I once saw a video on YouTube of a chicken that could play a song on an electric keyboard by pecking the keys with its beak. It wasn’t epically amazing, or anything, but it was pretty good considering a chicken’s brain is dwarfed by a common green pea. I mention this, because as I sit here composing this post, with my left hand thoroughly bundled in a bulbous cast, I am thinking that if that chicken were to take a class or two on word processing, then it could probably give me a real run for my money on my words-per-minute right now.
I guess if I was a better missionary, I would no doubt say something about how this is “a lesson in patience,” but honestly, I think it would be more accurate to describe it as “a lesson in frustration.” God gave us two usable hands for a reason, that reason being, namely, that having only one usable hand is stupid.
OK, sorry, I’ll stop my little whine-fest now. I know I’ve got a lot to be thankful for in this whole thing. I’m just getting a little tired of not being able to tie my own shoes, you know? Anyway, on to the update:
I’ll try to keep the medical side of things short this time, since my dad has informed me that my last two posts pretty much made him turn green in the face, and if it hadn’t been for his morbid curiosity (and, presumably, his interest in the well-being of his son) he wouldn’t have finished reading them. So, the “Dad-friendly” continuation of the story is that after our mission docs patched me up as best as they could at our clinic in PNG, the fam and I caught a flight down to Cairns, Australia to have the job finished up by an orthopedic surgeon.*
In the end, it turned out that my laceration had a bit more going on inside of it than we had first thought. Besides the gobs of embedded debris, the knuckle joint of my middle finger had also been blasted into and was getting infected due to invasive disc particles, and one of the tendons going to my index finger had been severed. It was hard to get a straight answer from the surgeon, but it sounds like he judged my injury to be somewhere between a paper cut and an amputation on the wound-severity scale. It’s a very vague scale, apparently.
Two surgeries later (one to finish removing embedded pieces of the angle grinder’s cutting disc, and the other to reattach the severed tendon), and I’m now good to go, my hand strapped securely inside a clunky protective mummy-wrap that falls somewhere between a splint and a cast. I’ve been told that I’ll be wearing this “flare” for the next 3 1/2 weeks (not the most fun prospect in tropical heat and humidity). I haven’t gotten to see it for myself yet, but the surgeon promised me that I’ll have a big, jagged scar from all this, so at least I’m getting a nice souvenir to take back with me.
Another bright spot to come out of this was that, since Rochelle and the boys were able to accompany me on my medical trip, we were able to all have a bit of fun enjoying Western culture between my surgeries! It’s hard to explain the level of joy that can be wrought in the heart of an expatriate from simply getting to go to a Western grocery store after living without one for a few years, but the word “incredible” would definitely apply.
And for the boys, it was even more magical. They got to eat strawberries and grapes and cherries! They got to go to McDonald’s “house,” and ride on buses, elevators, and escalators!** We were even able to take them to an aquarium, where they got to see rays and sharks. We made our fair share of memories, for sure!
It was a lot of fun, but it was also little weird at times. When you take little boys that have been raised in the jungle and bring them out into a “normal” context, they can have a tendency not to blend in as much as their parents might hope. In fact, I often felt like I was trying to navigate through shopping centers shepherding three capuchin monkeys.
Our home being so far off the beaten path, our boys have never had much experience with things like traffic, or strangers, or places where it isn’t OK to climb something, even though you can do it really, really well. Actually, this last one necessitated its own “family meeting,” after which, Manny casually informed our taxi driver that, “Yeah, me an’ Tucker don’t know the rules here.”
With the insane amount of foreign stimuli constantly pounding their senses, their epically short attention spans, and their flagrant naivety of modern living, I count it as its own special little miracle that we only lost the kids once during all of our outings.***
Having received the “all clear” from the surgeon, we’ve since arrived back in PNG, and we are planning to be back in the tribe in about a week. That should give us just enough time to get Tucker’s pneumonia under wraps before we head out. And, yes, you read that correctly. About 4 hours after we arrived back at our mission center this morning, our 4 year-old was diagnosed with the onset of pneumonia, because we just can’t seem to go halfway on ANYTHING these days.
Anyway, thank you very much for your prayers throughout the last few weeks!
*This was the closest available option.
**I hadn’t thought about it before my boys introduced me to the concept, but did you know that if you fall down an upward moving escalator, you can just keep falling down the stairs indefinitely? Yeah, THAT didn’t attract the attention of passers by at all. 😛
***It was in a Target. We found them curled up and crying, a few aisles over from us, with a worried-looking staff member trying to coax information out of them. Not my favorite five minutes of our trip, for sure.