I just returned late last night from the hospital where one of our younger boys is now resting, although not so comfortably. He had just had his leg amputated. He was in surgery for four hours and here there is no anesthetic, at least not what we are used to in the USA. He received a spinal block, which lasts only a set amount of time and some Kedamine. The good thing about kedamine is that you don’t remember what just happened. The last half hour Sebit was crying and moaning and my heart was crying with him. There is no big sanitary OR room here, just a room with a screened window up high and a door that doesn’t seal all the way so one can peak in thru the cracks. I stayed away from that door all day until I heard him crying. I leaned against that wall under that screened window and my heart broke. He was just beyond that door, just on the other side of that screened window where I could hear him so clearly. I was only consoled because I knew Danielle was in there with him as an OR nurse and as one of his mamas.
This story of Sebit started when some of our girls were walking to the local market early last year and they spotted Sebit in his yard putting battery acid on his leg wound which covered his entire leg below his knee. It was caked with this black stuff and smelled vile. The girls came running back to me and said, “You have to do something!” After some talking with the lady who he was living with we learned his story. Six years ago he and his mother and this lady were traveling on the road in the usual overloaded minivan taxi when it got into an accident. The mother died and Sebit received a compound break to his leg. They put some kind of plate on the bone until it healed and then removed the plate. Because of all this unsanitary procedure of going in and out of his leg and aftercare he received an infection inside the bone. For six years he tried to manage it on his own as there was no money to pay for even bandages. He used old rags and battery acid. Six years! He was seven years old when this happened to him! He was doing the best he could with what he had, nothing.
Sebit and his caregiver, this lady, came to live with us. For an entire year we changed his wound dressing daily. Daily. He has been on every antibiotic known to man and has been in the hospital for weeks all added up. His wound started to heal and look great then it reversed for no obvious reason. We did an xray and found an infection inside the bone which was causing his wound to seep non stop. We would change his dressing in the morning and by nighttime it would be soaked through. This went on all year. Every single day we prayed over his leg when changing the dressings. We fasted for him numerous times. You know how much we worship and pray, it is a lifestyle for us. Just look at all my FaceBook posts from visiting missionaries and they will tell you that they have never seen kids in all the world who worship God like ours do. Still, nothing changed. In January we knew that his leg would have to be removed. We chose not to tell Sebit until days before, last week, so he wouldn’t become depressed thinking about it and waiting. We were waiting for the surgical team to come from America in March.
The same doctor who originally saw Sebit last March was back and he was kept abreast all year as to Sebit’s progress, or non-progress. He was the one who performed the surgery. It was supposed to happen on Friday. They couldn’t find the saw. I said, “This is God and the miracle will come!” We took Sebit back home and we worshipped so strongly and pressed into the throne room of heaven for him for him that night. We danced and sang and spent ourselves on the Lord, seriously believing for that miracle. It was a sacrifice of praise for us because we were sad and no one felt like worshipping and dancing. We were emotionally drained. Still we danced and we worshipped with all our hearts. We left there full of joy and peace and hope.
The next morning we took Sebit back to the hospital. They were going to use the saw from the builder’s tool box. Yesterday morning I woke up and I was so sad. I looked out the window and I saw Sebit playing with the boys, throwing sticks in the mango trees trying to knock them down, playing street hockey…. My heart was literally breaking to know that things would never be the same for him or us. When the doctor said it is time, I took a picture of Sebit and Danielle, our missionary nurse, taking that short walk to the OR and I cried. Local ladies gathered around me and tried to comfort me and my heart was so sad. I kept remembering a year ago I PROMISED Sebit that his leg would be healed, that God would heal him. Did I make a vain promise, an empty promise? No. God is so good and His ways are not understood by us all the time. If He was easily understood and explainable, then He wouldn’t be a very big God. He would fit into our boxes. God’s ways are truly HIGHER than ours. Sebit would lack nothing in this life no matter what it “looked” like.
I want to tell you about the reality of living in a third world country. No money? No medical help. Period. They don’t care if you are dying. Too bad, so sad. There is no medical insurance or welfare or crying to the child abuse authorities. There are none and nobody cares really. The hospitals are filled with unsanitary conditions. People bring their mats and food and camp right there next to your bed, laughing, arguing, talking, whatever. These people can be walking gestation centers for colds, typhoid, flu, HIV, any number of diseases and uncleanliness. There is open access to these recovery rooms, multitudes of people coming in and out unhindered. When Sebit was in the OR I happened to look in on his empty bed in the room where he would be staying, dorm like in appearance, and there were two ladies all laid out sleeping on his bed! They were visiting the lady in the next bed and were resting! This is the norm here.
These hospitals are built by local contractors, so there is nothing up to any kind of code. There is no code. Doors don’t seal, window screens are falling off, flies are everywhere, stray dogs are running around, the latrines are so horrible with flies and stench that one has to cover their nose and mouth while squatting. Been there done that just yesterday. Hospitals don’t have the equipment they need most of the time. This hospital, one of the better equipped and run, had no saw to cut Sebit’s leg. They had one of the missionaries who had a saw in his tool box so they sterilized it and used it. In the USA this would be a law suit. Here? One has to do what one has to do to live and not die.
When Sebit came out of the OR and brought to his room, all the visitors were cramming in the room to see his leg stump. The nurses finally had to chase them out. We were stepping over a family who was sitting on the floor having a picnic dinner. It’s been stiflingly hot here but yesterday it rained all day and actually became cold to us. There was no blanket to give to Sebit as we had to even bring our own sheets. So I had to leave him with just a sheet and it broke my heart. If you miss the dinner hour there is no dinner. I brought snacks for Sebit so at least he could have something if he woke up hungry. The first time he needs to go poo, the mamas we left with him will have to help him squat in his bed in a bed pan. No nurses to help him to a sit down toilet because there are none, only fly infested latrines. Here on our compound I had a sit down toilet built for Sebit when he returns home to us.
This is life in a third world country and it doesn’t matter what your skin color is. We all get to have the same treatment and stay in the same hospital rooms. No private rooms here, no private toilets or showers. Showers? It’s a concrete stall with a plastic basin. People urinate in them and bathe their sick bodies in them and everyone uses them. Are you counting the cost yet? I tell these kids of ours that I am so blessed to be living where I am living. I see the tired and the poor around me and I never complain about my seemingly meager living conditions. I am blessed beyond description. I have a floor and not dirt in my house. I have a water tank that catches the rain so I don’t have to walk a mile to a borehole and carry my water all day. I have solar lighting so I can see at night. Compared to American standards I am dirt poor but here I am blessed. I am blessed. I can pay for medical care for these kids, I can clothe them with more than what is on their backs, they eat three times a day instead of MAYBE once. We are blessed.
After all was said and done this day, I was told by the doctors that when Sebit went under, asleep for the surgery, he started to sing:
Your praise will ever be on my lips God.
I belong to You God, forever I belong to You.
Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name, Your kingdom come quickly.
This truly shows the hearts of our kids. They KNOW the Lord, their Father. Out of the overflow of their hearts their mouths speak. Even when unconscious of their own souls, their spirits speak what is truly inside of them, just God, fully God, living on the inside. I am getting ready to go back to the hospital to be with Sebit for this Sunday. I bless you who are reading this. Hug your children today. Count your blessings one by one and see what the Lord has done for you where you are. We here at Iris South Sudan, we are truly blessed.