Monday, February 2, 2009

A Boy With a Swollen Leg

Joe first noticed the swelling in his leg about 6 months ago. Joe lives in the far, far end of the Jimi Valley. If he lived just a little farther away he'd be in Madang Province, not in Western Highlands Province, and he'd be out of our hospital district.

About 3 months ago his family took him to the near-by health center (a sort of miniature hospital in the village, operated by nurses). They gave him some antibiotics and pain medicine, but the swelling continued to increase. Finally they were able to arrange a flight out, and he arrived in Kudjip this morning.

When I first saw his leg it was one of those "I've got a bad feeling about this" moments. Ultrasound showed that it was all solid tissue, and not fluid-filled. X-ray showed that the mass had eroded into the bone of his lower leg. And a blood count showed that Joe is very anemic. My eyes showed me that he is thin and wasted.

This mass is obviously a cancer, probably an osteosarcoma. Although there is an enlarged lymph node in his groin, there are no masses in his liver or lungs that we can detect. He is too weak and depleted for surgery now, and Dr. Jim is leaving on Thursday for a trip of over 2 weeks. I've admitted Joe and will give him blood, and try to get him built up and ready for surgery by the time Jim gets back.



  1. OK, just so you know, there are some of us out here who DO read your blog (when you e-mail the reminders)! It's just that most of the time, an appropriate "comment" doesn't come right to mind, or our lives seem much less interesting than yours...I didn't eat bugs today or anything. :-) Cheryl Z.

  2. I didn't eat any bugs today either.
    Today Sarah C. turns 17 - can you believe it? the baby of our group! She sang in church yest with the teen girls choir and she's beautiful.

  3. I too enjoy reading these. I think I don't respond because I get tired of doing it all day at work too.
    We look forward to seeing you for Faith Promise. You will see a pretty different church! Change is hard, but God is working amongst us.
    D Howell

  4. Andy.
    I read your blogs and am incouraged by the way our Lord is working in PNG. There are times i dont have anything to add or contribute thanks for the blogs.
    Denis F

  5. I shouldn't brow-beat people into leaving comments. Sorry. But it is great to have feedback.

    Cheryl, I'll bet you've eaten some pretty interesting things in your day! (She was an MK in South and Central America.)

    Nancy, it is hard to believe that she's that old. When I saw them last Summer I couldn't which of the girls was which! [blush, feel stupid![ Is she the only one of the mustard seedlings yet to leave the nest? Well, Tim is at home, but he's semi-launched.

    And thanks, Marysville Naz representatives. We're looking forward to launching our home assignment with you in March. Wow! That's next month.