I recently received this email from a patient at Tenwek:
“Hallo Doctor Galat – It’s Caroline from Kisii (the patient on whom you did bonegrafting at Tenwek Hospital of the right leg). I just wanted to inform you that I was able to heal completely. I can now walk freely without pain. Thanks a lot and may God bless you.”
Caroline first came to Tenwek in 2009 with severe pain, and unable to walk on her right leg. Several months prior, she had fractured her tibia, and a Kenyan surgeon at another hospital fixed the broken bone with surgery – using plates and screws – a practice that is not currently the preferred treatment for this type of injury. Now, her x-rays showed the plate had bent, the screws were backing out, and the bone around the fracture had a hazy look, evidence pointing to the high probability that she had a non-union of her tibia (i.e. the fracture was failing to heal). Worse, having surgery in an (often) unsanitary hospital meant the non-union was also probably infected. As I explained to Caroline the difficulty in treating this problem, requiring multiple staged surgeries, first to remove the plate and screws, debride the infected bone, and place an antibiotic cement spacer in the void, a month or more of antibiotics, followed by more surgery to remove the spacer and place bone graft from her pelvis in the void, I had my doubts that it would ever heal. “God is able to heal me,” said Caroline, causing me to realize that my perspective was somewhat tainted by my training. “True,” I responded back, “but even after all this time and effort, you may still need an amputation.” Together we decided to proceed and prayed multiple times that God would do what seemed impossible. Caroline had a total of three surgeries at Tenwek over a period of about one year, and spent many days in the hospital.
To be honest, I often have difficulty keeping the right perspective, especially being on furlough, away from the meaning and purpose I derive from serving as an orthopedic surgeon at Tenwek. Moreover, our culture has a distinct way of reminding me of what we could potentially have daily. But then, at just the right time, I receive an email such as this from Caroline. I am reminded of a simple, yet powerful promise from Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This requires us all to have a perspective that is not based upon daily circumstances, but one that is rooted in God’s word, one that is eternal. Paul seemed to understand this better than anyone. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul, after explaining that he carries around in his body the death of Jesus (i.e. he suffers for the sake of the gospel), later says, "even so we do not lose heart…though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Let us encourage one another to keep this eternal perspective as we fight to persevere in God’s calling for our lives.
Thank you for your partnership with us at Tenwek hospital for the gospel of Christ. One way to join our team is to support our family financially. If you are interested in serving in this way, please visit www.wgm.org/galat. Thanks, and God bless you this Christmas season.
P.S. Jeremiah’s surgery was denied initially by our insurance company, but is now approved for this coming Friday. Please keep him in prayer!
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