Thursday, November 1, 2018

A way to help . . .

This is David.  David was playing with his siblings when he fell and broke his femur.  He got to spend 4 weeks with us, stuck in his bed, as his leg was in traction to get the bones to heal.  If you were a 3 yo kid and had to sit or lay on a bed for 4 weeks - you would probably go crazy, or drive your mom crazy.  David's mom did a great job of trying to entertain him and I would talk to him about Noah's ark above his head and see which animals he knew, and would get him puzzles to do - but that didn't keep him occupied that long.  One day I went to our storeroom and found a Children's Activity Pack and brought that to David.  David was all smiles and the next number of days he was showing me all the different pictures he colored and was playing with his cars.  It didn't occupy all his time, but it sure helped.  

This week, I had 5 kids who were 3 and up who are on the ward and who will likely be there for 1-2 weeks due to their illness, I went back to the storeroom and found more activity packs and had some happy kids.  It doesn't take much, but can be a great way to help the kids who get to be in the Hospital for more than a night or 2.  If you want to help, just follow the instructions below:

Collect the following and put in a 2 galloon Ziploc bag:
- Coloring Book
- Box of 12 or 24 crayons
- Writing Notebook
- Small toy - hotwheels car, a ball, other
- Pencil and Pencil Sharpener
- Stickers
- Other??? - up to you

Send to:
Nazarene Hospital Foundation
3282 Miller Court
Medford, Oregon 97504
- Put Children's Activity Packs on the Outside of the Box

They will be put on a container and sent to Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, where we will be able to keep future David's occupied while they spend a few days with us.  Thanks in advance.  

Saturday, October 27, 2018

When it is hard to say "Next"

Throughout the day, I open the door and call out “Narapela” or “Next” and look at the end of the waiting bench for the next patient to come.  It is almost instinct, a patient leaves my room, I follow them out, reach the door and look down the hallway for who is next as I call out. 

In some ways, as I stand at the door frame and call out next, I am forgetting about what has just transpired in that room.  Maybe I just told a patient that they have terminal cancer and I can’t heal them, maybe I told a mom or dad that their son or daughter has TB, maybe I told a young mother that she has HIV, maybe I told a family that their daughter is healed from pneumonia and they don’t need to come back.  It doesn’t matter what just happened, when I stand at that doorway in some ways, I have to forget and let go of what just happened, because there are still patients to see today, and they need my medical expertise as much as the last one did. 

Many days, I call out next without difficulty, at times, even relieved that a patient or family has finally left my room.  But there are times when calling out next is hard.  Times when I would like the opportunity to sit inside my room, with the door closed and cry about what just happened, or cry out to God about the lack of healing that has occurred or the injustice that has happened.   Times when I just need a little bit more time to remember, to process, or to think about what I just saw or what just happened.  These are the more trying times.

On Monday, I had one of those times.  I have cared for Jordan for a number of months now, as he has battled acute leukemia. I knew a few months ago, that our attempts to cure him with chemotherapy didn’t work, and tried to mentally prepare myself for the downward spiral that would happen, but preparing didn’t help.  For the past month, I have seen Jordan a number of times in the ER – getting IVF or getting an IV Antibiotics – whatever little things we could do to keep him going, at times admitting him for a blood transfusion.  Each time, I would look at him and wonder how much longer he had and yet each time, he would look at me and smile, and I knew we had some time left.  Not so on Monday. 

Monday, I walked into the ER to see another patient, and saw Jordan with his parents around his bed.  As I got closer, he didn’t look at me, he didn’t smile, I hugged his mom and knew we were at the end.  I managed to hold back the tears until I turned and walked away.  Walked back to my OPD room, where now I was expected to call out next and forget that this little boy that I (and many others) had poured our hearts into him and his family in the past year trying to fight his leukemia, was about to leave this earth. 

In some ways, I wanted to be able to say next, to forget that Jordan was about to die, to try and ignore the heartache and the tears, but you can only ignore it so long.  I looked at the patient bench, as I tried to hold back the tears on my way to my clinic room and saw that the whole bench was full.  Full of other men, women, boys and girls who were hurting and sick and came for healing in some form (whether physical or spiritual).  They were sitting on that bench because they needed a doctor to see them and treat them, they came to see me.  So, I blew my nose and called out next, knowing (hoping) that I might be able to bring healing and life to one waiting, since I couldn’t for Jordan.    

