One would think that a closed Clinic and a doctor off on holiday (vacation, for my American readers!) would mean a slow few weeks. We still went in every work day to fill medication orders for our patients and to work on projects but we followed your thinking and assumed it would be slower paced. And it was…and wasn’t…all at the same time! At one point, after a particularly busy morning with patients, one of the other missionaries asked, “So is the Clinic open after all?” Haha! I had to answer, “Despite appearances, no!”
One radio call came from one of our bush missionaries saying that a man not from their area had just been brought to them with complaints of vomiting large amounts of thick blood, small bloody stools, slurred speech, jaundiced, and severe abdominal swelling. We advised evacuation to the hausik (hospital) as soon as could be arranged. There was nothing (with or without our doctor present!) that we could do. I have not heard the outcome of this one yet.
We were consulted by phone for two different little boys in two different regions with high fever for about a week and just generally “not feeling good” at times but with little or no other symptoms. We recommended medications to treat the fevers but could do no more as there was nothing else to suggest a cause to treat! Both fevers broke after about 7 days with the younger one developing a rash over his chest and back which was determined to be only a fever rash—common in young children who have had a fever for several days. It will go away on its own and is not treated unless it seems to bother then (may itch). No other symptoms ever developed which suggests it was just a passing virus.
One woman dropped a heavy curtain rod on her toe and came in in severe pain and difficulty walking on it. She said she had done it last night and it had hurt but that when she had stepped out of bed this morning it hurt worse and it bled a great deal. X-rays determined that there was no obvious break and the area was cleaned well. However, the injury is under the skin and nail of the toe and must work itself out over time. It may be many weeks before its feeling better. In the meantime, she’s been putting in 12-13 hour days on her feet preparing meals for the 15 visiting students and other staff! Talk about commitment to service!
Another radio call came in from another of our bush missionaries. A woman living about 3-4 hours hike away had delivered a healthy baby at 6 o’clock that morning but had still not delivered the placenta before the ladies attending her had left her with others to come the 3-4 hours home. The missionary wanted to know what she might give to or advise these ladies who were planning to go back the next day. All that could be done to encourage delivery had already been done so the two main concerns were bleeding out and infection. Advice was given for both scenarios and, if they found that she had still not delivered the placenta, they would need to try to get her out to the hausik as soon as possible. We heard the next morning that she had delivered fine soon after her friends had left and was weak but well on her way to healing! Happy ending!
We also had a phone call concerning a little boy that had gotten into ant-killing solution (a very mild home mixture). He was just dumping the small bowl of it over himself when mom walked into the room! No idea if he got some in his mouth or how much. He showed no symptoms after half an hour and Poison Control said that it was too diluted to do any damage but gave us the symptoms to watch for just in case. He’s doing fine.
A young girl was also brought in that had had diarrhea for about 6 days. The rest of the family had been treated for intestinal parasites as the water they have is not always safe; however, they were not sure with her already being sick if she should have it as well. They had already tried eliminating milk and a few other things from her diet without change and she had no other symptoms and was eating and drinking well. We treated her with two antiparasitic medications that should cover about anything she might have and have not heard back from them since. By that, I can assume she’s better or we would’ve heard by now.
The most difficult came in the form of a phone call after hours. A boy had “fallen and broken his arm. Can we bring him in?” The nurse on-call called me to say that the doctor was supposed to have arrived within the last little while but that she couldn’t reach him; would I come in if she couldn’t find him? She told me the time they were expected and I told her I’d be there. When I arrived I found her in the process of x-raying a definitely broken arm and no doctor around. “But,” she said, “he arrived just as the family did. He’d just dropped some things off at the Clinic and taken the rest of his family home and then he’d be back.” We were so relieved, praising God for the timing! This we could have not have handled ourselves. There is another missions clinic not too far from here where they have doctors who could have treated him and it is comforting to know that we can call them anytime! But it is also a very good feeling to have one of our own doctors back just in time to evaluate and treat something so completely over our heads! Unfortunately, it was too severely fractured to stay in place after setting so they will have to make a visit to Australia for surgery to stabilize it with a plate.
While we were treating this child, we received a phone call from one of our bush missionaries saying that their son had gotten an inch deep cut, several inches long on his leg. They had cleaned it really well and sutured it but were uncertain about which of the antibiotics they had on hand to give him and how much!
Through various means of communication we were kept busy enough with some time still to get a few projects done around the clinic. Somewhat slower-paced schedule seeing as we did not have scheduled patients but with a regular flow of activity to keep us occupied. Today we were open again, operating as usual, and, in my opinion, had a slower day than we’ve had for the last two weeks! Praise the Lord for doctors!