• kwankew

All Hallows Eve: The Crow on the Roof and the Dancing Boys

Abraham, the man we helped into the Suspected Ward yesterday died last night. He did not get a blood sample drawn to test for Ebola as we were too busy trying to get an IV line into him. While sick he was living with a bunch of people and was also in a healthcare facility for a few days, potentially exposing many people if he did in fact have Ebola. So we spent some time this morning trying to obtain some specimens. First we put a needle into his heart hoping to get some blood but instead we withdrew straw-colored fluid, probably from the pericardial sac, then a femoral stick for some blood. However the Medical Director wanted to get a piece of skin which we did finally get with a great deal of effort because there was no appropriate kit and we used big blunt scissors awkwardly sawing a snippet of skin from the neck. As we did this we remembered well that a dead body has one of the most infectious doses of Ebola. My PA sprayed 0.5% chlorine all over Abraham, the specimen containers and our gloves before and after the ordeal. In the afternoon his blood result tested positive but the other specimens had undetectable virus. There will be a lot of contact tracing.


I told Peewe that her first Ebola test was negative, she and her mother who insisted on keeping her company in the Suspected Ward, praised the Lord and said, ”Hallelujah!” and sang. Her second test came back negative later today, 72 hours after her symptoms started. She and her mother started to dance.


Alfred the confused wandering boy died this morning, his mother Watta came for the burial. She has lost two sons. Dorcas with one of the high Ebola titers also died this morning. She fought her infection gallantly and kept herself clean daily despite profuse diarrhea and weakness. I was rooting for her two days ago when she was helped into a sun dress after her bathing and she dragged herself to the front joining the other patients. Sadly she lost her battle.


A crow stood on the roof of the morgue, cawing raucously. When we were young, my mother used to say it was bad luck when a crow settled on the roof of a house, a death would soon follow. We have one death last night and two today.


A Crow on the Roof of the Morgue

Watta, Alfred’s mother who had been calling daily to inquire after her son came to the burial. She did not cry as she viewed his face from a distance, he looked more at peace then when I saw his face this morning at the end of his life’s short journey. The psychosocial nurse led the burial team and grave diggers as they sang,


When we all get to heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus,

We'll sing and shout the victory!


He said a prayer and Alfred’s mother echoed with a resounding “Amen”.


Alfred’s little body was lowered into the grave. Watta departed quietly.


Alfred's Mother at the Burial

Solomon and Joe have been performing a dance they created for anyone who would watch them. They turned up the radio and danced. And yes they did perform when the navy lab man came personally to deliver the news of their negative Ebola test this afternoon. They said together,” I am free of Ebola!” I shall miss them when they leave tomorrow. Tonight will be their last night to enjoy the movies at the ETU.


The Dancing Boys

The melancholic Sekou smiled quietly when he was given his negative test, he was the man who told me that he was strong and would beat Ebola. Indeed he did!

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