Monday, July 11, 2011

Giving Blood

Okay, please don't laugh at the title. I know, I are all thinking, "Why is Katie talking about blood? She gets queasy when people mention blood." Well, I will give you a recap of what happened (the full story is at and then an update.

Ruth called us (Luz and I) on a Sunday morning very distraught, and we told her we would be there in a few minutes. The previous Sunday, Kevin, her husband, had gone to play soccer in the afternoon. At one point in the game, he collided with another player in the game and broke his collarbone. They went to the hospital and had x-rays. They found out from the x-rays that not only was it broken, but it was out of position, so if he didn't do anything, it would heal badly. So they thought they would begin treating that.
Well, the next day, there was a red spot on his leg, and it hurt, but they just thought it was a bruise from the collision, and so he ignored it. The next day, however, the red spot had spread, and the pain was excruciating. So, they went to the local witch doctor on Wednesday, who mixed up a mud paste and put on it. The mud didn't help, and so he cleaned that off and cut open a toad and put on it. Well, you guessed it...that didn't help either. So, he cleaned that off and mixed up an herbal water and heated it up and made a compress to put on the leg. All that made it lots worse, so they went home and waited. Kevin continued to get worse. When we entered the room that Sunday, Kevin lay on the bed with his eyes rolled into his head. His mouth was partially open, and his breathing was in short gasps. He was not the Kevin we know!
Ruth showed us his leg. What had been a red spot on his lower, inner thigh, had spread to his ankle and waist. His leg was nearly doubled in size. We immediately told her he needed to go to the hospital. But, they didn't want to take him to the hospital because they didn't have any money to pay. That is one thing about living here. I don't know if it is the Third World or just Peru, but if you don't pay first, they don't treat; even in an emergency like this!
We called Hermano Jose, the leader from the central church who is helping us in Yarinacocha. He said he would come and help them get Kevin to the hospital. Luz and I prayed with Ruth over Kevin, and a few minutes later, Estrella came in and before I could stop her, she touched Kevin's leg. He began to scream, (again in Spanish) "No, my little girl! My leg is hurt! My leg is hurt! Please, my little girl!"
Up until that point, he had been semi-conscious. Now, he was wide awake and in tons of pain. But, it gave Luz a chance to really talk to him and tell him that Jose was on the way to take him to the hospital, as well as pray with him. He wanted to say the sinner's prayer, so Luz began to pray, and as Kevin was praying and repeating her words, his voice began to get stronger and stronger. When they finished praying, Luz prayed for him again. Then he asked for some water, which he hadn't had anything to eat or drink for a long time because of his unconscious state. As we left, Kevin was smiling and thanking us for coming and helping him. He was a totally different person than when we came in. So we left with the promise that Brother Jose was on his way.
Luz went on to Jhon Hocking Weeks to lead the second and third Sunday Schools, and I went to the church in Yarina for the fourth class.
Later in the day, Jose called and said that Kevin was being treated at the hospital, but that the infection was so bad the doctors were debating taking his leg. They were just waiting to see how he responded to the medicine.
The next time we saw Kevin was on Tuesday afternoon at visiting hours. He continued to be in pain, but his spirit and life were changed. His leg actually looked worse, with a black area and blisters where the infection originally started, but he was thankful to be alive.
Because his leg was looking worse, they ran more tests to see if it was something else. Well, they had misdiagnosed the problem. It wasn’t just cellulitis, it was necrotizing fasciitis (NF), commonly known as flesh-eating disease, which is often mistaken for cellulitis at first, but it is much more aggressive and causes gangrene much more rapidly. But it was still better to be misdiagnosed with cellulitis than to not be diagnosed at all, because he was receiving antibiotics that were helping some. So on Thursday, I think, Kevin had his first surgery to cut out the gangrene from his skin. He slept well that night and dreamed of an angel coming to tell him he was going to get well, but it was going to take time.
On Friday, we went to the hospital in the morning because the doctor had told Ruth that we could visit in the morning, but they wouldn’t let us in, so we ended up supporting Ruth for a little while, praying with her, etc. and on Saturday we had the grilled chicken fundraiser to raise money to help. We were there from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm.
Then on Tuesday morning the following week, Ruth came to the central church at 7:30 in the morning because they were going to do a second surgery on Kevin, but he needed blood first and she needed encouragement and prayer. On Tuesdays, we have our regular weekly devotion together because it is the only day that all 8 of the 40/40s are here. The rest of the week we have a time of prayer.


