I need a period of mental preparation before I am okay with getting a shot.

So I asked the doctor, “Are you going to give me a shot? Are you going to test for malaria with a shot?”

He completely ignored me.

Then, all of a sudden he grabbed my hand – immediately, I realized the situation and started resisting and pulling back.

It is fine, it is fine,” he insisted, and then swiftly pricked my finger.

I was indignant. And quite miffed.


The good news: I don’t have malaria.

The bad news: The doctor told me I had a cold.

Why it is bad news: I definitely do not have a cold.


The problem has since gotten worse.

Last week, I had to wait ten minutes. Yesterday, I waited over half an hour. At first, I thought that this was just some weird highly embarrassing temporary issue, but it has gotten ridiculous to the point that I went to the King Faisal Hospital today. (I decided to go to a privately run and recognized hospital as opposed to another sketchy health clinic).

After two hours of waiting in line and sitting in waiting rooms, I finally saw the doctor.

Doctor: “So, what exactly is the problem?”

Me: “I can’t pee.”



Thirty minutes later, I left the hospital. This particular doctor could not draw any conclusions, so I have an appointment with a specialist on Thursday morning.

Maybe I have a parasite? Or one of those amoeba things?

I have no clue. But for all you people out there who use the bathroom and never think twice about it, let me tell you: it is a privilege.

Well, that isn’t exactly what I want you to take away.

But I do hope that you appreciate the many comforts around you and recognize the standard of living that you take for granted.

For instance, what would life be like without reliable internet? Or brown sugar? Or hot water?

Let me tell you.

It has been terribly frustrating to not be able to check my email from home. Each broken gchat conversation and nearly-impossible skype video call has coincided with an increase in homesickness. I miss cookies and brownies and moist chocolate cake and pastries – there is no brown sugar here, so all the pastries are dry and flaky. I also recently discovered that the Rwamagana School of Nursing (where I will be teaching English through the Fulbright in January) does not have hot water. I tried to take a cold shower the other day – just to prep, you know – and I couldn’t do it.

Even as I read this over, I am embarrassed by how pathetic I am.

More and more, I am realizing the things that I take for granted. Even with my privileged standard of living in Kigali, I am still experiencing the disparities between my life here and life in the States.

But it is experiences like these that teach me humility and help me to have a clearer perspective of life without all of its fluffy layers and crutches.

I may be a powerhouse back at home, but I am only just a baby here.

Without control of even the most basic functions (literally), I am slowly learning to crawl without support and hope that soon I will also be able to walk.

Please pray for a smooth and speedy recovery!



(I hope this made you laugh 🙂 )