Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Never. Ever. Alone.

A week ago hope was my companion as I rested my head against the back of my seat.  A cool evening breeze produced a refreshing sensation across my face and arms. A smile involuntarily graced my face as I heard a female voice synchronize with the CD playing the better known and older songs by the best known gospel artist of Uganda.

What a day it turned out to be.  It began hours before with curiosity, caution, and deep concern. The 18 year old female in the seat behind me, with the surprisingly beautiful voice, was the one responsible for my early morning emotions.  I started the day with her and two others as the sun traveled across Kenya from the east and began to warm Uganda.

Olivia and her baby Edward
Our two hour morning journey ended with competition within the congestion of rush hour traffic in Kampala. It graciously terminated at Besta Imaging.  The neurosurgeon had ordered an MRI.  This was the day for it. Olivia's paralysis from the waist down was a mystery.  She had entered a Ugandan government hospital 5 months prior. She fainted when she entered the operating room for a C Section.  When she recovered in the Maternity Ward she was a paraplegic. Living deep in the village without electricity and water yielded unsurprising challenges. But, without a wheel chair this young mother of a healthy and normal baby named Edward spent most of her time on the ground. Sleeping.  Scooting around using her arms as crutches. Depending on those strong enough to carry her.

Olivia gets her new wheelchair
from Women in Crisis
This was Olivia's first day back to Kampala after the previous Friday when she was surprised with the gift of her very own wheel chair, donated by Women in Crisis.  Now she was mobile.  She was wheeled toward a room that prohibited anything metal.  Though her initial reaction to her first time peek at the MRI machine was fear, she soon submitted to this amazing technology with hope.  Maybe the suspicion Lyzette, Director of Women in Crisis, and I shared about a misplaced epidural was wrong.  Maybe she would walk again.

After lab work at the International Hospital Kampala across town, and some work by the radiology department there, it was time for the relaxed ride back to Jinja.  For the first time I sensed some positive emotions escaping from Olivia as she sang from behind me.  We did everything the doctor requested. Though it was all in the Lord's hands before, we had now done what man could do, and we continued our hope in him.

Olivia is one of three patients that I have been working with during this first month back in Uganda. Thanks to the generosity of the community of Fairview, Oklahoma, a substantial financial resource had been made available to Next Generation Ministries for cases that would never get addressed adequately in Jinja.

Living ... Olivia ... Pharidah
Living is one of the boys of Kwagala Ministries International, directed by Raoul Mugosa.  He has had a perpetual lump of something ... hardly a medical term, but one I can work with ... in his right hip.  A surgeon at IHK was concerned about it connecting to the bone and recommended that it be removed. It was removed and Living spent three overnights in the hospital before coming home for recovery of the wound left by the surgery.

Pharidah was written about earlier in my blog as the lady who renounced the demons of her practice in witchcraft and confessed Jesus Christ.  She had developed an abscess in a breast and it needed to be fought by a day surgery.  She spent one night in the hospital and is recovering nicely.

Of course others are usually present to help with the transfer of the patients and available for the medical consultations and any medicines prescribed.  But, I am often the solitary individual registering the new patients, acting as guardian, and making numerous trips to the cashier. Woven throughout this tapestry is the movement I make back and forth from the lab to radiology and the specialist seeing our patients.

Disturbing ... not for the faint at heart
I don't always come home from these medical excursions with good news. Because of Olivia's paralysis she was unaware that her right foot was being burned and beaten by the motorcycle she was riding for transportation.  A significant wound resulted.  Since she was deep in the village and there was no transportation funds available, the wound was neglected.  By the time we got to it, along with her other medical challenges, the damage to her foot was severe.  Though the surgeon has been doing all he can to bring healing to it, much of the tissue is dead and has sloughed off of her three smaller toes.  The larger ones are black with dead tissue and look like they will be lost.

It is not easy to think about the long term consequences of the neglect and delay of medical attention to so many.  Olivia is NOT the exception.  Even the distance between Jinja and Kampala presents difficulties that put our patients at risk.

I rest in the consolation that I am not alone.  I may be the individual directing much of the activity to and from and at the medical institutions, but none of this would be possible without those in America who want to take a small portion of what they have to help those who have little or none. Without the compassion and care of Lyzette to Women in Crisis, Next Generation Ministries would have never come to know about Olivia.  And, in those quiet moments, looking over written medical reports, I'm anxious to discover the word "normal" from those who analyzed the test ... and I'm aware that I am simply a human instrument in partnership with a Divine Father.

I rest in that.  I can't fix anything that is broken.  I can't heal any disease.  I can't repair any injury. But, under the directive of Papa I can be a tool of His supreme love and care.  That is enough for me.  His firstborn Son invited us to come to Him when we are burdened or heavy laden.  He promised that He would always be with us until the very end.

Whether waiting or wondering outside the office of a doctor or laboratory or riding in the cool breeze of African evening air ... I am never ... ever ... alone.


  1. She needs a transmetatarsal amputation as soon as it can be scheduled. She will lose her leg if she doesn't have it. Email me.

  2. Dear Paul and Pam,
    After reading this story and seeing the necrotic decubitus ulcer on the foot of this young woman's heel, my medical concerns seem minuscicule!
    Reading about this young woman's experience has been a reality check for me! (Realitythat results when we abide in Christ; no matter what!)
    It drives me to further thoughts of prayer for the Next Generation Ministries!!!
    Oh what we comfortable Americans take for granted!!
    Thank you for sharing your everyday Ugandan life experiences!
    Love to you and Pam,
    Janet Kay


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