Friday, April 19, 2013

A typical Monday - well sort of

Mondays are always busy with a crowd of patients who have been sick for 2-3 days, but didn't want to pay the weekend fees, so they waited until Monday to come and be seen.  Today was no different.  I finished rounding on my medical ward patients and headed to the outpatient clinic to get a start on things.

One of the first patients I saw was a 10 yo boy who could barely make it into my room as he was walking slowly and limping the whole way.  I wanted to scoop him up and carry him myself, but the ache in my shoulder told me I couldn't.  His hands, knees, and elbows were swollen and deformed.  If you looked at the joints themselves, you would have thought he was 60, not 10.  His parents passed away, and now a distant relative is looking after him.  My heart went out to this kid, not only did he lose his parents, but every step he takes causes pain to shoot through his little body.  His adoptive dad brought him to us to see how we could help.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a medicine that he can take once and be rid of his pain, he will need to be on medicine for life, which is hard to do when you don’t live close to the hospital.  Before I could start to really get attached to him, I was asked to see a few patients in the ER and so I sent him to get some labs. 

A few patients turned into about 10, initially.  There were 2 people with pneumonia who I admitted, a 30 yo female who was beaten by her husband who finished the abuse by putting a hot iron rod into her vagina. There was a guy who sliced his thumb with his bush knife that needed sutured.  There was a man who was chopped in the arm by his wives’ brothers because he beat her up.  There was a very dehydrated kid who has had diarrhea for 2-3 weeks now and looked like he could die at any point.  There was a teenage girl who cut her ankle with her bush knife, but couldn't walk on it and needed an xray to see if it was broken.  There was a 6 yo girl who had a fever and cough who probably shouldn't have been in the ER, but needed seen.  An older man with dizziness and weakness who looked very pale and was anemic and needed admitted for blood and a 16yo boy who has been battling leukemia for the past 3 yrs and now has developed lymphoma too and is a lot of pain. 

After caring for these patients, admitting many of them, I headed back to the clinic to see the folks waiting since early morning to be seen.  There were a number who had chronic high blood pressure or heart failure or reflux who needed medicine refills, but also many with new problems.  An incarcerated hernia, a probable bone cancer in a 16 yo boy, a cancer of the cheek in a 50 yo lady, a 16 yo female who had breast cancer and was here for followup after surgery.  A number of kids with coughs, some with pneumonia who required antibiotics, others just reassurance.  A Bell’s palsy, herpes zoster, abscess of the thigh, radius fracture, fx/dislocation of the index finger, febrile seizures, neonatal sepsis, r/o appendicitis and more.  Barely a moment to breathe. 
One by one, the patients went home or found a temporary home in the hospital.  It was a long day, but a good day, with many patients being helped, prayed for, loved and shown compassion.  Toward the end of the day, Jim tells me that the guy who was chopped by the wive’s brothers, was the husband of the lady who was burned with the hot iron.  For some reason, he failed to mention that to me when he was telling me what happened and I am thankful I didn't know.  I struggled as I cared for the wife, with knowing what to say, how to comfort her after this horrible thing happened to her.  As I talked to her, I was thankful that I am not a PNG women married to a PNG man subject to abuse, rape, beatings, tortures and all which are seemingly allowed, to an extent.  To know what he did and to still show him compassion for his injuries would have been difficult, it was hard enough just caring for him in the midst of a very busy ER and very busy clinic.  

Later that night, I was left reflecting on that husband who tortured his wife.  God asks us to pray for our enemies, to give them our cloak, etc, but it isn’t always so easy when you are standing face to face with a person and having to do it.  I am thankful that God’s love and forgiveness are bigger than mine.  That God doesn’t hold grudges, doesn’t make us pay for what we have done, doesn’t love us only if we have loved others.  He sent Jesus to the cross while we were yet sinners, while we were still enemies of Him, he died for us, He proved His love for us.  Lord, thank you for your love and help me to love others as you have loved me.