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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Duty or Destiny?

From a commentary on 1 Cor 13, our reading this morning:  The music of love, which will one day be completed, is therefore not just our duty.  It is our destiny.

In other words, the life we are living affords us opportunities to practice, to grow in, a way of life that will continue for all eternity.  Faith and hope get us through the hard brokeness of a damaged, sin-scarred world.  But love continues in an unbroken growing river right over the border into the Heavenly reality.

I confess that since listening to the sermon on work as communion with God, and reading this chapter today, I have been walking through the hours with quite limited evidence of those truths in my life.  But still, as I scurry between the Nursery and the Paeds ward, pop into the operating theatre to wait for a preem being delivered, or into the lab to check results, I do think it makes a difference to remember that these are not just duties.  They are the warm-up act for an eternity spent in intimate relationship with God and others.

And that helps, because what feels pretty stressful now is about to take a plunge for the worse tomorrow.  While the parliament delivers speeches (which included some good thoughts about bringing the governors of the counties into the negotiation, since they are supposed to be paying health care workers, or about developing a set of standards for hiring, progressing through careers, and retiring that would be country-wide even though the counties are the ones that actually employ the doctors and nurses) . . . . NOTHING IS HAPPENING.  Today the nurses checked their accounts, and still no salaries have been paid for December and January.  So tomorrow THE NURSES NATION WIDE WILL STRIKE.  A few will still come in to care for NICU and ICU patients until they are ready for discharge, but all new admissions, evaluations, normal deliveries, CS's, etc will shut down.  The little island of care our Medical Superintendent bailed out of the chaos is about to be swallowed up again.  And no one seems to have any idea of how to stop this.  Least of all me.

So as we head into the evening, we brace ourselves to imagine what love will look like tomorrow.  This week it has looked a bit like this:

  • Celebrating rescues, again.  A mom with placenta previa, meaning the placenta covers the normal baby exit causing life-threatening bleeding, instead of dying and having a dead baby, gets a safe C-section.  Baby was 34 weeks and a bit sluggish but looking good a few hours later (and note the lights were on today, the new generator is working!  Also the photo was snapped before the blood covered the floor this time . . )

  • Putting my arms around weeping mothers.  One sobbing with JOY because I told her we could discharge her baby.  A couple of years ago her first infant died on the third day of life, and then this new baby looked very jaundiced on day one and was admitted.  It was touch and go, and I'm sure she was reliving the earlier death, but by a miracle this baby improved and is now fine.  The other mom was sobbing with grief when I saw her Monday morning, because her fragile little infant whom we had snatched back from nearly inevitable death a couple weeks ago, who was getting slowly better, died unexpectedly during the night.  I was frustrated that no one called me, and extremely sad for this mom.  Nothing is more pitiful than all someone's possessions packed up in a plastic bag, bed stripped, patient missing.
  • Watching the resilience of Kenyan women.  Seriously.  The nurses feel too stretched to take vital signs, so the moms pass the thermometer around and take their own.  The young woman in the second photo was here with her daughter, admitted with severe cerebral malaria, which I'm finding is the January special because lots of people locally have relatives in a very endemic area in Western Kenya, go home for Christmas, come back with parasites, and eventually succumb.   Her 3-year-old went from convulsing pallor to smiling normalcy.  I love artesunate.  That would constitute a stressful enough week for all of us, wouldn't it?  But last night a 1-month-old was abandoned at a local supermarket.  The police dropped her at the hospital, and I found this mom with the extra baby in her bed this morning, feeding and caring for her.  

    And lastly, the message on the Dove Dark Chocolate I picked up at the women's retreat seemed prophetic for living in Kenya, for juggling patients, for dealing with a strike.  For the moment yesterday when the oxygen cylinder was empty mid-operation and the new inexperienced anesthetist literally freaked out, so Scott had to finish the case with him screaming while telling him how to simply use the ambu-bag with room air (all went well).  For today when I found a starving baby so skeletal and cold that no one could quite figure out what to do, so we stripped down mom, put the baby skin to skin, wrapped mom back up, and then managed to slip in an ng tube, give warm ORS, and eventually place and IV and draw blood, all while the infant was between the mom's breasts.  If you can't see the word well, it says, "Improvise."
Chocolate and creative making-do bring us right back to love, our duty and destiny.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Jennifer. So profound.

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