Sorry in advance, this blog post is a little out of order. We are going to go back in time about a month so I can share my first nursing experience while serving here in Lesotho!
The following is a true medical story that contains graphic descriptions of our encounter.
Our team was spending the morning in a village near Khohlo-Ntso visiting some of the children’s caregivers. I got a phone call from Teresa Flora (IMB Missionary and Registered Nurse) and she told me we had to come with her to see a man they had just met. She was on her way home to get supplies and had left the team (two members of the team were Registered Nurses as well) with the man to begin caring for him. The man was a 37-year-old paraplegic. He was HIV positive, had TB in his spine, was suffering from constant bloody diarrhea, had a terrible and productive cough, rhonchi heard bilaterally, and the biggest pressure ulcers I have ever seen.
The dirty, soiled blankets.
The dark room.
Trust me when I say, the situation was rough. I had never seen pressure ulcers this large. The slough, the eschar, the tunneling. It went so deep that when we had cleaned out the sore we were able to touch the man’s hipbone.
Like I said, hopeless.
Okay pause, I need to go back one more time and tell about the last patient Teresa had with these symptoms (quadriplegic with even worse pressure ulcers). Her name was Nthabising (N-Taba-Sing). She sent her to the hospital to have surgery. Before sending her, Teresa had spoken with the doctors on the phone and set everything up. The surgery was planned. But when she got to the hospital, Nthabising sat in the bed for ten days and they did nothing. They didn’t even feed her.
So they got her home and the ulcers were obviously worse. Teresa did what she could. From our experience, the nurses here do not consider anyone who cannot walk to be “worth their time”. Anyone who is a paraplegic or quadriplegic is considered “home based care”.
Therefore their family is left to care for the sick patient.
This saddens me so much. Praise the Lord for Teresa’s presence in this woman’s life. Through their interaction, Nthabising came to know Christ as her personal Savior. And then her mother, her sister, her friends, and now there is a house church meeting in her village!
Through this woman’s pain and suffering, many people have come to know the Lord.
During this time Teresa was caring for Nthabising, a woman named Charlene Hahn, came from the United States to Lesotho for a mission trip. She is also a Nurse and was able to help care for Nthabising. Charlene had a brilliant idea. She taught Nthabising to paint. Nthabising would hold the paintbrush in her mouth and was able to brush away. Charlene had her paint a Christmas tree.
And when she got back home in the States, Charlene had Christmas cards made from the picture. She is selling them to others to send to their loved ones during the Christmas season and using the money to go directly back to this woman’s mother and to help care for orphans in the community.
Nthabising passed away due to the complications and infection from the pressure ulcers. But we can rejoice in knowing that she is celebrating, dancing, and praising the Father!
If you are interested in buying this Christmas card to send to your loved ones this Christmas, please send me a message or comment below. I will connect you with Charlene. Or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are sold for $12/per dozen. Each card has Nthabising‘s story printed on them and the picture that she painted. How neat would it be for her story of redemption to be on display for all to see this Christmas season!
With this previous situation, Teresa knew we couldn’t simply take this man to the hospital or clinic because they wouldn’t treat him. So, now to finish his story.
We got him cleaned up the best we could. We packed the holes with gauze that had been soaked in saline. Teaching his brother and mother the entire time about how they need to continue to care for them.
Now I am going to brag on my husband a minute.
Tyler sat by his head the whole time. One hand holding a light for us and the other holding the man’s hand. He asked MeThato (our translator) to tell him to squeeze his hand when it hurt. He amazed me. Tyler could not stand to listen to my stories from clinicals and work back when I was in school. He hates the sight and thought of blood and anything medical. But, God gave him the strength to not only stay in the room but to sit down next to the man and care for his heart. While we were working on cleaning his ulcers, Tyler didn’t forget this man had a soul. I told Tyler that what he did is the most important part of nursing – being present in the patient’s life, making sure they know they are not alone, and caring for their heart and not just their physical body.
After the Gospel was presented, the man accepted Christ and became a believer in Jesus!
I guess that needs to be my prayer. Not that I can heal everyone or even take pain away or even clean every wound. But that Jesus Christ will give me the words to share with the patient. Sharing with them that He is the only way. He is the only reason to live. Not to fear death but to fear what happens after you die.