Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Scenario 1

Update from Kalukembe! We have been here for a month and a half; Priscila continues with multiple tasks including homeschooling, caring for guests, caring for patients including reinitiating care for women with vesicovaginal fistulae, thinking up new ideas for projects for the family and hospital and home. I continue in my moral support with occasional skeptical commentary. 

Imagine this coming out of the liquid that bathes your brain and spinal cord. I can't. The 9 year-old boy that I drew this fluid out of had been sick for roughly a month, getting various treatments, including an assortment of antibiotics (though none likely were properly prescribed or taken), traditional medicines and then in the last week, his condition worsened. Pus drained out of his ear, he mounted persistent high fevers, and his neck grew stiff. His father took him to the municipal hospital across town but they told him they could do nothing and sent the boy to us. That day when his father brought the boy to our hospital, he no longer could talk and could only moan, eyes wandering in separate directions. His father was clearly concerned, but it was already too late for us to save the child. Even with the right antibiotics, antimalarials and judicious IV fluids--for a malaria rapid test positive, smear negative result (and this LP test was just done out of curiosity how the lab would interpret the liquid), the boy died 2 days later in our ICU.
The story's like this boy's played out for at least 6 other babies and children this past week. . . treatments at home or in some nurse's clinic that don't show improvement and then the parents bring their child unconscious to our hospital. After expending their time, money and efforts elsewhere, I feel heartbroken to see the children succumb to intervenable and preventable diseases.
Government officials recently visited our hospital to look through the charts of malaria deaths recorded here year-to-date (almost 90). Apparently, only 2 deaths were recorded due to malaria last year--clearly something off with our statistics. It overall seemed to be a good learning experience, for the hospital to be reminded to maintain better records of what happened to patients and improve diagnostic clarity. We all have much to learn in caring for our sick. I should be the first to admit I miss the mark to be compassionate and competent with each and every patient. I pray God will give me and my colleagues the desire for whole healing of our patients and families. It's for His goodness sake we seek healing.

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