Friday, April 12, 2013

Nepal Day 5

This climb was difficult at times with several moments of questioning why we do this. The last day of clinics was for me the hardest, as we saw several children for whom we could do nothing. The very last patient of the day came to me. An 18 month old little girl, with a large head, who hadn't started walking yet, was carried by her mother who wanted to know why. She had been told by a physician a few months back when she took her daughter for her immunizations that all was well. She clearly was not. This little girl has hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") and without surgery she will pass soon. Sharing bad news is something that I do as a critical care physician. Sharing bad news through an interpreter to a mother who for the first time is hearing that her daughter will need surgery or she will pass is hard. The father is a "drunkard" - her words. He was there as well and looked shocked as I told the news. You are probably asking why then don't we just give them a handful of money and send them to a hospital, get the surgery and all will be well. Because, there is much more to just doing that. Follow up, rehab, high chances for infections, even higher chances for a need to revise the device that is used to control the hydrocephalus, additional costs, etc. They live far from Kathmandu, no money for transportation to get back and forth for the frequent visits needed to the hospital, no means of transportation. Do  you see the dilemma? When I think of our sponsored children, we have a way to at least address issues like these. We have in place a medical referral process that allows us to look at every case, see if we can help financially and for the most part, we can with certain limits. This little girl was not sponsored. A few days ago a mother and her 2 daughters came to clinic. Their father had passed away a few months back. They were emotionally drained. We were fortunate to have a child psychologist (Dr. John) with us who did a wonderful job counseling them. Pastor Michael did a great job with the spiritual side. Our team is made up of many different people, each with gifts and talents that God has given them, and together we serve. There were many more good things that happened on this trip. We identified numerous serious illness and started therapy that made a difference. We held the hands of those who were hurting. We prayed with and for those who asked. We reached the "summit", the goal of why we came here: to serve. We finished the 5 days of clinic having seen 1200 medical patients and 175 dental patients. The 26 members of this team gave and gave some more. 22 members from the US and 4 members from our India OCM office: Kelly, Sara, Anne, Aimee, Olivia, Kristen, Joshua, Charlene, Michael, John, Carol-Lee, Susan, Darlene, Carol, Dave W., Robert, Diane, Jeremy, Dave J., Leeanne, Placida, Janak, Sudip, Judith and Kevin. There is so much more to do here. Sustainable healthcare – not so much yet. We brought water filters and showed them how to use them. Clean water now. We brought first aid kits, showed them how to use it and left them. We did dental hygiene education, and more. It's a start. We reached the "summit" but I'm not ready to raise the flag just yet. We need to come back and make the climb again. And maybe again after that. Thank you to the team for all that you gave and sacrificed. It was a privilege and blessing to have made this "climb" with you.

In all things give thanks,