Volume 2, Issue 23
December 16, 2007
-Birth, Babies, and Believing-
…delivering babies in Africa…
Yesterday began with a nice, quite time of reading, praying, and checking some e-mails. Then it all changed, into controlled chaos, unexpected moments, and lots of obstetrics.
Scott Myhre knocked on my door at 9:30 and asked if I would help him with a c-section that needed to be done at Bundibugyo Hospital. At that moment I knew we would be in Bundibugyo town all day, as this has happened before. We go to the hospital thinking we will be in and out doing just one procedure, but we usually end up getting sucked into many other things while there.
Delivering babies in Africa is not “safe” by any means, for the mother or child. I have been involved in numerous cases where the baby died, the mother died, or they both died. Child birth is such a natural process, but when something goes wrong it can be devastating.
We performed the surgery, with minor complications secondary to previous c-section and lots of adhesions, but both the baby boy and mother did well. At the very end of the surgery the maternity ward nurse told us that there were two patients with incomplete spontaneous abortions that just arrived, as well as a mother with a retained placenta and a hemoglobin of 3.0, and a post-op patient with complications, all waiting to be seen. So began the rest of the day….
We were in the operating theater and maternity ward from 10 am until 5 pm yesterday, but that was not the end of the day for us. As soon as we finished the last procedure we rushed to the Ebola Task Force meeting, sat through that, then headed to the air strip to pick up the lawn mower and the worker who had been there all day mowing the air field. We arrived to find the lawn mower sitting near some tall grass off to the side, only to learn that it would no longer start. Scott Myhre then tried several unsuccessful attempts to start the mower, but it would not fire. The lawn mower was too heavy to push back onto the trailer, so Scott and I drove back to Nyahuka, picked up a large tarp, and then headed right back to the air strip to cover the mower, where it still sits now.
When I finally got home it was 7 pm, so I had to rush to the shower and get ready to go to Pat’s for a dinner gathering that also started at 7 pm. When I finally arrived the other guests had kindly waited for me to begin, and so we ate and feasted, enjoying the fellowship and the food, with thankfulness that though the day was difficult and long for each of us, we had managed to make a difference and were thankful to God for all his provisions.
Each day is so unexpected and with such surreal moments. As we were in the operating theater I could look out the screened windows facing the street and see the Ebola isolation “tent city” only 30 meters away, with workers dressed in their head to toe attire washing the used gowns, burning other used items, spraying the chlorine solution on the boots, and attending to patients. Life here in Bundibugyo is far removed from life in Baltimore. The operating theater is a far cry from a completely sterile environment, but at least we have a surgical room.
Despite all the unexpected adventures of the day, I am still grateful to be here, thankful that I am able to help, and convinced that God led me heart for a time such as this. Oh the stories I could tell….