Keith R. Brinkman serving with Mercy Ships. This is another way for me to communicate with you all what is happening. I hope you enjoy seeing the photos and entries.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Togo Day Volunteer Interviews

Our short term and long term including our children may number close to 400 people. We also recruit local people to assist us for the field service - they serve in many departments. Currently we have around 200 local people who are starting their service with us. In this photo, Ines Kronester our Mercy Ministry Coordinator is interviewing to find the right ones to assist us with the mercy ministry sites. Those sites are being investigated and soon we will be made available for the crew.

Prayer at the screening sites

During our screening process for potential patients for surgeries on board the ship, there are many people we are not able to assist with surgery. Prayer is offered to those individuals if they so desire. Ellen is in this photo on the right - she normally serves in our Hospitality Center offering literacy courses and basic math for those desiring to participate.

Screenings has begun in and around Lome

Our screening process for potential surgical patients began last week here in and around the capital city of Lome. This photo includes my friends Joy Taylor and Ans Rozema with an orthopaedic patient. This year instead of two days of mass screening with thousands of people, we are conducting various smaller screenings over several weeks in partnership with the Ministry of Health. I will write more about screenings in future KRB Updates.

Ship Arrives in Lome, Togo

The ship safely arrived in the Port of Lome in the nation of Togo on February 10th. My dear friend Clementine Tengue who is from both Togo and Ghana had the privilege to carry the Togolese flag down the gangway. Due to still being in the hospital when the ship sailed, I travelled instead by air from Europe and overland from Ghana. I arrived three days after the ship arrived. I spent a lot of time here in Togo last year with assessment and advance. Togo was the first nation in Africa that Mercy Ships visited - back in 1990.

AFM from Hospital Room Jan10

In late January, I had to be hospitalized due to a kidney stone and a hole in my left kidney. Thankfully none of my friends from the ship took a photo when they visited me, except for Mark but the photo he took was the view of the ship from my hospital window. (Small white dot in the middle). I am thankful for God's provision in so many ways.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

KRB Update 2150 My Time in Hospital

KRB Update #2150 February 20, 2010
My Time in Hospital
Imagine the worst pain you have experienced in your life… For me I have been pretty healthy and had only been the hospital at my birth and a short overnight when my tonsils were removed as a 3 year old. On Sunday evening (Jan 24th), I started to feel horrible pain in my lower left side of my back. After much consideration, I paged the crew nurse. She came and was soon followed by our crew physician and they started to give me shots to help my pain. Since the Africa Mercy Hospital was closed down it was not possible to do any diagnostic tests. They made arrangements to rush me to go the emergency room at the local hospital in La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. In the waiting room, as I was crying and shaking, a woman went to get the ER nurse and brought her to the waiting room and pointed at me and it was only a couple minutes and they were calling my name. A nurse was able to get a line in my left hand and the only words he spoke to me in English were ‘Pain Killer’ – then it was back and forth with X-ray and a scan which showed them the rupture (small hole) in my left kidney made by a kidney stone. The next day, our crew physician, Dr. Craig, came in as the nurse was explaining that they were taking me for surgery to insert the tube to relieve the pressure for the hole to heal. They also shared that I would be in the hospital for 1-2 weeks and it hit me hard as the ship was leaving on Sunday. Soon I was wheeled off to floor -2 for the surgerical procedure as I stared up at the lights in the hall. I was shaking and scared – 90 minutes later I was out with the tube and a bag to collect urine from that kidney. I couldn’t sleep but I really couldn’t do much of anything. The nursing and other staff told me in EspaƱol what to do and when. Friends from the ship visited me in the afternoon and early evening – this was so encouraging. Our OR Supervisor shared that “it was good that it happened in Spain where they have experts to take care of you as if we were sailing, our options would have been so limited and probably would have to air evacuate you out”. The situation in Togo and Ghana would not have been any better either. At the University Hospital, they had the doctors and nursing staff and all the equipment to care for people with this problem. God was taking care of me and providing for me. Then there was the hope that I could be discharged Saturday afternoon and the ship was sailing on Sunday morning. But with the advice of various ones of my leaders it was decided it would not be good for me to sail and mentioned a housing option. In the end on Saturday, severe pain returned for three episodes, but it was probably just blood from the hole for the tube or some tissue. I was able to watch the ship sail from my hospital window (see photo) and it was emotional, but I had a peace that God was providing for me. Monday came and the doctors gave me the go ahead to be discharged – they knew the ship had left and were glad to hear I was staying on the island and advised me to take the rest needed before returning to Africa. On Sunday and Monday, my mind was clearer and able to talk more with the hospital staff and able to share about Mercy Ships and what we are doing in Africa. Later on Monday afternoon, I was able to leave the hospital and started the time of rest and recuperation. I received many greetings and messages that I am praying for you via email and also via Facebook – I was overwhelmed with all the love expressed.

Some Lessons Learned: In addition to drinking liters of water every day, I feel that now I can relate better with the patients I visit in the hospital on deck 3 of the ship: *being in the hospital with staff who speak a language other than one’s first language *wearing the hospital gown and just trying to get to the toilet with your urine bag and IV tubes and pole *the challenge of taking a shower *the horrible feelings of pain *the fear of surgery – being scared and uncertain *the joy of having a visitor *the great desire and longing to be discharged and the disappointment when that is delayed.

Our hospital will open tomorrow as we welcome our initial patients for this Togo 2010Field Service.

Thank you for your prayers (though I realize not everyone knew about this), encouragement and love expressed.