Sunday, August 16, 2015

Beckham's Accident in Istanbul

I have been wanting to write a blog about our experience in Turkey ever since it happened, but have struggled to make the time.  But today because of a sinus head cold that Roman got, passed to Beckham which he passed to me I find myself unable to do anything but sit, read and write.  I am glad God at least knows how to slow us down even if it at times takes sickness. 

So to set the stage for this story, last month we had a conference in Slovenia for our mission ReachGlobal.  The airport we were going to fly into was Venice, Italy because it was the cheapest airline tickets out of the all the airports near the conference in Slovenia.  Since we were already going to be at the airport in Venice, we decided our family would spend two and a half days there as a vacation before the conference. 

Our plane took off from Bucharest Monday morning at 6:05 A.M., and we were supposed to arrive in Venice at 2 PM.  We had a four hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey.  During the layover Beckham ran around the entire airport playing and having a great time spending some of his pent up energy from the first flight.
About 10 minutes before we were to board the flight to Venice, Beckham tripped while running and hit his head on a square metal railing.  Blood gushed instantly from the gash on his forehead.  It was evident that it wasn’t just a small cut and would probably need stitches.  The airport medics arrived in about 5 minutes, put on some butterfly stitch band aids and said, “He might have a concussion.  You cannot fly until you see a doctor.”

We were told to go to a different gate and that they would switch our tickets to the next flight so we could see a doctor.  Praise the Lord that over these next few hours Beckham just sat patiently and quietly in the stroller watching things on the IPAD, and that his cut had completely stopped bleeding, because we went to where we were supposed to go and they said to go to a different gate.  That happened about 4 times till finally someone said, “You have to go to the ticket counter outside of the airport.”  We then had to figure out how to get an entry visa to the country and wait in line for that.  After that we had to wait in line to have our passports checked to enter the county.  After that we had to wait in line at the ticket counter to have our flight switched.  All of that took 3 hours.  

During this process I cried a lot.  Beckham seemed to be doing fine from the cut other than being super tired.  Jamie checked his eyes several times to make sure they dilated fine checking for a concussion.  I didn’t know what to do so I tried to do what we were told, “Switch your tickets and go to the hospital.”
Now we were at the exit of the airport in a city of 15 million people and knew nothing other than we were supposed to go to a hospital.  I went to the clinic in the hospital to see if they had a doctor or could at least advise me where to find a hospital.  There we ran into the woman who treated Beckham at the waiting gate right after his accident.  She immediately began to rebuke us for not going to a hospital.  They called the airline manager who also came to rebuke us for not going to a hospital.  They took Beckham’s passport and put a travel ban on it so that he could not fly without a CT-SCAN.  We kept saying, “We are trying to go to a hospital, but we just got through security!”  Finally, the manager of the airline said that they would take us with a shuttle van to a hospital and send a translator with us.

The hospital was an experience in itself.  Our “translator” spoke broken English and no one else at the hospital spoke any English.  The halls were lined with hospital beds full of people who looked half dead.  The operating room next to where we waiting had civilians walking in and out of it.  There was a lot of crying.  Just being there was hard.  What made it harder was the doctor never even looked at Beckham.  He never checked his eyes to see if they were dilating properly, he never looked at the wound, and when I asked through the translator about stitches he scoffed at me and said, “That is impossible with a two year old.” 

We were told we had to get the CT-SCAN to check for a concussion, but the machine terrified Beckham.  He would wail and squirm every time we tried to put him on the bed.  “He has to be asleep”, we were told.  We sat around waiting for several hours until he fell asleep and tried to do it then.  However, when we transferred him onto the bed of the machine he woke up and started wailing again.  They then told us that they would give him something to sleep, which made us both really uncomfortable, but we felt we had no choice.  We just had to wait for the doctor to come down and administer it to him.  However, the doctor never came.  Finally I asked, is that doctor coming to do that or not?  Our translator scoffed at me and said, “You can’t give a kid his size something to make him sleep.  It isn’t safe!”  I was furious.  I realized at this point how little English our translator actually knew.  He spoke enough to make Jamie and I think communication was taking place, but it wasn’t. 

