Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Life Has Never Been this Clear

October 7 (here are 2 posts lost in ciberspace & re sent)

Squinting at the patient report in front of me, I try to make out the horrible handwriting as a new entrant walks in. The mother folds back cloths to reveal her baby, and I stare in horror at a child so malnourished that its skin is peeling and falling off all over. Its head is so big compared to its skeleton body that I almost feel like I'm looking at something other than a human...

A little girl is rushed in on a cart after falling in a water hole. I look into her frightened eyes as another nurse checks her over. After consulting a couple others, the nurse turns to me and tells me that the girl appears to be fine, just a little in shock. I'm not convinced, however, and do my own exam. She has a little water in her lungs and a swollen stomach, but that is not unusual since half the kids here have swollen bellies from malnutrition, malaria, TB, etc. Some of my EMT instructor's advice starts ringing in my head, "Trust your instincts. Don't just rely on outward appearance and test results. If the patient doesn't look good, watch him a little longer." As I look at the girl, she doesn't appear to be just under the weather, whimpering in her mother's arms. I can see Avery in my mind again, pounding on the table and saying over and over, "Mechanism of injury plus index of suspicion always equals internal bleeding!" Quickly I ask the parents if they're willing to pay for an ultrasound and 10 min. later, the girl is being prepped for surgery after finding out she has a ruptured spleen...

An 18-yr.-old girl is giving birth to her first baby. No painkiller, and no privacy. Her pelvis is too small. The baby comes out deformed and is put into my arms to resuscitate. Within 10 minutes, the baby is dead. Her 50-yr.-old husband comes in, yelling that she'd better give him children soon or he'll have to marry a 3rd wife...

I peer around the corner of the isolation ward and see little Ramadan asleep on his reed mat. His stomach is swollen huge from TB, and his clothes are like rags on him with his little behind hanging out a big hole. Quietly I creep closer and when I'm right above him, I yell, "Ramadan!" and squirt him with a syringe full of water. In a flash, he is up and chasing me across the hospital compound with his own homemade watergun, chubby cheeks grinning wide...

I go to give medicine to an acute malaria patient, only to find out that she hasn't had it for 2 days because her family says they don't have money to buy it. A few hours later, I see the hospital chaplain, an interesting man who used to be a trained terrorist/killer for Russia, heading over to her bed. She died and he tries to comfort the mother. I go to tell James, only to hear him say, "Why are you telling me? I can't do anything for her once she's dead. Go take care of the people that actually need you!"....

Smiling wide and holding out my hand, I greet one of the HIV patients, a skinny man with no strength left even to walk or sit up on his own. Although we can only say "hello" to each other in Nangere, our eyes and sign language speak a lot more. After holding his hand for a few minutes, I start a new dose of metronadizole into his IV and try to find a way to tie it above him on a tree with a piece of string I picked up off the ground...

Liz, Sonja, and I like to say, we can't help feeling alive in Africa with so much going on around us. It is constant ups and downs, and when I lay on my cot at night, overwhelmed by it all, I have a song I like to listen to. I hadn't heard this song before I came, but it encompasses my feelings and experiences so well. After some of these days, all I do is go to my hut, lay on my cot, and listen to it over and over, until I fall asleep.

"I Would Die for You"
by Mercyme

And I know that I can find you here
'Cause you've promised me you'll always be there.
In times like these, it's so hard to see
but somehow I have a peace you're near.

And I pray that you will use my life
In whatever way your name is glorified.
Even if surrendering means leaving everything behind.

And my life, has never been this clear
Now I know, the reason why I'm here
You never know why you're alive,
until you know what you would die for
and I would die for You

And I know I don't have much to give,
but I promise you I'll give you all there is
I cannot possibly do less,
when through your own death I live

And my life, has never been this clear
Now I know, the reason why I'm here
You never know why you're alive,
until you know what you would die for
and I would die for You

1 comment:

  1. Sarah,
    I'm captivated by all of your stories and 100% envious of your experience :) You lucky girl! I heard that MercyMe song about a year ago, and I too love it although I'm sure it has a much stronger meaning for you being there! What a fantastic experience, you are doing all the things I am learning about in school! What a blessing you are to those people!
    You are in my thoughts and prayers!
    Your (new) "cousin"
    Amy Sexton