Thursday, 28 March 2013

Postpartum cardiomyopathy

Meet Sabina and her family :).  The first time that I saw Sabina in clinic, she was a mess--hypoxic, heart murmur, crackles in both lungs, an enlarged liver, and 3+ lower extremity edema.  She was in full blown heart failure.

Her symptoms began shortly after the birth of her little one, who is now 9 months old.  She has what is called "postpartum cardiomyopathy." That is the fancy medical way of saying her heart became weak and began to fail after her pregnancy.  We don't really know what causes postpartum cardiomyopathy.  We treat it like other causes of heart failure.  Sometimes it gets worse.  Sometimes it gets better.

Sabina was already on a whole pharmacy of medicines.  I bumped up her lasix pretty significantly, and added a beta blocker and digoxin.  She came back every week for a check up.  I continued to tweak her medicines until her symptoms improved.  She is breathing easy and her legs are no longer swollen.  Praise God!  Now I can breathe easier, too.

For Sabina, we will just have to wait and see if her condition progresses or resolves.  I, for one, am praying for a miracle.  Will you pray for her, too?

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
~ Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Cyclone in the highlands

Last summer, central Ohio experienced one crazy storm that was described as an "inland hurricane."  High winds knocked down trees and more trees, which pulled down power lines as they fell and caused all sorts of other damage to homes and buildings.  My parents' house was hit pretty hard and is still undergoing repairs.

Kudjip had a similar freak kind of a storm last week Wednesday.  Although in the Southern hemisphere we actually call them "cyclones" instead of "hurricanes."  At first it seemed like your normal rainy season afternoon rain.  But the clouds got darker and the winds picked up.  Rain started to come down strong and go horizontal.  I was just getting off from work at the hospital, so I stepped into B-ward for a bit of shelter.  A lot of good that did me.  The ward was already flooded and the patients soaked to their bones.  Hospital staff and watchman attempted to close the windows, but the rain kept on coming in anyways.

Eventually the wind and rain died down enough that I could walk home.  Along the way, I started to see the evidence of what an impressive storm it was.  Pieces of corrugated roofing had blown off of the maintenance building.  A large branch from a tree was down.  OH, MY... entire trees were down.  In fact, more than a dozen HUGE trees had fallen across the station taking the power lines with them.  One of trees crushed a house where the Isaacs, our PNG missionaries to Vanuatu, were staying.  It is a miracle that no one was injured or killed.

Over the past few days, maintenance has been cleaning up the mess and putting things back together--branches picked up, trees cut, roads cleared.  Power lines have been re-attached, and electricity lights up the station once again.  Our end was just about the last bit to have the power restored--we went without for about 52 hours.  Thank the Lord for Jordan and Noli and the awesome team of maintenance guys!

Here is a link to Dr. Erin's blog and pictures of the Kudjip storm.

"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever."
~ Proverbs 10:25

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Burnt to a crisp

As you probably well know, we have power issues in PNG.  We have been told by people who know electricity that ours is some of the worst power in the world--surges, brown outs, outages in the middle of surgery, generator problems, thousands and thousands of dollars in equipment damage.  (Lest I sound too much like a broken record, interested readers can find more details in my September 2009 blog "Let there be light" and from May 2012 "Surgery by torchlight".)

The hospital took a pretty major hit this last week.  A series of surges and dips fried our "new" x-ray machine.  The power board and a few other things are pretty much burnt to a crisp.  Emails are flying back and forth from PNG to our consultants in America about the possibility of getting replacement parts, which will probably cost a couple of thousand dollars to purchase and months to ship around the world.

Power board from the x-ray machine.
The white thing with the red/orange stripe is the main part that got fried.

In the mean time, our team of x-ray technicians have done a great job keeping us going with the portable x-ray (which is also on its last leg) and our old machine (which we can hardly believe continues to work).  We are so thankful for their hard work and flexibility.

The x-ray lain (from L --> R):  Mr. Lakawa, Pamela, Joseph

BTW, the white girl in the picture is our x-ray taking, dish-washing, lemon-squeezing, South African roomie extrodinaire Pamela.  She is volunteering at Nazarene Hospital for the 5th time, and is 1/2 way through her 6 month stay.  It is so wonderful to have our friend here with us again!

This blog is also a great opportunity to update you on the new hydroelectric dam.  The project is well on its way!  And when it is finished, we should have plenty of stable, cheap, non-equipment frying kind of power to supply the hospital.  The water canal is almost complete.  The workers have started building the actual dam, although recent heavy rains have made that a bit more challenging.  Please continue to pray for this AWESOME project.

Andy and the "hydro guys," canal in progress.

"There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light."
~ Revelation 22:5

Friday, 1 March 2013

Go light your world

My last post was about the darkness that we encounter in this place.  But I want to tell you about some candles in that darkness.  Eighteen candles, in fact.  Eighteen brand new nurses who have pledged to take the light into their world.

Last week was the 38th annual graduation at the Nazarene College of Nursing.  About 10AM the music began planning and the guests began filing in to the circus-sized tent on the field office lawn.  CON tutors welcomed the crowd and presented gifts of bilums and stone axes to the honored guests--among them were the new governor of Jiwaka province and the PNG national health minister.  There were about 3 hours of speeches by various dignitaries and other important people.  No kidding.  3 HOURS.  That is how things are done here in PNG!  The commencement address was given by the health minister.  Two of the students also spoke on behalf of the graduating class.

The students were called forward one by one to receive their diplomas.  This is also the first class that has received a certificate of lay ministry along with their nursing diplomas.  These nurse pastors will be taking health care and the love of Christ across this country!  The graduation concluded with a candle lighting ceremony.

Ten of the new nurses are staying on to work at Kudjip Hospital.  Thank the Lord, because we are desperately short-staffed (again).  The others will be working from the city of Mt. Hagen to the bush of Singape.  Here is a picture of Thomas, his first day as a new nurse working on medical ward.  By the way, Thomas was the recipient of the best academic AND best clinical student awards at graduation.  We are blessed to have him serving with us.  So fun to see that he has traded his student uniform for the white of a nursing officer!

Go Light Your World
~ Kathy Troccoli

There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home.

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world.

Frustrated brother, see how he's tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she's been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame.


We are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let's raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times.