Sunday, 17 October 2010
Summer is fading away, daytime and night time temperatures have dropped and there are heavy rains every afternoon. The change in climate has ushered in an epidemic of colds , ear infections, and tonsillitis. We currently have 11 miserable babies on antibiotics, pain medication and decongestants. I have had a very busy week assessing and re-assessing sick children, forming treatment plans, prescribing the drugs they need, and monitoring and caring for all of these babies.
Most of them are recovering, but my little Peterson, who was admitted in May for medical assistance, has had constant fevers for 4 days. He is on two antibiotics and he needs Tylenol and ibuprofen around the clock to control his pain and his fever. He has a very poor appetite and I am feeding him every two hours to make sure he stays hydrated and that he gets the nutrition he needs to recover.
Peterson is a medically fragile infant. Although his Mother planned to take him home with her, I think she knew that his chances of survival were very poor in Carrefour, which, is a very impoverished district of Port-au-Prince. To survive and thrive, Peterson would have to be monitored by a multi-disciplinary community medical team, and his mother would need substantial financial aid in order to care for him. This kind of medical and social care network probably will not be realized in Haiti for at least a decade. Peterson's mother relinquished him for adoption a week ago.
The harsh reality that gnaws on my mind this week is that there are thousands upon thousands of Peterson's in Haiti. Many of them will die. I know, of course that my responsibility is for the children in front of me.
Sometimes I think that in my attempts to be positive and hopeful in the blog sphere, I succeed only in sugar-coating reality. If I am brutally honest, Peterson might not survive his health challenges, even at GLA.
Tonight, as I laid him in his crib, I took in his spindly limbs and ashen skin. I could still feel the heat of his feverish body in my arms as I watched him shake his head back-and-forth-back-and-forth-back-and forth. There was no hiding from it; this baby is very weak, and emotionally scared from a short life of neglect and abuse. We will give him the best medical care we possibly can. I will advocate for him, I will hold him and hug him and caress him and pray over him. But will my medicine and my love be enough? I don't know. I just don't know.
Posted by Susan Westwood at 19:10