Monday, August 22, 2011

It is rainy season here in Sierra Leone. Last week it rained for 31 hours straight. One of the day volunteers who lives in Sierra Leone, Thomas, said it was going to rain for seven days straight. One of the other day volunteers smiled and asked if he had received a phone call from God?
There are also many happy stories of patients receiving their yellow cards for surgery. August 8, 2011 we called the first 80-hernia/ hydrocele patients on the waiting list of over 500 to arrive at the ship for screening by the general surgeon. It would seem that half of Sierra Leone has a hernia or hydrocele from all their heavy labours. These men arrived hopeful to receive a surgery date. At the end of the day many of the men were booked and left with yellow cards. Some were so fortunate that they did not even have to leave to go home but could receive their surgery the very next day! Henry one of the day volunteers who helps each day with screening, made giving out their yellow cards so much fun. He would call out their names and hold up the card. All the men would clap and cheer.

One card that we forgot to take away returned last week. The first time Abraham and his dad arrived at the ship and it was decided Abraham should be taken on the ship for further investigation. Abraham, nine years of age, had extensive neck tumours. A CT scan was performed that day, Abraham and his dad left with a yellow card so that they could return through the gate once the surgeons had reviewed the CT scan. The surgeons reviewed the CT scan and decided the tumours were too extensive and vascular and there was nothing else that could be done for Abraham. So one of the African crewmembers, Clementine, who specializes in giving difficult news spoke with father and son and sent them home. This past week they returned. They were sitting on the dock under the tent trying to keep dry, Abraham with his head resting in his dad's arms.B ecause of the extensive tumours it makes it is tiring for Abraham to sit up. I asked them why they had returned? The father gave me their yellow card and stated he was told to return for further treatment. (A yellow card we had forgot to take away). I called Clementine again and ask her to speak with them. The father admitted he knew there was no further treatment but did not know what else to do? Clementine said she prayed again with this Muslim man and his dear son in the name of Jesus. Clementine stated it went well. This time Abraham and his father left with a Bible, a teddy bear, some pain medicine, a new toothbrush and no yellow card.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The yellow card it can bring so much joy and hope however it can also show the desperation of the people of Sierra Leone who need medical care and surgeries.
The yellow card is given to each patient that will be given some further treatment on the ship. It really is the only way past the guards that in the port, of course there are always the patients that make their way through by some other means. However for the most part the guards in the port receive very strict instructions as to who is able to pass through the outer gate or we would have most of Sierra Leone waiting outside for medical treatment.
One man came last week that had a yellow card that stated he was for screening that day for a hernia. We examined the card and asked where he received it? He told us a white person at the dental clinic had given it to him. (The dental clinic is near the ship an approximate 5-minute walk.) So we told him that we would just walk back with him to the dental clinic and he could show us the white person who gave it to him. He said he would not remember. It makes us wonder where some individuals are getting their cards? Are there patients who are selling their cards and forgoing their own surgery? Are there cards we have forgotten to take away after a patient has finished their care on the ship?