Birthday Miracle

Nathan was on call on our baby girl’s birthday and helped deliver twins.  Here is the story of the little girls that share our daughter’s birthday.

My next patient was K.  She was pregnant with twins and had been referred from the maternity clinic secondary to elevated blood pressure.  I rechecked her blood pressure which was still high and after a simple urine test determined that she had preeclampsia.  I explained the diagnosis to K before we headed to L&D.  Preeclampsia is a condition that can arise in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy resulting in high blood pressure and multi-organ dysfunction which can lead to seizure and death.  The only treatment is delivery.  K’s twins were both transverse (lying crosswise) which would require a C-section.

By the time we got K into the operating theatre her blood pressure had climbed into the 170s.  She now had severe preeclampsia.   One of our visiting PNG medical students joined me to assist with the surgery.  In the midst of all the preparation we paused for “Time Out” to verify we had the correct patient, correct procedure and to pray.  “God, help K and her children.  Help them to walk with you.  Guide us in our work.”

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A few minutes later I was grabbing Twin One’s feet and pulling her out through the uterine incision.  “Its a girl!”  But she was very pale, not moving and crying.  Stimulation and suction did nothing to change the baby’s situation.  I handed her to one of our nurses to care for.  I’m worried but generally most kids respond well within 30 seconds.  I have to go get Twin Two.  As I was working to get Twin Two’s feet, Bosip, our nurse anesthetist, hollers at me.  Twin One is not breathing and her heart rate is 50-60 so the nurses start CPR and intubation.

I finally get Twin Two delivered, feet first, with some difficulty.  She is also pale, limp and not crying.  Now I have two twins, neither of which is doing well and a mother with an open uterus.  We quickly called in Dr. Sheryl,  one of our surgeons, to help ASAP!

I am giving directions to our nursing staff regarding the girls while I work on Mom.  Dr Sheryl arrives to care for K and I start working on both girls.  By now both babies are intubated and receiving chest compressions.  We get them on oxygen, give epinephrine.  Stressful minutes tick by as we try to save these two precious girls.    After 10 minutes they are both still pale, limp, not breathing normally and have heart rates of 50-60 (very low).  While I count off CPR compressions, I face the very real  prospect of having to tell K and her family that we lost her children.  As I run through further treatment options in my head I realize we have done everything we can do except pray.  “God, we need a miracle!  Please save these girls.”  We continue CPR: 1 and 2 and 3 and..the compressions rapidly go.  A minute later Bosip looks at me from the warmer of Twin One.  “Doctor this child is breathing on her own!”  He extubates her and she begins to scream!  “Thanks God!  We need one more miracle.”  Twin Two’s heart rate comes up to 120s (normal) and  she starts breathing on her own.  She is still limp and pale but improving.  After several minutes both girls are doing well enough we transfer them to the nursery for further observation.  By the next morning both girls are breast feeding and doing well.  No small miracle considering how long it took to get them breathing on their own.

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Three days later I was on call again and saw K.  It was time for her discharge.  She was unaware of what had happened in the delivery so I shared with her the story of  the night her daughters were born.   As I finished I said, “I want you to know God worked a miracle to give your two daughters life.  When you look at them remember God loves them and cares deeply for you.” Tears of joy filled her eyes as she realized the miracle God had performed.

We serve an amazing God.

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A Week of the Unexpected

Last week was quite eventful. It started early Monday morning about 3:45am. I woke up to the bed shaking and thought one of the kids was trying to climb into bed. When I rolled over and didn’t see any children, but the bed was shaking even harder, I realized it was an earthquake. In the morning we found out it was located around 100 miles or more to the West of Kudjip and was about a 7.5. Thankfully, the buildings and hydroelectric dam on station didn’t suffer any damage. Some people had things fall of shelves and break, but the damage locally was minimal.  Even this week we continue to feel small tremors.

Many landslides were triggered at the epicenter and buildings were damaged. The last estimate I heard were that 30 people were killed. Here is a link to pictures Connie Aebischer took as Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) assessed the damage and prepared to help those affected by the earthquake.

At some point during the week we also had a lightening strike take out the phone lines on station. They are trying to get those fixed and updated. This biggest problem this creates is when the doctors are on call and the hospital needs to get ahold of them. Thankfully, we have cell phones as a back up and when those don’t work the security guards fetch the doctor to help. The landlines still are the best option for call, so they continue to work at getting those back up and running.

The large autoclave machines also quit working last week. An autoclave helps sterilize equipment for procedures in the ER, for surgeries and for C-sections. We have two large autoclaves and a couple that fit on a table top. Both large machines quit functioning and for a day or so we were able to function solely as a clinic, seeing outpatients and giving medications, but were not able to preform the functions of a hospital. Thanks to the work of maintenance staff, the machines are up and running again. You can read more about the impact this made on Dr. Erin’s blog here.