So, on that Tuesday, we spent our devotion time in prayer with Ruth, and then Luz, Kevin Snodgrass, Sammy, and I went to give blood (this is the part where you may start laughing). As most of you know, I pass out, or almost pass out, at the sight of blood, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. We left for the hospital at 9:30 or 10:00, and we were there until 5:00 in the afternoon. Who knew you can’t give blood in an hour?
When we first got to the hospital, we talked to Kevin through the window for a minute to tell him that we had come to give blood. Now, when I say we talked through the window, it isn’t like talking through an open window. The window is 7 feet up the wall, so we couldn’t see him, and he couldn’t see us. We were yelling through the window back and forth, but he sounded strong, and I wasn't talking much; Ruth and Luz were doing most of the talking. So Kevin said, "I want to hear Sister Katie." I said, "Kevin, I am here to give my blood, but only if it is a match. If it isn't a match, I don't think I can give it." He just kinda laughed.
So first, Ruth sent us to pay for the analysis (it was s/.50 for the 4 of us, which is a little less than $20). Then when we got back, they took us in to give a small amount of blood in a tube for analysis, and told us that would take 10 minutes.
So an hour and a half later (that is what we call Peruvian time), they called Sammy to give blood. By this time it was well after noon, and Sammy, Luz, and I hadn't eaten breakfast because we thought we would be in and out and go eat lunch. That was really a kinda dumb thing. Sammy was a little nervous before he went in because he had been asking Ruth how this all started with Kevin. So he went in and the doctor asked him, "How are you doing today?" and he said his vision started to cloud, but he didn’t say anything about it. Then when the nurse took the needle out of his arm, he thought he was okay. However, when Kevin went in and they put the first needle in Kevin's arm, Sammy said, “I don’t feel so good.” and passed out. So he was being revived, and Kevin said that Sammy was whiter than him at that moment…hahahahaha. So they took Kevin to another room to give his blood. Sammy finally came out, but laid down on the bench and fell asleep.
They had told us that three of us were matches, and one was a rarer blood type that didn't match, so we were waiting for them to call names, because we didn't know who it was that wasn't going to have to give blood. Luz insisted that it was her, and I had to agree because she is full blooded Peruvian, but she is whiter than me and has hazel eyes and her hair isn't black, so I thought yeah, it probably is her because she is a rare Peruvian. So Luz left to get some food for Sammy.
So we thought 3 of us would be giving blood and the fourth was free. Ah, no… Big resounding NO!
So, Luz had left to get food, and when Kevin came out, the doctor came and said, “We have two more. Luz Elita Rojas Gaona and Kathryn Anderson.” I told him that Luz had left to get some food for Sammy, and that I was Kathryn. He said, "Then we will do you." Call me really dumb now...I didn't ask if I was the rare blood type or if it was Luz. So I went into the room and they started the process. Of course, I didn’t look, but that needle sure hurt going in, but coming out was worse. After the needle was in, I asked, "So what type of blood do I have?" The nurse said, "Oh, you have A+. We can't use it for Kevin. Your three friends all have O+ which is what we want." I thought, "Are you kidding me. I am laying on a table, having the life drained out of me and I don't even match! I must be crazy!" Finally, after about 20 minutes, I asked the nurse how much more because I was suppose to be flexing my hand to make it go faster, but I could only move it a little. I still felt okay at that point though.
I called Sammy to see if he was okay, because they wouldn't let any of us go in with the others. And I also told them that they wanted Luz’s blood too, because mine wasn’t a match. So Luz was shocked because she was not the one with the rare blood. When I was finally done, Luz came in where I was to take her turn, and when I stood up, I almost fell over, but I didn't feel bad, just a little side step. But one of the nurses saw me and said, "you need to sit down." I said I would go sit with my friends, and I made it out to where Kevin and Sammy where fine. Sammy was eating and Kevin was talking to the other Kevin’s mom. So when Luz got done, she said she felt fine, and Kevin felt fine, and Sammy was feeling much better, only weak, and I thought I felt fine…
So by this time it was 4:15 PM and visiting hours are 3:00 until 5:00 (and they are very strict on that!), so we went to visit Kevin before we left, and pray with him. Okay, so Kevin needed the blood before he could have the second surgery. So, we walked in to him having the blood of Sammy put in by IV. His leg had bandages in two parts, on his thigh where the skin had been black before, and on his calf. It was seeping lots of liquid, but the swelling was down and his face was normal in color. Still, I wasn’t prepared for it.
