Working in this hospital is very different to working in a hospital at home for several different reasons. I like to stand back and watch things going on in the wards, the interactions between patients and their caregivers, patients and others caregivers and patients and fellow patients. In so many little things I see sweet community at work.
Unlike at home, our patients lay in their beds’ side by side, talking about things like how they found Mercy Ships, how they felt about the way they looked before they got to have surgery, how much it would have cost them if Mercy Ships hadn’t turned up, how they became sick and so on. There are always conversations going on and sometimes I ask them what they are discussing- the other day it was Primus, the local beer and one time about the Chinese eating weird things like flies.
A fair number of patients in D ward (the Maxillofacial ward that I work in) each field service stay for an extended period of time, perhaps two to three months. These patients become part of our D ward family and although the patients in the beds beside them may come and go, community is still built amongst them.
|This precious boy stayed with us from Nov-Jan|
Other things in the ward community which are unique are the caregivers sleeping under the bed. When you are walking between patient beds’ you have to be careful that you don’t tred on limbs sticking out from underneath. I was walking between the beds one night shift, taking a patient’s blood pressure when I heard whimpering coming from under that bed. I looked down and saw a small hand under my shoe! Whoops! I quickly lifted my foot and the whimpering stopped and the hand disappeared back under the bed. Needless to say, I was much more careful about where I was walking from then on.
These caregivers also make up the community in the ward, caring for others children, showing the new patients how to do things as well as looking after their own relative.
There is practically no privacy in the hospital here. All the doctors’ rounds are in the same room and sometimes when we’re discussing something no so important, if others in the room are interested, they too will come and stand in on the conversation and sometimes give their opinion or their own translation.
Recently we had three patients stay on the ward in beds next to each other for a period of about three weeks. They all had had a similar procedure and all had a similar complication and the same treatment. During the day they all chatted with each other and played games together, treating each other like brother and sister, they teased and laughed together. On rounds one morning when the woman in the centre bed was told she could be discharged, she immediately turned to the guy in the bed next to her telling him that she’d won the competition. There were smiles all around and genuine joy at seeing her discharge and then the others too, one by one were able to discharge. But I will always remember the three of them together, doing what community here does best.
I love to walk into the ward and be welcomed by huge smiles, and joy-filled greetings. It hits me in the deepest part of my heart like a burst of sunshine. We are a family, one big community. We get to care for these people in their most vulnerable moments and we love on them until the minute they walk out of our lives, not just the ward.
That is what it is like to work in D ward.
A quick update on Angelique from my plee We Need Your Help: She's progressing but very slowly. In the last few days she has lost weight and so we are battling the unknown. Her wounds are slowly healing, but her weight is swinging up and down. Please continue to pray for her. It is lovely to see her still happy, able to get in and out of bed easily and walking the four flights of stairs up to Deck 7 every day for sunshine and fresh air. Here she is with her mother, enjoying some outside time. Thank you for praying, please don't stop yet!!!