Removal of the Fishing Spear and other “Big One” Stories…..
My phone rings as I am preparing lunch. It’s Doctor Di. “Ruth, can you come help me remove a fishing spear?” “1:30, at the clinic”. I didn’t have to rethink that offer twice. This sounded intense. As I finished lunch preparations for the family, my mind was already processing the things we would need. Lidocaine, sterile drapes, Betadine, sterile gloves, Sterile surgical set up for suturing, a blade, getting the patient comfortable with pillows and protecting the linens. Tetnus up to date? Antibiotics? Lunch is served. I quickly inhale mine and head out the door. Bumping through 20 minutes of pot holes and traffic. Wishing the air conditioner in the car, was more effective against the boiling heat.
I must say it is kind of odd when your patient walks through the door and a spear is sticking out of his knee. He really was handling it remarkably well. He was a bit pale, but seemed to be dealing with the pain and unusual circumstances in quite an heroic manner. It was this mans 3rd day in Papua. A friend took him and his wife out to the ocean. They had not yet even pushed out into the water, when our patient accidently knocked the trigger and the spear shot into his knee.
I’ll spare you all the details, other then to say that in order to get a spear out that has a barb on the end….one must cut to where the barb is and then rather then pull the spear out, one has to push it through. Dr. Di was in her element. Tammy was also assisting us, who is not a nurse, but a very vivacious and seasoned missionary. She has been with Dr. Di through many “Big Ones” and thus the stories of the Big Ones emerge as Dr. Di is removing the spear. Oh, we heard about the time the student was bit by a crocodile. Also the time the high school students put water on the gym floor and went sliding across. Until a student was literally stuck to the iron wood floor by this huge splinter. They literally had to knock him out to get him off the splinter. I’m not sure how therapeutic all these stories were to our fishing spear patient. Perhaps he was catching on, that he was becoming part of the “Big One” legacy.
Dr. Di finished up by washing out the wound, suturing it up, and packing the entrance hole. A week later, the stiches are out and our fishing spear patient only feels great debt and gratitude to the service he experienced at our little clinic. Where great things happen. What a fulfilling experience it is to be serving in this setting. I wonder what our next “Big One” story will be????!
*all pictures used with permission from patient