No kidding. He even listened to my wife’s lungs, checked her reflexes, and discussed with us her ability to empty her bladder. I’m not making this up. It just happens that one of the doctors at the local urgent care facility is also a king of the Fulani people of Nigeria — Garukua Fulani Yagba West (king for life). Oh, and he’s white.
[The real point of this story is the article four paragraphs down, and I really want you to read it, so don’t let the next twenty or so sentences consume so much of your energy that you don’t get to (or through) the article.]
The straight story goes like this: We’ve had a crazy few days as a family, including Amy, the kids, and my parents being hit from behind in our car, Ella having a fever and then a low temperature (below 95), a subsequent trip to the ER in metropolitan Gilmer, Texas, and finally a delayed return home for my family (I was home while they were at my folks’ for the weekend). That’s where the story really gets good.
About the time I was expecting them home, Amy called and said they were getting into town and that she needed me to meet them at the urgent care place. Basically, she needed to pee really badly and couldn’t. Yes, I just posted that about my wife on the WWW. Hey, everyone pees, and you’d be in bad shape too if your body wouldn’t let you do it. It happens. Anyway, it had reached a point where she was worried something bad was going to happen, and all she could figure was that it was a nerve issue related to her back, which was sore from the accident. We did a whole crazy kid-shuffling thing, I got them back to the house for Britt to watch, and I got back to the urgent care place to be with Amy. It should also be noted here that I had not slept Sunday night, so I was grouchy and unhappy about the whole situation. Spending time at a doctor’s office (especially an urgent care outfit) is not something I relish when I’m well rested, much less when I’m sleep deprived.
By the time I got there, she was breathing in a paper bag. The intensity of her internal issues and the stress of the situation caused her to hyperventilate for the second time in her life (the first being our honeymoon – I’m not kidding about that either, but it’s not what it sounds like). Anyway, we spent the next hour or so there getting her all fixed up and getting to know Garukua Fulani Yagba West, or Dr. Tracy Goen as he’s known in his stateside urgent care clinic.
The story of how we discovered that he’d spent the last seven years caring for the people and cattle (turns out he’s an M.D. and a vet) of Egbe, Nigeria is pretty good, but telling that will only further increase the chances of you losing heart before you get to what I really want you to read. Suffice it to say we were stunned by how kind and thorough he was before we knew anything about him, then were overwhelmed to hear (then read) the story of his work with bush people on the other side of the world. We haven’t spoken with him for the last time.
I hate sending you to a photo-less version of this story. The print version contained several beautiful images of Dr. Goen with his people taken by a National Geographic photographer. If you can get your hands on a copy, do.
By the way, Amy and Ella Grace are both fine. Amy is still a little sore (and currently under the heavy influence of muscle relaxers), but we’re hopeful she’ll recover with no long term damage.