The Journey of Jordan

I can’t say that this is a great piece of journalism. It’s pretty awful in that respect, actually. Below is a timeline of one particular patient that was dear to me this year. There are lots of patients I’ve loved, but I wanted to pick one and collect little details along the way to create a more cohesive story for you. Obviously, I’m here living it. So I see the “whole story” all the time, but for some of you the pictures and moments I share about patients are simply snapshots. So here is the Journey of Jordan, through my eyes. (**Most sections in quotes are straight from my journal.)

8 November
“Syvano is going to surgery today and I get to watch. His left wrist is severly contracted–knuckles to forearm. He was so playful last night.”

8 November (the accounts of 7 November)
“I was charge nurse on evening shift when he was admitted. I gave him and Mama a big, warm welcome and he took the bait.

He, Maeva and Boris quickly made friends and began playing together. First Hungry Hippo (the loudest, most obnoxious game ever), then Jenga. Well at first just stacking up the blocks until I taught him how to actually play. One of the first things I did (even before all that) was give him a yellow, smiley-face balloon, and he loved it.

Before bed as we were shutting off all the lights, I told him that if it was alright I was going to watch his surgery and “make sure the doctors do a good job.” He smirked. Then I told him “and Jesus will be watching your surgery too. He will protect you.” His face got serious. I asked quietly, “Do you believe in Jesus?” “Oui,” he said with a huge smile. “Well, Jesus loves you and he will protect you. You can rest and sleep soundly tonight. You have nothing to worry about.” We high-fived and I wished him goodnight.”

Nurse Michelle Scalley with Maeva and Boris

8 November
“This morning I went to visit just as the 30 minute call came to prepare him for surgery. He was still smiling and eager! :)”

Gosh, watching his surgery this day was incredible. Plastic surgeons basically do professional “arts and crafts.” A fat flap from here, a thin piece of skin there and Voila! Now his fingers are straight and his wrist is in a neutral position. Surgery fills me with awe. Incredible.

9 November
“Visited Syvano this afternoon and Desré was doing some range of motion with his fingers. I could see he was in pain, but when I approached and waved he gave his big smile again. I held his other hand while Des continued. He was such a champ!”

Also, this is the day I found out he goes by “Jordan”. Des is so good at finding that out instead of just reading the “first” name on their ID card.

(Below is Mufi, Des, Mama, BJ and Jordan)

Physical therapist, Desre Bates, and academy student, Brandon Barki, say goodbye to their patient and friend on the dock as he leaves on his long journey home.

Des is a therapist who specializes in hand therapy. Since Jordan had become accustomed to his wrist being bent completely backwards, he would need quite a lot of rehab to gain strength in a hand that had essentially been out of use. Also, Jordan’s scar tissue from his original injury had all but decimated the flexor tendons on the back of his hand. So he would never achieve full movement again, but our therapists are here to make sure that they gain as much function as possible!

28 November
I took out all 5 of Jordan’s K-wires today during his dressing change. He was, and still is, so brave!

This is not Jordan’s xray. This is just an example of K-wires. We do not put patients under anesthesia to remove these–just some extra pain meds for him and elbow grease for me.

1 December
Jordan has such a personality. He has also developed a friendship with Tressor (the patient below with the pink balloon), in addition to everyone else that loves him. Communications kind of wishes that they had followed him. He might not have had a sparkling personality when we first met him, but now he is so social and well integrated into life on the wards. He has light in his eyes.

Aisha Wainwright with plastic patients including Maeva, Tresor and Jordan.
Aisha Wainwright with plastic patients including Maeva, Tresor and Jordan

6 December
Almost a month after surgery, Jordan was discharged to the HOPE center. The HOPE center is our “hospital outpatient extension”–a place for patients to stay while they still need to come back regularly for follow-up appointments (ie: dressings and rehab).


14 December
I saw Jordan briefly at the HOPE center during the Ponseti (Clubbed-Feet) clinic celebration I attended. His eyes lit up when he saw me! I know I’m not the only one, but it’s nice to be remembered.

2 January
Jordan came into the ship for a dressing change on a busy day when outpatients* needed help. Today, I let him have one of his favorite little trinkets that we used to play with in the ward hallways–a blue popper! Also, I told him that my Dad was coming to the ship for a visit.
*Typically, after discharge from the hospital, patients will have their  rehab and dressing needs met on the dock in our tents instead of coming on board each time. I am part of the in-patient dressings team. So our first priority is the patients on the ship and then we will do some of the outpatients dressings afterwards if needed.


