It as been sunny this week. A luxury during Liberia’s rainy season.
I am beginning to feel a bit more acclimated to Liberia and ship life. It was my day off so I gathered some friends and we went to the market in search of African fabric. It was a successful journey. The scenery is not quite as shocking to me as when I first arrived. You learn to walk by the kids playing in the heaping pile of trash in the middle of the road.
Carefully, I am trying to define for myself the delicate balance of ship life. It would be very easy for me to spend all my time alone contemplating the depths of my experience but it would not be healthy. I need my daily dose of carefree laughter regardless of the continent I am living in.
Tonight was a fun night. And much needed. I went to a beachfront Liberian restaurant with some friends. The waiter set up a plastic table and chairs for us o the sand that directly overlooked the steadfast crashing tides. All the stars were out in their glory. It was very beautiful. I had Coca-cola light and a plain omelet. I really miss eating eggs. I finished the night with some creamy coffee gelato. Yum.
A tall, athletic looking young man was sitting on bed 51. My new patient. A 19 year old boy who was having an orthopedic surgery performed tomorrow. His profile was athletic. His arms were thin and strong. His face young and smooth. His left leg was carefully sculpted. His right was completely withered.
The surgeon came in and sat across the boy. He looked like everyone’s favorite grandfather. He had a large friendly smile that matched his kind manner. Bed 51 did not recognize him until he removed his OR cap and revealed a sparsely-white-haired-mostly-bald head.
He instructed bed 51 to demonstrate his manner of walking. Bed 51 grabbed a long, sturdy stick and with agility slid across the room on one leg. The surgeon looked concerned.
After conferring with a second doctor, the surgeon sat a foot away from the boy.
“I don’t think we can perform a surgery for you.”
The boy was taller than anticipated and the surgery we could offer would not solve his problem. He would need a complete foot amputation and protestic leg to be helped. An option which was not worth the associated risks and was refused by the patient.
You could see the deep disappointment in the boy’s eyes. I tried to withhold the tears in mine.
But something really beautiful happened next.
The surgeon placed his hands on the boys shoulder’s and looked him in the eye.
“You are a smart boy. A strong boy. You can finish school and become an important man. God created you and has a plan for your life. You don’t need two legs to be used in His plan.”
His words did not melt the disappointment form the boys face, but they were spoken with such conviction, belief, and gentleness, the boy could not help but sense the author's sincere love and concern.
In the western medical community we don’t like to think that we can’t fix something. We like the illusion of perfection. But perfection is an illusion.
Regardless of what we allow others to see, we are all hiding some deformity or defect. Whether it be hidden in our character, job, family, or past. And we can’t fix ourselves no matter how hard we try.
I’m glad that God does not require perfection. That He has plan’s for people with only one strong leg. There’s hope for me.