Friday, January 31, 2014

Two sparrows

My office door

Many doctors delight in their first "office" - which typically has a plaque with their name and specialty posted on their door somewhere in their clinic.  I suppose I'm no different, though my door may not look like those dreamed of by medical students and residents in the States.

In our OPD (out-patient department), patients come one-by-one to each of the different doctors.  No appointments, no insurance forms, minimal paperwork, two to four dollars per visit - but plenty of broken and hurting people.  In my few hours in the OPD this week I've seen everything from deafness caused by untreated ear infections to Tuberculosis.  

 Yesterday I saw a child in the office and once the parents laid the baby on my exam table I knew we would have a fight on our hands for him.  Steward had been sick several times the past few months though he just recently celebrated his first birthday.  He barely cried as I examined him and he reflexively raised his entire body off the table when I held his head up.  I believe Steward contracted pneumonia which progressed to meningitis.  He is now receiving IV fluids and antibiotics in our pediatric ward but will need a miracle to thrive after this illness.

Pleased to get Steward's spinal fluid

 I've been working in the Operating Theatre this week with Dr. Jim Radcliffe.  My first experience in the OR last week for a C-section felt like a train wreck to me.  Dr Erin was very gracious.  I worried about how I would cope with the procedural medicine I need to be able to practice here.  I received a lot of OR and procedural exposure during my Family Practice training.  Some of the skills I learned then are returning thanks to this extra time with Dr. Jim.

Please pray for Haddie, who needs a miracle
 One of my patients on Surgery ward needs a miracle.  Haddie suffered from a bowel infection unique to PNG called Pigbel.  Dr. Jim performed surgery to remove the infected and dead tissue and now she struggles to recover her ability to eat.  Each day she suffers while we give her fluids and antibiotics and pray that God will touch her.  Healing for Haddie will have to be supernatural at this point.

 Last night I was on call and treated a lady in our Emergency Room.  She suffered from obstruction of her lungs (COPD) and needed oxygen and breathing treatments.  While preparing her to stay in the hospital, the ER staff nurse told me about another child who came and left just prior to my arrival.  Apparently the child experienced diarrhea for a few days and then developed dysentery.  The family brought the little four year old girl to Kudjip, but when they arrived she had died en route.

My first reaction to this news was, "Why wasn't I called?  Someone, a child no less, came to our hospital dead and then the family left and the doctor on call wasn't even notified?!"  I am ashamed to admit I thought this, because I now see that it is selfish.  In this place, the loss of a child is no less tragic than if I lost my own Anna - but it is tragically more common.  Now I struggle knowing that despite the years of school, months of preparation and all of the hardships that went into our moving here I still could do nothing for this particular little one.  In fact, I will never see her face or know her name.

In Matthew 10 Jesus says "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father."

I take comfort knowing that those I can't help or don't even know are not lost to God.  I may not get notified of every patient that comes here, whether they leave healed or to their eternal home.  But God sees each of them.  He will not part from them.  And their lives are not lost, nameless or faceless to Him.

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