10 January
My Dad arrived to the ship the night before, so I’m giving him a tour. While we were on an upper deck, I peered down and saw Jordan and Tressor on the dock waiting for their rehab/outpatients appointments. I had told Jordan the week before that my Dad was coming. While Dad and I were walking down the gangway, the boys spotted me and started waving. “Tante Kirsten!” Then all of a sudden Jordan looked to Dad coming down after me and his eyes went wide, “Tante…Papa?” I could not believe he had made the connection while we were still at a distance coming down the gangway. “Oui!” I exclaimed. I think my heart about burst in that moment. My two loves were colliding. Not specifically Jordan and my Dad, but rather my love for Mercy Ships and my love for home. It was probably one of the most memorable moments of my time in Cameroon so far.

18 January
Jordan danced with me and Dad at the HOPE center during Mercy Ministries today. Dad got to participate in a dramatic telling of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof by his friends and healed by Jesus.


6 February
I was on my way to the HOPE center hoping to visit with Jordan, but he happened to be on the dock waiting for a physical therapy appointment. I was so happy to see him though. I thought he had gone home, and I was so sad that I didn’t get a chance to give a last goodbye. His wounds are 100% healed. Now to get those muscles stronger!

16 February
Jordan finally was able to go home today. There are a lot of goodbyes on this ship. Not just with crew who leave, but also with patients and their caregivers. However limited, I know that our connection was one I treasured.

As I hugged and kissed his Mama goodbye, she held me and said (through translation) “thank you. Thank you for everything you have done.” So many of us on the ship connected with Jordan and his Mama. What was done in His life was testament to the value of a functioning “body of Christ.” When we each play our part, God’s work is done. We are a team.

I am so grateful for each person who played a role in Jordan’s healing and rehabilitation. I am so grateful that I got to join in. I am so grateful to all those who have supported me. I do not like goodbyes, but I am grateful for this one.


Ward nurse, Victoria Martin, and Wound Care nurse, Kirsten Murphy, say goodbye to Jordan and him mom on the dock.

God, I bless Jordan and his family on this journey through life. I pray that your power would be a mighty testimony when they return home. And I ask that we will have a heavenly reunion one day.

 

 

 

The Significance of One

1 February 2018

Each 10-month field service in a country, our surgical schedule on Mercy Ships is determined by:
1) The assessed surgical needs of the country
2) The availability of surgeons for each specialty

Of course, some of the preparation is still a leap of faith, but Mercy Ships tries to plan out what they can.

Dr. Tertius Venter is a plastic surgeon who has been coming to do surgeries since BEFORE the Africa Mercy embarked in 2007. In the years I have served, he has completed two “blocks” of surgeries in each field service. Although he could crank them all out consecutively, many of his surgeries rely on our access to physical and occupational therapy to rehabilitate our patients. They would simply be overrun if he did not have a break in his surgical schedule each field service. He also does surgery in some African country hospitals. There, he says, “I will not do any burn-contracture related surgery. If there are no PTs and OTs to follow up, there is no point.” This fact makes the care we give on the Africa Mercy very special as Tertius performs many burn contracture released on the ship.

I have seen, now, hundreds of patients affected by severe burn contractures. Sometimes, the need seems far too great. When I sat through the scheduling process last fall and watched each patient’s screening form be assigned to a surgical slot, my heart sunk as I saw the forms that remained.

Last night Doctor Tertius taught a medical in-service about flaps and grafts (aka surgical arts and crafts) that he uses in his surgeries. Some of which have been invented by Mercy Ships surgeons (because first-world text books do not deal with such advanced surgical problems). At the end of his talk, he reminded us that our main objective is to see each patient’s value and love them. We must do the very best we can for each one.

Luke 15 “Then Jesus told them this parable:…”
The Parable of the Lost Sheep:
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

The Parable of the Lost Coin:
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

The Parable of the Lost Son:
A son disrespects his father and lives unrighteously. However, when he returns, the father spares no expense in celebrating. When the faithful son became angry at the extravagance, the father replied:
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

You know what the conclusion of each of these stories is? “______ calls his/her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost _____”

So today, I rejoice over the one. I rejoice over the one who gets to encounter the love on this ship. The one who had no hope. The one who gets to see Jesus at work in our midst. The one who got surgery–even if it meant several others could not.

The more I experience this mission, the more I am convinced that “light” and “dark” emotions can coexist. I could block out the memory of patients we could not help, but that would be dishonest. Now that I have seen, I cannot become blind again. Instead, I choose to rejoice in the one we helped, and I choose to (especially) pray for the one we could not.


What/who is “the one” in your life that you need to take action for?

A song that has inspired me is Albertine by Brooke Fraser
Here is the story behind the song: The Story of Albertine


Feeling pretty good about my social media break at the moment. Day one and I was already motivated to write! (Even though I just posted a blog yesterday.) So that’s cool. Now to finish some of the books I’ve been reading…