Here in Africa one never knows what might happen around us and without the ‘4 Emergency Services’ to hand, the mission station is often the first port of call for problem-solving. Here is a recent story from the Smiths at Chitokoloki.
Tannis Walker (Head of Hospital) has been the only missionary medical person around for a few weeks and has been handling any and all medical situations that have come in while our doctor has been on leave. This means a LOT falls to her. Decisions are often called for immediately, and such was the case one day when several local men came to her, carrying in a man on a blanket.
Kenneth had been in a tree trying to capture a baby monkey. Monkeys are a real menace here and play havoc in the maize fields, so the local people try to cull them in order to protect their crops. Kenneth had noticed a little one in a tree and knowing the mother was now gone, he had decided to capture the infant.
Unfortunately, the limb of the tree did not support Kenneth’s weight and he fell, injuring himself. His fellow villagers rushed to his aid only to discover that he was not able to move, so they carried him, by blanket-stretcher, for about 5kilometres on foot. By the time Tannis saw him, he had lost all feeling from the chest down. After x-rays then consultations via cell phone and internet with an Orthopedic surgeon in Lusaka, it was suggested that Kenneth be put in traction for a dislocated/fractured neck.
This procedure was new to Tannis, but out here in the bush, one does what needs to be done! So, using a diagram in a book, she requested of Phil that he manufacture what is called a "halo" used in traction for neck injuries. It is a metal circlet fixed with four screws which, when placed around the upper part of the patient’s head, is then screwed into the skull. Four ropes are then attached to the halo near the screws, and then threaded through a pulley to which weights are attached. This is to help straighten and elongate the spine, easing pressure at the break point allowing the neck to heal. To those of us who are non-medical this is just plain scary stuff!! But it worked, and a week later, the patient is adjusting well and seemed in good spirits when we asked to get a photo of him. What an amazing thing it was to see his smile when Tannis explained that Phil was the one who had made his "halo".
We understand that, due to the seriousness of the injury, he may never regain use of his body. At this time he cannot even move his head. While this is a difficult issue to face anywhere, it is especially so here in the "bush" of Africa. There are no long-term care facilities here, and to send him home could be very dangerous.
Although he is being treated for his injury with the best of care, the biggest concern here is for his spiritual well-being. Each day someone willingly shares with him how he can be sure of eternal life. Pray with us that he may know and understand God’s love and accept Christ as his own. Pray for total healing.
Remember also his family – he has a sweet young wife and two beautiful little children who visit each day as he lies confined to his bed.
Since this was written, Tannis has asked if Flying Mission Zambia guys can come up with a chequer board which Kenneth could see from his horizontal position. Our Projects man has a few ideas.. we’ll let you know how that goes.