Jordan went to be with the Lord on Monday evening, and today (Tues) I got up and went to work, and in doing that, it was like calling out next.  At times, I hope that by going to bed, I can forget the failures, struggles and heartache that happened the day before.  But the real challenge is not to forget what has just happened, but to learn from it, to allow the heartache, the struggle, the failure, or the success to help make me a better doctor or missionary today.  To call out next, knowing I have something more to offer today than yesterday, or to this patient than the one before, and to give your all to what you are doing today, even when/if it is hard and hurts.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Helping goes beyond the physical

Our hospital is in the middle of the country of Papua New Guinea - so we get people who travel a long way to come to us.  Some come to us because we are "their hospital", even though it may take them 2 days to walk to us, others come, because of our reputation and want to see if we can help them.  Recently, we have had a number of folks who have come out of the "bush" to see us.

We had a young girl who had swelling of her abdomen, legs and face and was found to have renal failure.  After trying multiple attempts to help her, nothing seemed to be working and she was getting worse and so the family asked if they could take her home.

We had a middle aged man who came who was found to be anemic and we gave him blood, but he also had renal failure and despite our efforts, he passed away.

I saw another middle aged man this week who came with a history of seizures.  It took him 3 days to walk to us.  He came because he is still having seizures and he wanted to know if we could stop them.  Unfortunately, I can't, and so I asked him where his closest Health Center is that he could keep getting medicines from and he said 1-2 days.  I did my best to explain that he really needs to take medicine each day, and that I would give him as much as I could (6 months in this case), but then he is going to need to walk to that health center as the supply is finishing to get more.

These patients come hoping for help and may spend a lot of time and money to get to us, and often we can't help them physically - it is either too late or there is just nothing we can do.  I don't know exactly what they are coming for, I don't know what their definition of "help" is.  To some it might be actual physical healing, to some it might be just hearing what the nurse or doctor says to know what they are dealing with.  I know at times it might be discouraging to them or to us, if we are only looking at how well we help based on physical improvement, but I am thankful that we are able to offer more.  There are many times when physical improvement isn't going to happen, and I hope they are helped by knowing they are loved by us and the the Lord, as that is the best help we can give them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

African Safari Part 3

A bird of prey eating it's lunch
A male lion
I went on the Safari hoping to see as much as I could, but didn't have a list of what would make the safari a success.  Everyone who goes on a safari wants to see the "Big 5" - lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino and elephant, and I sure hoped I would too, but really I just wanted to see it.  I was hoping to see at least 1 lion - but we saw over 30.  One day, I asked Lawrence what animals we could expect to see that day and he said - we will see what we see.   Which was true, we weren't at a zoo - he had no control over what we would see and neither did we.  We saw the ones who were near our vehicle each day and enjoyed them, thankful for all that we saw.   In all, Pam and I identified over 30 different species of animals and over 55 different species of birds that we saw in just 6 days.  

Lion showing it's teeth
Our vehicle with top up
Baby elephant showing it's tusks

Blue Monkey

Some of the highlights included seeing lions eating a buffalo they had recently killed, seeing cheetahs from a distance and watching them work their way closer and closer to us until they were just outside the vehicle, finding a leopard hiding in a tree, and all the elephants.  I loved the variety that we saw each day and even though we had already seen a number of zebra or wildebeests or elephants to see them do something different each day or see them in a different way was exciting.

Some have asked if I would go again - yep, in a heartbeat.  Sure I saw "everything" I wanted to see, but you never know what else you might see.  Maybe next time I would get to see the lion taking down the buffalo, not just eating them, or maybe I would see the migration of the zebra and the wildebeests and the crocodiles hunting them, or a baby giraffe.  God's creation is amazing, and I am thankful to have had the chance to see some of it, and until next time I will try and enjoy the beauty of His creation in PNG, today.

Hildebrandt's Starlings
Von Der Decken's Hornbill

Friday, October 12, 2018

African Safari Part 2

Our Safari Group
2 zebras
While on Safari we drove around in a 4x4 vehicle complete with a open top, so you could stand up and look out and take pictures.  There were 7 of us in our car, plus our driver Lawrence.   Lawrence has been driving and guiding folks on safari for over 10 years now and was great at picking out and identifying the animals we were seeing - even from a distance.  He helped us find the "Big 5" and more.

A lake in the Seregeti

A hippo
Cape buffalo
Our safari took us from Arusha, Tanzania into Lake Maynara National Park, the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and Tarangrie National Park and back to Arusha.  We spent between 1-2 days in each of these places, driving between 1-5 hrs each day to get to the next park.  Each park was a little different with the terrain and the animals that we saw.  Some parks had larger herds of animals, some had more Elephants or Lions, some had a watering trough where animals visited and we got to see them up close.  We stayed in our vehicle throughout the game drives, but were definitely close to the animals, at times with the lions just right below us, or the Elephants crossing right in front of our vehicle.  

Giraffe stretching to eat
Baby Elephant drinking at watering trough