Tuesday 18 November
Our second week is flying by but I can’t stop thinking about the strength of the women here. They have such hard lives, doing the manual labour in the fields, working on road repair, having children and in sole charge of their households. Add on the leprosy damage they suffer and you begin to see the strength of the survival spirit. It puts my everyday complaints and stresses into perspective.
Yesterday was a quieter day after the long journey into the hilly region to see the self help groups the day before. We had the enormous privilege of being in the operating theatre watching Dr Indra perform reconstructive surgery on a 59-year-old woman with badly damaged hands. It seems Dr Indra will always find a way of improving things if it is at all possible. This lady had very bent and damaged fingers but he saw potential in her left thumb. In the space of one and a half hours, he had performed a tendon transfer which made it possible for the thumb to move towards the fingers so she could hold something or pick something up. You try picking anything up without using your thumb!
Throughout the operation there was a quiet and respectful calm shown to the patient who at times was showing a little concern (she had had a nerve block rather than a general anaesthetic so was awake though mildly sedated throughout). Patients are treated with a love and respect that is an incredible example.
Later in the evening we attended the staff and patient fellowship meeting. The room was crowded with not only the staff but also were many patients who I recognised, all either with a strong faith, or others obviously exploring theirs. We had a wonderful time singing songs accompanied by the tabla, a Nepalese drum. Four of our group shared about their faith, and then back to the house by bus. There are leopards around so it was suggested that would be safer rather than a walk back through the wooded area! My husband Peter, after we had been told what to do if we were confronted by a leopard, suggested that rather than holding both arms up and shouting loudly, he would hold up one arm and take a picture with the other. We thought that might be the last picture he took!
Wednesday 19 November
Today we visited the leprosy clinic at Patan Hospital which is a government hospital that welcomes The Leprosy Mission every Wednesday to hold a day’s clinic there . The aim of the clinic is not only to pick up any new cases of leprosy which need diagnosing but also to give ongoing care to those already affected by leprosy. People also attend with general skin complaints.
The Mission works with a quiet but powerful efficiency such that a new case can move from the registration desk, to the diagnosing doctors, the smear test and biopsy section, the ulcer clinic, blood tests,and then to the physio area for sensory and muscle testing. All done in one day.
Everyone who turns up (there is no official appointment system) will be seen. No one is ever turned away. A humbling experience to be part of. I don’t think I will ever forget the people I have met here, both medical staff and patients. And a small amount of money can go such a long way here. Please keep giving and supporting TLM’s work – this is only one of so many centres across the world.
The lady in the painting was admitted to Anandaban, as so many are, for care to her ulcerated foot . She needs treatment, drug therapy and rest, all of which she will receive at no cost to herself.