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Lessons from Pain Posted 9.11.2015

There are many stories that emerge after our annual medical mission in Uganda.  Some linger for a while but most never get told.  Let me tell one – which I might have shared already, but it is lingers in my mind.

 

Two young men in their late twenties came to the clinic – on Monday (or maybe Tuesday).  The one guy was in agony.  Agony.  He couldn’t move his arms.  He could barely walk.  He had been home alone in February when a candle had caught his home on fire.  He was burned severely.  He was getting better, but still has a very, very long way to go.

 

I’m not sure how he knew about the clinic or why exactly he came.  But he showed up and we took a look at him.  He had a follow-up appointment with his regular doctor in early September, but he was clearly miserable.  One of our doctors and our wound care nurse – Judy (my hero) Tanielian cared for him.  I watched (I’m getting better at such things).

 

Slowly they pulled off the bandages which had been on long enough that they stuck to what there was of his skin.  It took a long time to get them all off so they could see what was going on underneath.  I was able to find some very strong pain reliever that we had been given here at home to ease his suffering.  But the grimaces on his face were painful to watch.

 

They got all his upper body bandages removed when he informed “us” that he had wounds on his legs too.  Really?  Both legs had been used recently for tissue for skin grafts.  One leg was healing well, the other was worse than his arms and hands (that’s an amateur’s opinion, by the way).  So it was another stretch of time to remove those bandages.

 

Then it was time to redress his wounds.  We actually had something that would work well in that situation.  Wow.  Thank you, Jesus.  It took a while (I got bored and left) to get him all wrapped up again.  He was asked to return on Friday to put on some fresh dressings all over again.

 

He came on Friday.  Having used proper dressings on his first visit, redoing everything was much less painful.  But, we pre-medicated him just in case.  On Friday I got to talk with his companion.  They were no blood relation, but had been friends for twenty years. Friends.  That’s all?  Really?  This poor guy couldn’t even drink a sip of water without someone bringing it up to his mouth.  He had no other family, so his friend stepped up.  That’s a huge commitment.  That’s a huge burden.

 

But Friday they left with smiles.  And hope.  And fresh bandages that won’t stick to the wounds.  And signs of healing in those few days.  But the smiles said it all.  A burden was shared. Hope had returned.  The road ahead is long and painful.  But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  What an example to me. 

 

We didn’t do much, but we supported the hands of a daily caregiver.  How are you dispensing hope these days?


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