We’re in the final stretch of the field service in Madagascar. Tomorrow ends the last week of surgery and then the hospital will be open for one more week before we send all our patients home and we clean and pack everything up. The patient numbers will dwindle and staffing becomes less and less until only one ward is open. Nurses are put on cleaning shifts and along with the day crew, the wards are cleaned, packed up and locked.
Often at this time of year I get a rock in my stomach every time I think about the fact that in only a few weeks we will sail away and I will have to say so many goodbyes. This time it’s different though because we are spending another year in Madagascar. The next field service has already been named Mada2. Yes, we will sail away in a few weeks for ship maintenance but then we will be back, so the end of field service has looked a lot different to usual. I will say goodbye to many friends and colleagues, patients, caregivers and day crew but I will also get to say hello again to some patients as we continue their surgical care and to work with the day crew as they join us again in Mada2.
As we wrap up the end of field service many plans are being made for the continuation of care for those who are not quite ready for discharge. At home in the hospital if someone needed follow-up wound care provided we would organise nurses to visit them in their home and change their dressings, here it is much, much harder. Some of our patients literally live several days travel away and may have only basic knowledge of healthcare. We teach them what they need to know for their or their family member’s wound care and pray for and with them as they return home.
Most of my days look a bit like this photo, sitting at the computer, writing orders in charts, answering questions, organising patient care and generally hopping up and down a million times. Some days are super busy, others a little slower, but each hold sweet moments of connection and love for the Malagasy people and the job I do on the ship.
We have a few patients in the ward at the moment who really need your prayers for wound healing. We have already seen God at work in the wards growing skin and tissue where there was none before, substituting the need for IV calcium with oral, increasing the appetite of a small baby who has struggled all her life to eat and many other things. At the moment I feel excited about the fact that we have to rely on God for what we cannot physically do. We have already seen him move so much and it makes me so excited to report amazing things and so as we wait on him I feel excited for what is about to come.
I could tell you a million stories about this little live wire. I am surprised by her every day as she randomly speaks English- a language she had never heard before she came to the ship more than 90 days ago. Sometimes she comes up to me and whispers English into my ear, something like- "Let's go" and she'll grab my hand a pull me somewhere. We all speak to her in English and it's just amazing how much she has learned! She has blossomed and is a different little girl from the one who walked into our lives more than 3 months ago. She needs your prayers for her wounds to heal before the hospital closes.
There are more than just these two, but these are the ones I know the most. Other needs skin grown too and wounds to stop draining. Some need confidence in their new skills to change their own or their loved one's dressing and care for their wound. Some have long distances to travel home and are afraid and will need to adjust back into their own culture and family.
Will you join with us and pray?