a little reflection

17 Jul

It’s getting to the point where I feel anxious to go into the peds ward sometimes.  All the death we’ve witnessed is taking its toll on me, I guess.  This morning, we were rounding as usual when Courtney was called to the bedside of a young boy with cerebral malaria who was noted by a nurse to have “respiratory distress.”  When we started assessing, it was actually agonal breathing.  We initially started trying to resuscitate, but then checked his pupils and found them to be fixed and dilated, so we called the chaplain without further intervention.  On rounds, I saw our little boy with multiple abscesses and pancytopenia – he came back to clinic after being discharged with new abscesses and persistent fevers and so was re-admitted.  He continues to do very poorly, even though his WBC has improved.  His abscesses are progressing despite IV antibiotics and for some unknown reason, his hematocrit is very low (12-15%) everyday despite transfusions (any ideas medical people out there?).  We’re planning on taking him to the OR for further I&D, but we’re not sure what else to do at this point.  He’s so precious and his mom is incredibly caring and attentive towards him – it’s so hard to not have good answers for her.  Tonight when we went back to the wards to see new admissions from the day, a child came in unconscious.  He was initially seen at another health center in a village down the road and was given valium and quinine (malaria medicine) and then sent to us.  By the time he made it to the peds ward, he was breathing hard with deviated eyes and was completely unresponsive.  We started an IV and were in the midst of checking his glucose when I noticed that he had stopped breathing.  I listened to his chest with my stethoscope and heard nothing – he had no breath and no pulse.  We gave rescue breaths and compressions for about 10 minutes, but he did not survive.  His mom cried briefly, and then picked him up and placed him on her back to take him back home.  I just cried as they walked out of the peds ward.

It’s hard sometimes to focus on the all the children that get better when we see a child die nearly every day.  And I’ve never had to pronounce a death before – it’s terrible and makes me sick to my stomach.  The eerie silence of a chest with no heartbeat or spontaneous breath has to be the worst sound I’ve ever heard.  It leaves you empty too.

But at the end of every day, Courtney and I remind ourselves that we are helping so many children live who would have otherwise died.  And really, our purpose is not necessarily to even save a physical life, but to share the love of God with the people we’re treating through our work here.  So I pray that the patients and their families have seen that love in us during our time here – that our tears as well as smiles and laughter along side of them have been meaningful and full of grace.  As my dear friend Jenny said in an email she sent to us, it’s our job to let them see that they are worth suffering for and loving because God loved us first.  Pray that we would continue to be faithful servants to Him, relying on his great love and peace and always showing grace to those around us.  And pray that we would continue to work hard at what we’re doing – that we would expect miracles even though we have to give up so often here.  Because God is bigger than all of this and is powerful over all things, and at the end of the day, none of this is in our hands alone – and that is so comforting.

This trip has been so good for me – to remember who is in control and to draw close to him again after a long, busy year as an intern.  I am so thankful to get to be here, even though it’s hard sometimes.  Because it’s so much easier to see our need for his grace when we truly feel that need and see deep suffering.  It’s sad to me that it takes such drastic surroundings to make me cry out to him regularly and crave his word, but again, I’m just thankful for this time.

– Rachel

5 Responses to “a little reflection”

  1. Karen Tucker July 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Chica – I read your blog and am praying for you – for your strength, for your walk with your Savior, and for your joy in the midst of tragedy. Remember to “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22.

    I am so proud of you – I know that each and every encounter with these kids and their parents is a testimony to the love of our Lord.

    Sleep tight Chica. Love you!
    Mamasita

  2. Linda Jamison July 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Rachel,
    My heart goes out to you and courtney as I read your blog. My hearts ache for all the moms wose hearts are breaking as their children leave this world. Oh, how I pray that they know about the new place their child is now!!
    I pray that God richly blesses you two as you bless others with your being there!
    Love you so much,Linda

  3. Aunt Jenny July 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Was a little surprised at VBS here in Spokane today (today is Monday, July 18). We watched a short video from the ‘Lutheran Malaria Project’ (I think it’s called!) – and, of course, i thought of you all and the experiences you are having. I just forwarded the link to your blog site to my pastor. With the tie into your African medical mission along with the fact that he spent the first 8 years of his ministry in Nigeria, I thought he’d be interested.

    I’m so pleased that along with your full hearts, God is also granting you wisdom and insight as you continue to work. God bless you!

  4. Tommy Tucker July 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Hey Kiddo – I am so proud of you and Courtney! The strength and maturity you are showing is amazing. Your reliance on God to give you this strength will help you see past the sorrows and pain and see that we are just are just servants in His kingdom. He is in control and we just need to sit back and let Him work through us. It appears you both have a grasp of that. I will continue to pray for you girls that He will continue to stir your spirits to show His love and compassion to eveyone that passes you way. Pray for me that God will stir my spirit in such a way. Love you girls!

  5. Marsha Tucker July 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Just a note to let you know that my prayers are with you daily and I know God is there to help you through those difficult times. As you said He is always by your side and cries when you cry for those precious children. He now has them in His care. We often forget how blessed we are in the U.S. All of you who travel to help those in such desperate need can help us realize that we need to reach out more and God wants us to get out of our “comfort zone” and share Jesus with those who need Him. Hang in there and know that you are loved, not only be me but especially by God.

    Marsha

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