Monday, December 24, 2007

A Glimpse from the Past

Monday, October 20, 1980 (I’m still at the big Baptist Hospital at Ferkessédougou for training.) Today was a Muslim holiday, the end of Ramadan, I believe. The wife of one of the doctors promised to take all of us short-termers into town to see the festivities. Somehow, in the rush of them leaving, I was left behind. What a disappointment that was! I do so much want to learn about the culture of the country in which I expect to live the rest of my working life.

There was plenty going on at the hospital to keep me busy while they were gone! A patient came in last night saying she was in labor. The nationals who were working didn’t call me because she was not in active labor and they couldn’t detect a fetal heart tone. This is her eleventh pregnancy without any living children. (I know no American woman will be able to believe this, but it is true!) When the doctor examined her, he decided we needed to use Pitocin to start her labor. (Pitocin is a medication that starts that process. It is given I.V. out here.) The only time I’ve ever been around Pitocin, a physician has closely monitored it since it has the potential to cause a ruptured uterus if too large a dose is given. That’s why I was almost speechless when the doctor implied that I was in charge of the whole procedure. I looked at him and said, “I’m going to do that?” Since he indicated that he wanted me to, I started the Pitocin and monitored it. (I’m often astonished at the things missionary nurses do out here!)

The lady was finally ready to deliver around noon. She had had a hard labor and the delivery was hard also. And the baby was dead. She sobbed and sobbed, something that is very unusual for any African woman I’ve ever met. They are usually very stoic. Her sister was in the room with us and she cried too. I felt so bad for them. I could hardly keep from crying myself. Oh, how these poor women need the help of the Lord to get them through everyday crises!

Tuesday, October 21 I helped in surgery for awhile this morning. The afternoon was quiet until I had to go in to surgery to begin helping again. One of the doctors had to do a D&C (dilatation and curettage). After that surgery he had to do a repair of a bowel obstruction. That patient had been obstructed for seven days. How she could stand the pain for that long I’ll never know. But because she had been obstructed for so long, some of the colon was necrotic (dead) requiring him to do a colostomy. What a surgery! Thankfully, there was another nurse working with me because the doctor called out orders faster than both of us nurses working together could carry them out.

I didn’t get home from the hospital until 9:00 this evening. It’s now 10:05. I need to get to bed.

Wednesday, October 22 This is my oldest niece’s birthday. Since she is 20 years younger than I, she must be 16 today. Happy birthday, Susan!

I spent a routine morning in surgery. This afternoon I helped with a C-section. The doctor delivered a healthy baby girl. She is a beautiful baby, but will she ever hear the good news about Christ?

The hospital was pretty quiet today so I came back to the house at 4:00 and worked on notes about the work we’ve done here. It’s one thing to do the work when you have someone standing beside you who can bail you out if you make a mistake. It will be quite another thing to do these things alone when I get down to the bush country and open my dispensary down there, working without other professionals. I need to try to record as much information as possible so I’ll know what to do once I’m working on my own.

Sunday, October 26 The past days have been quiet ones.

I went to the French service in town this morning. As soon as I got back from church they called me to help with an emergency surgery. So I went down to the hospital immediately. The patient had a bowel obstruction. We spent several hours on that surgery. Afterwards I had dinner and then wrote letters the rest of the afternoon. Tonight we had a singspiration.

Monday, October 27 I spent the entire day working with Dr. Dwight in the consultation room. We didn’t see any conditions that were very exceptional—just a lot of very sick and hurting people.

Tuesday, October 28 I helped in surgery this morning and worked in the outpatient clinic this afternoon. Again, we saw lots of sick and hurting people. I’m thankful the gospel is preached to all of them. Physical pain and discomfort prompts them to come. But in reality, we know the God of the universe is seeking to draw them to Himself.

Wednesday, October 29 I helped in surgery this morning. Dr. Steve was the surgeon working there today. This afternoon I assisted Dr. Dwight with missionary physicals. Missionaries from all over West Africa often frequently come here for routine physicals or for treatment. This is the biggest missionary hospital in West Africa, and missionaries often feel more comfortable coming here for diagnosis and treatment. They like to know that a fellow believer is involved in their care. Seeing the doctors pray with them when there is a serious problem is always a blessing.

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