Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Healing to Thy Bones.


Foul pus leaked from the open wounds on her legs, attracting a steady stream of flies and gnats. The stench permeated her clothes as the once white fabric lay stiff with dirt and pus. The acrid taste of death clung to her skin, filling the room with rot.

Osteomyelitis.

The decaying fetor of infection had been her cloak for 14 years, rotting her from the inside out.

Her knees, knobby and swollen, sat awkwardly atop her skin-coated shins; they mesmerized me. I tried to follow the emaciated thighs to their source, but they ended abruptly in the billows of her grey, stained skirt.

No doubt self-conscious of her legs’ effect on those in the room, she hesitantly tucked them beneath her fragile frame and expertly withdrew behind the folds of her cloak.

As she did so, her lanky limps secreted to their hiding place and she morphed into a child. Though easily in her late 20s, she looked no more than pubescent girl.

But her eyes gave her away.

Dulled by pain and constant rejection they reflected nothing. Absolutely nothing. Hope and joy were long gone. Peace and love were strangers.

She described the pain of walking with the insipid monotony of familiarity. She could only go a few yards before the ache forced her to the ground for rest.

How she found the will to breathe baffles me.
... but life is not easily quitted. One cannot will their lungs to cease or their heart to stop.

Yet life takes on dimensions altogether unexplored when pain sets in. These dimensions seemed banal to her --common and vulgar.

She didn’t plead or beg. In fact, she asked for nothing.

Instead she presented a letter from the government hospital requesting we transport her to Wau as they could do nothing more for her.

She just sat on Dr. Tom’s bed and waited for him to read the letter. The letter just spurred more questions.
-- What hope did she have of getting medicine in Wau if she couldn’t get it in the Tonj hospital?
-- Why were they sending her there when she had no money and no family to help?
-- How could they unload her on us... again!?

Yes, again.

A few months back she spent two weeks curled in a ball on our back porch or shuffled from bed to bed in our observation room while we treated her with every drug we had. Eventually, we realized we could not keep her for the months of IV meds that she needed and arranged for her to get the help in the government hospital.

And now... to have her returned to us with a note pinned to her shirt like an orphaned child. Rejected once again from yet another hospital....

“Is there really nothing we can do?” I asked Tom.
“She needs months of IV antibiotics or possibly both legs amputated,” he vented, “How can we do that here?”
I just nodded and listened, my stomach reeling from the stench of her situation.
“But the letter is asking for her to be taken to Wau, not for us to treat her,” he reminded me. “But what is Wau going to do for her. If we take her there... who will care for her?” he asked.

Nothing. No one. I thought to myself.

I didn’t have to say the words out loud for them to be any truer.
        -- Lord?

Although I understand his words and recognize our limitations, I’m heartbroken that we must send her away. I’m distraught that we can do nothing to relieve her pain or social ostracism.

But as I prayed, God reminded me of Proverbs 3:5-8

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

Lord, may her trust be in You. By Your grace and love, heal her bones! Amen.

Please pray with me. Fourteen years is long enough!