Wednesday May 21 –
Back in 2000, I laid down a dream that God had let me hold onto for about 10 years and resigned from being a firefighter and an EMT. I knew then that I would miss it dearly and hoped that one day God would allow me to pick it back up again. Well today, He allowed me to hold it again for just a few minutes, and it was wonderful. The best part of being a firefighter for me was the EMT part and the involvement in all things medical. I had explained to the folks here at Loma De Luz that I had this medical background, but to say the least, they received it coolly. The last thing real doctors need down here is some fool running around who “used to be an EMT” thinking that they know something about medicine. EMT training (at the basic level that I was at) is really more a form of advanced first aid, and some basic life support – it is not medical training. Knowing this, I’ve been very quiet about medicine during my time here, even though I’ve been fascinated at the excellent, caring medicine that I’ve seen practiced. The medical stories down here are like a black hole for compassion, they will draw in you and use up all of the compassion that you have, and you still won’t have enough to fill the void of sorrow. There just isn’t enough. Still in all, I’ve been quietly watching the medicine aspect of this place every chance that I got to.
Today, I was able to participate in just the smallest way, but it was such a neat blessing. I have gotten to be friends with one of the visiting surgeons this week and the person doing the anesthesia (I believe he is a nurse anesthetist – but I am not certain). Both of them are just really neat guys and one of them even brought his whole family with him. They are just wonderful folks. They had been talking about various surgeries that they were going to do and I realized than one of the surgeries this afternoon was on a young boy who has a condition that I also have. Young Marcelina and I both have bony tumors that grow in and around our bones, and the surgeon was going to remove some of these tumors. This is a surgery that was performed on me several times when I was young, so I was intensely interested in it. I asked him if he would mind if I observed.
Greg (the orthopedic surgeon) and Tom (anesthesia) are two of these really neat guys that have the gift of making you feel important. They were both glad to have me observe the surgery. Not only was I able to observe the surgery – but I got to run and get them a lamp and move a few things around and got to help out a little bit. What fun! I was like a kid at a carnival! It was really the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I know – I know, you’ve got to be pretty sick to enjoy watching someone get their arm cut open and have some extra bone knocked off with a hammer and chisel (literally) – but hey, I loved it. I had the privilege of praying with team before surgery and of seeing Dr Jeff literally envelope the boy in an embrace and talk softly to him while he was being put to sleep. I’m telling you – the love that is displayed here on a daily basis is really hard to even type into this blog without tearing up and just weeping. It is the simplest expression of love administered at just the right time that is so amazing to watch.
I was able to hold the hand of a woman in the “wound care” clinic today who was having a wound dressing changed on a terrible wound on her leg and who was in horrible pain. Understand this: that elderly lady and I couldn’t possible have come from more diverse backgrounds and cultures, but she just buried her head in my chest and cried in her pain. Pain bring us together in a way that very little else does.
Lastly we come to Olympia. She is a lady who is very sick and is really in trouble physically. She has played all of her cards and the deck is still stacked against her. Her liver is likely failing and kidneys may have already failed. I have had the privilege of watching the staff attend to her with care and comfort in this most likely one of her last days here on earth. Behind closed doors, when there is no family around, no one is watching, there is only professional and loving care for this dear lady. As one doctor speaks to her family, he says it so accurately when he say it is in the “manos del Dios” (hands of God) now. He is so right. The staff here knows her to be a Christian and so there is a softening of the grief, and yet a lot of concern. This one is beyond medicine. Only a miracle can heal her now.
And so in a place where I came to work on computers, I got to touch and hold and pray with some people today, and what a privilege it was. I got the chance observe some of God’s best doctors today. Thank you Lord for this day!