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Friday, October 28, 2011

Allan the painter

Allan just after he arrived in ICU at JBL Hospital
I only have this one picture of Allan the painter. This picture was taken by a person I had asked to hold my camera while I taught the family of Allan how to use the Ambo Bag to ventilate him.

Allan arrived in the ICU of JBL Hospital after a terrible motorcycle accident which left him critically wounded and in a coma. It was a very busy day there in JBL and when they brought Allan in the ICU after surgery the nurses did not have the time to teach the family how to manually ventilate Allan. This is not to insult the nurses there. You have got to experience a public hospital in the Philippines to understand. Chaos is a light term! When I noticed Allan's brother struggling with the Ambo Bag I went over to their bed side to teach him about observing the chest and stomach.

The experience with Allan was very special. As the family tried to cope with the involuntary twitching that comes with the brain injury they were so worried he may never come out of the coma. I told them that Allan could hear them and he just could not speak at that time. I believe the Lord gave me wisdom at that time. I had asked them what he did for a living and they told me he was a painter. I had an idea to buy a paint brush so I went to the hardware and got one. When I returned I said to Allan, Allan I need you to paint my house. Then I put the brush in his hand. As soon as I did that he started to make brushing strokes. The family was amazed. Me too. Then I said to Allan, don't forget the corners and his strokes became circular just as you would do in the corner. This encouraged his family very much and they had a renewed faith that Allan would get better. I gave the family some money to help with the mounting bills and I never saw them again. I pray that Allan had a full recovery. Somehow I think he did! 

In the Philippines the family must rent a ventilator machine if they want to have their patient on life support otherwise they must manually ventilate the patient 24/7. In the case of Allan there were simply no more machines available for rent. He had to be manually ventilated for a few days before the family was able to rent one. I have seen families face this situation many times and my self and others have pitched in to relieve at times.

One of the saddest things I ever saw in a public hospital was a poor mother who had given birth prematurely and after she had given birth she had to be the one to ventilate her baby. She had no family, no one to help. I was taking care of Mila at that time and every time I passed the window of the ward where she was I saw her ventilating her baby with an Ambo Bag. As the days passed I wondered why this mother had looked so tired and she was turning white like she was in shock. Little did I know at that time that she was the one who had given birth to that baby and never got to rest. I passed by that window many times and never did I see someone help her. She was getting more and more weak. She actually stayed awake 24/7 desperately trying to save her baby for 4 days. No sleep and no food from what I heard. And no one helped her! Then on the 4th night she passed out and the baby died. I found out the true story after the fact. If I had known she had no helper I would have hired one for her. This was a tragic but true story.

If any person reading this blog wants to help people on the front lines of poverty, go to any public hospital and offer a hand. It is an unforgettable experience and a real dose of reality too.

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