Friday, 24 August 2012

I hate death (Bele: wasting disease/TB)

I hate death. I hate even more not being there when it happens. Today Bele, a child who came in last fall completely wasted and close to death then but who recovered and was doing very well, died. I followed him, his sister and mother on a regular basis. We saw them often; we even visited their village as you can see in the picture. This was in December, a few months after starting treatment.

I sat with his dad that day in December as he talked about how Bele had left dead and come back alive. He had heard reports that Bele had passed away, then found out that he was still alive. I saw the joy in his eyes as he talked of his son who was now doing well. There was hope where they had been none before. It was so special to have seen his improvement and healing. 

Bele was a sweet kid. He didn't talk a lot but he had a precious smile. The chubbier he got, the cuter he got. I tried to help with that in anyway I could by given candy and chocolate as much as possible. :) He would run up and hug me when he saw me. His face would light up. So would mine. He was my buddy. 

Unfortunately the illness he has had since birth was too much for him. He had suffered too long before treatment. The illness had taken its toll and shut down his kidneys. There was nothing that could be done. 

Thankfully, I skyped with him two days ago. Jason had told me he was not doing well and I just wanted to see him again. He sat in front of the computer breathing heavily. He smiled and made a little laugh when I told him I'd be bringing him candy and chocolate for him when I got back. Oh how I wish I could have given him his candy. 

Death just stinks. Especially in a child. I thought about waiting to write this post later, once I had composed myself a bit. But this is a part of the job. The terrible part. The part that breaks your heart. And actually physically hurts. What makes it worse is that we do this again and again. Death after death of little children, who if they were in a different country would probably not have died. The families aren't to cry over this loss. They move on. That makes me mad. Not at the culture, but just that so many children can die unnecessarily and the rest of the world doesn't stand up to do something about it. This should not be acceptable. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Djeneba, facial burn (graphic pictures)

Djeneba came to our hospital through Doctors Without Borders who work in Koutiala after she fell face first into a fire. They were originally told to go to Bamako to see the pediatric surgeon there but when they gave them the run around and did nothing, they ended up back at our place in hopes that she could have a skin graft. Amazingly, this is some improvement over what she originally looked like, according to Jason who feared she had lost her lips, nose and her eyelids were charred shut. Her lips and eyelids are intact but she most likely has lost part of her nose.

Sitting with a quilt given to her and a picture of the people who made it. (at least I think that is who is in the picture).

I sit in amazement with what comes into the hospital. Simply mind boggling. What a road this little girl has ahead of her.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Yanoussa, Wilm's tumor

Here is an updated photo of Yanoussa after a month or so of treatment. Even despite the chemo he has gained weight and looks so much better. 

Really incredible when you consider what he looked like just a few short weeks ago when he arrived after his relapse of cancer.

And another exciting note is that he is no longer screaming as much when getting his medications. He used to cry, I think for attention, but it was so hard to know whether we were really hurting him or not because his screams were so loud and during everything we did, even if we barely touched him. Jason and Kristen say that now he is handling it better, especially when the older boys are around. :) 

Kristen did mention, though, that he seems to be tired of all the chemo and treatments and desires to go home. It's hard in Mali because they don't really understand cancers. Once someone starts to look better or the mass is gone, they feel they are better. It's often hard to finish treatments (for many things, not just cancer) once the obvious problem has been removed. It is hard for people to grasp that though physical signs are better, problems can still be occurring inside where they can't see. Hopefully Yanoussa will be encouraged and have the desire to follow this through.