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Death and small blessings

August 11, 2009
The Difficult Case

The Difficult Case

The past few days have been a little bit of an emotional roller-coaster.  One day I saw the smallest of blessings result in a large amount of happiness.  For instance, take a simple double stroller.  One of Ginnie’s co-workers lent us a double-stroller to help Caleb and Melissa take care of the three kids while we were in Tenwek.  When we came back, the co-worker said she didn’t need it anymore, and we could pass this well-used but still serviceable stroller along.  Ginnie gave it to one of the workers at Noah’s daycare who just had twins.  You can’t imagine how happy she was–she was almost in tears.  We had no idea that she needed a stroller.  Certainly the Lord provided for her family in an unexpected way.

However, not everything has been so uplifting.  I recently chatted on Skype with Darrell one of the short-term doctors that we got to know at Tenwek (you can see his blog by clicking on his name).  I asked him how the heart surgery patient was doing, and he confirmed my worst fear.  The patient “W” had died from a likely embolic stroke after we left.   Once again it hit me that I am not the ultimate physician.  I like the portrait of “The Difficult Case”.  I saw it all the time when we were at Loma Linda.  I didn’t realize until recently that this portrait was specifically commissioned by Loma Linda to embody the involvement of Christ in making man whole–the motto of Loma Linda.  It’s encouraging to me personally to know that the Lord is there to guide and encourage us as physicians.  Because I will always wonder should we have operated on “W”?  Could we have prevented his death?  Is there something better we could have done to manage his atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beats) pre and post-op?  Certainly the answers aren’t clear.  I do know that “W” was a pleasant man in his early 30s who was severely limited by his mitral valve stenosis.  He was also severely underweight due to his heart disease when I saw him a week before the operation.  I distinctly remember him the night before the operation lying 2 to a bed with another patient of mine “N”.  (Sometimes the bed situation is tight at Tenwek).  He had such a kind smile and was so polite to me–and that’s the last time we interacted while he was in a conscious state.  I confess that I was trying to take care of my ever increasing work on call that night, and I getting ready to return home in two days.  So much was on my mind that I never thought to ask him if he believed in Jesus or was interested in knowing Him.  May this be a reminder to me of my true role.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Felicia Johnson permalink
    August 16, 2009 1:13 pm

    Hello Aaron,

    I give praise and thankgiving to the Lord for such honorable faith filled men as you and Darrell. I am also thankful to you for taking time to help Darrell create his blog page. May God continue to guide and bless you in your efforts to do His work through the power of prayer, healing, compassion and evangelism.

    Mrs. F. Johnson
    Darrell’s mom

    • Aaron permalink*
      August 16, 2009 3:14 pm

      Mrs. Johnson,

      Thank you so much for leaving a message! It’s a great blessing and encouragement to me personally to know that people are reading these blogs and have been blessed by our experiences. It also helps me to keep posting and praying for the Lord’s will.

      I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to go to Tenwek and meet fine individuals such as your son Darrell. Darrell and I shared many a laugh over the simplest things. Truly I hope I can meet Darrell and you here in the States sometime in the future.

      In Christ’s love,

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