Yesterday after many hours debriefing screening day my heart had almost settled. After one of the meetings of the day I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to visit Connaught hospital where I had taken the young woman patient I had looked after the previous day. She had been trampled by the people pushing from the front of the crowd, desperate to be seen by someone that could help. I had heard a rumour that this patient had been brain damaged from lack of oxygen. And of course, on hearing that my heart had sunk, wishing that I could have done more, but knowing that I didn’t have the experience or equipment to have made a big enough difference.
On the way to the hospital as we were stopped in traffic, a man on the side of the road noticed our Mercy Ships vehicle and called out, “Mercy Ships. Thank you for coming! You are welcome in Sierra Leone.” Even after knowing what had gone on at the stadium, his call soothed my heart.
Arriving at the hospital I was full of anticipation of what I would see. As we walked in the gate I spotted her mother who waved to me at the same time. She pointed over to her daughter sitting opposite her. There she was sitting on a tiled bench! Her eyes were blood-shot and clouded over from her cataracts. The graze on her face had turned into a raw wound but it was clean and dry. I ran over to her and put my hand gently on her shoulder and explained that I had been the nurse who had brought her to the hospital the day before. How was she feeling? “Fine.” Was her response. So maybe not completely fine, but to me she didn’t have a hypoxic brain injury! She was able to walk around and talk when spoken to. Not long after we arrived she went to lie down in her bed and I was able to speak with her father about her condition. He told me she had been vomiting blood the previous night and that morning but she had had some fluids to drink and kept that down. The Drs thought she may have fractured her jaw which explained quite a lot of her behaviour. She had not had x-rays taken yet that they knew of, but she was able to speak and swallow. As I talked with her father and prayed with her, my heart settled. God has answered my desperate prayer in the landrover.
The rest of the nurses that had taken patients to the hospital were also able to see each one of the patients they had brought in or worked on at the stadium. We were all so relieved to see the answers to prayer and catch up on their progress.
While I was standing at the gate waiting to leave, an African lady walking past stopped and tapped me on the shoulder. She asked me if we were working here. I explained to her that we were visiting patients. She knew of the incident at the stadium the day before as she had been waiting there with her aunt who had a large lump on her jaw. She asked me where I came from. “Australia, do you know it?” To my utter surprise she replied, “Yes, of course. I live there!” Haha! She told me she was an Australian citizen and even pulled out her Aussie passport to show me! She had been visiting her parents who were living in Freetown. We continued a little conversation for a time and I encouraged her to listen to the radio for more news on further screening days for the ship.
What a surprise encounter! God has a funny sense of humour!