Friday, February 13, 2015

Two Years

by Elliot Tenpenny

“You need to see this” the nurse said to me as they abruptly entered my office. 

A quiet young man entered with a towel wrapped around his arm and began recounting his story “I was in an accident and I broke my right arm, it was so bad that the bone stuck out through my skin”. 

“When did this happen?” I asked. 

“Two years ago” was the reply. 

“Two years?, you have been living with this open fracture for two years?” I replied. 

Amazingly he had been quietly living with an open fracture of his ulna for the past two years (for all medical folks see the x-ray for details). Life had been a challenge. At the start of each day, he wrapped up his arm with a towel and set off for work. Little by little, his elbow began to freeze up and the infection got worse until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Living quite far, he could not easily get to our hospital and arrived after a days journey down the river on a dugout canoe.

When he arrived it was apparent that his elbow joint was fused. Due to the injury and infection it had not moved in months and would never work normally again. Amazingly, although he had had infected bone coming out of his forearm two years the had totally normal function of his hand and wrist. Even more amazingly, when we did an x-ray we found that his body had started replacing the lost bone, rebuilding a new bone from the bottom and top in the same place as the other. With this being his right hand and the amount of movement he could still do with the hand we decided to do everything we could to save the arm, instead of amputate.

Surgery was done and the bone was removed. Dead bone must be treated like cancer and removed aggressively. It’s sometimes hard to find but as long as some is left in the body the infection will continue to fester and grow. After removing many pieces of infected bone, cleaning out everything as well as possible, we left the wound open to drain. With clean dressings for the next few weeks, his wound slowly healed.

He was discharged this past week with two hands intact. During is last day here in the hospital, it made me smile when I saw him visibly excited for the first time. He was excited to use his right to shake mine before leaving. I believe he was even more excited to be free from this terrible infection that he had to live with for far too long. We praise God for the chance to treat this young man and for the healing that He brought in his life.

originally published at Reigning in Life

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