Thursday, May 5, 2011

An Unfolding Story

May 5, 2011

A hospice, whether in Uganda or America, generally has the same definition.  For the first time, in all the years I've been coming to Uganda, I visited a Hospice here in Jinja.  They practice Palliative Care ... a term that was new to me ... a specialized area of healthcare that focusing on relieving and preventing suffering of terminal patients.  I was in Rays of Hope Hospice with Sarah Sityo, to register her husband, Robert.

As some of you already know, Robert has been diagnosed with an endemic cancer which is relatively new to Uganda, but showing up more and more frequently.  Robert's was the second case seen yesterday at the Hospice.  It is not to be confused with the older version which was normally associated with HIV.

The past week had seen a serious increase in the pain Robert suffers in his left foot, even robbing him of sleep at night.  We were hopeful that the Hospice could help relieve the pain so that Robert can walk on his foot and get some rest at night.

Robert Sityo - May 5, 2011
The people who dealt with us were compassionate, friendly, hopeful, and respectful.  I'm glad we went. Those who attended to Robert were thorough, frank, and helpful.  After the RN built an extensive profile of Robert, he was given a solution to dress the open wound, on his left foot, morning and evening.  He was given pain medication that is very strong, but not addictive.  The pain was much better today, but it put him to sleep during a football (soccer) match yesterday.  One in which he was very interested!

It's the word terminal that wouldn't leave my mind. Every person is terminal, but most of us don't have a disease that includes that term ... indicating that perhaps our exit from this earth is going to earlier than normal.  To hear it associated with my friend and spiritual brothers disturbed me.  I found sleep coming and going last night.  When it was gone, my mind was on Robert and what the Lord may have in mind for him.  Interestingly enough, this week I have been teaching a course on evil and suffering in the recently begun Bible School on the campus of Fountain of Hope Schools.

I don't know what the future holds, but I have chosen to trust the Lord with Robert.  The Hospice is committed to relieving his pain and symptoms and I appreciate that.  However, I want to see Robert live as long as possible.  His vision in Bukeeka is far from being accomplished and there is much he wants to do in serving Christ there.

There is a effort underway that may bring Robert to the United States for treatment.  While I appreciate the medical progress Uganda has made over the past ten years, America has far more options.  Robert would have to obtain a visa from the U.S. Embassy in Kampala since his first one has expired, but it appears that the doctor fees and actually treatment are already paid for.  It appears that there is money available for his airfare and a host family has also emerged.  I understand that the treatment will take at least four weeks.  It would be great if Sarah could get a visa to accompany him.  It is a critical time in his life and Robert's wife should be with him if at all possible.

Our lives are in His hands.  Terminal physically?  Sure.  Terminal spiritually?  Not Robert.

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