Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Race Against Time

This week we (julet and Denee) were at the Urban Health clinic is Malingwa.   Today was a hard day for both of us as a young child came in with cerebral malaria.  The boy was lying down at the back of the room and no one communicated to us how sick he was.  We were very busy as the doctor was late and we couldn’t get any medications for the prescriptions till 2 hours after the clinic opened. I went up to the child and he started to seize so I called over Julet.  We assessed this boy and he had a very high temperature.  Since the clinic did not have running water we got our water bottles that had ice and doused the child with the water to attempt to bring the temperature down. I ran go to find an ambu bag which was one of the longest five minutes of my life.  No one could communicate to me where it was and people would ask me about my name tag totally unconcerned about the emergency. Eventually I was directed to the back of the clinic and found an infant resuscitation ambu bag, hardly adequate for the situation we were in.  It was all we had so we used it the best we can.  We sure could have used a child ambu bag and oxygen.  It was a very emotional time and I called Fay and Jessica to come asap. The clinic managed to get an IV on the child but we needed something for his seizures.  They told us they have nothing.  After prying for information for one of the medications that they do have they told us to give some Diazepam rectally (something you wouldn’t think of in Canada).  Time was running out for this child and we couldn’t wait for Fay and Jessica a minute longer.  A truck with a mattress pulled up to the clinic and we carried the boy to the back.  The mother and grandmother got in too and Julet stayed with the child in the back of the truck.  The truck ride was one of the most.  Julet instructed the driver to put his 4 ways on and drive as fast as possible.  Julet continued to ambu bag the child and for a moment he stopped breathing so she did CPR and his eyes opened and he started to breathe again. A dog ran in front of the truck and suddenly the truck hammered on the breaks.  The mattress with Julet and the boy slammed into the cab of the truck, the mom almost fell out and the grandma slid into her daughter.  Fortunately no one was hurt and the driver resumed speed.  Back at the Clinic, I waited for Fay and Jessica very distressed and upset with what was happening.  Not even a minute after Julet left they were there and I jumped into the van bursting into tears.  We turned the van around and unfortunately it got stuck in sand so we couldn’t get anywhere.  After some time some men helped us out and we were able to get to the hospital to meet up with Julet and the boy. At the hospital, Julet said that it was hard to get a doctor to come and assess they boy.  All the other nursing students heard her yelling and came but there was no doctor in site. Eventually someone found a doctor and the boy was brought to OPD. The boy was stabilized thanks to everyone for their hard efforts and then transported to the ICU. Good things can come from aweful situations like this and it is important to remember that.  So far we think he is okay as he is getting the malaria treatment he needs and he is breathing on his own.  I felt very frustrated today (as well as Julet) as we both felt that more could have been done and people seem numb to the situation of a sick child near death.  It was an emotional day and after a long cry we are here writing this blog to show you how different it is here in Zambia for nursing.


  1. How different is nursing in Zambia from Canada for sure - as is life, clearly. You force us to think about that and to question why the inequities are so great between our two countries - and to ask ourselves how we can do better. You are all part of that doing better - and hopefully you can spread awareness to others when you are back here with us in the land of "so much". Take care out there,

    Patricia Marck, Director

  2. I Believe Those Poor Souls Are Numb To Dire Situations From Dealing With Them Their Whole Lives So I Dont Blame Them For Their dispassionate Behavior :( Im Glad You Were There For Him Just Imagine You Weren't There So The Best Outcome Played Out Before Your Very Eyes Hun, Stay Strong Take Care And Pass On My Regards To Susie For Me TTYL...