Monday, 30 July 2012

Cancer clinic

Dr. Erin is our usual cancer doc at Kudjip.  And when she isn't here, Dr. Bill is the go to guy.  When both of them were scheduled to be on home assignment at the same time, Dr. Susan asked if anyone would be willing to take over until their return.  Well, I was happy to do whatever needed to be done.  Thus taking care of cancer patients became my responsibility.

Every week, a handful of patients show up to my door for their check-ups and chemotherapy--or "poison medicine" as we translate it to Pidgin.  There is a one time fee of 200 kina (about $100) which covers the cost of monthly labs and medicines.  So far I have taken care of patients with CML, lymphoma, ovanian cancer, breast cancer, and of course my usual cervical cancer patients.  I wanted to share a few of their stories with you...

This is Brian and his precious daughter.  I wish I could remember her name, but it has already left me.  Brian has CML, a type of leukemia.  There is a program in PNG that provides a special medicine for our patients with CML.  Glivec has been very successful in managing this type of cancer.  Brian developed some complications, from the illness or the medicine we are not really sure.  His hemoglobin (blood count) has been quite low, and he has been admitted to the hospital on more than one occasion for blood transfusion.  Recently, his previously sky high white blood cell count also began to fall.  It dropped so low that I had to stop the medicine all together.  Now we are just praying and waiting to see what will happen.  I worry that he doesn't have much time left in this life.

Andrew is 9 years old.  The swelling in his neck began some months ago.  Dr. Jim did a lymph node biopsy, and the pathology came back as lymphoma.  This week I started him on four drug chemo.  The usually jolly little guy just couldn't conjure up a smile for the picture.  He wasn't very happy with Sister Florence for starting an IV, or with me for ordering one.  Poor little guy... I promise, it will get easier.

Kelly came in to the outpatient clinic, one of the last patients at the end of a busy day.  His chief complaint was a nasty sore that started under his tongue and grown through his cheek.  I sighed to myself when I examined him--cancer.  And it was quite advanced.  Probably not much to do about it.  When I explained the diagnosis, Kelly already knew.  He didn't come to Kudjip that day for a diagnosis or with the hope of a cure.  He came because he knew the doctors prayed with the patients.  WOW.  Kelly had been a Christian, and had even been involved in ministry.  But at some point on his journey he had left God behind.  He was ready to give his life back to Jesus.  We prayed, and he did.  That is exactly why we are here.

As a missionary doctor, I have done lots of things that I never would have dreamed of--take care of tiny premature babies, sew up chop-chops, reduce fractures, do a symphysiotomy, deliver a breech baby the natural way on purpose, put an ear back on, run a pharmacy.  Just to name a few.  But I never EVER thought I would be the [temporary] resident oncologist.  I do use that term rather loosely... as I have lots and lots of help from my colleagues both here and back in America.  I am so very thankful for the email consults that have gone back and forth around the world.  And I thank the Lord for helping me to do the many things that this job requires--things I could never figure out on my own.

"This is God's Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God:  'Call to me and I will answer you.  I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.'"
~ Jeremiah 33:2-3

Crown of beauty

Belinda is one of our third year nursing students, currently on rotation in the emergency room.  She was wearing the most beautiful tiara to work this morning.  Her crown certainly bestowed a smile on my face :).

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair."
~ Isaiah 61:1-3

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Hurricane... in Ohio???

So last week Central Ohio had one seriously wicked storm.  Some are calling it an "inland hurricane"...  80 mph winds.  Trees down.  Houses and buildings damaged.  Power out to millions of people for up to a week, or even more--and in 90+ degree heat.  (Geesh, that is worse than the bush of PNG!)

My parents certainly had their fair share of the disaster.  A very large limb from a giant oak tree fell onto the one-story part of our house, what Mom and Dad call the "music room" because that is where the baby grand lives.  The limb caused pretty significant damage to the roof as well as the surrounding deck.  Rain poured in and most likely ruined the piano.  [Tear.]  Thankfully they were not home at the time and no one was injured.

They were also without electricity for about 5 days.  Great aunt Naomi shared her generator so they had enough power to run the fridge, a few lights, and the air con at night until the power came back on Tuesday.  Unfortunately Aunt Naomi lost her power the very next day and had to get herself a new generator.  Oops!

This is one of those times when PNG seems so very far away from Ohio, even farther than the end of the earth.  I am so thankful for second hand reports and Facebook posts to know what was going on.  Wish I could have been there to help and encourage and love on my family!  Although I don't think I would have been much help with the monster log through the ceiling.  Praise God for some amazing friends and a very large tree-moving crane.  Even Grayson played pick up sticks!  The mess is now pretty much cleaned up. Mom and Dad are just waiting on insurance to start making repairs.

Love my family.  And even though I can't be there to give you a hug, I am praying for you!!!

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge
I will take refuge in the the shadow of your wings 
until the disaster has passed."
~ Psalm 57:1

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Polling day in Jiwaka

The long awaited election finally arrived in Jiwaka!  I say finally because it was originally scheduled for sometime in May.  Then last Friday.  Then for Sunday.  And then Monday and Tuesday of this week.  Well, today was finally THE day.

Things were relatively quiet at the hospital.  Only one mother in labor.  Just a handful of patients were brave enough to come to the outpatient department.  Good thing, because all of our staff were standing in line to cast their vote!

Since there wasn't much to do, I stopped by the polling place to take a couple of pictures.  This is what an election looks like in PNG. 

By the way, there were 57 candidates running for governor of our new province.  Fifty seven.  How in the world do you choose?

Thankfully it was peaceful day.  But many of us are wondering... is this is the calm before the storm?  Last night the emergency room was already full of election-related violence--chop chops and stabbings and spear wounds.  The post-election weeks in PNG are notorious for being a volatile time, especially as ballots are counted and results announced.  Please continue to pray for peace and for God's kingdom to come in this country.

Today also happens to be July 4th.  We American missionaries celebrated our nation's birthday with a cookout--hobo dinners and footlong hot dogs, and real sparklers for dessert.  Almost as good as fireworks.  Happy Independence day, USA!!!  Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part... our party was rained out.  Yep, that's right.  After several weeks of little rain, our close to dry water tanks are filling up.  Praise God for the showers of blessings!

"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
~ Matthew 6:10