Friday, 16 November 2012

I am sorry

She sat upon her soft bed in the ward, dressed in a blue outfit, including a head wrap. Around her neck was a white shawl with green embroidery. Under the shawl, hidden from view, was the biggest thyroid I have ever seen. She had a mass growing off her neck bigger than the size of her head. I could see the veins snaking up her neck just under the skin, pushed right to the surface because of the tumour.
She sat there patiently waiting for me, her nurse, to explain what would happen on the day of surgery. Her smile showed broken, chipped and missing teeth, but her joy was real and her hands, clasping mine, were thankful.
I had to wait for the surgeons to come before I could tell her about her surgery and what to expect, but as I sat down with her, in came the two surgeons and two anaesthetists. After some discussion amongst themselves, they made a plan. The biggest challenge would be finding an airway to oxygenate her body while they removed the tumour. Her whole neck space was filled, so putting in a tracheostomy was not an option. Her CT showed that her trachea was closed up to 5mm in two places. The mass was pushing her airway until it was almost closed. It would be a fight and if they could intubate safely then making sure that the trachea sprung back to its normal shape would be the next challenge.
Hearing the seriousness of the situation we prayed for her and I finished my shift, knowing if things went forward she would be almost through surgery by the time I was coming into work the following day. My heart was heavy for the weight of what the next day would hold.
This afternoon I came into work, she was still sitting on her bed, the white shawl hiding the massive tumour. I looked to our fearless maxillofacial team leader, with sad eyes she shook her head. The chest X-ray report sent in that morning had shown 5 malignant areas in her lungs. With nothing but sadness welling up in my heart, we took her and her son into the hallway and gave them transport money to get home. We prayed for them before they left, the translator reminding all of us that God is in control of all things and to trust in him. But as I said goodbye to this women I had only met 24hrs prior, the tears spilled over.
I am sorry. I am sorry we cannot help her and that unless God intervenes she will suffocate until her death. I am sorry that she will suffer. I am sorry that she was not born somewhere where she could have sort medical care much earlier and been helped. I am sorry that I cannot help her bare the pain.


  1. It's a tough business trying to cure and provide corrective surgery to a wide range of patients with various health issues. Your last post showed that there are success stories as well which is a great thing. I think the Mercy Ship staff and volunteers do a great job in providing medical aid to those in need.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story...breaks my heart...



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