The power was also going off quite often last week and into this week. Thanks to the hydroelectric dam we have much more reliable power than we could get on national power. I’m not sure the reason, but during the day the electricity was good, but around dinner time most nights last week it went off. Sometimes it lasted for just a few minutes and other times much longer. Nathan’s headlamp has come in handy. Last night he was in the ER stitching up the wound on a lady’s heal. Her husband was mad at her and chopped her with his bush knife, cutting her bone and possibly cutting her tendon. In the middle of caring for her everything went pitch black as the power went out. While he waited for the generator to kick on, he was able to keep caring for her by the light from his headlamp. He was thankful it came on when it did, because all the little nighttime bugs were starting to swarm his headlamp.

One evening last week we made it through dinner and the power went off just as we started chores. The water won’t turn on without power, so in order to do the dishes we had a couple kids run outside with buckets to collect water from the large tanks. We heated it on the gas stove and did dishes by candle light. It was actually a fun evening and just as chores were finished the power came back on.

As Dr. Erin highlighted, there are so many people that help to make the hospital function and last week showed how important each person is, from those working on the phones, to the men fixing the autoclaves, to the security guards and the people working on our power. It takes far more than doctors and nurses to keep a hospital up and running and we are grateful to each person that has a hand to helping to bring physical and spiritual healing to the people of PNG.

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*All typos and poor grammar are brought to you by a busy mama trying to get back into the habit of keeping you updated through the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Visitor

I am so grateful for the ways God brings encouragement to us.  This morning I woke up not ready to start the day let alone start a new week.  Nathan was on call Saturday and while we expect Saturday calls to be long, this last call was one of the hardest since being here.  Add that in the middle of an extended q3 call schedule and both of us are feeling worn down.

Nathan called mid-morning to say he had someone that wanted to come down and visit.  It was Baby M and her mother.  Baby M was born with Down syndrome and a heart condition.  They weren’t sure she would survive, but she’s now about 18 months old and doing well.  She lives in the Jimi Valley, which is a remote area about 3-4 hours (depending on road conditions and availability of transportation) from Kudjip and has a small health station as it’s only medical care available.  Nathan has been seeing Baby M regularly as he keeps track of her heart condition.  A couple months ago he brought her mother to meet our little two with Down syndrome and has been able to talk with her not only as a doctor, but also as a parent of a child with Down syndrome.  We were blessed to have a doctor in the States who had a son with Down syndrome.  It was a huge encouragement to have a doctor that could relate on a personal level to both the blessings and challenges of living life with disability.

Baby M’s mother wanted to come down to visit me and the kids today.  She had a bag full of produce for us and she had made both Nathan and me bilums (woven bags) to say thank you for all the work Nathan is doing.  When I first held Baby M she started crying, but she soon settled into my arms and I got to snuggle with her as I talked with her mama.  As they left, Baby M, waved and gave us a big beautiful smile to help bring a little sunshine to a hard Monday morning.

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Please be praying for Baby M and her family as they raise her here with so few resources.  Pray for wisdom for Nathan as he treats her heart condition and for us to continue to encourage her mother as she has encouraged us.  And pray for strength during this time that is extra busy.

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Our little ones were too busy watching the baby to look at the camera!

Putting Beetles to Work

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Our bug catchers have been keeping themselves busy and these rhino beetles don’t get a free ride when moving into our house.  This one was put to work pulling a miniature PNG flag on a sled.  While they are strong little creatures, the kids had to downsize from the first giant sled they made.

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We’ve also found that tying a leash on the beetles makes them much easier to catch when the giant beetles decide to go for a little flight inside the house.  If they do escape their leashes we’ve learned to turn out all the lights and the escapee will soon land near a window which makes it much easier to catch.

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Have you every wondered what an angry beetle sounds like?  This one doesn’t like being blown on or touched.

With the internet not working in the fall and then the holidays, I haven’t kept up on blogging.  We’re working on some blog posts and hopefully get back into posting regularly!

Our First Christmas in PNG

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Not because of the cold weather and snow, but because of all the decorations and Christmas parties and church services.  Nathan and I went into town last week and were greeted by a giant inflatable Santa sitting on top of a strip mall.  The stores were full of lights, ornaments and Christmas music.  On station several of the houses have lights strung along the porches and each ward on the hospital has Christmas decorations up.  Here’s a few pictures from various Christmas events from the past few weeks.

 

This video is the kids singing and signing a song at our Enligh lotu (worship) service that happens once every other month.

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The Christmas play at Enlish lotu.  The tall men in black are King Herod’s tough guys.  Everyone did a great job and the play was quite funny.

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Caroling on the wards Christmas Eve.

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Handing out gifts on the wards

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Nathan with the nurses he’s been working with on D ward for labor and delivery.  Friday evening he had to rush to the hospital for an emergency C-section and we got to meet the mama and baby he helped.

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This big sister wants another baby brother or sister to hold, so was quite happy to have a chance to hold one of the babies on D ward.  All the kids love seeing the many tiny babies on this ward.

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Christmas caroling around station in the sprinkling rain.

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The boys at our table for the missionary Christmas party.  The pictures really don’t do the decorations justice.  The decorating committee went all out and it was lovely evening.

