Updated: Mar 15, 2022
It's still been a hard go of constant battles of transitions, of change fatigue, if you will. Some weeks, we are not sure how we survived but we did. There are still many tears.
Many times that we felt that we had no strength or resources of our own on which to rely, except those of our almighty Father.
Instances where COVID tried to wreak havoc once again within the hospital during the first week of admissions and the start of surgeries.
But our God is mightier!
We had a surgeon that was positive with COVID upon arrival, but within 24 hours we had a replacement surgeon.
There was a patient that was positive and many healthcare workers who were close contacts.
We had a day-crew member who was positive which put many in their department into quarantine because they were close contacts.
The words quarantine and isolation are ones that I hope to never use again in my life.
We joke that there is a constant fear of hearing our cabin phone ring, informing us that we have been a close contact and we must stay in our cabins.
Yet we must also continue to live our lives for the sake of our own mental health. We want to explore the country, see the people, interact with them and understand how they live.
One day during a visit, I learned from a local day crew about how their country was shut down for 2 weeks at the beginning of COVID in March 2020 and not allowed to leave their homes or go to work but that just did not work for Senegal because of their lack of resources for social assistance and after 2 weeks business resumed as per normal.
Normal here is a very different normal than Canada.
The day crew are wonderful, talented, intelligent, and highly educated people. I love hearing about their lives and how they heard about Mercy Ships and why they wanted to come and volunteer to help their fellow countrymen.
One particular day-crew member is so dedicated that she travels one hour on a crowded bus in the morning, works 8 hours onboard and then travels 2 hours home by bus. If we were to drive that same distance, it would probably take 30 minutes. She could take a taxi but that is 10 times the price of public transit.
She could also take a scooter but that is too dangerous! In addition to working 8 hours a day with Mercy Ships, she works at her other job after she gets home in the evenings.
It is fascinating to work alongside a mostly Muslim culture where we see people praying on their prayer mats several times a day. I'm excited to have those open and expected conversations about God with them.
Throughout the world, we have all gone through so many transitions in the past couple years. But we have one constant and that is a God who loves us, cares for us and will never leave our side. He is constantly planning good for us. Maybe not the way that we define good. But He knows what we need and when we need it.
He provides us with miraculous opportunities and strength to forgive those who have wronged us when we know that it is not humanly.
This past week, we saw a CT machine that would not cooperate in the morning, suddenly work in the afternoon when there were Maxillofacial scans to be done.
We saw over 20 people who had food poisoning, still recover enough to be able to have their surgeries. Another miracle.
I believe that our God is not done doing miracles and there will be more needed. We can plan for back up plans A-Z but in the end, God does the work because more and more it seems that this is not humanly possible. We live on a miraculous floating hospital!
Romans 12:12 has been a good reminder.
"Be Joyful in Hope
Patient in Affliction
Faithful in Prayer" NIV
This past week, I had the privilege to be able to see 4 patients in the Outpatient tent and each of their stories was so unique but each one has been waiting such a long time for surgery! Some have needed multiple surgeries and thankfully had the first one completed prior to COVID and have been waiting until Mercy Ships returned again for their follow up surgery. The Outpatient tent is the place that patients come for follow up teaching, wound care and rehab. I I really enjoy how they try to organize the same day crew and the nurses to follow up with the same patients, to see their progress and for continuity of care.
Mercy Ships started off the resumed field service of 2022 with Maxillofacial surgeries and Women's Health surgeries because the Women's health surgeries were missed in 2020, due to the COVID interruption.
I have been a nurse for 17 years and never seen some of the medical issues that I am seeing in Outpatients.
Some of the Maxillofacial Post-Op surgeries that I have seen stemmed from:
It is a gangrenous condition, a process that results from a tissue infection in the oral/nasal cavity. It usually affects children and up to 80% of children with Noma die from the infection or starvation due to the destruction of the chewing muscles in the mouth. If a person survives the infection, the tissue doesn't grow back and reconstructive surgery is needed to repair the disfigurement.
I have also seen tumour removals from the jaw bone and maxilla. Some of which require several surgeries including follow up bone grafts.
The Hope Centre:
I wanted to spotlight the HOPE centre in this blogpost.
From what I understand, normally the patients that are local within Dakar, come to the ship's hospital and go home to recover. The exception is the rural patients, who usually go to the HOPE centre. However due to COVID, the HOPE centre is basically an extension of the ship, because ALL of the patients go to the HOPE centre for a 7 day quarantine before being admitted to the hospital. Then the patients return to the HOPE centre after discharge from the hospital until they are strong enough to return to their own home. There are 224 bed spaces available for patients and their caregivers. And there are 45 day crew available to assist in facilitating the care of these patients and caregivers 24/7, in addition to the 6 Mercy Ships crew. Ryan is in charge of maintaining the HOPE center facility and doing repairs. Last week, he had to repair a faulty switch for the hot water heater for the shipping container container full of patient showers. There are shipping containers that have been made into shower facilities so that these containers can be moved from country to country, along with the ships.
This is the HOPE centre courtyard.
Here is Ryan working on some repairs.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
Now Go and Be Intentional!