al-la-fia bene (“i am feeling strong” – a common response to how are you)

9 Jul

Yesterday was an especially trying day.  The peds ward was completely full and many of the kids were very sick or had confusing/unknown diagnoses, so it took a long time to see everyone and get orders written (not to mention it was the first day that no other physicians came by to see peds patients).  Clinic starts at 10 a.m., but we didn’t make it there until 1 p.m., just to give you an idea of how far behind we were.  In the midst of rounding, two medical student volunteers came to tell us that there was a premature baby in the maternity ward that was having trouble breathing.  Rachel went with them and arrived to find a blue, floppy baby in the incubator next to our other premie; the nurse was trying to resuscitate the baby using a bag-mask and she was told the heart rate was “good.”  The Ob-Gyn doctor, Lynn, told her that the mom had delivered the baby (estimated to be around 28 weeks) in a village around 6 a.m. that morning and had just arrived with the baby at 10 a.m.  She took the baby’s heart rate and found it to be 50 (not good) and so started compressions.  The baby died about 15 minutes into our resuscitation efforts.  The mother had lost her first pregnancy the exact same way.  We called the chaplain to come pray with the mother.

After such a tiring morning, we decided to have lunch before clinic.  We then saw patients with rashes (again, not sure what all of them were), lots of malaria, viral URI’s, etc.  The translators in the clinic teased Courtney about her catarrh (their word for a cold, but actually just a horrible all-day allergy attack, which only made a long day longer).  Before heading to dinner, we rounded on 12-15 new admissions in the peds ward – there were people standing, sitting, and laying EVERYWHERE.  We ended up having 46 patients total (with only 36 beds to put them in).

After dinner, we were called by a nurse in the pediatrics ward to tell us that a child who swallowed kerosene had just been admitted to the ward and was in respiratory distress.  Rachel went back up the hill to the wards to find a 2 year old girl lethargic and breathing very hard.  The nurse had already suctioned out her stomach and placed her on oxygen (the only respiratory support we have here).  She got two boluses and was placed on IV fluids, and we all hoped for the best, though had a bad feeling about her outcome as she was spitting up blood.  Overnight, Courtney was called to the delivery of a premature baby, who is doing okay, but has a long way to go.

Our new preemie.  We are using diapers to keep her dry (and thus warm), but unfortunately, we only have one size… obviously, it’s a little big on her.

Courtney then got called again early this morning because our 30-week preemie (the one we delivered last Monday) was having trouble breathing.  In the short time it took for Courtney to make it to the hospital, the baby no longer had a pulse.  Again, resuscitation was too late, and the chaplain was called to come pray with her mother.

So needless to say, we were a little down this morning.  But the patients were doing surprisingly well today on the peds ward.  Many went home, including the one who swallowed kerosene – she was sitting up eating porridge when we arrived.  Our little boy with the distended belly and meningitis is doing so much better and will likely go home within the next couple of days – Dr. Hewitt even complimented our management of the child this afternoon.  And we somehow made it down to around 30 patients by the end of the day.  The only one we are worried about today is a little boy that had two abscesses to drain and is very malnourished.  His HIV test is negative, and we’re treating for parasites just to be sure.  But we also got a CBC today that showed significant pancytopenia (aka, his cells that fight infection are low, his hemoglobin is low, and his platelets are low), which makes you worried about cancer or something else scary.  Unfortunately, there’s nobody that can do a good blood smear and certainly not a bone marrow biopsy.  Even if they could, there is no chemotherapy here.  We’re hoping it could be temporary marrow suppression due to some kind of infection…

After rounds, we had lunch and then went on a walk down to the river with the boys.  It takes only about 10-15 minutes to get there and is a beautiful walk – open fields and trees on either side of the dirt path with rolling hills ahead.  The river itself was nothing spectacular, but it was still fun.  There were women and kids washing clothes in it, and some tried to take our picture with their phones while we were looking away – they thought it was hysterical.  On our way back, it started raining, so we had to run back home.  But praise the Lord for the rain!  The temperature dropped from the 90’s to the 60’s in about 2 minutes, and it has stayed cool the rest of the day.  We all took long naps in our seemingly air-conditioned rooms.  It was wonderfully needed!

Keep praying for our kids and their families.  Pray that they would see God’s love in us and that we would be able to hold onto the hope we have that one day, there will be no more suffering.  What an awesome and powerful God we serve, that He could overcome death to save us.

“Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:34-35, 37-39)

– Courtney & Rachel

One Response to “al-la-fia bene (“i am feeling strong” – a common response to how are you)”

  1. Jenny W. July 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Love you, hang in there. ❤

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