It is Saturday, Christmas Eve, and I was at church. I’m called out in the middle of it to see a patient that was in a moto accident. One of the health center workers was riding at a “slow speed” and hit a rock and fell over. He lay in the dirty suture and dressing change room moaning. I asked Bouba, the nurse to find a stethoscope. I had forgotten mine in the US. He ran to the ER and came back with one. The man complained of his shoulder only. I listened to his lungs checking for a pneumothroax that could kill him, and they sounded normal. So I examined the rest of him. I only found a broken clavicle. I put him in a figure-8 dressing to help put this in place. I checked on a couple others lab results then headed back to church. Right at the end of church they called me again.
There were three that had been on a moto. Two men and a teen girl. The girl had a fractured wrist, one man had a fractured wrist and a hematoma on his head. The third man had a fractured wrist, broken femur (upper leg bone) and a ankle fracture. They were laying in their hospital beds moaning. After checking each one out I asked whether they wanted to be treated here or by the traditional bone setter. Two wanted to leave and the one with multiple fractures wanted to be treated here. I have always had to fight with them before, so I knew what was coming. I decided since they were adults they could choose badly for themselves, and besides, though I have shamed many people in the past for not doing what the doctor ( me) wanted, they still wouldn’t let me do it. So when these decided to not do it, I wasn’t surprised. It ended up after the x-rays that even the lawan (the local low level chief of a certain area of the village) with three fractures, he decided not to do it either. So I left and went home.
We prepared a special evening meal. In the late afternoon our friends from Chad arrived on a surprise visit. And the power went out. So we filled up every available pot, jug, and glass with water before it ran out in the water tower. We had a wonderful candlelit meal. It consisted of home made everything; gluten, beef stew, stuffing, green beans, salad, potatoes with margarine, rice. Later we opened the few gifts we had brought for our guests and the student missionary here, while sitting in front of our decorated tree branch that we cut from a tree. Decorated with toilet paper streamers, paper figures, and cutouts from a magazine. We had a great time. We think we appreciate a simple Christmas, as theses have been our favorite. G