Wounds of the body and soul

One of my favorite things to do is to go to the wards in the evenings and visit the patients and caregivers. Even though, working in Admissions I get to meet every patient admitted, I don’t have much interaction with them once they’ve had surgery.

When I walk onto the wards and greet them it brings my heart joy to see not only the physical difference, but the change in their countenance. The love, care and acceptance they receive tends to their physical needs as well as their emotional/spiritual needs. When I meet the patients in admissions I’m often a bit taken aback by the size of a tumor or distortion caused by a burn, etc. Some of the patients have very visible deformities. I’m reminded in these moments to look beneath the surface. The outside deformity is only the tip of the iceberg. It does not reveal the entirety of their wound. I find one does not have to look too deep to see the emotional pain beneath the surface. Emotional pain caused by constant ridicule, teasing and being outcast from the community because one does not look normal. This is a “wound of the soul”. These wounds are not so visible, but can be just as debilitating.

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When I look at these pictures it’s hard to believe this is the same girl. Elisabeth came to us very malnourished and was not strong enough for surgery. Our medical staff and dietitians monitored her closely. Slowly she began to gain weight and grow stronger. These pictures are before her surgery. I love them because it shows how the wounds of her soul received healing. The love and acceptance she experienced started to heal her heart long before we operated to remove the tumor. She received surgery on my birthday (7 February) and is doing very well!

 

Patients recovering on the ward
Happy smiles greet me every time I visit the wards!

Next week we start Women’s Health surgeries. These patients in particular endure significant “wounds of the soul”. Most of them have a condition called a vesicovaginal fistula, which is essentially it is a broken bladder. After a long labor an abnormal tract forms between the bladder and vagina. This means the woman is unable to hold urine, so she leaks urine continuously. Because of the bad smell and lack of cleanliness these women are abandoned by their husbands and ostracized from their communities. They live in poverty and isolation because they are no longer accepted.

The birth of a child should be joyful and bring happiness, but for these women it brings pain, sadness and shame. They are no longer wanted by their husbands and thus can no longer bear children.

 

Mercy Ships provides free surgery to fix their broken bladder. But the bladder is not the only thing repaired. Hearts are mended as these women are loved, accepted and given an opportunity to hear about an eternal love that will never turn them away or give up on them! Please pray for these women, not just for their physical wounds, but for their emotional and spiritual healing.

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This is a picture of our Women’s Health patients from last year when Mercy Ships was in Madagascar.
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What are we up to??

It was quite the adventure during the first half of the field service and the second half has been no different! Working in Admissions allows me to meet every single patient admitted to the hospital. When I returned from Christmas break we started with plastics, eyes, general and maxofacial surgerical specialties. Here are just a few of the patients we’ve admitted over the past month!

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-8-08-26-pmThis little kiddo started as part of our infant feeding program. You can see from the picture on the left he has an upper lip deformity (cleft lip). This left him unable to suck appropriately. Essentially he wasn’t able to latch onto his mother’s nipple and get the milk he needed to grow. He was so small when we first met him. The picture on the left is after he had gained weight and was ready for surgery! The picture on the right is him after we corrected his cleft lip!

screen-shot-2017-02-03-at-9-41-18-amJust before Christmas break we finished all the orthopedic surgeries! Correcting bowed legs. So when I returned in January the casts started to come off and we saw straight legs J Kids are so adaptable, but unfortunately they’d learned to walk, and even run, with bowed legs. Rehabilitation is hard work, but it’s worth it to re-learn how to walk, now with straight legs!

Leopold (BEE30054) at the Eye Clinic for a post op evaluation.Another surgical specialty we have is Eyes! We remove cataracts. Unfortunately, I don’t get to meet these folks! Another team of doctors and nurses are responsible to these patients. But I see the patients everyday. They are incredibly brave as they are led up the gangway and into the hospital for surgery. I can’t imagine not being able to see and allowing someone to lead me up a gangway onto a ship for surgery!

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-8-11-26-pmAnd last but certainly not least….plastic surgery! The main goals of plastic surgery are to give patients mobility of whatever arm/leg/finger is stuck in place and cultivate new skin with skin grafts. This is a slow and painful process. But we have very brave, strong patients and an incredible team of doctors and nurses! And we serve a God who heals and restores all our wounds!

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”