Posted on Nov 12, 2015 · Posted in Share Your Story

Skip Roy is a physical therapist from Raleigh, North Carolina, who just completed a second volunteer mission assignment at Tenwek Hospital. He served with another volunteer, Leigh Ann. Here, in Skip’s own words, is the story of Andrew – a Tenwek employee and patient with an inspiring story that began when Skip and Leigh Ann first met him on October 19, 2015.

Andrew was a valued Tenwek employee, a pastor, and a marathon runner. He had suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a motorbike accident. Andrew had a right frontal lobe depressed skull fracture with an associated right frontal lobe traumatic brain injury. We saw Andrew a few weeks after his initial injury.

When I first saw Andrew he was positioned in a wheel chair. He was not attending well to stimuli and was moving primarily his right extremities somewhat spontaneously but not consistently purposefully. He looked like what I would have expected from a significant TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). His family was very attentive and the nursing care Andrew received was outstanding. He avoided all the potential complications that can occur with TBI patients like skin breakdown, joint contractures, blood clots (DVT’s), etc. We continued to follow Andrew daily including PT care on the weekends.

By October 29th Andrew had been moved out to a semi-private room. He was coming to sitting on the edge of the bed by himself, was attending to and responding to verbal commands, was standing and even taking a few steps, though with significant assistance. He was able to write. One of his first sentences was “How is my daughter?” He had a trach so he was unable to speak except for a word or two when we plugged his trach.

We went to see Andrew on October 30th, the last day we’d be at Tenwek before returning to the U.S. Andrew was sitting at the edge of his bed visiting with his brother. His trach had been pulled so anatomically he would be able to speak. We know that TBI patients can often sing before they can speak so we asked Andrew if he would like to sing. He nodded affirmatively and wrote down the name of an African song. At this point Leigh Ann and I were stuck, not knowing much Swahili and not knowing the tunes to any African songs. We had no idea how we were going to proceed when there was a knock at Andrews door (now some of you are already getting ahead of the story).

In walked three women, members of the Tenwek Hospital staff who also happened to sing with or lead praise and worship in their respective churches. They knew the song Andrew had written down and so Andrew, his brother and these three women sang together this beautiful African praise and worship song. Leigh Ann and I couldn’t sing with them, not because we didn’t know the Swahili words or the tune (which was true) but because we were standing there weeping at the miracle God had performed, providing these women while we were having the singing conversation behind Andrew’s closed room door. After the song Andrew turned to us, stuck out his hand to shake ours, and said in a clear and intelligible voice, “Thank you for coming.”

I’ve continued to follow Andrew’s progress through email exchanges with his brother. Andrew is now apparently walking on his own with a walker and continuing to progress. I will be back to Tenwek next June and hope to visit Andrew. I’d like to run with him. I expect with the altitude and my age I’ll get about three to four steps with him and then will be eating his dust.

Some might suggest that Andrew’s progress with his significant brain injury, while remarkable, is not unprecedented. Fair enough. But the miracle of three African women – praise and worship singers –showing up at Andrews’ door while we were inside talking about singing is undeniable. And how wonderful that some of Andrew’s first words were singing praises to the Lord.

It’s our prayer that Andrew’s story will be told and will bring praise to the Lord not only at Tenwek and in the local Bomet community, but around the world.

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