Tag Archives: Surgery

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends of Pamela and Angel,

The Christmas and the New Year celebrations in America were full of surprises for Pamela and Angel. But being the bold and inquisitive souls that they are, they jumped into the festivities with zest. They loved every minute of all that came. Much gratitude to those around them who made these joy filled moments possible.

Pamela and Angel attended church services in a variety of churches. They also stayed in several different homes because of very cold weather and their apartment is in an older home that couldn’t keep them warm. Still they put up lights on that home, had a tree with lights and ornaments, and received many gifts that surprised and delighted them. They found the world full of joy and thoughtfulness because of the kindness of God’s disciples and they praised God for all His goodness.

As the new year approached, the hospitality continued and Pamela even went sailing! Like all new adventures, she loved it! But on new Year’s Eve, she was laying in bed at midnight when the skies looked like they were on fire and the noises sounded like gunshots. Pamela was frightened and called her friend, Leah, who explained fireworks to her. Reassured that all was safe, Pamela went outside and joined her neighbors in lighting fireworks. She thought it was very fun and “now has more new friends”.

Angel continues to be seen by the Shriner’s doctors. She has had a patch on her skull that has continued to reject new skin. Doctors have been treating it during these past few weeks and the good news is that skin is now growing on it. Currently there is only a bald spot the size of a bean.

Angel has also had trouble with her newly attached left eyelid and so on the 10th she will have more surgery to hopefully correct its malfunction. Thankfully the procedure will only require an outpatient visit.

How grateful we all are that Shriners steadfastly oversees Angel’s health and progress every few weeks while the live in the Galveston community. In June, however, she will be re-admitted for more extensive surgeries.

The other significant news is that we have discovered that Angel has a passion for oogali. Oogali is a staple in Kenya life and is made from white corn maize flour and water. Many non-Kenyans do not find it very appealing but it is served at almost every Kenyan meal. Angel loves it and can’t get enough of it. It must be in the genes.

I have some photos to share with you who are following Pamela and Angel. Please continue to keep Pamela and Angel in prayer and thought. They have 19 1/2 years to go before Angel is discharged from Shriners care. Funds will always be needed to keep healing flowing to this child.

Sue

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Latest surgery

Angel’s respite from medical procedures came to an end this week. She had another surgery on that stubborn left eyelid. This time they used some skin from the ear that was somewhat still intact hoping it would graft onto the eye better than the skin from her thigh. They also are trying to center her mouth by cutting her cheek and releasing the contracting scar tissue that is pulling the mouth to the left. I stand in awe of the knowledge and the procedures and the skills that these medical professionals have. I stand in utmost gratitude for the Shriners’ generosity that provides this care, this hope.

In the meantime, Pamela is adjusting to her new apartment in the hospital. She likes it a lot and Angel has been there with her nonstop. They have had time to play and take walks and nap and receive guests. They certainly have a big circle of friends that are varied but faithful. They are visited by their United Methodist friends. Some of those friends they met in Maua when the teams were there on mission trips. Some of their Methodist friends are from area churches. They also have a faithful group of friends who are medical students from the University of Texas. These students go to school across the street from the Burn Center and drop in to see Pamela and Angel routinely and bring their youthful enthusiasm and tenderness with them. Pamela and Angel have also been introduced to a circle of Kenyans who live and work in Galveston. They have come to the US for an education and have stayed to make a life for themselves. They found Angel and Pamela and have embraced them. They show up with Kenyan tea and Kenyan meals and Pamela is filled with memories of her home.

For all of you who remain loyal in your love of God and neighbor, be most blessed.

“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 1:1

sue and jim

Angel & momma time

Angel is enjoying her freedom from surgery. She has hung out with her mom all week and they have cuddled a lot. There were however fewer walks this week because Pamela developed an infection in her leg and found walking very difficult. Her leg has been swollen and hot and draining gunk and she has had a temperature. Shriner’s staff took her to a doctor and she is on antibiotics now and feeling better. Thank God for medicines and for the spirit of healing that comes from the Creative God of love.

The staff has also this week given Pamela a lesson in bathing a baby who has grafted skin and a small uncovered hole on her head. They are encouraging Pamela to take over more and more of the full care for Angel. Pamela is delighted and loves the learnings. She is always eager and grateful for learning anything new.

As these days have passed, Pamela and I have had many talks about the importance of the mother-daughter relationships. Now as I face my own mother’s illness, Pamela has been very concerned about what is happening to her. She wrote to me a few days ago this unedited message.