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The high schoolers entertained us with a PNG version of the Twelve Days of Christmas with a couscous in a guava tree, three MAF planes, cicadas singing (or screeching) and many other uniquely PNG experiences.

 

Our baby girl wasn’t too sure about Santa, but our big girl was quite happy to have Santa passing out presents.  Santa was played by Uncle Bill.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ and look forward to celebrating his resurrection!

Preparing Gifts

Even the little ones have a chance to be involved in ministry.  In preparing for Christmas Aunt Gail invited some of the little MKs to come and help prepare gifts to give to patients on Christmas Eve.  We counted through stuffed animals for the kids, toiletry kits for the adults and baby kits for the newborns.  These will be delivered by the missionary families to patients on all four wards of the hospital.

While sorting through the gifts we came across some bottles of neosporin, so we gathered those to deliver to the surgery department.  Neosporin has been in short supply, so we were glad to find these.

We also got to say hi to Nathan since he was in the ER when we walked by.

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Goodbyes

Jim and Kathy Radcliffe have been serving in Kudjip for nearly 33 years.  They’ve raised their six children here and have touched countless lives both in Papua New Guinea and the United States.  When I travel into town and someone hears that I am from Kudjip they often share a story of how Dr. Jim saved their life or the life of a loved one.  Kathy has been involved in ministry in countless ways around the hospital.  Her calm spirit is a blessing to patients, staff and missionaries alike.  Many people have decided to follow Jesus through their ministry.

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Praying over Jim and Kathy

Their time at Kudjip is quickly coming to a close as they prepare to move back to the United States just before Christmas.  There have been many goodbyes and last weekend was a chance for the missionary family to say goodbye.  While I am disappointed to have to say goodbye so quickly in our time here, I know God will continue to use them as they return Stateside.  Would you pray for them as they leave a place that has been home for 33 years.  Pray for their transition back into life in America and for their ministry there.

 

In this game we were given quotes and had to guess if Kathy or Jim said them.

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The little ones played toys during the festivities

 

 

The Doctor Preaches

Over the summer our friend, Pastor A, asked us if we would visit his church and have Nathan preach.  In September, Nathan had a free weekend, so he prepared a sermon in English and began translating it into Tok Pisin.  The local tribal languages can be complex, but as a trade language, Tok Pisin is a fairly simple language that uses a lot of description rather than specific words.  For example, a toe is pinga bilong lek (finger belong leg).  With all the descriptions needed in translating, Nathan realized that even though his sermon was a reasonably length in English, it was going to be incredibly long in Pisin.  He shortened it down in time for Sunday morning and we hopped in the Land Cruiser to drive the 15 minutes to pick up Pastor A along the side of the road.  He directed us up a dirt road just off the main road and we tried to make it up the hill.  It had rained some the night before and we didn’t make it up the muddy road the first time, so we rolled back down, put the vehicle in four wheel drive and made it up the second time without a problem.

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Most off the congregation was waiting at the church when we arrived and greeted us as we climbed out of the Land Cruiser.  Pastor A’s wife was there with their four children.  We had met his wife and oldest son before when they came for lunch, but were able to meet their other son as well as the their two little girls they adopted.

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About a year ago they built the foundation, frame and roof of the church building and for now the open walls let in a nice breeze during the service. Everyone entered and took off their shoes and our family was ushered to the front of the church.  Pastor A introduced our family and then led the singing and three people accompanied with guitars.  After knowing his story of once being a rascal who was always looking for trouble, I loved sitting there watching him lead singing and seeing his passion as he encouraged his congregation.  His life has seen an amazing transformation through his relationship with Christ and it is evident in all he does.

At one point during the singing I noticed more eyes on us than usual and turned to look behind me.  Our youngest son was perched on the concrete foundation with his eyes closed and head swaying and he sang along with the congregation.  The lack of walls proved to be a little distracting to my bug catchers as they saw crickets and beetles crawling through the grass.  They were itching to jump to the other side to catch the little critters.  They stayed through most of the service, but hopped out to join the other kids towards the end.

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After the service we chatted with many of the people and then they presented us with fruits and vegetables to take home.  We are so humbled by the generosity of the people when we visit a bush church.  And it is a blessing to be able to worship along side fellow believers.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving greetings from Papua New Guinea!  We hope each one of you has a special time with friends and family this year.

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In the land of perpetual summer I completely forgot to pick up all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner on my last trip to town.  The kids assured me, though, that pizza would make a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  So we enjoyed a lovely pizza dinner together with crystal light sent by friends from home and Nathan’s homemade french fried onions.

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We are thankful for each of you.  The support we have felt in preparing to move here and, now, in being in Kudjip has been amazing.  So many of you let us know that you are praying for the ministry, have sent us packages from home, have made it financially possible for us to be here, and have checked in to see how the adjustment to life in PNG is going.  You are helping to bring physical and spiritual healing to the people of PNG and we are deeply grateful for each of you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!