Time is moving fast and we will be returning for a visit to the US soon. It’s hard to believe that we are scheduled to land in Atlanta just two weeks from today. I’m trying to process my thoughts and prepare my heart for the trip, but it’s difficult to carve out the time to be still. Hopefully God will provide some time between now and then. I have felt quite scatterbrained in my personal thoughts for the last several weeks and it’s difficult to even articulate this post. It’s hard to come up with words. Perhaps it is a combination of struggles with mood, stresses and endurance. I don’t know. There are many times when I long for a Starbucks or something to slip away to, and just sit alone and unnoticed with my thoughts for a few hours. Solitude seems to be at a premium these days. Luckily, we’ve got a quiet, relaxing trip to the US planned. Haha!

Well, in lieu of well-formed, rational thought, I’ll describe some of the stuff God has been leading me into in the hospital. Let’s start with a happy story. Several months ago (I think), I wrote about a young boy that was near death after a bowel perforation. After a failed operation, I had taken him back to the operating room and performed a bail-out operation, bringing his small intestine to his skin as stomas. He was so sick and malnourished, I really doubted he would survive. Well, he did survive. And about a week ago we operated on him again to put his intestines back on the inside to get him back to normal. I was amazed when he came back to the hospital. He had put on weight and didn’t even look like the same child. It was such a joy to round on him each day before he left again; Lord willing, never to return again to a hospital. Below, I’ve posted pictures of him while he was with us the first time and when he came back. I’m so thankful for how God heals.

Small bowel injuries are interesting because of how they can clinically present in patients. You see, if you have an ulcer in your stomach, and a hole opens up, you know it immediately. You can just about pinpoint the time it happens because it incites an immediate inflammatory reaction in the abdomen leading to pain. However, if you have a traumatic hole in the small intestine, it doesn’t necessarily hurt immediately. It often takes some time for the inflammation to set in. When I was working in trauma in Dallas, I had a few patients who had stab injuries to the abdomen but they adamantly refused an operation to look for injuries to their intestines. Because they “felt fine.” I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but it always baffled me why someone would argue with a surgeon on this account. But they do and, eventually, they change their tune. Several hours later they’re begging for an operation.

It seems this is a global phenomenon; though the mechanisms may be different. We had a gentleman come to the hospital who was reportedly attacked by a tiger. Now, I don’t think it was a tiger as we normally picture one, but it was clearly a big cat. He had a bite mark on his abdomen and the distance between the jaws was impressive. Anyway, we had an x-ray of his abdomen than clearly showed air free in the abdomen and outside the bowel. This is definitely not normal and very suspicious for a bowel injury. So, we advised an operation to identify and repair the injury. He told us he felt fine and “no, thank you.” Later that evening we did the operation (he changed his mind) and fixed the hole in his gut. He did well and went home. It’s an interesting picture. 

Well, when I started writing this, I intended to share other stories. But now that I’ve started, it’s just not coming out. It’s hard to know what to say. There are many challenges here. You get called upon to do so much more than you’re trained for or have experience. Sometimes people to well. But sometimes they don’t. God is gracious though and He always sustains us. We look forward to a little break and hopeful recharging of the batteries.