We sat at this hospital for 7 hours until 10 O’clock at night.  I found myself praying all day.  “Lord, make this day end.  Make Beckham fall asleep.  Allows us to get this CT-SCAN.  Allow us to leave.”  Yet nothing changed.  We waited and waited.  Toward the end of the day when we found out no other doctor was coming, Jamie said, “Let’s pray” and I very passionately said, “I have been praying all day and nothing has happened!”  I felt so alone.  I felt abandoned by God.  We were supposed to be on vacation relaxing after months of “service to God” and instead I was experiencing the worst day of my life.  I just kept asking myself, “God, where are you in this?”

The doctor just kept saying, “Wait until he is asleep.  Spend the night here and when he falls asleep you can try.”   I would respond, “But we tried that and it didn’t work!”   Then we got the ultimatum, “You will stay here until your son gets a CT-SCAN.”  We were told our translator was going to go home for the night and we were going to stay at the hospital.  After Beckham got a CT-SCAN we could get a taxi back to the airport. 

At this time we had no more clean baby bottles to feed Roman and knew this hospital wasn’t clean enough to have his bottles washed there.  Praise the Lord, God gave Jamie the wisdom to call the US Embassy.  She told them, “We are basically being held at the hospital.  We are told we can’t fly until we get a CT-SCAN and it isn’t going to be possible with our son.”  They said that all they could do is recommend a different hospital called the American Hospital which had doctors trained in America. 

Knowing that staying the night a Turkish hospital waiting for a CT-Scan that would never happen wasn’t productive, I demanded that my translator take us to a hotel when he left.  “But you can’t leave!”  he said and angrily whipped out his phone to call his boss.  Handing the phone to me, I told his boss, “We are leaving the hospital.  We are not staying here. “ He replied, “You will not fly without the letter from the doctor saying your son doesn’t have a concussion.” 
After demanding for 15 minutes they finally took us back to the airport and gave us a hotel room for the night.  We were then told, “Tomorrow morning you are on your own.  We took you to the hospital and you refused.  You are on your own and you won’t fly with us.”

We got to the hotel about 11:30 at night.  Both the boys were beyond exhausted and emotional as were we, but it wasn’t over.  We still didn’t know what to do.  We thought about trying to take a bus, we thought about trying to look into if we were just blocked from flying on one airline or all the airlines.  “I just don’t know what to do” was all I could think.  The verse, “when anyone lacks wisdom..” came to mind.  So Jamie and I prayed for wisdom.  I sent an email to all of our prayer partners asking for prayer and instantly we both felt the Lord saying, “Tomorrow you will get up and go to the American Hospital.”  So we did.

It was as if we woke up different people in a different city.  We had a 50 minute taxi ride to the hospital and got to drive past lots of the tourist sites.  We got to see the Asian side of the city, the city wall from when it was Constantinople, the famous mosque, ect.  We had peace and were able to enjoy that day.  The doctor saw that Beckham was fine and knew he didn’t need a CT-SCAN so he wrote the letter for us with no problems.  By 8 PM that night we were in Venice.
That second day in Istanbul I felt God redeemed our time there.  The day before was the worst day of my life seeing Beckham hurt and knowing how traumatizing the hospital experience was for him, yet day two I felt God’s love poured out on our family.  My instinct was to pray that God would remove the circumstances, but it didn’t happen.  God wanted me to mature in my faith and trust of Him.  I learned what it means to have peace in the storm, because I never would have been able to sleep that night at the hotel if I hadn’t heard His voice telling me what to do.  I would have stayed up all night worrying. 

When we flew away from Istanbul I was exhausted and emotionally drained, but I had a new found trust of our God.  I knew He had been with us even if He had felt distant, and I knew he would never leave us.  Although that day was horrible and many times I had to say to Jamie, “Please deal with this because I can’t” as I walked away to cry, by the next day God had answered your prayers for us and I had a confident belief that God would use that day for our good and His glory.  God takes the broken things of life and redeems them.

I am a different person because of our experience in Turkey.  I am not emotionally stronger.  I am not more prepared for traveling emergencies.  I am not more skilled at making decisions in emergencies.  I have just learned at a whole new level what it means to ask for wisdom in the midst of an emergency, and I have seen with my own eyes that our God will not abandon us.