The nurses called me today to attend to a young man who had been shot twice. (and this time I understood what she said, whoohoo!) Actually, he had 38 projectiles in his body that I could count, despite only being shot twice. The assailants had used a shotgun. Luckily, they were far enough away that the pellets had dispersed and didn’t penetrate deep enough to puncture lung, significant blood vessels, or bone. This poor fellow tells me it was done by one of the gangs (Maras), who were trying to steal his ‘work’. He made his way 4 hours to come to our hospital for care.
Addendum: The next morning, I went in to the Hospital Ward to check on this fellow with the shotgun wounds. I noticed that his left wrist was handcuffed to the hospital bed. Hmmm, thinks me. There was a police officer outside the door as well. I thought he was there to get a statement, but I was wrong. He was guarding his prisoner. Turns out, this fellow had shot and killed several people. There is more nuances to the story that I couldn’t ‘appreciate‘ (that means that I didn’t understand what he was saying). The officer was urging me to discharge this dude as quickly as possible before the family members of the slain figured out where he was and came to retaliate. Needless to say, I promptly cleared him to leave…
Dave Fields, who is our Head of Security (the same Dave who runs the IT department and resuscitates babies, on occasion) told me that we want to keep these gunshot wound patients in the private room farthest from the ward. This is so that if one of these vengeance-seeking family members comes in someday, guns-a-blazin’, that there is the least amount of risk for casualty crossfire. Very pragmatic.
I had another young man (In his 20’s) last week who was shot 8 times, this time by pistol. He was lucky and not so lucky. Lucky in that he was shot 8 times and was still alive. Unlucky in that his injuries were not healing right. And one of the bullets hit him in the eye, so he had lost it (how did he get shot in the eye and not be dead?) His right arm had been broken in a couple places by bullet wounds, and externally pinned back together in a shoddy manner. His lower leg had developed a deep bone infection, called osteomyelitis. He couldn’t walk. He told me that ‘bandits’ had shot him. I’m not sure what the whole story is, but this young man realized what kind of miracle he had on his hands, and was thankful to God. I suggested to him that he must have a significant purpose in this world, for God to pull him through something like this.
At the time of writing this, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Dave have already taken him to surgery to correct the issues with his arm, and clean out the infected wound in his leg. He should make a good recovery.
This past week has been rough. We had a 12 year old girl come in with Dengue Hemmorhagic Fever. Sounds scary and it is. It is spread by mosquitos, much like malaria. It causes high fevers and bleeding, and in this case ARDS, which means her lungs failed. She contracted it in a town about 15 miles away, Jutiapa. As I write this, her life hangs by a thread. We have had her on a ventilator for several days, which is an extreme rarity here at our hospital. We usually can only give a 24-48 hour trial of ventilation before we have to withdraw. But she’s 12. And we are hoping and praying that she can pull through. Her lung collapsed yesterday and so Dr. Dave and Dr. Isaac put a tube in her chest to decompress it. We have been taking shifts 24/7 watching her ventilator settings, helping the nurses with all the details of her care, keeping her sedated with medications. Basically, we have made a makeshift ICU for her. We don’t know how long we can continue with this level of care, and how long she can hold out. So, she needs a miracle.
Addendum: This little girl is a fighter, and there is a battle going on for her. The unthinkable happened just a few hours ago: The power went out. This is not uncommon here in the jungles of Honduras. However, the hospital’s backup generator did NOT switch on, as it is supposed to within 10 seconds of the power dying. Why? We don’t know yet. But this would have been a complete disaster if not for the quick action of many people working together with passion. Since this young girl is on a ventilator, she is reliant upon a machine to breath for her, one that needs electricity. When the power died, her ventilator died too. Dr. Peter and Nurse Heather jumped all over it, taking over her breathing manually with a bag and mask. Thanks to quick recognition of the problem by Dave Fields, and quick action by his son, Ben, we were able to get a portable generator down to her room, and the ventilator back up and running in a matter of minutes.
She is stable again, and we continue to covet all prayers for her healing.
Update: Our sweet friend Deneli, with the rare skin condition has had another setback. She had to have her other eye removed, rendering her completely blind. I know this won’t stifle her amazing spirit, but it is hard to watch her go down this path.
OK, lots of Heavy stuff to share. On the lighter side…
Men: I have not used shaving cream in over 6 months. But, I am shaving (occasionally.) How am I accomplishing this seemingly impossible feat? It’s really quite ingenious. I’m using… soap! Yes, good ol’ fashioned soap. And not some specially formulated multi-purpose soap, just the bar soap I use in the shower. I just lather up my face with it, and shave away. But what about dry, chapped skin, you ask? Nahhh, my face is soft as a baby’s butt. According to Wikipedia, the purpose of shaving cream is threefold:
1–lubricates the skin; soap: check!
2–swells the keratin; soap: uh, I think so.
3–desensitizes the skin: come on fellas, stop being such pussies.
So, Gentleman, I think I just saved you $4.27 a month on personal hygiene. You’re welcome. (I hope I haven’t singlehandedly toppled the multibillion-dollar industry of shaving foams…)
On another bright side, we had a visit by a wonderful family for the last 2 weeks, the Jarabeks, who hail from Minneapolis, MN. This is their 7th visit down here, I believe, and they have made it a yearly pilgrimage. Dr. Brian works in the hospital, and Raquel and the 2 young men, Clay and Jaden, help out with any other needs at the hospital, school, and children’s center. They have built great relationships with locals, missionaries, and the community. They have also found a great way to contribute to a long-standing ministry in a short-term time frame. We enjoyed their adventurous spirits.
A few pics, as always:
Our Laboratory Supervisor, Christine Bell Maradiaga (check out one of her very moving anecdotes here), organized a 5k and 1 mile fun run to raise money for locals who cannot afford their medical care. It was a fantastic event that saw 52 participants in the race, and dozens more in support. We all had a great time. Owen took 4th in the mile.
Thanks for the visit, next up: Snow in Honduras…
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