Shortly after I arrived, on my first day at the dental clinic, Gayus, the Dental Therapist, shared with me a letter he received that morning requesting he present a lecture to the first year nursing students and he asked me to participate in the presentation…we were to be ready at noon. Each visit to Egbe is unique and this event set the scene for the personality of this two weeks visit. My role of supporter, teacher and consultant emerged.
The Spiritual Life Conference was in full swing on Friday at 2nd ECWA Church. Gayus and his staff were setting up the mobile dental unit, mobile dental chair and the needed essentials for screening perspective dental patients and for “washing” their teeth.
The first patient to appear was a 29 year old male who presented with the right side of his face swollen. His teeth were washed and his dentition was examined. And abscessed tooth was the probable diagnosed and cause of his swollen face. It was recommended this patient seek an x-ray to complete the diagnosis.
The patient was advised to visit the dental clinic that afternoon. However, he was contracted to work the conference and it was not possible for him to meet at the dental clinic for x-ray evaluation of the abscess.
The Sunday morning conference message was to be given at the 1st ECWA Church. I had been undecided about whether or not to attend the conference when, finally, I dressed and decided to walk to 1st ECWA. As I approached the church the 29 year old male patient approached me asking if he could meet with Gayus at the dental clinic, sometime that morning, as he was still in pain and was due to leave the city for another job commitment at 3:00pm. I took his phone number and sent a text to Gayus mentioning the circumstances involved with this man and the probable abscess.
Texts were flying back and forth during the church service and soon Gayus sent a notice saying the man was going to meet with him at the dental clinic for a diagnostic x-ray to be taken and could I join them. I left my seat, leaving the nice conference attendee who had leaned into my ear kindly interpreting the message for me the night before. (Another coincidence that I should be seated in front of this lady and her twin sister two services in a row?)
The x-ray revealed a huge abscess involving possibly two upper front teeth. It was obvious one of the front teeth needed to be extracted immediately. An abscess of this type can be extremely serious. The situation was explained to the patient and he confessed to having no funds to pay for the needed treatment.
Before I left for Nigeria I was gifted with a large sum of money to assist in the paying of my expenses. It became apparent to me that I was to contribute to the cost of treatment for this man. He was obliging and very grateful for the monetary assistance. The treatment was performed. Antibiotics were prescribed. The man departed for his next commitment with the understanding he was to return to the dental clinic for further evaluation, of the remaining jeopardized tooth, in two weeks when he returned to Egbe.
The following morning the dental clinic received a call from this patient. The patient was overjoyed and wanted to thank the clinic for the care he received. He thanked everyone over and over and over and promised to return, as was advised, for further evaluation.
We really connected with this dear man. He told us of his girlfriend and showed us pictures of her on her birthday with her cake. We prayed for him and wished him a happy life. It makes me smile when I think this man’s life was possible saved by this treatment.
I am grateful for the God “incidences” leading up to this finely orchestrated chain of events. Many of us assisted in this outcome. We listened and we obeyed. Our acts displayed our commitment to our profession. We were generous and kind. We were givers of our talents and time, and were eager to help someone in need. This young man with a life full of promise approached our dental outreach with a swollen face, knowing he had a significant health issue and we responded.
This visit, one of our own, who eagerly and earnestly treats all who enter the dental clinic, was tended to both dentally and financially. I realized the responsibility I had been given through the generous gift of money I had received. My philosophy is to “pay it forward”. To help others in need is important in our Christian work. The couple that gave it to me, gave it from their hearts. They shared with me, and I in turn shared with others as I saw the need and, hopefully, they in turn will share with others, an on it goes.
During this visit it became apparent that the dental clinic has the ability to reach out and treat those who are in pain, in need of dental care, and ministering to, on a personal level. I pray soon the dental outreaches will include a very important diagnostic tool…a hand-held x-ray device to definitively diagnose dental disease and needed treatment.
Numerous patients were treated on Saturday at 1st ECWA. My clearest memory concerns a young woman with two badly decayed lower molars. She knew she needed treatment and was there with supportive friends. However, she was not emotionally prepared to experience two extractions, and became emotionally distressed. Gayus convinced her this was the appropriate treatment and she eventually consented.
After the procedure she was very tearful. I feel humiliation and embarrassment factored into her sadness. I wished we could have provided more privacy and made a mental note to mention the importance of obtaining another screen to shield the patients from sidewalk “gawkers”.
In closing I would like to make one final personal comment: As I look back over the events involving the visa application and blocks along the way, I realized that once I told God “I really want to go!” the doors flung wide open and HE moved quickly and decisively and the visa approval suddenly appeared. A powerful lesson learned and acknowledged.
I am truly thankful and honored to be a member of the Egbe Hospital family. This loving community has made a valuable imprint on my life and I can’t wait to return to see the many joyful, smiling faces. Written by V. Chambers