Confusion Reigned in the ETU
Early this morning Alfred, who is the sickest kid in the ward, managed to wander into the low-risk zone where we normally congregate, disoriented and confused. He was barefoot and walked on the graveled compound like a zombie. Everyone stayed as far away from him while a nurse went quickly to don on PPE. He was so weak that he slowly slumped to the ground first on all fours and then after many more minutes, he could not sustain this stance any longer and in slow motion he slid down and lay on the ground on his side. It was such a heartbreaking scene. He was finally brought back to his room. All the while a psychosocial nurse led a devotional in front of a group of patients, most of whom looked tired and worn out.
We tried to recruit the two older men in the ward to stop him from wandering but they were not interested. The two recovering boys were asked as well but they are just boys who love to fool around rather than babysit. In fact they have been going to the storage room and putting on surgical gloves and using chlorine spray to clean after George after he threw up his ORS. These boys will have their Ebola test repeated tomorrow as they have been without symptoms for three days.
Bendu with her wide happy smile went home two days ago, came back now to work in the Confirmed Ward to care for Satta the three-year-old girl who is refusing to eat or drink but she is receiving IV fluids.
For many days now I have been unable to end on a happy note. The ambulance brought in two people. We took care of the sicker of the two, a 30-year-old man who has been sick for 8 days with symptoms of Ebola. He was so confused that we literally had to pull him down from the mattress in the ambulance to the stretcher. Thin and gaunt with haunted, sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, he was so dehydrated and it took multiple attempts before a very small IV line was placed, and we managed to squeeze in 500 ml of fluid and then rigged up a makeshift restraint. With his temporal wasting, he must have a chronic illness before Ebola infection.
The night crew will continue his hydration but I fear he will not make it through the night.
A twelve hour shift has always been lengthened to more like a fifteen-hour one. I am exhausted by the end of the day, more so with the burden of sicker patients of late.
We left so late even the patients had finished watching their nightly movie. I was glad to leave the noise in the ETU for my temporary abode where the silence of the night was only broken by the incessant creaking of the crickets, singing a melodic cadence with the greatest enthusiasm.