“Have you seen Phano’s thumb? It was poked by a catfish spine two weeks ago, and it is extremely swollen.” They were right. His thumb was grossly swollen with red and white patches. Boaz tried to drain it, but with no luck. Poor Phano was in so much pain, and our lidocaine shots were nowhere to be found, so we took him to a clinic.
The doctor was very kind. He suggested we try intravenous Rocephin every 12 hours for 5 days, and he didn’t charge for the consult. We picked up the Rocephin on the way home.
A key point to mention is that Phano has Grave’s disease. His thyroid is in overdrive, so his blood pressure is high, and his heartrate runs in the 130s. His metabolism is super-fast, so he has no body fat. This is nice for me because his veins stick out, so locating them is the easy part. However, since his blood pressure is so high, his veins are very fragile. I’ve lost count of how many veins I’ve “blown” while trying to give him medicine. A typical visit goes like this:
It’s 6:30 a.m., and I roll groggily out of bed. The village has been up since the 4:30 a.m. call to prayer over the mosque loudspeakers. I dress in Muslim-approved clothing—long sleeves, long pants or skirt and a hijab—and stumble out the door.
Whoops, forgot an extra syringe. I go back in and find the syringe, medicine, tourniquet and alcohol wipes. I body slam the stubborn door to the motorbike storage area. A good body slam wakes you up in the morning, so I don’t particularly mind. I check on the chicken that has made a nest in the canoe, and then I back the motorbike out the door.
On my drive to the village, I manage to avoid nine chickens with death wishes, one cow, a grandma or two, and 16 children who all scream, “HELLOOO!” as I come into sight.
Phano’s house can hardly be called a house. Climbing the stairs, I’m afraid I’m going to either break through or slip off. Once inside, I have to be careful where I step on the flimsy floorboards.
As I mix sterile water into the antibiotic vile, Phano suggests which vein to use today. I have my own opinions, but since he is the one being poked multiple times a day, I try to honor his wishes. I look at the options. I’ve blown his hand veins at least once each. His arm veins are either previously blown, or I’ve used them too recently. I’ve blown one foot vein, and Boaz used the other one yesterday, so let’s try an ankle. Nope—failure. I’m not sure where to go next, and I’m running low on alcohol wipes to clean my puncture area.
A nice-looking arm vein suddenly catches my attention, and I wrap the tourniquet around his upper arm to see if the vein will plump up. It does. “Thank you, God!” I whisper. One stick and a bit of wiggling, and I get a blood return. Removing the tourniquet, I slowly start to push the antibiotic.
Phano’s mother and sister climb into the house, and we greet each other. “Oh, your hijab is so pretty! You look like a beautiful Great River girl!” The sister exclaims. I privately disagree because no one looks good at 6:30 a.m., but I thank her anyway. “Are you Muslim?” she asks.
Oh dear, I think. I don’t know the word for Christian! “Kenyom Isa—I belong to Jesus,” I reply, fumbling for the right words. Phano comes to my rescue and explains to his sister that I am a Christian. He turns on the audio Bible we gave him. The family is visibly uninterested and politely leaves us to our IVs and Christianity.
And . . . we are done! Phano shoots me a grin as I apply pressure to the puncture site. He takes over holding pressure as I secure the needles and gather my trash. I remind him that I will be back at 5 p.m. to do it again.
Although I wish I was more able to share about Jesus with my words, I hope that my actions proclaim the gospel louder than my voice ever could. When I come back this evening, maybe, just maybe, someone will ask me again, “Are you Muslim?” and I will happily answer again, “I belong to Jesus!”