Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Well, now I know... Worse than seeing faces is not seeing them. Susan's bed was empty when I arrived for morning rounds yesterday. She died on Thursday, following a massive GI bleed. Her medical record had not yet been filed away: "RIPF" (Rest In Peace Forever) was printed on the cover of the chart, those initials carefully placed in the quadrants created by a hand-drawn Christian cross.

Noticing my obvious distress, Linet tried to console me, "Ni shauri ya Mungu/It is the will of God." "Not my God," I snapped back -- and then apologized. I'm afraid I still have much to learn from our African friends.

When I saw that Pamela's bed, too, was empty, my heart sank. Then I was told that she had been discharged on Friday. A student nurse reported that Pamela had promised to eat and rest and exercise and take her meds -- and that her co-wife had promised to encourage her.

We next rounded on Pediatrics, where I was dismayed to see that Gastone, 7, was also missing. The dazed little boy, in shock and pain, had been brought to the hospital one week ago by his frantic parents. He had picked up a fallen live electrical wire while playing with a friend. The voltage had shot through Gastone's body, creating first and second degree burns on his face, neck, upper and lower limbs. The deepest wound was a hole beneath his jaw.

We were also worried about the child's heart because he complained of chest pain on admission. He explained, though, that he had fallen "hard" on the ground, on his chest, when the electricity had raced through his body. His cardiac status was fine, but Gastone developed severe edema on his face the next day. The potential for a constricted airway was real, but it never materialized, TG. And Gastone never stopped playing with the Matchbox tow truck we gave him on admission -- a very hopeful sign. (Thank you, Church of the Advent, for the toys!) We administered Pethedine for pain, tetanus toxoid, IV Ceftriaxone and fluids. His burns were cleansed and debrided, and Dermazene was generously applied.

I was relieved to learn that Gastone, too, had been discharged over the weekend. He may never pick up even a dead electrical wire again, but his wounds will heal. Thanks be to God.

1 comment:

Nancy Rowe said...

Oh My dear friend...such a gift you have a writing. But you be kind to you! IT is so draining, isn't it? I only stayed briefly and I felt it. What must it be like for you? May the Lord surround you today with HIS peace, HIS love, and HIS gentleness. May you experience encouragement! God bless you and keep you safe, and give you extra strength today.
Your WI friend, Nancy