Friday, 4 September 2015

A hard night

It has been a hard night.

The sun is shining now.  But there is deep sadness in our bones.

While we were having supper last night, Sheba got the call from JSK that Timothy was gasping.  We knew it was near the end.  She went over to be with him in his last moments.

A 16 year old boy.  Weighing just over 17 kgs.  His stopping medications a year and a half ago because he did not want to be identified as having HIV proved fatal.  Our team tried hard.  We cared and prayed and used the available medicines, but his liver was too damaged, his lungs were too scarred, his little body was just too weak to bounce back.   Over the last 4 days Timothy had started shutting down.  Confined to his bed, he was weaker and weaker.  Tired just to talk.  His big head nodding off with fatigue.  Heart-breaking.

Timothy slipped into eternity at around 10 PM - surrounded by his mother and many from his local church.  They took his little body to the mortuary soon afterwards.

Then at 2.14 AM the phone rang again.

Our nurse had called about Rani.   Rani had been brought here 4 days ago from Ahmednagar.  Kamal, one of our staff had gone there and came in contact with her family.  Rani's parents had died some years ago. The family had stripped their assets and paid Rs. 4 lakh in medical bills to try and keep her father alive, but to no avail.  Rani was a college going girl of 17.  Her CD4 was disaterously low - but had been attending college just 2 weeks ago before she fell ill.

Rani was delirious when she arrived after the long bus ride from Ahmednager - thrashing around. Her uncle and grandmother had come to care for her, along with Kamal.  We did a lumbar puncture and diagnosed her with cryptoccocal meningitis.  Rani had slipped into unconsiousness.  Her moaning echoed through the corridor.  We started the treatment 2 days ago and hoped that Rani would respond.

The nurse called Sheba to say that Rani's breathing was laboured.  She had been put on oxygen.  I dropped Sheba at the gate of JSK.

Half an hour later, when I came back to pick up Sheba, I went up to the room to pray for Rani.  Her uncle was silent as was her grandmother.  They knew what was likely to happen.  But we hoped against hoped and asked earnestly for help.

At 6 this morning the nurse called again.  Rani had died.

Sheba went over again to sign the death certificate.  Rani's body had been cleaned and she was dressed in a beautiful kurta.  Her eyes were closed and for the first time since she came she looked at peace.   The uncle and grandmother had arranged for an ambulance to take the body at 7 AM.

Two lives lost in one night.   Both tragically young.  I had been looking forward for them to meet when they got a bit better.  But in this life that was not to be.

Our team worked hard.  Very hard to save and heal.  We did not get the healing we were hoping for at this point.  There will come a day when sickness will be no more, where death's sting will be forgotten and the tears will be wiped away.

All of this was hard for us - but it was made all the harder because two young nurses, on whom our current set of medical interventions are being built left without a warning 3 days ago.  We are devastated as they were key to running our centre - and we were left with 1 ANM (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) and 2 nursing assistants on staff.  By God's grace, Yerusha Kautikkar, an excellent trained nurse who has been on maternity leave agreed to come on board immediately to help out.  And so with our doctors working as nurses we have pulled through.

I don't think that having the 2 nurses stay on would have necessarily saved these two young lives. The HIV had had too long a free run in them - and we knew that we were running a desperate salvage operation from the day Timothy was brought in and the time when Rani was wheeled in on a stretcher.   But the agony of caring for so sick with so little has been very hard.

At the end of the day, we are reminded again of our own great weaknesses.  Our own deep inadequacies. The grave nature of this disease that takes away so many, so silently.  And our complete and only dependence on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so today is a new day.  As I finish these words I can hear the first worship song being sung my our staff for the morning devotions.  At 10.30 Dad has his appointment with the oncologist and is likely to start round 5 of his chemotherapy later today.

Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  Psalm 30.5

We step forward in faith.  Our joy may still be stained by tears, but we hold onto hope.  Onwards.

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