Medicine seems to be able to do so much. And yet we often see the hard edges of what can be done.
We have a lady who we will call Tina. Tina has a grown daughter and lost her husband a few years ago to AIDS. Today Tina is sick. Very sick. Because of her HIV she has suffered from a stroke. The root cause is a viral brain atrophy condition called PML where only 1 in 10 come out recovered. It seems that no real treatment is available for PML.
Add to this, Tina has HIV 2 – a version usually found in W. Africa and which does not respond to the basic meds we use. She has been getting treatment from the main govt. hospital in Mumbai – but it doesn’t seem to be working.
Her immunity is very low. She has the mouth sores that we used to see commonly before the Anti-Retroviral medications were widely used.
And on top of all of this she has a large ulcerous sore.
It’s this sore that brought Tina to us. One of our Home-Based Care teams was diligently caring for Tina at her home. But things just got too bad. Though our nurses were pressed into home-visits to help dress the sore, it just would not heal.
Tina’s daughter goes to work early every morning. Leaving Tina at home all day. Someone has to earn if they are going to eat and continue to pay the rent. But Tina’s wound just has not been healing.
So to give mother and daughter some respite, we brought Tina to the JSK centre. Her daughter comes in the evening and sleeps with her - then leaves early the next morning for work.
To our dismay, Tina developed 2 more sores yesterday. These are not 'bed sores.' They point to an on-going infection in Tina. One that is clearly not under control. The basic antibiotics that we have been giving orally to Tina do not seem to have worked. A pus culture done on the original sore shows a serious bacterial infection. If it spreads further it could well be the end of Tina span of life on this blue ball. Sheba had asked for a sensitivity test to be done – the good news is that the bacterial shows that it may still respond to most higher level antibiotics.
This morning we started on a high-dose regime, given intravenously. Will Tina be able to pull through?
We just don’t know.
Sheba spent some time with her today. Talked about forgiving others. Talked about the hope that we have in Jesus.
Tina responded. She cried and prayed. Prayed to set herself right with God. To accept His great love for her. And then she prayed for those have hurt her so much over the years. She expressed a deep happiness that she was able to do this.
Here is a woman who has lost everything. Who is at the very edge of her life. But yet has something that so many do not have. A real sense of peace. It’s a peace that has precious little to do with her circumstances. Others would rage and curse, but Tina is working through what may be the end – or maybe another beginning – with something nothing short of remarkable.
It is humbling to serve folks like Tina.
Looking back on the 11 years that we have now been at this – I can say again how grateful I am for each person who has worked alongside us at JSK.
Our partings have not always been the most cordial. But each single person has touched so many of the quiet unknowns like Tina. The current batch who are part of the JSK team are so precious, so vital to see the small steps forward in love like we see happening in Tina’s life.
Agnes, Anil, Annie, Carmella, Chinnamma, Daniel, Dipali, Dipika, Giri, Kamal, Marise, Peter, Sandhya, Sangeeta, Santosh, Sheba, Sunita and Vikas are all such a blessing. Their ongoing love in action has made many who are poor to be rich in love.