Monday, February 15, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

It has been some years since I worked on a paediatric ward (I am adopting the African way of vagueness about time and years) and I am delighted to share with you that some things stay with nurses the way bike riding comes back to us all. Sick children have some things in common, no matter where you are. I remember lab values; the feel of dehydration; the look of a very sick child. The wonderful young Dr. Sam Miti on the children’s ward patiently tutors us about tropical illnesses that affect Zambian kids. He enjoys the interchange with me and the students and we love him. The children here are bombarded by many health problems. Their little bodies must fight Maleria,TB, HIV, malnutrition and dehydration due to a plethora of gastric bugs. Many of our kids on the ward are being cared for by a grandmother as their parents have died of HIV. 10 kids, of our thirty patients, are fighting some form of malnutrition. Their solemn eyes peer out of old faces and smiles are a rare gift. Several of our kids have fractures, particularly of arms, falling from Mango tree, from father’s shoulders, roof tops and all manner of high places. Also, several cases of osteomyelitis (bone infections). Sadly we have 8 children who have HIV and are here because they have related (opportunistic) infections/conditions such as TB, pneumonia, malnutrition.

As all kids, for the most part they get better fast. The small crying face sports a smile today and tomorrow screams with laughter at the Makuwa nurse playing peek-a-boo. The tiny fist unfurls, the eyes shine, the rash subsides. We have triplet boys, two chubby faces, bright eyes that follow me, ready to smile upon any eye contact from me. The third brother (last one out), has the baggy pant look of malnourishment, a large head, and a big cough. I fall in love at first sight with his big brown eyes and his reluctantly given smiles. The Doctor agrees that my man’s head is very large and perhaps we need to send him to Lusaka. This would be a huge ordeal and expense for the family and Mom would have to tote brothers with him. They are all treated for pneumonia and my boyfriend also is malnourished so is on special feedings.

One small lovely babe does not make it through a severe malarial crisis. Nothing to do but to weep. It is sudden and harsh, like many things in this land of extremes.
The ward nurse tells me that is it obvious that I have a passion for nursing kids. I am so glad it shows! The kids and the staff welcome our funny ways and concerned attitudes. Their smiles are also sudden and beautiful, like many things in this land of extremes.

Sister Fay

1 comment:

  1. Momma Fay,
    You make my heart sing and the tears fall. What an inspiration you are to these girls and all the nurses who have come before them. We have so much to be thankful for, one of them is to be Thankful for you! I also said of Prayer of Thanks yesterday to the angel who kept Lianne overnight in Lusaka knowing she would have been on the bus that crashed yesterday outside of Mongu. In that prayer I was also grateful that your team was there to help triage the injured patients. Jess’s text said “…. it was lucky no one was killed…. so lucky…”…. I am so grateful you were all there to help!
    Thank you Fay for being the special person you are; your caring, your leadership, for producing more leaders…let your caring heart and bright light continue to enrich and shine in the many lives you touch.
    Raining this morning in Kelowna ….your kindred spirit - Ma B