Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thank You

Many of you support Kudjip Nazarene Hospital through prayers and financial support.  Thank you for making it possible for us to continue to share and show God's love to the hurting and lost each day at Kudjip.  We couldn't do it without your support.

To learn more about how to support the Hospital - go here:

To learn more about how to support me and my ministry here - go here:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nash Family Visit

Megan and I on a boat in Madang

Playing Settlers of Catan
Kayaking in Madang

Handing out stuffed animals on Pediatric Ward
Luke and a traditional dressed guy

Luke hanging a sign

My sister and two oldest nephews came to visit me for 2 weeks beginning of August.  I had a great vacation with them while they were here and enjoyed showing them PNG and introducing them to those I live and work with.  We did some fun stuff like snorkeling in Madang and playing games, but we also packaged pills in the pharmacy, hung up signs around the hospital and gave animals to the kids in the hospital.  Before heading home, we spent a few days in Australia and enjoyed feeding kangaroos and seeing koalas and other Australian animals.
Graham and his alligator hat

Megan and I with a kangaroo
On a hike in PNG
With Miles and Graham
Luke and an emu
Luke snorkeling
Graham snorkeling
Luke feeding a kangaroo
Up in a tree house
Graham feeding a kangaroo

Megan, Luke, Graham and I with a Kangaroo
In front of the Nazarene Hospital Sign

Monday, August 1, 2016

The One

9 years ago, I left the world of US Family Practice and became a Missionary Physician.  As a Missionary Physician I care for patients and administer treatment in ways that I would have never have done if I was still in the US.  Diagnosing and treating cancer are some of those things that I do now, that I wouldn't be doing if I was still in the US.

One of the hard parts about caring for patients with cancer in PNG is that our options of treatment are limited.  We have about 6 basic drugs that we can give, but we have to balance the doses we give with our ability to support someone whose immune system is weakened.  Along with chemotherapy, we have surgery and at times radiation.  We hope and pray that the combination of the 3 will be enough for our patients, but way too often it isn't.  Outside of a surgical cure, we rarely get cures in patients with cancer.

Topias is treating to beat those odds.  Topias came in almost 2 years ago with an abdominal mass.  It was initially too large for surgery, so we gave him chemotherapy, suspecting he had lymphoma.  Thankfully, the chemo shrunk it down to a size that was small enough for surgery.  As surgery, the biopsy came back as a Wilm's tumor, a tumor of the kidney found in kids and one of the most responsive to chemotherapy.  We altered our chemotherapy a little bit and thankful Topias continues to do well.

He is usually happy when he comes inside to be seen, but still cries when Aunti Letti (what he calls me - where he got that name I don't know) and Dr. Bill do ultrasounds to look for any sign of the mass returning.  So far, we haven't been able to find any recurrence of the mass and are very thankful.  We hope Topias, the youngest of 5 boys in his family, grows up to go to school, get married and have kids of his own.  Until then, we will keep checking him for recurrence and thanking God for the one who has made it (at least for now), the one who has survived cancer despite our limitations, and keep praying for others to make it too.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Neurosurgery Success

We don't do a lot of neurosurgery, but occasionally when the opportunities arise, we do what we can/have to.  Last year, a little boy was having fevers and headache and then he lost the function of one side of his body.  At that point, we found on ultrasound what looked like an abscess in his brain, and were able to successfully drain it.  When he left the hospital, he was a happy little kid, but we weren't sure how he would do (wondering if we really got it all, would it come back, would he recover, etc?)  Now it is 8 months later, and he is doing great.  Mom brought him back because he had a little fever and she was worried he might have a brain infection again.  I reassured her that he didn't and was happy for the followup in how well this little one did.  Praise God for his mercies to us, being new each morning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Out of Reach

The Highlands of Papua New Guinea is not a place set up for folks who are handicapped or disabled. The roads are mostly made up of dirt, mud and potholes.  There are no handicapped accessible roads or ramps to allow those who need a wheelchair to get around.  Most folks who require a wheelchair are dependent on others - their siblings, their parents, their spouse or a friend to help them survive.    They help them get around, help them go out to use the facilities, help to do the work around the house, help do the gardening, help cook food, help earn money, etc.  Without the others, life is very difficult and what maybe normal to everyone else is out of reach to them.

It isn't just handicapped or disabled people who need an "other" - we all do.  We all need someone to help support us (physically, spiritually or emotionally), and when we are sick, we often rely on the "other" even more.  Our hospital is set up so each patient has a watchman - someone to help feed them, help them get out to the facilities, help to encourage them, keep their spirits up, etc.  Almost everyone comes with a watchman, but occasionally folks don't have one.

Anna doesn't usually have a watchman.  She is 12 years old and has been paralyzed for a number of years now, after being shot in her spine during a tribal fight.  She has been in the hospital for months now due to bedsores from not being turned when she was home.  We have been doing debridements and dressing changes for months and her wounds are getting smaller, but she isn't ready to go home just yet.

More than anyone, Anna needs a watchman.  She needs someone to help her get around, to help her get food, to help her get out of bed, to help her get to the facilities, to help her get to school, and more importantly to help her know that her life matters and that she is loved, despite being paralyzed.  The cement around our hospital only let's Anna go so far in her wheelchair.  She has become very adept at transferring herself from her bed to her wheelchair and back again, as well as pushing herself around in her wheelchair.  I have seen her too many times sitting in her wheelchair looking out at the world beyond her reach, and my heart has broken.

Broken for the future that is beyond her reach here in PNG, knowing that in another place she would be going to school and have something to look forward to despite the the confines of the wheelchair.  She would be able to become a lawyer or teacher or doctor or anything she wants.  She would be able to be independent, could get around without needing someone to push her over the rough uneven roads here in PNG. 

Pray for Anna, pray for her to know the love of her Heavenly Father and the love that all at the hospital have shown her.  Pray also for us to know what/how to help.  Some of the missionaries have been helping her to learn to read, and we have given her some little jobs to do to make some money, but we are a hospital, not a home.  We care for those who are sick and then we release them to the world outside to continue to care for them.  Despite the needs that we see everyday, we can't  be everyone's long term home.  But is there a way for us to help Anna now, or to help others like her, pray that we may know what that might look like, if it looks like anything.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

What a smile

He is about 3 years old, and to me, his smile is as cute as can be.  His parents brought him in saying he was having a headache.  I was hoping the headache was all he was having, but as I asked more questions, his parents reported that he also was vomiting and having trouble walking.  That combination of symptoms is usually never good, as it often suggests a brain tumor.  We hope that it isn't a tumor and instead is just TB of the brain, but without a CT scan we really can't tell.  I treated him for TB, giving him some steroids to help decrease the swelling, hoping to relief his symptoms, praying he will get better.  Praying he will be able to share that cute little smile with many more in the years ahead.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Gina returns to PNG

Last month Gina Porto came back to PNG.  She was here 3 yrs ago as a MK High School teacher, and returned this time as a PA student.  We became good friends 3 yrs ago, so it was fun to have her back and get to do medicine with her.   We did a few Sections together, which was fun, and we also went bird watching and tubing.  Our bird watching didn't prove as successful as we would have liked, but it as still fun to be out looking for BOP (Birds of Paradise).  She has one month left of her PA school and then will do a year of surgical residency before figuring out where God wants her to serve, many of us are hoping our paths will cross again in PNG, but we will see.