Monday, November 12, 2012

Medical in Mibu

The timing really stunk. The workday was over. Sunlight was quickly fading and I was winding down, working on some emails, when Skyler called from outside, "Daddy, a man is here and he needs your help! He's hurt really bad and he's bleeding all over the place!"

We aren't a medical clinic by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are we equipped or trained to be able to make regular medical work a part of our ministry strategy. However, when you live in the middle of the jungle with no doctors around, and one of your friends shows up with potentially life threatening or otherwise life altering injuries, you learn what you can and do what you can to help. In this case, my friend showed up after a battle with a piece of bamboo that had split while he was working with it. Bamboo is razor sharp when green and freshly split. The evidence of this stood before me bearing a hand which was cut wide open, all the way to the bone in places, both across his palm and on two of his fingers.

So it's the end of the day and my friend shows up needing medical help. I have to confess, my heart was not prepared for this particular moment. My first thought was something along the lines of, "Ugghh. Right now? I'm tired and spent already. I hope this isn't too bad." Yeah... fleshly. Thank God for another prompting alongside though that whispered the need for compassion and empathy, regardless of timing. I got up and went outside to meet my friend and see what the damage was. It was Yodik, and it was clear he needed help.

Our kitchen counter slash dinner table is where we do most of this stuff. The conflict at this particular time was that Shannon was just starting dinner preparations. The kids are hungry and she usually depends on me to take the kids during this time. Tonight was going to have to be different. I brought my friend in. It was dusk. It was getting darker; too dark to see, and we have low quality lighting in our house. My attempts to set up enough light weren't enough and so I recruited Skyler to hold the LED flashlight on the wounded man's hand for me; a job she continued to do (as best as a 6 year old can) for the next hour and an half. (Mental note: when it's in the budget, get a couple of nice headlamps)

Now, our attempts to help with urgent medical needs rarely go without something interesting happening. From blood spraying, to patients passing out, to ME nearly passing out (yeah, some of the things I have to do, I REALLY don't like!), and to the seriousness of the situation being truly scary, we've had some interesting stuff happen. This one was no different. After our counter/table was cleared and I had the appropriate equipment out, I had him remove the vine that he'd wrapped about 10 times around his finger in an attempt to slow the bleeding. I would have preferred to keep it there, except it was too near the wound for me to be able to do anything with it. A pool of blood began to spread under his hand on tile that is our table. So I put a rubber tourniquet on after having put a thick cloth to absorb the mess. I had barely finished giving him the first shot of lidocaine to numb him up when I felt his head just kind of lean into me, nudging into my shoulder. I thought homophobically, "That's wierd! Is he snuggling me?" I'd barely had time to finish the thought before he slumped out of his chair and fell on the floor with a loud thud. He'd passed out. I wasn't ready for that! Yet somehow, while holding his hand open with one hand, a sharp biohazard needle in the other, I'd managed to grab his arm and keep him from falling too hard. Now his blood was getting all over the place. I needed to get him up again and finish closing him up. Hmmmm, how do I wake up a passed out person? (Another mental note: invest in some smelling salts) My rich movie watching heritage managed to pay dividends after all as I was reminded that maybe slapping him in the face would do the trick. What'dya know, it works! Snapped right out of it. After the confusion subsided, we managed to get him back up in the chair and continue the work. I had him lean sideways into the back of the chair in case he passed out again... which he did about 10 minutes later; this time remaining in his chair.

Shannon announced to the kids that dinner was ready. That's one thing about our kids, a guy bleeding on their dining table isn't going to stop them from eating. Both Skyler and Maddie are fascinated by this stuff and hover around watching everything. Skyler, out of her merciful little heart is always looking for ways to help the hurt person feel better, warmer, less thirsty, less hungry. She might have something going for her there! But back to the food; Somehow Shannon managed to get all the kids' food dished out, get them eating AND keep that flashlight on the wound. Skyler stayed where she was at, sitting indian style in the middle of the table (where she had been holding the flashlight) and carried on eating her dinner and watching. Mommy took over the flashlight duties. The other kids sat on the floor (Mibu style) and ate there. Yodik turned down the offer of food, his stomach probably feeling a bit off. It's funny. Any other time of such complete disorganization and lack of management in the house this time of night would result in pandemonium. Yet it seems when something like this is going on a general blanket of understanding covers everyone in the family, even the kids, and the problems are relatively few. Everyone knows we're working to see this problem fixed.

It wasn't until after the kids were in bed that I wrapped up the last of the work on Yodik's hand, putting the finishing touches on about 22 frankensteinian stitches. I gave Yodik some antiseptic ointment and some fresh bandages to change out each day. Then I saw him off, heated up my dinner, ate, and resumed a relaxing evening with Shannon. Yet another example of having to live by the rule of the unexpected here in Mibu!

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