Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire, Levi, Josie and baby Jane

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tragedy and Triumph

Not sure I have ever seen this type of injury.  Open proximal humerus fracture in a boy who fell from a height. 

Levi and Claire majorly stepped up to the plate while Heather was away.  

One of several open fractures admitted this weekend.  




With Heather being in the States for Emma’s graduation from Mercy, and me “moonlighting” as Mr. Mom, my one prayer for this weekend of call at Kijabe was, “God, please make it light” (although skeptical, because I am known as somewhat of a “black cloud”).   I find it interesting how our perceptions of personal “need” are often trumped by God’s higher purposes, as He may have something far greater than our convenience or comfort in mind.  

What started as a light Saturday call quickly vanished after being summoned to the ER to evaluate a woman with bilateral open tibia fractures.   At her bedside was a concerned-looking man with a bloody bandage on his head, holding a baby about Jane’s age.  Two other young children were standing next to him, crying.  “What happened?” I asked the man, as the little baby grabbed my fingers and cooed happily.  “I was traveling with my family and our car broke down last night,” he said.  “We slept in the car and early this morning, my wife and I were trying to push the car along the roadside when a speeding Mercedes Benz crashed into us,” he said in broken English.  His story touched an exposed nerve in my soul, as I considered the senseless injustice of these events in the life of an already poor family. 

While preparing this woman to go to theatre for a washout of her open fractures, I received a text from our medical director which read, “FYI, there’s been a bus accident in the flyover/Chicken Inn area.  We may get a mass casualty in about half an hour’s time.”    I quickly ran home to tell Levi and Claire (my very capable child care specialists) that I might not be of much help with Josie and Jane, and briefly relayed to them the poor family’s story.  Claire quickly responded, “Dad, can I make cookies for that family and the workers in the hospital?”  “Of course,” I responded, encouraged by her desire to participate in her own unique way. 

Afterwards, I walked to the ER to see if this “mass casualty” would materialize, and indeed the ER was already full of first arrivers from this bus accident…and equally full of doctors and nurses ready to help.  Outside, a minivan driven by a very well dressed woman arrived.  She jumped out of her car and shouted “I have an injured man in the back!”  As we opened the sliding door, we saw a man crumpled on the floor of the minivan.  His limbs were twisted and garments soaked with blood from the multiple open fractures sustained just a few minutes prior.  As the team of residents and nurses placed the man on a stretcher, I asked the driver what happened.   “A large bus was overtaking another car, when it collided with a matatu (smaller passenger van),” she said.  “Several people are dead, and this man was the driver.”  The nerve in my soul felt a little more raw as I wondered why such a tragedy even needed to occur.   But, as I walked back into the ER, I was encouraged to see my friend Isaac, the housing manager at Kijabe, with a pair of latex gloves on his hands, helping in whatever way he could as a non-medic. 

After a full day of operating, while trying to exit the theatre to sneak home, the junior resident-on-call met me in the corridor.  “There is another patient for you; an 11 year old boy who fell from a height,” he said, “ and his humerus is sticking out of the skin at his shoulder.”  “Are you kidding?” I answered incredulously, now growing a little tired of the “non-answer” to my earlier prayer for a "light" day.  Before tackling this case, I decided to walk home to grab a quick bite.  On my way, I meet one of the senior ortho residents (who was not officially on call) walking into the hospital.  “What are you doing here?” I asked him.   “Helping with the other ortho cases for the evening,” he said.  “I’ll call you when the next patient is ready to go.” 

Thankful for a little opportunity to recharge, I continued my walk home and pondered two thoughts: (1) there is too much tragedy in the world, and much of it appears senseless, beyond my ability to understand (aka. the exposed nerve).  But maybe my responsibility is not to understand, nor question God’s purposes, but just to be available to help alleviate some suffering in this little part of the world. (2) in the midst of the tragedy, there is also the triumph of people pushed to “pull together” (Swahili word “harambe”) as a team with multivariate giftings, for a cause greater than our comfort…to help the poor and suffering in Jesus’ name, who came to suffer and triumph on our behalf.  These ponderings were solidified as I walked into our well-ordered home to the smell of freshly-baked snickerdoodles.   Levi and Claire clearly didn’t need me all that badly after all!

Thank you for partnering with our family though your prayers and support!


Let us keep hanging onto Psalm 41:1: “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble, the Lord delivers him.”    

2 comments:

Froehlichfamily5 said...

Danny we love reading about your adventures and perspectives. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you're strength and wisdom as you navigate some pretty interesting situations.
Annie and Pascal

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