Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The past 72 hours have been a blur. I actually think writing my thoughts down might help for me to take it all in. My arrival to Nepal was as good as could be. My chairwoman Treacy and I were able to travel together and spend sometime with our architect in Kathmandu before reaching home to Surkhet. When you run a project, leaving and spending time away is always kind of a test. Can this place really run just as well without me? Coming back I was impressed more than ever with all the incredible work being done by the administrators, fellows and the entire team! They had tons to show us and had chipped away at so much: the new campus, our health programs, the school, and the women’s center. Everything was as good as a girl could wish for. Monday was a crazy busy day just like any other here. I had a checklist of things to do and was slowly working my way through them. By lunchtime I was happily chatting away with all the volunteers when Kelly came to tell me there was an orphan case for me to look at. We called a woman with four little children into the office but before I could speak my eye caught sight of a baby wrapped in a rag. My first thought was that the kid was born that day. The woman carrying him told me his mother died in childbirth.
I went over and took the baby but his body was entirely limp and is eyes were rolling back into his head. I have seen death so many times and a nervous shake started to take over my body. I asked when he was born and the woman told me he was actually somewhere between 2-3 months old. I said something to Kelly, took the baby and ran him to the clinic. Jhagat our clinic technician was right there. He immediately made him a dose of oral rehydration fluids while I assessed the situation.
When I looked at the baby I felt scared. I knew that he was on the line of life and death. His belly was swollen and distended and he was drifting in and out of consciousness. Jhagat started putting electrolyte water in the baby’s mouth with a dropper and just a few seconds later he squirted out watery diarrhea. At the same time he vomited. His body was rejecting the fluid we were giving him.
Panic set in. I grabbed the baby and ran to the house but tears started streaming down my face and I felt like I couldn’t hold it together. His body felt so limp I got scared. I started to feel like maybe he was already dead and then I got even more scared. I was late for a meeting in the women’s center and my first thought was to get Top so he could pull the car out and get us to the hospital. I saw Treacy on the stairs, totally lost it and handed her the baby. I ran to get my bag but Kelly was already holding it, waiting for me at the bottom of the steps. We all jumped in the car Jhagat came running to meet us carrying the water dropper and electrolytes while I tried to calm myself from the panic.
In the car when the baby took the electrolytes he started to perk up. His eyes opened and started to feel like he had a chance. We rushed over to the emergency room with the baby. My friend Abbey just so happened to have a baby and I remembered her telling me about “skin to skin.” Treacy held the baby, lifted up her shirt, and held the baby to her stomach and chest while we waited for a doctor. Ten minutes later the news came. No doctor in the ER. The ER team sent us to the Operating Theatre to see if we could get a doctor. We got to the OT only for the OT team to send us back to the ER. We waited back in this hospital room filled with lots of really sick people. The baby was leaking out diarrhea and he was suffering from dehydration. His belly was swollen like a balloon and really hard.
When we realized we would probably be waiting a long time for a doctor, Jhagat made a genius move. “We have to get out of here. There’s not a doctor in site.” He had already instructed Top to turn the car around. Before we knew it, we were back in the car headed for a clinic in town. Jhagat had called his friend who was an ER triage specialist he had studied with in school and explained the situation. When we arrived at the clinic he was outside waiting for us, took the baby, took him to the OT and what felt like minutes later began looking for the vein in his foot. It is incredibly hard to find a vein that’s not collapsed and not to puncture it in a 5-pound baby. Somehow, literally on his third try and within 2 minutes he had the IV in and we could all breathe a little. We spent the next 5 hours or so in a hot, crowded hospital injecting the baby, poking him with needles, and feeding him with our little dropper. It was amazing how quickly his teensy body started responding to the medicine. He kept having big loads of diarrhea but he was slowly becoming more and more responsive and his little baby reflexes started kicking in.
The doctor came, checked his vitals and asked for a stool, urine, and blood sample along with an x-ray. A couple hours later the report came back that he had a bacterial infection and ruled out viral diarrhea. He also had a respiratory infection in his lungs. The diagnosis at the lab isn’t too specific so we didn’t know if it was dysentery or cholera or just a bacterial infection. We did decide that he was contagious and that we needed to be extremely careful about bringing him back our home so we didn’t expose the other kids and we needed to be vigilant with our hand washing. The hospital was dirty and crowded and hot. The air felt hard to breathe and all they could really do was keep him on an IV so after consulting with the doctor, we decided to bring him home and set up the IV in my bedroom for the rest of the night.
It’s amazing to me how fast my endorphins and adrenaline kicked in with all this. To think I was just training for a triathlon, riding my bike through my beautiful town and complaining about the hills.
Our newest bud has made a lot of progress in the past two days. We will continue to keep watch over him and keep you posted.
I appreciate the outpouring of support we've received to assist with his care, our supporters never cease to amaze me.