Thursday, October 3, 2013

And what can we do?

     The other week there was a man who came into clinic with severe pain in his stomach, dehydration and some vomiting. We admitted him and observed him, giving him ORS and an IV. His pain moved from his stomach to his chest, to his upper back, and then finally his lower back. It was very curious, because he didn't have a fever, only this pain. We considered taking him out to Ti Goave for some tests, and decided to wait another day and observe him more.

     The next morning he seemed about the same: the pain hadn't changed much, except he was having pain in his chest again. The nurses had been checking him for heart failure, and suddenly his lungs began filling with fluid. The decision was made to immediately take him out to the hospital in town. As we prepared the vehicle, his oxygen readings began to drop; Anita grabbed an oxygen mask and started the flow of air. Thankfully his O2 readings started to return to normal, but he kept trying to take the mask off; he felt like it was suffocating him, not realizing it was the only thing keeping him alive.

     His condition was worsening, so we rushed down to the clinic with Steve's Bobcat. Hooking up the portable oxygen tank, we transferred him into the back of the machine, along with his brother, who would help hold him during the hour and a half trip. Getting everything in place, Steve and I took off down the road.

     What happened on that trip I will never forget; and I expect it will forever be woven into the tapestry of my remembrance...

     We bumped and bounced down the trail, finding that happy-medium between speed (for the urgency of the situation), and caution (for the comfort and wellbeing of our patient). We went through Grandfour, ascended the mountain towards Mólye and stopped briefly to readjust the man's oxygen mask. His breathing was getting worse and he didn't look good at all. We continued on, passing through the market (which was teeming with people, since it was market day) and mounted up the next hill. Before we got much further, our passenger said he needed to readjust his hold on his brother. We stopped and I decided to check the patient's vitals; as we hopped off, the brother began calling his sibling's name, shaking him and trying to get a response. The patient wasn't moving, so I checked his pulse- it was weak, but still present. His unconsciousness was accompanied by sudden, shallow breaths and beads of sweat on his face.

     It is difficult to describe what happened next... how much to write? I'm not sure, but let it suffice to say that as quickly as it started, it was all over; he gasped, his eyes rolled up, and his pulse ceased... I sat there, not really in shock, but just very sobered at the reality of what we had just witnessed: the passing of a soul from the body into eternity. What eternity, I don't know for certain; except we know his family weren't known as Christians, so it is probably safe to say it was a Christ-less one. So, the reality of it all came crashing down pretty hard on my heart. I have only seen one other death here at the clinic, so it was all a new experience for me.

     As it was all soaking in, Steve was asking if there was anything we could do- CPR, another mask, etc. I replied that we couldn't- I had checked his lungs and they were completely filled with fluids; there was nothing we could do with the limited equipment and experience we had with us. He had died of suffocation by the fluid in his lungs, probably brought on by heart failure- we'll probably never really know exactly, but that's our best guess. And what can we do? When a soul is called to its forever resting place, who is it that can beckon it back?

     Suddenly the brother realized his kin had passed away and lost complete control of himself: he began screaming, crying, flailing around. We covered up the body with a sheet and decided to take him back to his home. Unfortunately that meant going back through the market; the market packed with people, curious onlookers. The brother had pulled out his phone and was calling someone.

     Steve told me to get in the back of the machine and help hold the body, since the brother was in no condition to be of much help. As we turned around and moved downhill again, people around us (understanding what had occurred) began wailing and screaming. A relative of the family stopped us and offered to take the brother's place holding the body. We acquiesced, seeing how pathetic of a condition the brother had deteriorated into. He stumbled off the machine, screaming and and wailing, barely able to control himself. The relative sat in the back with me and we moved on. Passing through market, we discovered the brother must've called someone there, because everyone knew what had happened.

     Never before in my life have I heard such screaming, such sound, coming from so many people all at the same time. The whole market, with probably over a thousand people milling around, was howling and screaming. We drove through, the crowd parting before us as we descended. We turned off onto a side road and went down the mountain, further away from the market and away from the clamorous masses. As we drove by, people would see us in the back, holding the body, and begin to cry.

     At last, we arrived at the man's house. His wife and a few children were there; they also joined in the dissonance of wailing and weeping. How sad it is to arrive at a long eternity, without Christ, as it waits in foreboding silence, solemnly receiving the passenger of death, to usher him into that place where there is no repentance, there is no second chance, and there is no hope... only a place of eternally sealed verdict, being met out by the just and perfect command of the Prime Originator, the Creator God...

     While we travelled back to the mission my mind and heart were pretty full... I had been planning on talking with the patient about his soul once we were out in town; but now it was too late. As we talked about it later, we all agreed that it was a lesson to be learned- that if you have an opportunity to speak and you feel God moving on your heart, take it. It might be too late, before you know it.

     So ends this account. You know, we have lots of really good experiences here at the clinic- babies being born, cuts being stitched up and healed, sicknesses treated and cured; but sometimes there's a very sobering case in which we're reminded of the brevity of life, the fragility of our existence, and the reason why we're here.

     Pray for us, that in ministering, we could be effective ministers of the Gospel and the physical needs each day; that we would be so filled with the Spirit of God that we'd be as His very own presence here. Thank you for your support! God bless you all!


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