Well, back “home” (sorry Mom) in Sierra Leone. To be honest, I was a little worried when I went home this year. Every year when I go home I have the following conversation with Jesus.
Me: “Jesus…..I love being home! Are you SURE I should stay in Sierra Leone?”
Jesus: “Well Emily, you know you can glorify me anywhere, but it seems like Sierra Leone is a good place for you to be right now.”
Me: “Yeah, ok…..I get that.”
Me: “Yeah, ok…..I get that.”
This year I put up more of a fight. And I blame my family. Completely. I always have so much fun with them, but this year Marie got to spend time with her grandparents, cousins, etc. and it was so fun watching them all get to know each other. Plus last year when I was in America I had Peter and Marie waiting for me back in Sierra Leone but this year they were WITH me in America. So it was the perfect situation for me! J As my time in America started creeping to a close, I got worried as there was a big part of me that still wanted to stay. BUT!! Praise the Lord about a week and a half before I was supposed to go back I started getting excited and felt ready. Thanks Jesus!! Since coming back, I’ve only gotten more excited about the future ministry potential here.
I spent the first week or so down in Freetown getting readjusted to everything “Salone.” I was planning on staying in Freetown until both my teams from home come and leave, but I had a break in my schedule so decided to make a quick trip up to my village to see my friends.
Coming back was awesome!! Last year when I was gone I had a little break-in occur at my house so this year I asked a teenager that I really trusted if he wanted to stay at my house while I was gone. What a great idea!!! Instead of coming home to a house that hadn’t been lived in for a couple months, I came home to a house that was cleaner than I’d ever seen it!! My neighbor said it was a little embarrassing how much dirt he got out of my house. I might be embarrassed…..if I wasn’t so thankful!! He even decorated my living room with snowflakes and a white paper chain. J
I decided to work a few days while I am here. Nicole is a teenager from my hometown who came to hang out with me for a couple months so I took advantage of the free babysitting (and amazing cooking and cleaning……..please Nicole, can you stay forever?) and headed back to my stomping grounds of the OB ward.
As I walked into the ward I noticed that the oxygen cord was running across the walkway, which is never a good sign. It wasn’t for a laboring woman though, but for a little 3 week old baby that had been admitted the evening before. The initial diagnosis was an acute respiratory infection but earlier in the day the nurse had noticed that the baby’s abdomen was also really distended and firm. The baby’s work of breathing had also worsened and the history included 3 days of no bowel movement. A tube was inserted into the baby’s bottom and lots of gas came out, along with a little bit of liquid. (Sorry for the graphic details. I’m a nurse. It can’t be helped.) The belly looked better and the baby started breathing easier. This had happened a couple times during the day, but the last time the nurse tried it, nothing came out and the baby continued to breathe with difficulty. That’s when she’d started the oxygen.
When I went to look at the baby, I remembered a medicine that we could try to see if we could get his belly to start working better. We don’t have a working ultrasound here at the moment, so we had no way to know exactly what was going on inside his abdomen. I discussed the need for a transfer to a bigger hospital to his family, but they opted to wait and see if this medicine worked first.
He was very dehydrated so we wanted to start an IV. Unfortunately several of us tried many times, but just couldn’t get a vein. He was too dehydrated. If only I had a doctor here who could start an inter-osseous IV. Ugh! We kept giving him breast milk by spoon, but it just seemed too little too late.
More of the history started emerging and it seems that when the baby initially started getting sick, the family decided to give him some “country medicine.” I’m not sure what exactly is in this country medicine, and although I’m all for natural remedies to diseases, I’ve unfortunately seen this given many times with fatal consequences. Throughout my shift the baby’s temperature continued to rise, despite the Tylenol that we were giving him. I knew that a temperature of 104 was not going to help his hydration status. I started him on the strongest antibiotic we have, hoping that would give him a chance to fight whatever infection was making him so sick. As I left that night, I was fairly certain I knew what the outcome would be. The next morning when I went down to check on him, my suspicions were confirmed. He’d died at 5am that morning.
I was sad. I was sad for his family that had watched him grow inside his mommy’s belly for 9 months and then only had a few short weeks with him. I was sad for the lack of education that can make a dangerous situation deadly. I was sad that we’d done everything we could possibly do…..but it was just so little, and it just wasn’t enough. I’m embarking on my fourth year in Sierra Leone. My prayer this year is to not allow myself to become jaded. We’re surrounded by death so much that it can become easier to deal with. Lord, please don’t let it become so easy that I become complacent or lose my compassion. Please! Please give me Your unceasingly compassionate heart!