(by Dr Bill McCoy in "Until We All Have Names")
"Sunrise over the Waghi Valley was announced by the shrill wake-up call from a chorus of male cicadas. A brief pause ensued, then another cacophony, as flocks of rainbow lorikeets migrated through the massive eucalyptus trees of Kudjip Station. Wagtails and honeyeaters followed with more amiable tunes of their own. Low clouds and shifting morning light adorned the magnificent mountains behind Nazarene Hospital."
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My gracious mentors here at Kudjip Hospital have given me a week of shadowing the experienced doctors in clinic before I start on my own next week. On my very first day, while seeing patients with the legendary Dr Bill McCoy (wrote the above quote), I met a young man named Kenneth. He was about my age, a student at the local Bible College, a faithful husband, father of 2 little ones, and his bright smile and firm handshake caused me to wonder why he had paid good money to be seen by a doctor.
Kenneth described months of coughing, weight loss, night sweats, and flank (side) pain. In my mind, these kind of symptoms easily lean towards a diagnosis of Cancer, but I was hoping for something infectious, something that we could treat and rejoice in the recovery. During our exam, I enjoyed Dr Bill's use of Kenneth's belt notches to determine his weight loss - three notches seemed fairly significant. To my eye he was lean and fit - though he reassured me he used to have the muscle bulk and energy to play rugby. As we placed our stethoscopes to his chest, we noted areas of diminished breath sounds, and sent him off to X-ray.
Before sending Kenneth off to pick up his first set of meds, we prayed together. Dr Bill prayed in Tok Pigdin, and thanked The Lord for Kenneth's life, faithfulness, and for this non-terminal diagnosis. During our prayer I found myself again in an extreme state of thankfulness - to be here, playing a small part in the very real ministry to these beautiful people, an instrument of God's Love. The hospital motto has returned to my mind over and over: "We Treat, Jesus Heals".
More recently, I diagnosed my second case of TB, though this one was more obvious. The moment my eyes fell upon the wasted frame of Thomas, I knew some insidious disease had been eating away at him for a long time. His Chest X-ray is below, and you will recognize the same fluffy infiltrates as noted above in Kenneth's film - though these are much more diffuse.
With every patient I see in the clinic I am handed their "Scale Book" - a paper booklet which serves as their medical record in which notes and medications are written each time they visit the doctor. In the Scale Book handed to me by Thomas I wrote the word "cachectic", which Dr Wikipedia describes as "a wasting syndrome...seen in patients with cancer, AIDS, chronic lung and heart disease, and tuberculosis...a positive risk factor for death."
Needless to say, cachectic is not my favorite word. As a Pediatrician, I have used this word for severely malnourished children, a problem that can usually be corrected without complication. As a physician here at Kudjip, seeing patients of every age, I am saddened to think I will use this word more often, and many times, for irreversible disease. But for today, for Thomas, I am thankful that we do have medicine that will work - that the word "cachectic" will not follow him to an early grave.
Please join with me in prayer for these patients, that in their darkest trials of illness, they turn to Jesus - for Salvation, for peace, even for JOY - that their Faith may find the Solid Rock upon which they will stand eternal.
|After Our Prayer - Thomas in middle, family member on Left|