Hi sue iam so sorry for your mom sickeness and aiso for your schendule inconviences .iam still praying for you and your mom hoping everything will be okey.here its a special words to encourage you easpecialy like now when your undergoing through all this difficulties.”Keep your eyes on me ,not only for direction but also for emporwement .i never lead you to do something without equippping you for the task”says the lord.” Be blessed dear sue and dear sue’s mom.The lord is with you.

May we honor and be gentle with and love unconditionally all those who are put in our paths. Be assured that we are equipped for the task.

~ Sue

9/20 surgery update

Angel had a rough day on Friday the 20th. The scheduled surgery happened, but Angel was very uncomfortable for the following two days. Pamela said she cried a lot which is unusual for her. It is obviously very hard for Pamela too. She said she aches inside as she tries to soothe her daughter.

This last surgery did three things. 1) The left eye lid was re-grafted. It had not yet been successfully attached, but they believe after this surgery it will be.  2) There were also two spots on the skull that needed more skin.  3) A new area was also addressed. The skin on Angel’s cheek has been so badly scarred that it has pulled the mouth off center. The medical staff calls it a contracted site. So they cut the cheek and added skin to it to help the mouth become less pulled. They then put on a stretchy bandage that pulls on the skin to put it in place. I am guessing that this is what was painful for Angel.

But both Angel and Pamela are quick to be positive. By Sunday, Pamela says that Angel was smiling again and feeling bouncy. She tried some new solid baby foods and liked them…apples and carrots. She was very clear however that she did not like the jar of beef. I told Pamela that it was obvious that Angel was a vegetarian in the making. Pamela thinks she might do the same because she loves American veggies!

Pamela also wants me to convey how grateful she is for the visits and the phone calls and the sense of friendship that surrounds her.

But that sense of belonging to one another no matter who we are has only been heightened by the tragedy in Nairobi. Those who have been killed, injured, traumatized by the horrendous event in the mall are also our brothers and sisters. They too need us to surround them with our prayers and love. They too are our family and surely we ache as they ache.

We are one in the Spirit.

~ Sue

Ubuntu

Angel is having another surgery on Friday the 20th at 7:30 am. Her left eyelid is still not doing what it is suppose to do and there is a 1″ spot on her skull that has not accepted the newest graft. Head and eyelids continue to be the major concern. Everything else is on hold until those areas are successfully completed.

There is some other news that is fun to think about. The doctors have told Pamela that once the skull has skin in place, they will attempt to graft in some of Angel’s own hair. For Pamela that is very exciting. She has worried about how a child would feel about not having hair and it seems that Angel may in fact be able to grow her own.

There is however a growing reality for Pamela that this process is long and complicated and life in the Burn Center is not easy. For example, Pamela is a very social person and she comes from a culture that values being community far more than it values being an individual. So to wait for a surgery to be over by herself or to face a day alone with all of its twists and turns is agonizing for Pamela. She is, like most Kenyasn, relationally based and very unsure of herself when she feels alone. This means that she is very grateful for each and every friend that has embraced her on this journey because she is simply out of sync without people sharing the experience with her.

There is a Swahili word that encompasses this feeling for Africans and it is “ubuntu”. It means “I am because we are.” There is no life for Kenyans without the “we”. Thank you for being Pamela’s and Angel’s ‘we’.

All of this became very clear to me when Pamela was given two new roommates who could not speak Eanglish and who did not seem willing to try to communicate with Pamela in any way. Pamela became most upset. She did not understand how she could share a room with women who did not want to talk to her. She agonized for days about it and finally relied on prayer to solve the problem. After two days and many attempts by Pamela, the wall cracked and there was some exchanges. Now I am told they laughed a lot last night as Pamela took their photos with the camera Scott Brown gave her. Thank you, Scott, for the gift that allowed for these fragile friendships to grow.

The other comment that Pamela made today was that Angel is acting like a “real” baby now. She is sitting up more and more on her own, she is grasping things with her hand, she is making many noises, and is even attempting to roll over (far more difficult with only one hand). This is largely due to the daily attentive care from the occupational therapist, Christine. Pamela is very grateful for all that she is learning from Christine about child development and growth. Learning about being a parent is a very real blessing for Pamela and Pamela loves learning.

Most importantly, Angel is thriving here inspite of the traumas that come with this process. She weighs 14 lbs and looks ‘chubby’ (she has finally stopped biting her mother when she nurses). The areas where skin has been removed for grafting purposes (thighs and neck) has healed but will tomorrow be removed again. There are constant tubes and monitors and tub days where skin is examined and wounds are probed. The days are often long and tedious. Pamela is living in unfamiliar territory, yet her commitment to provide Angel with a full life is unwavering. The bond between this mother and this child is deeply interwoven into their souls and God blesses them every day with the joys of love and hope.

May each of us know those same joys in the living of our days, and may we continue to pray for this child and her mother.