My blog is more like a journal than a newspaper. In other words, I write more about my thoughts and feelings than the "straight facts" of what is happening here on the Africa Mercy. There's a reason for this.
In my opinion, the things I am learning make for more worthwhile writing than the minutiae of daily life here. I know, I know: unless you live on the Africa Mercy, you have no concept of what passes for normal life onboard, and with a few word pictures you would be better able to picture my life here.
I wrote a while back about some of the things I will never be able to put into words. My experiences here have profoundly impacted how I think and what I value... but I find it near impossible to be able to write about that much. And in addition to those things I can't put into words, I have realized that when I write I am also leaving a great deal unsaid.
I don't blog about specific patients like some nurses do, for example. It's not because I don't want to. It's just that each person's experience living and working on the ship is different, and that includes caring for different patients. Ali, for example, is a pediatric nurse and thus has ample opportunity to write about the adorable little kiddos we take care of on board.
I am not a pediatric nurse, however. In my case, after about five weeks of VVF patients, I had a six or seven week stretch of almost exclusively hernia patients. Hernia repairs are simple and thus the patients would be in one day and out the next, leaving me with little time to learn their names much less hear any of their stories. From a nursing perspective it was a mindless six weeks of work, and I had to often remind myself that although hernia repairs are simple operations, they can be just as life-changing as some of the more specialized surgeries. For example, if a man is unable to work due to a hernia and thus unable to provide for his family, repairing that hernia gives him his livelihood back and keeps his family from going hungry.
In a nice change of pace, I've been working in plastics (surgeries to repair deformities or contractures, often involving skin grafts) for the last couple of weeks. Plastics patients stay at least a week so I have been able to learn their names and listen to some of their stories. Maybe I will write about some of their stories; maybe not. Somehow it seems too personal, too intimate. But I know you are deeply interested in the kinds of patients I care for, and I also know that you have perhaps wondered at the lack of patient stories on my blog.
For the time being I will point you to the writing of some friends who are able to capture much better than I some of the individual stories of beauty, heartache, and healing that we see on a daily basis on the wards.
Naomi from Australia writes a short but good compilation of several stories complete with pictures that are worth more than a thousand words.
Adrienne from Canada writes about some of the VVF ladies that came to us earlier in the outreach.
And Ali from the US writes about a beautiful little baby who came in malnourished and with a tumor as big as her head... and left transformed.