A CRITICALLY ill mother of eight children was flown in to Rumginae from Yehebi on Tuesday.
She was flown here by our Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilots based in Rumginae in what was a last ditch effort to save her life.
This courageous woman was suffering from what turned out to be disseminated tuberculosis with cor pulmonale, heart failure secondary to lung disease.
A long term missionary at Yehebi, Dale, and his wife had sponsored her and her husband’s tickets to fly to Rumginae.
It was another glimpse into the awe-inspiring work that missionaries continue to do for rural Papua New Guinea in 2016.
In the out patients’ department I was seeing a woman with acute appendicitis.
"Dr Kevin, if we can bring the woman to the airstrip by 2.30 the plane will be here to bring her back" the Yehebi missionary's wife had told me.
Sem spid na nau iet, I dropped everything and organised the community health work (CHW) students to stretcher the patient to the airstrip.
These CHW students remind me of when I was a freshman medical officer, when things like kindness, respect and patience were natural inclinations for me.
These days, having been assaulted time and again by harrowing experience, I'm more pragmatic. And practical. I wonder if that's an improvement or a sign that I'm battle scarred and losing my human touch.
The way CHW student Kelton removed the IV drip and cleaned the site, and how the other CHW student walked back to the hospital to get plaster, gauze and scissors to tape the site, reminded me that these small things are something I've lost somewhere along the line.
At the patient’s bed, I told the husband, "Balus bai kam now, em bai gobek".
The husband was crying by the bedside but I was thinking practically about transporting his wife back to Yehebi, and wasn't paralysed by emotion.
"Na mi?" he said.
Ten minutes before the plane landed, she died outside the MAF shed.
Her husband was understandably grief stricken and crying, wanting to return to Yehebi with her body as soon as possible.
Whilst holding to two infants, he said, "Mi nogat lain lo here bai mi hat lo stai lo hia wantem tupla pikinini".
We brought the body back to the ward to be put in the morgue.
It was just yesterday I was trying to talk to this woman. She was eating a plate of plain rice so I waited for her to finish.
She was painfully thin, and when eating she would alternately give a spoon to the child.
It was a reminder that in Papua New Guinea, women still put their husbands and family before themselves.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. At death’s door, and still showing love and care for her toddler.
I must have seen too many deaths because someone dying is part of the job. If I was in this husband’s situation, this is the part where my whole world would crumble.
Seeking medical care in rural Papua New Guinea is a path lined with obstacles.
I'll have to work on my grief counselling skills and need to figure out a better way to handle such deaths.
It's not okay to allow someone to die a tragic death and sweep it under the carpet because they have little or no significance to your life.
If you allow such a travesty to occur to the rural majority of Papua New Guineans, it won't be long until your own life will be affected by the continued neglect of rural health care.
So now I have an image vividly emblazoned in my mind of a young man crying whilst watching his wife pass away whilst his toddler son was crying on the adjacent bed.
The baby did not understand what was happening in his life. The husband knew what was happening. I knew what was happening.
He was strong enough to cry.
I was two levels above being messed up.
There should be a limit to the number of times a man can be put into a situation to watch tragic death.
Collapsing on my trusty couch this afternoon, the thought crossed my mind that I should retire and rid myself of such emotional turmoil.
It's not normal to witness a death and not be affected by it.
Throughout today I was under immense stress and pressure to bring this woman home to Yehebi.
I had to take a full 30 minutes off to lie down and refocus. It was that traumatic. Lately I find I need 10-15 minutes to just lie down and figure out what is going on.
Of course, I know what's happening, I just need those minutes to remind myself that it's okay to make tough decisions.
Last week I was on a high after the caesarian section. I thought to myself, "Yes yah! Now I can handle anything".
But fast forward a few days and I'm wondering if I can continue dealing with these horrifying scenarios.
Sometimes, when I have a lot I want to say to someone about what I am thinking, I find it easier to type. "No comment blood."
In case I should ever forget this woman and her husband and this tragic day, I'm writing this as a reminder to my future self to treasure life and protect the lives of others as best I can.
Taim u lukim onela man krai lo meri blo em dai and hear his wails at the Rumginae airstrip while you stand with some CHW students next to his wife's lifeless body.... em displa taim bai u save what life is and what pain it can bring.
The body will be flown back on Monday.