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A Long Recovery

June 27, 2016

Piper is three months old this week, which is certainly something to celebrate. And I think I can say that I am finally physically recovered as well, which is also something to celebrate.

By now, you’ve all read the exciting birth story. Well, about three weeks post-partum we discovered that the incision site was infected. I had been on antibiotics post surgery, so this was surprising. An American/Canadian doctor couple here in town had me come over to take a look. We had a little phone pow-wow with Shannon in Vanga and decided I needed another round of antibiotics.

A few days later I went back to their house and it didn’t look any better, so I began a second type of antibiotics for anaerobic bacteria, since the infection seemed to be under the skin.

I went back two more times that week, and while it did seem to be getting better, it wasn’t quite good enough. Two deep holes had developed, along with a third shallower hole, so the three amazing doctors decided to go with wound packing. Twice a day, my loving husband would pack my wounds with gauze. I still didn’t have feeling at the incision site, but the thought of what was happening (I certainly couldn’t watch) made me cringe every time.

Immediately things started to get better. By six weeks post-partum, the holes were half their size and I was on my way to healing. However, we had been packing the holes for ten days and I was feeling weary of the process (I know it’s minor but still…). I went out to Vanga for a routine post-partum exam and to get the wounds checked.

I clearly had a little PTSD at being back in the operating room, after all that had happened last time. (This was the best space for a proper exam, especially concerning privacy, I wasn’t there for further surgery.) I got a big rush of adrenaline and was shaky, even though nothing was wrong. It was a little surreal. But, things were all going well and Shannon consulted with another doctor who dealt with wounds often.

Of course, when you consult cross-culturally, it can become sort of difficult to decide what advice is recommended or not. In Congo, “wives’ tales” and misinformation sometimes cross paths with medically sound practice, so it can be hard to interpret. Shannon says that for their OB rotation, residents were using medical textbooks from the 60’s, and practicing what they read!

There was talk of reopening the site, cleaning it out, and re-stitching. Or continue packing. But this doctor had another idea: take my antibiotics, grind them, and sprinkle them in the holes. Do this every day until they close.

With much skepticism, we (Shannon and me and Matthew) decided to go with it. It couldn’t hurt and it would certainly be good at getting my entire body off the antibiotics. And you know what? It totally worked. We ground up the pills into a powder and just filled the holes after each shower. (Yes, we found out it comes in a cream form, but we already had the pills, so why not.) It was much easier than packing and the holes healed very quickly.

Side story, when Shannon and I were done with the exam and headed out, I looked through a pass-through window into the operating room where Piper was delivered. A visiting orthopedic surgeon was performing surgery on a young man, with his lower half behind a drape. This surgeon, an American, heard me speaking to Shannon in English and said “Hi!” I glanced back and said hello. I vaguely noticed the hack saw in a surgery assistant’s hand. This made more sense a moment later when the doctor asked me “Do you want a leg?” And held up the patient’s badly gangrenous, but newly severed leg. Medical humor…

So, now I am healed and everything is at its new normal (you can’t say “back to normal” after having a baby…there is no such thing). We are praising God for good healing, even with setbacks, and for knowledgeable doctors both here and elsewhere to take time and help.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy Pankow permalink
    June 28, 2016 0829

    All glory and praise to the Great Physician! I’m so glad your wounds are finally healing Lisa. You had a rough stretch there and you were so brave! You know who is in charge and who can always be trusted. Clear across the world, you had some very competent doctors. Praise God! I’m sure you don’t want to do this again if ever!

    All my love, Aunt Judy

  2. June 30, 2016 0829

    Thank God for His mercy and watching over you. He sees and hears us no matter where we are. Just so sorry you had to go through so much and happy you are so much better! Prayers do work.

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