A couple weeks ago a group from the ship went to Guinea to screen people for surgeries. And they hit the mother load. They found a total of 21 patients that all had problems that are the specialties of Mercy Ships. Alimou was one of them.

If you have ever been to the Mercy Ships website you would have seen many pictures of people with very large tumors, Alimou will be added to that list, I am sure. Alimou was flown to the ship with a couple other patients and the man that brought them from Guinea said that the stench from his tumor was so bad that the other passengers were gagging and as soon as the plane landed they ran off the plane.

On Thursday Alimou had his surgery and it was very popular. Everyone wanted to be in the OR as they took his 6.6 pound tumor off. After they completed the surgery they extubated (took out his breathing tube) and Alimou did not tolerate it. They had to emergently re-intubate him. Alimou was taken to the ICU and placed on a ventilator (breathing machine) and sedation drugs and was continuously monitored.

I came in on Friday morning, not really thinking about the fact that I would be with him in the ICU. That was probably a good thing, I don't think I would have slept as well as I did in my ignorant bliss. I walked in received report and started doing the things that make my brain happy: labeling every tube and line, attaching the BMV (bag valve mask) to the oxygen, mixing up more drugs "just in case", re taping my ET tube (endotracheal tube) repositioning Alimou, etc....

Friday was a very long and very short day. It was long because it has been a while since I have had a real ICU patient and short because he was very sick and there was a lot to do.

Saturday morning I went down to see Alimou and he now had a tracheostomy but was still on the ventilator and was starting to wake up, thus he was thrashing all over the bed.

Sunday, my friend Jenn (a NICU nurse) was the chosen one to take care of Alimou. Jenn did a wonderful job despite a very large difference in her patient population that she is used to working with. Alimou was definitly awake and very ticked off/ confused. He did a lot of fighting and everything was much more difficult for Jenn than it needed to be due to the constant moving target. I went in to see if Jenn and Alimou were doing ok. Alimou woke up looked at me and made his first attempt to smile, despite the large dressing on his entire head.

Monday morning Alimou and I were reunited. I spent the whole day shift trying to problem solve. He hates his NG feeding (the tube that is in his nose that we put ensure down so he can have proper nutrition so he can heal). I feel like in nursing it is so easy to just be busy and not really get to know your patient. I have really connected with Alimou, I am not sure if it was the stressful experience we had on the previous Friday or just me actually taking the time to get to know him, even though he only speaks French. But who cares, we don't need words. We play a never ending game of charades.

When I did his dressing change, I gave Alimou a mirror and as I unwrapped his many layers of gauze he awaited anxiously for his first glimpse of his new tumor free face. After the last layer of gauze came off his eyes started to fill with tears and he threw his hands up in the air in praise to the Lord. After that experience I put my the thoughts of "why in the world am I living on a ship in Africa?" on a high up shelf. I am sure that they may drift back down to my thoughts but for now Alimou's disproportionate smile is what is filling that void.

The rest of the week as been a roller coaster for Alimou. Sometimes he looks much better and other times he looks like he is spiraling down. He is not making enough urine and is becoming more swollen, but despite all this he has this huge smile that lights up his eyes. He has such a sweet and gentle spirit that is obvious when he reaches out for my hand any time I walk into D ward.

Please be praying for Alimou. Please pray that his kidneys start to work more efficiently and that he regains his strengtha and does not loose his joy in the battle of his recovery.