Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Sheba is walking through the darkness, past the street-lit corner and over to the Jeevan Sahara Kendra Community Care Centre. She is doing a night call. We live about 4 mins walk from our main place of service.
Its 9.30 PM. The kids are in bed. My Dad is doing the dishes. Mum is winding down for the day after having made supper for us. Our parents have been here for the past 3 weeks now - and Mum is just now coming out of a long period of exhaustion.
We have 2 patients admitted at JSK tonight.
A man - who we will call Talex - was admitted yesterday evening. He is painfully thin and was on a drip for most of today. His young wife is by his side - hoping that he will pull through. Sheba is not sure - but we treated and prayed. This evening he was conscious and grateful.
And then there is Tripti. Tripti has been with us for 3 weeks so far. She is a young widow. About 23 years old. Her mother is only 42. Tripti lost her husband - and has lost her mind. She spends most of her waking hours crying out loudly. She has lost most of her movement on her left side. Her brain is affected by an opportunistic infection - probably TB. It looks like Tripti's HIV has directly affected her brain as well. The halls of our centre echo with her cries. It chills to the bone.
Tripti is on various strong anti-psychotics. Nothing seems to affect her. Her eyes are open and she speaks - but then keeps losing it. Through all of this Tripti's mother nurses her. She rubs her feet. Holds Tripti's hands from clutching and pulling her own hair.
They have no other option. The family will be hounded out of the neighbourhood if they try and go home. The govt. hospital discharged her. No private hospital will take her. And we cannot turn her out either.
Tripti seemed to be improving - her cries were less frequent a few days ago - she seemed alert and able to communicate. But now She seems to be deteriorating again.
Sheba has gone to see how our nurse - Sunita - is doing. And to check up on Talex and Tripti.
This evening another family called up. They had taken their daughter to a hospice but were refused admission. Could they come to JSK. We told them to come tomorrow.
One of our long-term home-based care patients died at 5 this evening.
Mrs. Candy has been with us for years. We knew she was dying for months. Her heart condition was just not improving. We had admitted her to a govt. hospital for urgent cardiac care 2 days ago. They discharged her today.
Mrs. Candy was a widow. Her late teen daughter was abandoned by the man she had eloped with. Mrs. Candy looked after her daughter's daughter when she could.
She won't do that anymore.
Today was Mrs. Candy's home-going.
Our JSK home-based care team swung into action. One staff member went to a far off suburb where Mrs. Candy's young son is studying at a hostel. Another two went to the home. A local church volunteer (who is positive herself) was already with Mrs. Candy. We contacted the fellowship where Mrs. Candy was worshipping for the past few years. They have ordered the coffin and are arranging for a morning funeral. The local doctor refused to make a death certificate - claiming that he had not been treating her (probably wanting to be slipped a Rs. 500 note).
There are tears. But there is also the knowlege that Mrs. Candy is finally free. Really, totally, completely free from so many horrors that she saw and experienced in her life.
She had often stood up in Positive Friends support group meetings and spoken about how grateful she was. For life. That her son was studying. She wanted him to become a pastor. Once she said: "I know that with Jesus I am getting better. And even if I die, I will live with Him forever."
Eternity started for Mrs. Candy at 5 PM this afternoon.
And so the night continues to spin. Sheba seeing the patients at JSK and ministering to them as we come to 10 PM. Our home-based care team in a tiny shack in Kalwa, helping out with Mrs. Candy's children. The great noisy bright city grinding away all around us. Unknown people across our city, nation, world lifting up their hands in prayer for us.