Jack's 3rd World Stitches - 32 and Counting...

I saw a silent, but incredibly powerful animation recently called The Sad Reality of Our World


which depicts the impact cell phones have had on society.  This short film illustrates the emotional detachment that people can feel when they live life through the perspective of a lens.  

Although here in Peru we only have a dumb phone that we use to make local calls I often feel pressure to "capture the moment" with our camera because I want to share the experience with others, especially our team members living far away.  At times I'm able to snap a photo quickly and in a way that neither disrupts the moment or compromises my ability to be present; other times, my timing is awful and I'm acutely aware of the negative impact my camera has had.

On May 20, when Jack was approaching his friend's home, he slipped in the mud and sliced his knee open on the sharp, bike-gear bridge that his friend's family had made to span the gutter by their front steps. Jack ran home leaving a visible trail of blood behind him.  Although I knew his wound needed to be cleaned and stitched, the first step was to stop the bleeding.  I wrapped a towel tightly around his leg and turned my attention to his emotional state, which was surprisingly calm....until we removed the towel and he saw a chunk of flesh the size of an average pancake dangling off his kneecap. I wish that somehow I could have snapped a quick photo but Jack was squeezing both of my hands for dear life.  It wasn't until after we arrived at the clinic and the nurse had cleaned Jack's knee up that he felt comfortable releasing my hands long enough for me to take a picture.  In this photo his knee looks beautiful compared to how it appeared only 45 minutes earlier.

The nurse spent a very, very long time sewing the inside of Jack's knee back together with 12 large stitches.  It was hardest to watch her cut away clumps of fatty tissue and mangled flesh.  Afterward, she continued on to repair the outer layer with another 8 stitches.  Without a single bit of medical expertise to back my gut-feeling, I sensed that although 20 stitches was a lot, she should have done more.  I wanted to suggest that she put the stitches closer together, but Katelyn insisted that I allow her to her job without interruption.... and so I did.

Jack's knee looked alright when we left the medical clinic, but it wasn't alright.  The stitches were unable to hold the wound together and therefore it began healing as separate pieces of flesh. When we returned to the clinic each day to have the wound cleaned and redressed the staff assured us that everything was fine...even though we could tell it wasn't. 

After 20 days we were told to take the stitches out, so I did with a bit of apprehension.  There was a thin layer of new skin spanning the gap between the pieces of tattered flesh, but nothing more.

Although Jack was happy to be "free" he promised to be careful and seemed to understand the fragility of his newly formed skin.

Within two hours of removing the stitches Jack slipped on the cement floor - right onto his knee - and split the whole thing wide open again.

At that time we were a couple hours away from home in a small mountain village where our friends Javier, Jherson and Ivan were competing in a regional soccer competition.  Their classmates rushed us to the local medical clinic where the two attending nurses stitched Jack up once again. This time I shamelessly insisted that they "sew it up really well" and watched to make sure each stitch was done right.

Despite the extreme pain Jack agreed to stay and watch our Precious Sheep win the regional title.

Once we arrived home, the excitement from the victory passed and the reality set-in that Jack was back to square one on the healing front. It would be weeks, maybe even months before he could ride his bike worry-free, run around the soccer field and jump off the park benches like the other kids.

To ensure adequate healing Jack had to do NOTHING.  So, he spent his days reading, watching videos and playing Legos.  Even though he was capable of walking, we all knew that he had to keep it to a minimum. If we were going somewhere nearby he'd hobble along - slowly. If our destination was a bit further we'd take a motorcar.  After trip #2 to the emergency clinic Jack seemed to understand the importance of laying low.

Five days later, Jack was simply walking along the dirt road (slowly, just like the doctor ordered) on the way to dinner when his sandals got tangled up causing him to trip. When he hit the ground the basic principles of science played out exactly as one would expect.  The tender skin on either side of the wound proved weaker than the synthetic sutures that were holding it together.  Not only did the wound re-open, but the skin around most of the stitches tore, leaving Jack's leg worse than before.  When we took off the bandage to assess the damage Jack said in a calm voice, "It looks like a dog was chewing on my knee."  I couldn't disagree.  Back to the medical clinic we went.

After only a brief exam the doctor determined that Jack's knee couldn't be sewn anymore.  The majority of the skin surrounding the gash was shredded apart.  What was intact was so thin and weak that it couldn't possibly hold stitches.  Unsure what else to do, the doctor cleaned it up and suggested that we return to the clinic each day for care.  Knowing that wounds heal from the inside out he stated that inner part would likely grow back together relatively normal; however, without being able to keep the outer layer together during the healing process, he speculated that each side of the wound would heal apart from the other, leaving a large bumpy gap.

Unsatisfied with this potential outcome, I informed the doctor of the medical supplies we have in our home.  With self-adhesive sterile strips and super-glue we could bring the two sides of the wound together and hold them in place.  Although he had never glued a cut closed he understood the concept and instructed me to run home....and so I did.

For the last couple weeks we've been attending to Jack's wound daily.  I thank God that we had such a large supply of sterile strips and super glue, which have proven to be worth a thousand times their weight in gold.

Although we're definitely not "in-the-clear", Jack's knee is looking better and better each day.

We ask for prayers that during this critical time Jack doesn't have any more stumbles or falls, that he's truly able to lay low and let God do His handiwork of growing new skin and "closing the gap", as it were.

I'll post another blog when Jack's knee is completely healed so that you can see how it all turned out.  He said that he'd like to get a tattoo of a smiley face on his knee, whereby his big scar could be the smile..... I think he was joking, but who knows? Tattoo or not, Jack will definitely have a story to tell about his first experience getting stitches (lots of stitches) in the 3rd world.

As I reflect on our experiences this last month I pray that I was able to find a place of balance; that I put the needs of my loved ones first inside of each moment while still snapping enough photos to help you see what our life here in Peru is like.  As I continue to lift you and your family up in prayer, I will include petitions for this same type of balance in your life because I know that for so many it can be a real challenge to just experience a moment and not get caught-up in the idea of capturing the moment for some other person or time.  If you didn't take the time to watch the short video clip that I included at the beginning of this blog, I hope you do now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWKzVxMzvxg  It's an incredible two-minute reminder that without intentional decisions we can fall prey to a vice that leaves us emotionally detached and alone, despite the sea of people that surrounds us.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit in nudging you to support us financially  so that we can continue serving the poor here in Peru, please visit either:

Call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of All time