Category Archive: Medical Assistance

4 am Lights and an Object in the Road


4 am Friday. I got up to use the restroom and crawled back into our cozy bed.

person standing beside car
Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

“Thwack.” I didn’t know where the soft sound came from. Was it inside? Then another soft “thwack,” and another. I realized the sound was coming from outside, so I walked to the window and looked through the blinds. Oh no! An ambulance at the home of our neighbor who has a brain tumor. Doors opening and closing. Going outside, I asked her husband what had happened. Evidently she suffered some sort of seizure.

Thankfully, our friend is home from the hospital today, worn out, but no new news from an MRI.

Later that day I received a text that the husband of one of my best friends had been in a serious bicycle accident and was airlifted to a local trauma center. Medically sedated, he became agitated during the night until doctors inserted a chest tube to help his bruised lung recover. Don’s and my prayers and tears were flowing – for both injured friends, for both families.

flying red and white helicopter
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

How do we respond when such sad news enters our lives? I can’t imagine what it would be like not to be able to talk to my loving Father, Abba (“Daddy”) about these dear friends’ suffering. So often I want to DO something – whether it’s sitting beside a person, listening to them, flying to another state to support them. And each of these can be important and helpful.

But healing is not in my hands. It is in the Father’s, and He tells me to come to Him with all my cares, because He loves me. (Hebrews 11:5) And He has provided medical personnel to operate, assess, diagnose, watch closely over those in their care. And I can pray.

Saturday I called a dear friend and asked her to pray with me for these two and their families. She shared a hurt she and her husband are going through for a close friend of theirs. What a privilege to be able to come to God together, in tears, to beseech His watchcare over those we love.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Matthew 18:20, NIV

I’m amazed at my girlfriend’s strength in the midst of her husband’s bike accident and injuries. “The thing is,” she said, “we know we’re going to be taken care of, one way or another.” Thankfully, it doesn’t appear this is the end for either of our friends, but, because of our trust in what Jesus did on the cross, in taking the penalty of our sin and granting us life with Him, we know that “the end” here on earth is really “the beginning.”

Jesus died the death I deserved so I could live the life of freedom He has for me.

The great scholar and “reluctant convert” to Christianity, C.S. Lewis, found love late in life with Joy Davidman. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly after their marriage. He wrote about the great blow her death was to him in his book, A GRIEF OBSERVED. While he went through a period of turmoil and questioning God, he later was able to say the following.

Sometimes the pain is to awaken us — to the realities of life and death, to awareness of our priorities (as it did for me during the illness and death of my first husband). Sometimes it’s to awaken others as they see the faith with which we respond during suffering, the grace God gives for the long haul.

What’s on your heart this week? Family, friends in need? I’d love to join you in prayer for them.

A Different Kind of Week

I felt a bit dizzy during the night Monday. When I wakened Tuesday I was quite nauseous. I stayed in bed until about 11, then Don prepared me a very light breakfast of fresh fruit.

Back to bed to sleep – for hours! It’s years since I’ve done that. At 4 o’clock I wakened, feeling like I was going to upchuck. I got up as slowly as I could and headed toward the restroom. I hit two walls on my way and barely made it before losing everything I’d eaten (or so I thought).

I called my doctor’s office at 4:50 to ask for advice. A nurse called back shortly. “You’re too late for office hours and urgent care won’t see you if you’ve thrown up today. You need to go to the ER and get checked out.”

I knew throwing up was one possible symptom of COVID-19, but I had no others.

“You don’t sound good, and I think it’s important you be seen tonight.”

“Do you really think that’s necessary?” I asked.

“OK. I’ll go.”

I dressed and told Don what the office had said. On the way I said “I really don’t want to throw up in your car, love.”

Don pulled into the ER driveway. I opened the door, and wallah – you guessed it! A kind man pushed me inside in a wheelchair while Don went home to wait (no visitors allowed).

Over the next five hours I was poked for blood tests (great job, hardly felt it), given an EKG, gave a urine sample, and was put into a bed and given two warmed blankets to cover me (later, a third was added). The nurses and aides were gracious.

