31 Days · africa

#write31days {Waking to Reality}

I awoke slowly, coming out of the drug-induced sleep, quickly realizing that I was in pain. I had made it through surgery, and it seemed so surreal.



Two days before, I had been speaking with my Peace Corps supervisor, putting touches on a grant application that would fund 8 gardening projects across 3 villages, providing me with ample work for the coming year.

And now, I lay between two white sheets in several-bed hospital ward in the capital, waking up after surgery. Definitely nothing I expected when I boarded the plane and flew to South Africa. I barely slept, awaking deep in the night sobbing from pain, waiting for hours for the nurse to bring me medicine.



A week before, I had been visiting the schools and clinics in my village, helping them envision a village-wide greening project, starting with gardens at their organizations. I would work with hundreds of villagers, attacking food insecurity at a grassroots level.


The next day, I woke and knew I needed to call my family. Somehow, I found my phone, dialing my father’s number. “Dad, do you have a moment to talk? I have something to tell you.” My voice probably wavered a bit.

You see, I didn’t tell them I was injured. Though I had fallen and was rushed to the hospital a full 24 hours before, I hadn’t called them. I only found out the full extent of my injuries and the surgical plans a few minutes before my surgery. And I didn’t have my cell phone charger with me, so I didn’t want to wake up and find a dead phone, knowing my parents would be waiting late into the night to hear from me, half a world away.

That call was the realization of their worst nightmare, and I know they were upset I waiting nearly 48 hours from the time of my injury to call. But I couldn’t put them through the misery of waiting for a phone call while I was deep under the influence of anesthesia.

When I awoke after surgery, I think I knew deep down that I would be going back to the USA. But it wasn’t until nearly 6 weeks later that I boarded the plane, with a broken arm, two suitcases, and a few tears.



14 thoughts on “#write31days {Waking to Reality}

  1. Remember when I said you should totally write a book? Yeah. You should do that. Your writing is so vivid. I’m at the edge of my seat! I know you said it was difficult to get these words out, but I am so glad you did!

    1. You are too sweet! πŸ˜‰ I still can’t believe this is the end of the month, nearly. I could probably write each day for a year and still have things to say. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have to start thinking of a book about my experiences. EEK!! (That scares me)

  2. What a horrendous experience! How scary! So grateful that you (eventually) made it home safely and that the Lord provided during such an intense trial. Thank you for sharing this window into your story.

    1. Thanks Kate. It was pretty awful, and I omitted the whole “getting to the hospital” part, as I’d rather forget it. But through it all, God was working.

  3. This sounds like quite an adventure (not of the good kind)! I guess it’s tough to go through all of that without your family around, in a strange country, and with the knowledge this might be the end of it all…Thanks for sharing!

  4. Dear Jen, what unbearable aloneness you describe and how brave you are! If you do have something on your heart to say everyday, that is called a book. πŸ™‚ We would all be your first readers when it comes out. Blessings from a fellow Iowa Girl.

    1. You are so sweet Mary! Thanks for your encouragement. I felt vulnerable writing about this period of time this week, and your words are so welcome!

    1. It was definitely a challenge. Some days I look back and wondered how I made it through without completely breaking down! πŸ˜‰

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