When I flew in that weekend the missionary woman with me was also just returning from 7 weeks away. While catching her up on the local news, the other couple told us that a woman nearby had given birth to twin girls. Here in PNG it is a common belief that twins are not good, that one is actually an evil spirit and must be killed. If they cannot tell which one it is, they will kill both. This woman and her husband, though not believers, had decided to keep both girls! Unusual but happy news! The woman’s father said that she carries both of them with her, a sign that they’re being loved and taken care of. However, since the birth, her left hip has been hurting a great deal causing a limp when she walks and pain when she tries to lie on her left side. Besides pain medicine and regular movement of the hip there was little I knew to recommend. I told the missionaries that if she came for help concerning that hip that it would be best if they emailed one of our doctors for advice instead of asking me!
A day or two later, while visiting with the other bush missionary ladies one afternoon, a woman brought her daughter (8 or 9 years old) for one of the missionaries to patch up. She’d been skinning tapiok (a tuberose root veggie) with a bush knife and had slipped and cut her finger. Pulling away the blood-soaked bit of cloth I could see a pretty deep cut slicing diagonally into the meat of her finger. Just above this deeper cut, it looked like the point of the knife had gone up further under the skin and had poked out. Then it looked as if in reaction to the pain of the slipped knife and cut, the knife had been pulled to the side slightly as her hand jerked before removing the knife. So the cut was not one open area but two with a short tunnel between them. We cleaned in as best we could but it also looked as if she had several tiny splinters in the wound. I scrubbed those away as best I could with a cotton swab but still several remained entrenched. Unable to clean it further, I smothered it in antibiotic ointment and covered it with a bandage, telling the missionary that the girl would most likely need to be on antibiotics until it healed. She was a brave little girl and handled it all very well. I got to see her again on Sunday when she came up to show me her bandaged hand.
Though that isn’t why I went and I don’t intend to setup shop there, it still makes for a fun time and “cool” stories!