Friday, April 8, 2011


What A Comparison!
April 8, 2011

Two male friends ... about the same age ... same physical challenge ... same surgery ... but on two different continents half way around the world from each other.

I've written about health issues and cares before and this will, most likely, not be the last time.  They are a part of life.  But, addressing them in East Africa is so different from what most of my readers are familiar with that I find it remarkable.

Dove Voice Band
Antony lives in Oregon and Borris (pronounced bore-reese with a French accent) lives in Kampala, Uganda, although he is Congolese. I've know Antony for over 25 years and Borris, who is a member of the Dove Voice Band, for about a year and a half.  Both had hernias.  Both had them repaired this week.  Since Pam and I are currently living in Uganda we were only able to go the to "hospital" to encourage Borris.

Often, what is called a hospital in Uganda could only be classified as a clinic, if you had a really poor imagination, compared to medical facilities in the United States.  But, that is what Borris told me.  He need to go to the hospital to have surgery.  He had a hernia, didn't know if doing nothing would jeopardize his future as a father or if he should look for financial means to have it repaired.  In a nervous tone of voice he told me had never had any surgery, had never had a skin wound or been cut, and, yes, he was scared.

I had the identical surgery about 50 years ago after a football physical revealed a hernia I had kept secret from my parents for more than two years.  I spent a couple of days in the hospital in Medford, Oregon after my surgery.  I wanted to do all I could to put Borris' mind at rest going into his surgery.  Pam and I assured the Dove Voice Band that they were free to use some of the money we brought for them to pay for his surgery and that we would be present with Borris before, during, and after his surgery.

Next door to the "clinic"
The "clinic" was a tiny three room outfit in a line of shops that sat at the bottom of the hill beneath the largest hospital in Uganda.  I suspect the doctor uses it for his "office" for "minor" surgeries and walks up the hill to attend to patients that are hospitalized.  Borris was already sitting uncomfortably in the "waiting room" that was visible to the whole world.  I asked the young lady at the counter, with Borris standing by my side, if the doctor had ever done one of these surgeries before.  "Of course," she responded with disbelief.

"Has he done more than one?" I asked.  She nodded.

"More than a hundred?"  She nodded again.

"Okay, more than a thousand?"  This time she verbalized, "Much more than that!"

"And, how many have died?"  I demanded?  "NONE!" she replied confidently.

"There ... you see?"  I turned and said to Borris.  "You're going to be fine!"  The waiting room filled with laughter and the tension in Borris began to ebb away.  We gathered to pray for him so that the Lord would give him the rest our souls need and that He promised if we would bring any weakness or burden to Him

Pre-surgery office consultation
When the doctor arrived and Borris was motioned to come behind the curtain that separated the waiting room from the office I followed.  The doctor had a laptop on the small table and had been checking on the latest sports reports on football (soccer).  Borris sat down and handed over his file.  I asked the doctor about the specific kind of hernia Borris had and he confirmed that it was I identical to the one I had in high school.  I began the same kind of questioning about how many of these had he performed and got the same answers and again assured Borris that he would not be the first to die from this surgery.  In fact, the doctor turned to Borris and told him, "You will walk out of here after the surgery just like you walked in."

"So, you mean I don't have to stay in the hospital?  I will go home?"

The doctor nodded yes and Borris had more relief.  He had feared death, he had feared being cut, and he had feared having to stay in the hospital.  Eliminating two out of three was a pretty good beginning!

I was not allowed to remain in the surgery room that was behind the final curtain.  I drifted outside to find a group of four men and talked to them about why I'm here in Uganda and what I attempt to do.  It all revolved around Jesus and the changes He brings to people's lives.  After about 30 minutes, Pam came to tell me that Borris wanted me in the surgery room.  I found him sitting on the bed with a huge grin on his face.  He happily told me he was strong, very strong, and that he wanted me to take a photo of him in the surgery room.  I took one and he encouraged me to take one of him on the surgery table as he laid down on it.  He had no pain but walked carefully out of the clinic with me to celebrate with us and his pastor.
"I'm still STRONG!"

Pam and I were amazed that this young man was just gong to put his clothes back on after a hernia surgery, be given a few pain killers for the rest of the day and tomorrow, walk to a car, and go home to recover ... although it probably shouldn't surprise us here in Uganda.  It was actually pretty good care for what we are now calling Ugandacare.  Different, but not bad.  Borris will be fine and he only paid about $200.

After the successful surgery with Borris and his pastor

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