Friday, October 9, 2015

I Survived!!!

I did it.  I officially survived my first newborn illness in Sierra Leone.  I wasn’t sure I was going to.  Ben is not my first child.  Marie came to live with me when she was four and she was pretty sick with multiple illnesses.  In the time that she’s been my daughter, she’s been sick a couple of times but always bounces back really quickly.  Malaria will knock me off my feet for almost a week but Marie will vomit in the morning, start her treatment, and be ready to play by the afternoon.  I think growing up in the village has just given her a leg up on fighting the illnesses that can put we Americans down for awhile. 

Ben doesn’t have that advantage.  Also.....he’s so little! 

I’m a nurse.  Not only am I a nurse, but I’m a nurse that has worked with little kiddos here in Sierra Leone for several years.  I should have this whole “sick baby” thing down.  And I thought I did.  Until it was my own baby.  Yikes.

We spent last week up country visiting various friends and relatives of Peter.  On our last day travelling back I noticed that Ben had a little fever and some diarrhea.  I wasn’t worried about him being sick, but I was worried about the Ebola checkpoints.  You see, in order to curb the Ebola, Sierra Leone has set up multiple checkpoints across the country where they check everyone’s temperature.  I’m not sure what the protocol is if you have an elevated temp. Would they take my baby to quarantine him??  Seems crazy but……not THAT crazy here.  I was kicking myself that I hadn’t brought my Tylenol because I would have just doped him up to get through the checkpoints.  I held my breath at each checkpoint but nobody said anything and I got to keep my baby. J

The next day Ben’s diarrhea was worse and his temp a bit higher.  He was sneezing and coughing so I got online to do a little pertussis (whooping cough) research because I found out he was exposed before we left.  It didn’t fit his picture.  I checked him for malaria and it was negative.  Most likely diagnosis? A simple viral gastroenteritis.  Just wait it out.  So I started waiting. But while I was waiting, I started thinking.  Oops.

I was a little concerned about him getting dehydrated so I called up one of my doctor friends who was in country and she said I should give him some pedialyte.  He gagged so much that he threw up the half bottle I’d just given him.  That’s when I started getting a little worried.  At one point I watched him poop and it was like pure water coming out.  He was running a pretty constant fever and was eating about half of what he normally ate.  I was worried that if this continued he would get dehydrated. 

Yesterday he was on day three of his diarrhea with no signs of it letting up.  I checked his temp at noon and it was 104.  That’s when my thinking started getting me into trouble.  I knew we weren’t there yet, but because our access to medical care is so poor, I’m always thinking a few steps ahead.  I knew that if he continued this way for a few more days, he would need some IV fluids. 
In America, IV fluids aren’t that big a deal. Kids come into the ER and get them pretty frequently.  Most ER’s that I work in have a policy that any meds given to kids are double checked by a second nurse.  IV fluids on a pump are set so only a small amount will go in before you have to reset it so that you have to re-evaluate the kid to make sure he isn’t getting too much.  Unfortunately here, they don’t have access to all the safeguards and I’ve seen kids get overloaded with fluids.  So that was one of my concerns.  My other concern was Ebola.  The symptoms of Ebola are high fever, vomiting and diarrhea.  There are others, but those are the early symptoms.  My fear was that if I did take him to the hospital for IV fluids he would have to go to the Ebola holding area…..with all the other people that might or might not have Ebola.  So that’s kind of scary.  I started thinking about how I could get my hands on an IV set and cannula so that I could just give him his IV fluids at home.  I was less than confident in my ability to get an IV in my very fat, dehydrated baby while he was screaming and I would no doubt be crying as well.  However I was willing to do just about anything to keep him from having to go to the hospital. 

At about 2 pm yesterday I lost it.  His fever was still so high and the diarrhea was just so much.  I still hadn’t been able to get any pedialyte down him.  My normally happy baby was a fussy wreck….and so was his mom.  I have a vivid memory of standing in my bedroom sobbing and thinking “I can’t remember the last time I felt this vulnerable.” I started thinking about Jesus and the words “My Rock, My Rock, My Rock” played over and over in my mind.  I felt like I was collapsing on top of this big rock in the middle of the crashing waves of my fears.  A big, steady, Rock.  Once again I turned my son over to Jesus, trusting Him for the outcome….whatever that might be. 

I know you moms many times over are rolling your eyes at the drama of this first time (baby) momma.  I get it.  The nurse in me is rolling my eyes at myself too.  Three days of diarrhea? Come on.  Now that Ben is doing better, the mom in me is rolling her eyes at me too.  But in that moment, with the future a little fuzzy, my fear was real. 

But today I have so many reasons to give thanks.  Ben is doing better.  He turned up his nose (and his belly) at my fancy shmancy pedialyte but guzzeled down the nasty tasting Oral Rehydration Salts that you get here for a few pennies.  I was encouraged by so many people who were compelled to pray for my family and by my friends here who helped me off the ledge. J  God has called our family to Sierra Leone.  None of us have been promised tomorrow and I   have no guarantees that my family will leave here alive. But I have been promised that my Rock will be steadfast, so by His grace I’ll continue to cling to Him.
Got some smiles today!! Still battling fevers so he's been rocking the cool washcloths all day. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, & Amen ~ what momma's hearted woman wouldn't have the same legitimate fears & tears!?! Love how you ended ~ Praising God with you!