Friday, 21 September 2012

Can I Dare to Hope?

Sometimes at work if I sit and think of the sadness inside of the patients’ hearts sitting all around me, I could cry.  If I could see into the depths of their souls, there is hurt deeper than I have ever felt.
We have a man on the ward with one of the largest facial tumours I have ever seen and I have been on the ship for almost two and a half years now.  Part of the tumour has grown from his maxilla facial bone out of his face, so that one of his eyes is deep inside his face.  The tumour spills out of his mouth, stretching his lips so far apart that he hasn’t been able to close his mouth for some time.  The tumour has been growing now for 5 years and for the last 2 years he has only been able to take liquids as food, because he cannot chew.  His whole mouth is filled with tumour.

Yesterday he came to the ship for a biopsy.  We need to know what sort of tumour is growing before we can think about removing it.  I spoke to our amazing maxillofacial surgeon, who said he was very hopeful that it was benign.  He also said that he viewed the patient’s CT scan and the tumour goes far back in his head to the base of the brain.  Although this surgeon has performed many huge surgeries removing massive tumours, he needs another well qualified surgeon to help.  There is a head and neck surgeon arriving in about 5 weeks.  Now we wait for the biopsy results, praying it is a benign tumour and that we can keep this man alive until he can return for surgery.
The caregiver in the bed next to this man’s, asked for a curtain to be put around his bed, as his face scared her.  And my heart hurts for the feelings in both these people’s lives.  Yes, the tumour is scary to see, but there is a man inside of the face.  He has lived with this tumour for years now.  He has lived with people only seeing the outside and not his personality or soul.  People that walk past and stare, or just completely ignore, like he doesn’t exist.  But he does exist!
What does this man feel?  My heart aches to think of how he feels, how deep the pain in his heart is for the words or looks that he has endured over the last years.  And now my heart’s cry and prayer is for this tumour to be operable, for him to be strong enough to endure these next weeks and for him to know the love that we have from God, who can and will heal his heart’s pain and suffering.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The People's Palace of Hope

It seems as though life is suddenly on fast forward and I can’t seem to find the play button or maybe even slow play!

Our big screening day was on Monday 3 September, where over 3,500 patients turned up to a place called People's Palace, hoping to see a doctor and a cure for their pain. Of the patients screened 1,399 patients were scheduled for surgery or follow-up visits!

I was Team Leader, along with my friend Hannah, at the Histories station.  We had every potential patient (about 1,399 of them) come through out station and then on towards their specific specialty areas.  The area was set out with 18 tables for history taking, with a nurse and translator at each table.  Our nurses did an amazing job taking these histories, having consents signed and passing them on to the waiting escorts.  It is an amazing thing to see such great team work in progress.

I was able to walk around my team, answering questions and keeping the flow of patients to tables.  I felt so privileged to be greeting all of my potential patients for the next 10 months of scheduled surgery time.  I remember standing at the front of the waiting area for patients, with about 80 people sitting there facing me, seeing tumours on patients’ faces, some with tea-towels tied around their face to hide their shame.  Just looking over the crowd I could feel their need and know that for so many of them we could help!  The joy inside my heart ran deep, at knowing for so many of these patients, we could be a piece of healing in their lives.

After taking full medical histories for a few hours I was given the word, to pass on to my team,  to shorten the process to help get through the huge line of patients waiting outside in the hot sun.  Soon we were flying through our room of waiting patients, but they just kept coming!  After about 10 hours of history taking, we finished our work!  With so many helping hands, we quickly cleaned up our area and I headed upstairs to the Maxillofacial screening area to see the room overflowing with waiting patients.

The doctors at the 5 stations were working as fast as they could but there was still hours and hours work ahead of them.  By 7pm, as the sun was setting and light disappearing, we had to write out follow-up screening cards for the patients that were still waiting, to come back on Wednesday for continued screening.  By the time these patients were on their way out, the light had gone (no working lights in that room). We cleaned the room by flashlight and headed downstairs to the last few stations, still busy with patients.
By the time I left the People’s Palace screening site I had been there 14 hours, from before the sun had risen, until well past it had set and I was physically exhausted, but emotionally exhilarated by all that I had seen and been a part of, knowing what excitement was coming in the next few days.

Tuesday and Wednesday morning I ran around organising things and doing odd jobs to get D ward (my ward) ready for opening for admissions on Wednesday afternoon. At 1600hrs our first 8 patients of the Guinea outreach walked into the ward.

This little girl has already had her cleft lip repair!

And here I am now, Sunday afternoon (well it was when i wrote this, but now it is Tuesday!), lounging back on my couch in the back of my cabin, trying to find the energy to address the tasks I have put to the side at the end of a tiring, but great day at work.  I love being back in the hospital.  I love having a baby tied on my back, resting their tired head and feeling their weight drop as they sleep, wrapped securely into the small of my back. I love seeing a mama see her baby for the first time after surgery, now seeing the cleft lip sewn together for the first time. I love communicating with a patient even though we don’t know each other’s language. I love the sound of Africa voices lifted high in praise to our God for all he has done and is doing in our lives.  I love my work here and am so abundantly blessed to be serving.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Revive Me

We have been in Guinea now for just over one week. Every department is in full swing, people rushing around everywhere, pressed to finish tasks by the deadlines. I am sitting still in some rare time alone with God, reflecting a little over the past few weeks. It really wasn't that long ago that we were sailing away from Togo and I was crying out to God to take away the pain in my heart. I remember feeling the ship rock beneath me as I lay flat on deck 9 and listening to God tell me to just give it up and float on His ocean of Grace. Just thinking about it now, brings me to tears. The pain of submitting everything I am and everything I have, was so great.
Only a few weeks after the sail to Tenerife, I left for Europe and spent three glorious weeks being refreshed by sights, sounds, smells, tastes and wonderful friends. One particular day in Switzerland I lay in my friend's hammock on the balcony, basking my feet in the sunshine, listening to a song called You Revive Me by Christy Nockels. This song became my prayer and I looked up and wrote out all the synonyms for the word Revive, clinging to the hope that God would bring this in my life.
Revive- awaken, bounce back, breathe new life into, brighten, cheer, come to life, comfort, console, encourage, energise, enliven, exhilarate, gladden, inspirit, invigorate, make whole, overcome, recondition, recover, refresh, rejuvenate, rekindle, renew, renovate, repair, restore, resurrect, resuscitate, revitalise, strengthen, wake up. I prayed these over my life. And do you know what? In the last few weeks something suddenly changed! The pain was gone!
God has truly answered my prayer. And I want to cry for the thankfulness in my heart. I am so undeserving of this, but I know God truly wants me to be revived and restored! He delights in me being whole.
I can hardly believe the difference I feel in myself- maybe not evident to others, I don't know, but God knows the healing He has done in me. I don't ever want to forget His amazing healing, His faithfulness and the way He has carried me these past few months.
With God restoring me, I have so much more to give. As we head into a new outreach there are so many places to pour out from His overflowing. I know it won't always be easy but I know who is steadily walking beside me.

Arriving into Guinea with the flag on our eyes


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...