At one point I overheard the woman next to me say “Thank you for being so kind to me,” and I prayed God’s blessing on her. I heard several “Code Blues” and felt it a privilege to pray for those individuals and the medical personnel caring for them. Of course I prayed for Don, at home waiting for news. I’ve recently been anxious over fires and riots and yet, in the ER I was truly at peace the whole time and so grateful for God’s presence with me.

From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey–-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Proverbs 16:23-24 

I told one of my nurses I was praying for them, and he thanked me. “I really appreciate that,” he said. “I think this is the first year that people are really thanking us–oh, here and there people have, but as a whole.”

We were very thankful with the report that all my vitals looked good, no COVID, just vertigo. I left late that night with medication and exercises to help.

I’ve been very thankful for our medical personnel before, particularly when Mom needed care over the past year plus. But somehow when it’s you in that bed and waiting for results it really sinks in how much these men and women are on the front lines – doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, aides, registrars, cleaning staff.

Thank you, each of you, for treating me with kindness and respect, and ensuring you did all possible to check whether or not I had an infection or virus. God be with you, each and every one!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Lord Have Mercy

The line stretched for blocks. Men, women and children stood in the hot African sun, waiting, praying, hoping for their chance to have life-changing surgery, many after years of having been told doctors in this third-world country could not help them. Many of those in line had walked days for one chance at a new life.

Seeing the kinds of health challenges in a poverty-stricken country was eye-opening. Whereas a tumor growing out of the neck or face would, in America, be caught and treated early, in this third-world country it is likely to grow unchecked.

During our church’s missions week, Don and I watched the first segment of a National Geographic documentary on Mercy Ships, showing now in the UK and hopefully coming to the US in a few months. The 450-person crew, including medical personnel and surgeons, are all volunteers. The images we saw were so powerful I didn’t even want to blink while watching.

My heart went out to the male nurse triaging the folks in line. What grace of God must be needed to say to someone, “I’m sorry, we don’t have the kind of doctor you need. We can’t help you here.” Or, “I’m sorry, your child is dying and we can’t help.” And yet, in many of those cases someone from the ship will follow up with the family, giving counsel, sometimes hospice services. Of the 5000 or so we saw in line, about 720 were selected for surgery.

And what joy to say to someone, “We can help you; we can help your child.”

A man with a tumor the size of his head growing out of his chin, could hardly be understood because speaking was so difficult. He shrouded his head in cloths and knew his disfigurement limited his ability to get a job, to have a somewhat normal life. When he first looked into a mirror following a delicate surgery to remove the tumor without sacrificing critical nerve connections, his smile was broad and beautiful. His handsome, dark eyes shone with what looked like hope.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Unable to breastfeed, Haingo was starving to death

Seven-month old Haingo had a severe cleft palate, with a hole in the top of her mouth that didn’t allow her to breastfeed. She was slowly starving to death, her 7-month weight below 7 pounds! When a stranger told Haingo’s mother about Mercy Ships, Viviaby walked two days to get to a place where she could find transportation to the ship. Volunteer nurses immediately started Haingo on a round-the-clock nutrition regimen to help her gain enough weight to safely undergo the surgery. When the little girl finally reached 7.7 pounds, surgeons corrected her cleft lip and palate, giving her the ability to thrive, to eat and drink and learn to speak well. What a beautiful little girl!

Haingo, thriving

The new Africa Mercy is the largest civilian hospital ship in the world, including five operating theaters, rooms for recovery and intensive care. Their capacity is 7000 interventions a year–from removing life-threatening tumors to repairing cleft palates.

What we forget in a country of privilege is that hope comes with having options: we can treat, wait and watch, or try different approaches. Hope is also about the possibility of getting help. One patient said her doctor had told her to wait until the big white Mercy Ship came and to go there for the help she needed, which he could not provide.

We were deeply touched by the significant ministry being conducted on Mercy Ships, by the hundreds of volunteers who do everything from scrubbing the decks, to cooking, to surgery and follow-up care.

For more information, stories, and ways to give, go to: https://www.mercyships.org/international/

Lord, have mercy! And may we be a part of that mercy.

 

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
    and he will reward them for what they have done.”

Proverbs 19:17