I thought I could handle it, and I did okay until we were almost ready to leave and Sammy was praying. It was when I closed my eyes that I started to pass out. Probably the giving blood part didn’t help, nor the fact that I hadn't eaten anything all day. The bigger problem for me though was there was no place to sit down except the floor. My lips and legs began to tingle and my hands locked up and the sweat came on my face. So, I did what I had to do; I sat on the floor. Sammy finished praying, we said bye to Kevin, and Luz and Sammy tried to get my hands to relax, and by the time we got to the front of the hospital, I was pretty normal again. I mean, you know, I am a little off to begin with, so pretty normal is pretty normal…hahahaha.
So we went to get food first because we all needed some. And then Kevin and Sammy went home, and I called Sarah and told her to make Sammy lay down when he got home. Luz and I went to sit in the plaza in Yarinacocha for a few minutes before we went on to Jhon Hocking for the service there…At Jhon Hocking, we had the service of prayer that day. And I was fine until the final prayer. I closed my eyes and again began to pass out. Fortunately, my hands didn’t lock up that time, but I was sweating like crazy and there isn’t even a floor to sit on there. After the prayer, I sat on one of the stools that the kids had been using until we were ready to leave.
Then we went to the service in Yarina. Ruth and her mother-in-law were there and got some much needed encouragement. We finally got home around 10:00 that night. Quite the day!!!
Kevin didn’t have the surgery until Wednesday morning, and following the surgery, his fever returned, but the doctor assured them it was normal because his body was going through shock. He has a place on his side where the infection had spread before, but it is like the part on his calf and was caught before any gangrene started. They are going to do skin grafts on his leg, but they have to wait because he has lost so much weight that he doesn't have any extra skin right now. And the muscle and skin of his leg is now all living…he doesn’t have any gangrene now. He also has another problem: His father. He still wants Kevin to leave the hospital and go to the witch doctor again. We are pretty sure that is where he received the bacteria that caused this to infection to explode into the much more serious infection than cellulitis because the information we have on it says that many times the bacteria comes from mud, and that is the first thing the witch doctor put on Kevin’s leg. And than with the hot compress, that probably just made the bacteria grow even faster. But Ruth has the final say, and she can see the improvement in Kevin. She is not sending him to any witch doctor. But the pressure is taking a toll on her…She is only 21 and Kevin is 24. Continue to pray for them and Kevin’s mom too. She is ready to start discipleship classes now. Kevin is continuing to improve. He can move his leg without screaming in pain now, but he is discouraged as well. Still, I am thinking with a leg is better than without, which losing limbs happens with this type of infection. Pray for continued growth in his faith. I started this blog before we went to the hospital to see him, so it has Monday's date. But when we went to the hospital to see him yesterday, his leg was normal size, there is no redness on his leg or across his stomach, and he was sleeping (and not because he was sedated). This is the first time I have seen him sleeping since all this has started. His body is definitely healing. But the doctor says it will probably be another month in the hospital. Ruth also said that the account that the doctor set up so that they could get treatment in this emergency situation is around S/.900, which is about $300. They are having another grilled chicken fund raiser this Saturday. Each day, the cost of the bed is S/.15, so, just for another month of hospital, it is S/.450 more soles. But, there is good news. The doctor said that if they can't pay, he can't leave the hospital. At least we know they are not going to kick him out. And another bit of encouraging news. Kevin also got to go outside in a wheelchair yesterday afternoon. He had Ruth take pictures because he was so happy to get out of the bed and wanted to remember how he felt the first time he got to leave to go outside the hospital. And being able to get outside really did a lot to lift his spirits. Things are definitely changing in the lives of this family. Continue to pray for them as they struggle through this trial. This obstacle has made them grow stronger in their love for God. Ruth was in the service last night with her mother-in-law, and they left feeling the love of the church family. And, on another note, as you also know, Yarinacocha was our first church plant, and when we went to visit Kevin at the hospital yesterday, three of the ladies from the church went too. We were so encouraged that they are starting to get involved in ministries of the church. Thanks for your continued prayers for Yarinacocha as well.

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