Sunday, March 9, 2014


It is not how much you do but how much love you put into the doing and sharing with others that is important. Try not to judge people. If you judge others then you are not giving love.
Mother Teresa

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

When I first saw her in our Maternity ward, I believed her. My years of clinical experience told me not to believe her, but she was earnest in her story, and so I believed her anyway.  I believed her right up to the point when we opened her abdomen and found the results of a botched abortion in the form of a dead fetus and a lacerated, necrotic uterus.

I heard about the bad motorcycle accident over the weekend. Some poor family had been rushing to visit their sick relative at our hospital. As so often occurs here, multiple people piled onto the Piki-Piki. Helmets—are you kidding? This time, a two year old was on board with her parents and her grandmother, stacked up behind the driver. That’s a total of five souls over an engine with two wheels, speeding over dirt and rock roads. The parents were killed instantly. The grandmother sustained head injuries. The little girl had an open femur fracture and was now an orphan.

It wasn't until the next day that I learned the patient to whose side they were racing was my patient, the woman who had come in, lied about her history, and was finally taken to the OR where we had to perform a hysterectomy, followed by staged debridement and multiple washouts. Her history unfolded over a week: married with three children at home, she went out and attempted a late term abortion. Someone had perforated her uterus. She was becoming sick. She had gone to two different hospitals where she continued to deny that she had gotten an abortion—and so the days passed and she continued to worsen until she finally came into our hospital.

Postoperatively, she started to get worse. She became septic. She had seizures. She had to be intubated. Finally, her lungs and her kidneys failed. I sat with the family. Her husband was intoxicated on local brew. He had just sold off his farm in order to pay all the bills incurred by her hospital stays, and for the care of the mother-in-law, and the two year old child with a broken leg. He had other children at home asking for their mama. When was she coming home? The brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles sat by, trying to understand what had happened, what was happening, what could be done, and terms like “multi-system organ failure.”

I sat at the little nurses’ station and watched her family members surrounding her in the unit bed. They were saying goodbye. She died that night.

“Let’s go visit a patient,” Angela, my friend and visiting colleague, said to me. I really did not want to go. The death of this woman had shaken me. Watching her die had shaken me. Days later, I could not forget her last hours. I would never forget her or the tragic events that had unfolded around her story. Angela knew this. She came up to me in her sweet, matter-of-fact way: “Let’s go,” she said.

I found a precious little girl on the Pediatric Ward. She tucked her head and smiled when she saw
Angela approach—for my friend had been visiting her all along, bringing her sweets. A young woman was there with her, her auntie. She obviously loved the little girl. Angela gently pulled back her blanket: I saw her right leg was healing, from an open fracture sustained after being thrown from a Piki-Piki.

For those of you reading this story that follow Jesus, I can share this hope: our patient accepted Christ as her Savior before she died. The little girl with the broken leg is healing and physically will recover. Her aunt will raise her. I do not know if the mother-in-law will recover, or how our patient’s husband and children will cope. But I hold onto the promise that one day, Jesus will make all things new. And one day, all of this brokenness will be healed, and our faith will become sight.

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