Well, it’s obvious that I didn’t keep up with things. As I suggested in the last post, I wanted to get some follow up information on a patient. So here’s that follow up, plus a few notes on another fellow.
In Acts chapter 20 there is a short story about a young fellow named Eutychus, who fell out of a window and was killed (“taken up dead”). There was a physician writing that story, who seems to sympathize with the young fellow’s plight. Dr. Luke would also be able to diagnose death when he saw it. But Preacher Paul stopped his sermon and by the work of the risen Christ the sleepy young man was subsequently brought back to life. There are many reasons to like that story.
I had a young fellow come to see me in April of that same name. He had been treated for enlarged lymph nodes and when I saw him he had a big spleen. In PNG I get to feel quite a few big spleens; something that doesn’t happen very often in the USA. When we checked his blood count, his white cell count (which should be less than 10) was over 100, and he was anemic. This sure looked like leukemia. After a trial of a strong antibiotic, he returned with a white cell count over 200. In the next few weeks, despite everything available here, his count climbed well above 400. In the intervening time I searched to find help for this 12 year old young man. Everyone kept saying the same thing; there is no cancer treatment available in PNG.
But I called another mission hospital who said that they work with a drug manufacturer out of Europe that makes an oral chemotherapy for CML (the type of leukemia we suspected he has). That company provides the testing and supplies the (expensive) drug free of charge to these poor folks. So this family made their way about 10 hours over mountain roads to go to this other facility. Sure enough, he tested positive for CML and was given medicine that same day. They came to see me when he started the chemo, and his spleen was still massive at 14 cm below his ribs. A few days later they came back with some minor reactions to the chemotherapy, which were easily managed. 14 days after starting the medicine, his white count is down to 32, and his spleen down to 7 cm. When I snagged this young fellow out of the line in the other building, they were getting ready to put him on TB medicine out of sheer guess work. Similar to his namesake, he was all but dead, and headed for a devastating, unnecessary treatment. But the risen Christ intervened and rescued him. I will likely see this young man a good bit as the Lord tarries. Oh, that he would hear the words of the Gospel, as Eutychus did all those centuries ago, and trust the Savior!
Another fellow I have been following since April is Mr. D. He is probably in his upper 60’s. Now, I had seen him in early 2020 with some signs of impending problems; he was significantly overweight with a high blood pressure, an abnormal EKG (heart tracing), and some fluid build-up. I had tried to communicate with him that he needed to take this seriously. He didn’t. He never came back, until his family came to find me in April, desperate for someone to help. They said he couldn’t walk. I went to find him, to discover a gasping bloated man with a pasty gray color, and hardly able to speak because he had so much fluid in his lungs. Over the last 2 years- because he had money- he would just come every few weeks to get some fluid drained from his abdomen. But no one ever examined him, or even so much as checked his blood pressure. That day I gave him some strong medicine to reduce the fluid, and had him come to see me 3 days later. He continues to come about every 2 weeks. When I saw him 2 days ago he said that he went to the store for the first time in 2 years, and purposely stood out front talking to people so that everyone could see he is still alive. Apparently a good many people were expecting an impending funeral. I keep reminding him that it is God, not me, that has rescued him from imminent death. From reviewing the history, shortly after I saw him in 2020 he had a major heart attack. So now his heart is more like a pillowcase than a pump, and he will likely not live a very long life. I am now trying to figure out some of the health issues of other family members. There’s no lack of puzzles to solve. I am asking God to open the eyes of their understanding, so they will turn from the rampant animistic idolatry of this dark island, and give their hearts to the Savior.
There was another bright note to May: on the 17th 4 pastors from 4 different churches met here in town and had a class with a former GFA missionary who used to train these men while he lived here. It was such a wonderful time, and those poor beleaguered pastors were so encouraged by each other and by the Word of God. It was just such a delight to witness the work of the Spirit of God here. We are hoping to have another class in July. For the next 5 weeks it is election campaign season here. That’s very noisy, in case you were wondering. And you have no idea just how wonderful elections in the “developed” world are until you witness this cacophony.