One of my patient's stories was recently revealed to me by another nurse. 13 years ago during the civil war in Congo, Paul was in his teens and running away from the soldiers who were shooting at him and those in his village. His grandmother was too old or unable to run and so in true love, he picked her up on his back and ran with her tightly clinging to him. He was, however, not fast enough to outrun the gunfire. His grandmother was shot and killed as she clung to him and his nose was shot right off his face, sparing his life but leaving him disfigured. All these years later he was able to have a free surgery to reconstruct his face.
It's a long process as we take skin from the head and flap it down to make the new nose and leave it attached looking very strange for three weeks while the blood supply becomes strong. Then after three weeks the pedicle flap is released and our patient has a new nose. You should see the smile that the patient has plastered on their face for the next days. It is truly unforgettable! Paul was no exception for that award-winning smile!
|Charissa, one of my fellow nurses, spent time with Paul during the reconstruction|
|Three weeks later, his nose is finished!|
|Over time the nose will shrink a little, but I think it looks so great already!!|
Things here are really wrapping up fast. I have said countless goodbyes and have countless more to come. At the end of the day there is a list being written in my head of things to do that I would prefer to put off for another day, but the next day rolls around and all too soon these things cannot be put off any longer. Tonight I finished writing goodbye cards for numerous friends who are yet to leave this week, the following week and even after that. The ship will be a different place when I return in October after a huge turnover of staff.
But for now, we still have six beautiful patients downstairs in the hospital for two more short days. The rest of the hospital has been packed up, cleaned and put into a shipping container. (Do you think I can write that on my resume?)
Today I went down to the hospital and walked into the ward four times, each for a different reason, but ever so willing to spend time with our lasting Congolese Day Crew who have translated for us all these months and to hang out with the patients who have settled themselves deep in my heart.
|Deborah and Deborah! They shorten her name to Debo. So it's been Debo & Debo.|
|Some of our D ward team|
In six short days I will be leaving Congo... I sit here, unsure what to write next. Yesterday a friend said to me, hey this time next week it'll be you standing on the dock for goodbyes. I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me. Although it's not a final goodbye to the ship, each country goodbye comes with a deep sadness. All the patients that I have touched, cared for and loved are being left behind. I wish it were easier to follow up with them. I'd dearly love to know how their life turns out to be, how their friends think of their new face, how they fit back into their society, how much their self-esteem has grown while they've been in our care and how much they know that God truly adores them.
This is the group of patients sitting on the ward tonight. Please pray for them as we trust and wait on God for their healing!
And so in six days I fly away, ready for some much needed time out, but I can hardly wait to have a little one in my arms again soon. Are you ready for that my Aussie friends? See you in a few weeks!