Sunday, 13 April 2008

Adopt-A-Patient...

As I've mentioned in a previous post, crew members - especially those serving in the technical departments (that is, not in health care or in the off-ship ministries) - are encouraged to get involved with the patients down on the Ward. One of the ways in which you can do this is sign up to adopt a patient for the duration of their stay in the hospital. You're their friend. You can visit outside of visiting hours and I think the most important thing is to just spend time with the patient. So that the individual feels loved and special. And it's a great way to show God's love in a practical way. This is what I'm doing at the moment.


I've adopted a little six-year old boy, Matthew, who arrived on Thursday and has already had surgery. His story is a sad story. And one that is, unfortunately, all too common here in Liberia. He fell in a pot of boiling oil when he was two. So he is here to have some plastic surgery done to his hand. When I first met him he was sitting on his bed down in B Ward, and my friend Megan, a nurse from Philadelphia, was giving him oxygen to help with his asthma. Hearing that he was my adopted patient, she offered me the oxygen mask to hold over his mouth and nose. So I gave him his oxygen. He just sat there, breathing the oxygen, and when we were done he held my hand and pulled me down to his level, smiling all the while. It was really special.

Over the past few days I've been visiting him twice a day. Unfortunately working night shifts means that I can't visit in the mornings, but I do my best to keep up a regular routine of visitations. On Friday (the day he had his surgery) I was sitting with him and he was hungry. So he handed me a banana and I fed it to him. And then we played balloon volleyball. We also talk, but I don't think he really understands me, and I struggle to understand him. But one thing he does see is the willingness to spend time with him, and he appreciates it. The one evening I went and spent over an hour in the Ward. We played hide-and-seek, balloon soccer, coloured in books, and I made a domino chain out of Jenga blocks. I'll take him up onto Deck 7 tomorrow. Crew members are allowed to sign out a patient for a short while, so that they don't get too bored down on the Ward. Although with the wonderful ward nurses that we have here, it's a wonder that that ever happens. We are truly blessed. Anyway, that's a very brief update on things here on the M/V Africa Mercy, currently on Field Service in Monrovia, Liberia. God bless.

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