All in the Family

One of my favorite things about being a surgeon in PNG is that my children get to experience what I do in an up-close and personal way. In some ways I think it makes it much easier for them to understand the “why” when I have to leave the dinner table early or head to the ER in the middle of a bedtime story. It’s always a highlight for me when the family joins me on rounds. I think the only people who enjoy their company more than I do are my patients and the surgery ward nursing staff.

Naomi is the least shy of our four and is always there to ask questions, shake or hold a hand and greet the patients in “Tok Pisin.” The patient in this picture is a young girl who had a terrible infection of her right foot that required multiple debridements. Her heel bone ended up exposed and she’s now on wound VAC therapy to help prepare the wound for a skin graft sometime soon.

Matthias was quite fascinated by the wound VAC machine. He and Simeon always want to know how things work. They kill us with questions.

This young guy was speared in the left chest. The weapon narrowly missed the heart and injured one of the veins in his left lung. He lost a lot of blood but his family got him to the ER in time for us to help him. We thank the Lord for a team here at the hospital who can respond quickly when the need arises.

Naomi, ever the inquisitor, wanted to know why he’d been stabbed. This led to a conversation with a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old about what it means to be so drunk you can’t remember what happened. Life is just filled with teachable moments.

Ever the helper, Naomi insisted that she help Daddy with the chart. I found it most helpful for her to hold the medicine reconciliation sheet so I could check the patient’s meds while I wrote orders and notes.

This man had an unfortunate encounter with his brother’s bush knife (machete). It seems that his brother was less than pleased that the patient’s pig had gotten into his garden and damaged his crops. As an old missionary surgeon I know commonly said, “With families like these, who needs enemies.”

This is Chris. He’s been my patient now multiple times. He suffers from a terrible infection in the bone of his upper arm that has required multiple operations to try and get it cleaned and healed. This picture is from the second half of rounds. The other three kids have been otherwise distracted, but not Naomi. I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s already the Chief.

Right now we are in between trainees at Kudjip. This means that on the weekends if I want company on rounds I have to bring my own junior colleagues. That’s a pretty special privilege if you ask me!

5 thoughts on “All in the Family

  1. Venita Milburn November 12, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    I love the sharing that you do here. I can imagine the kids being involved in all you do. What an experience they get to have often and I can say I was blessed to enjoy the patients and docs of Kudjip. May God’s love surround you all. Venita


  2. Kathy Radcliffe November 12, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    so familiar….so touching……your children are a blessing by your side…….(and thanks to Mama for capturing on camera so we can share!)


  3. Janice Nielson November 12, 2018 / 6:25 pm

    It’s such a beautiful sight to see your children interacting with the patients! Only God knows what this “on-the-job training will mean to them some day! God richly bless you!!
    John and Janice Nielson


  4. William Terrell Sanders November 13, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    Dear Ben and Katherine, Thanks for sharing. Your life is a blessing to me. Terrell Sanders.


  5. Bob and Joanne Bowman November 14, 2018 / 9:35 pm

    What a treat to “go on rounds” with Ben and family


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