Liberia 2017

Kwendin #12 | February 27, 2017

Although it's been 24 hours since I wrote, letter #10 only went about 6 hours ago. Lots of difficulty accessing the internet over the cell phone network last night. I am presuming that part of it can be blamed on the lightning etc. that was drifting across the countryside last night. I ended up loading the letter onto my old cell phone (which Spencer is using) then sending it to my new cell phone so I could send it out from Tappita between cases. Even then the internet connection was spotty and it didn't go till after lunch. But it did eventually go.

We had a little time singing and praying together last night. I went to bed at a good time but then ended up reading for a while. I'm most of the way through Job now in my Bible reading, and I have started on a book called "the Language of God" written by a committed Christian who headed up the Human Genome Project. So far a very interesting book and I should have switched off my flashlight sooner.

Several things happen here every evening. One of the tasks is dealing with our drinking water. We put clean rain water into clear plastic water bottles, and put them on the roof in the sun for a day. So every day about supper time there is the work of collecting the bottles off the roof, washing and re-filling the empties, and putting the new ones back on the roof. So far it is generally Kate and Spencer that do that work. Another task is showers. We have 5 solar showers--2.5gal plastic bags with nozzles on them, and if we put them in   the sun they get quite warm. Too warm generally. On a hot day, the straight cool water from the tap is perfectly OK. I like it a bit warm so it means filling at least one of the shower bags and putting it out on the front step where the warm concrete takes the chill off it. And we take turns having showers in the course of the evening--we have two bathrooms. Kate and Kristie share a bedroom that has its own bathroom (yes, an ensuite no less) and the other two bedrooms have a bathroom between them.

All of that takes us to this morning. We knew it would be a full day so we started out before 8. At the clinic there was a big crowd, but the person I wanted to see was a fellow who had a wound infection from a hernia repair in July (not one of ours). A constantly draining wound infection always means an infect stitch so I had arranged to open it up this morning.

I filled it full of freezing and sliced it wide open. There was a small but foul abscess deep down, and a bit of "mesh" which we sometimes use to repair difficult hernias. I cut the mesh out and left a clean open wound which we will dress daily till the infection is gone, then stitch it up again. He should do well.

I was about to leave when I saw a lady with a hug scab on the tip of her nose. It had some kind of powder or sand applied to it, wwhich I presume is a form of what they call "country medicine." I soaked it in saline and slowly removed the scab. She has some kind of cancer eating away the whole end of her nose. I just cleaned it up and dressed it (had to stop it bleeding after all I had done) and told her to come back tomorrow. I was hoping to talkk to a surgeon in Tappita about her.

I did get to speak to the surgeon this morning. He told me that the person in Tappita who does plastic surgery is Dr Sherman, the Dr in charge of the hospital. He is away this week so i will get him to see the lady next wee when he is back.

Anyway, we walked out of a big crowd at the clinic, leaving Spencer and kate to manage them while we went to Tappita.

We had a few tasks that we knew of. We met up with our lady who has HIV and kristie took her to the HIV clinic where she was connected with the right people to look after her. And I went up to the ward to discharge the one patient who had had surgery on Saturday. I actually met himm walking out of the ward. I stopped him and gave him a supply of Ibuprofen and Tylenol for pain relief, which he was happy with. He will come to the clinic to be seen.

Soon the hospital generator started up and we could begin our OR list. We had a couple of kids to do, and did them first. They went very nicely. then there were two young men with big hernias, both of whom went very well. finally there was a lady with a hernia just above her navel, and that was comparitively simple and went fine. But altogether it still took us to about 3:30. In between cases Kristie ran errands. We also got a referral from Kate back at the clinic--a 15 year old diabetic who had no insulin, with a high blood sugar. At first Kristie was told the girl couldn't see the doctor today so we were brainstorming about what to do. Then she actually met the internist in the hallway and stopped to talk to him. He was very keen to see the girl--they are doing a study of insulin dependent diabetics and there is funding from an NGO for much of her care. Thank you God. We couldn't have orchestrated it better. She is now connected to long term care for her long term problem.  

Altogether it went as smoothly as I could have hoped. Altogether it was clearly an answer to prayer--prayers that people are praying for us while we are here.  

Bob had a big pot of spaghetti waiting for us when we got home. And Kate and spencer reported in on the various weird cases they saw today that will be waiting for me to see tomorrow. And besides that there was a delivery last night (the midwife tried to phone us but the network wouldn't put the call through to ur bedrooms) so Kate got a needed dose of looking after a newborn baby. Very sweet.  

Tomorrow Kristie and Spencer will discharge patients in Tappita while Kate and I work in the clinic. Should be a full day again.  

Thank you, everybody, for your love and prayers.

Dr. John Potts