It rained today and we were cold. It fit well with our walk through culture, leprosy and science. The healing hand of God was revealed through the scientists, doctors and researchers that make leprosy their life’s work. I loved being in the medical world again; how fun to have my world merging all the way across the world! We visited the research lab and then the hospital ward at Anandaban Hospital in Kathmandu. We ran into three other Americans who also came to see and learn. One is a research physician from Harvard so Dr. Jim being an alumni was a nice connection. Two non-profit leaders that support the leprosy mission, one from Texas and one from California. All of us finding our way through the realities of this ancient disease that still isolates people physically and spiritually.
We learned many things today. Yes, leprosy is curable. But it is also illusive and can lay dormant for years. Poverty, vulnerable immune systems and lack of basic health (clean water, healthcare, food, etc) are major factors that give rise to the disease after you think it is “cured”. In some cases it can take 20+ years of treating outbreaks to get someone off the meds. All of this is important because comprised immune systems are a huge risk factor. In countries where basic health is at risk, leprosy can find its way in and wreak havoc with a life.
How great is the havoc? We visited the hospital ward where some patients have been more months. The bed is not electronic. It doesn’t inflate and deflate to avoid sores. There is no “call button” for the nurse attached. Most of the patients have portions of their hands, feet and/or legs missing. Leprosy damages the nerves and this often leads to loss of limbs. It is an unforgiving disease.
In the typical Nepali hospital meals are not included in the hospital stay. If you want to eat your family has to bring food to you. In a leprosy ward no one is coming to visit so this hospital feeds all patients. We arrived at meal time and saw many happy smiles as people enjoyed their food.
Food. Basic necessity for life. Compassion. Love. Basic necessities for Life. Jesus said he wanted us to have life and have it “abundantly”. Sometimes “abundantly” is having someone to care for your wounds, give you a space to sleep and feed you with good food every day. What’s your abundance?