I really didn’t expect today to have gone the way it did. I don’t think any of us did.
A few friends flew in to the airport to join us in Burundi for a few weeks and we were simply running to the post office to receive a package. Outside the post office building though, was a middle aged woman crying out for help. She was asking for money to receive a consultation from a doctor. Carley and I can’t fix everyone’s problems, but sometimes we should try to help those around us. She had spilled boiling water on her lower leg a few years ago, but hadn’t gone in for treatment. We looked down at the wound. Sadly, her calf was wrapped with some haphazard bandages so old they were growing into the skin. Most of her calf was missing and exposed. Carley talked and prayed with her for about an hour while our friends waited in line at the post office.
It may sound like a simple thing to do. Just drive her to the hospital right? Wrong! There are a few additional obstacles that come with our life here. She didn’t have any money. Hospitals do not have to treat all patients that come in. As the people taking her in, we would be liable for all expenses at the hospital. Hospitals also do not serve food, therefore we would be obliged to bring her food for the length of her visit. Despite all of these known things, what should we do? What if it was our mom? Wouldn’t we at least take her to a consultation?
Of course we would.
So that is exactly what we did. We piled in the truck and drove to the hospital. Talking together, we discovered she had two children and her husband had left her to live in Congo. The rotting tissue was hard to see or smell as we sat together, but harder was the thought of it continuing without treatment. We prayed for her in the waiting room, in several languages, amidst many tears. The doctor called us in and took a look at her calf. Unfortunately, not all problems have a quick or simple solution. The infection had reached the bone and blood vessels were not properly reaching the lower leg any more. Most likely, amputation would be necessary. The words amputation didn’t sit very well with our friend. She began crying hysterically, but who wouldn’t? The thought of losing our leg is terrible, especially when it is still working in some ways. Another option with a risk of failure is an attempt to reconstruct some of the veins, graft skin from the upper leg, and hospitalize her for a month or two months to keep it in a clean environment. Either option called for several thousand dollars in hospital bills.
The doctor cleaned the wound, wrapped it in new bandages, and we drove together back to the Post Office. She didn’t have a phone to call but she asked us to visit her again. Our friend just isn’t ready for the amputation and the reconstructive surgery is high risk.
Here I am writing this, emotionally and physically spent from the long day. Pray for our new friend in Burundi. She is more tired than we are.