Death of a Child
Seventeen-month-old Jackson, son of Fatu, spiked a fever and was readmitted to Suspected Ward to test for Ebola. He was initially tested negative but was brought into the Confirmed Ward to be with his mother while waiting for a suitable caretaker. Then Comfort, a nurse’s aide who recovered from Ebola a few weeks ago, cared for him until last night when he spiked a fever. We retested him today and unfortunately he is now positive.
Fatu’s three-year-old Theresa who had one of the highest Ebola titers in the county died this morning, curled up in bed and her face puffy beyond recognition. All morning long Fatu lying in the next bed did not realize her child was dead. Struggling with bloody diarrhea and profound weakness, she barely could take care of herself.
At the end of our morning round we approached her with the psychosocial nurse to let her know that her daughter had died. At first there was disbelief in her eyes then despair, she quickly and fleetingly glanced at her daughter in the next bed. Confirming the truth, she was overtaken with grief, her face dissolved into expressions of pain and deep sorrow but she shed no tears. We gently asked whether she wanted to touch her child, she shook her head. At home news and images of people afflicted by Ebola often moved me to tears so much so that I knew I had to be here. Seeing Fatu struggling with her loss this morning, for the first time since I came here, tears filled my eyes. Grateful that no one could see my tears behind my goggles, they just innocuously mingled with my sweats. As a mother I felt her deepest loss.
In her weakened state, she walked with heavy steps down the hall to move to another room with the psychosocial nurse helping her.
Baby Moses’ mother, Krubo, still has her two children, Peter and young Fatu after losing Moses a few days ago. All three are weak, febrile and require IV hydration. Fatu was bleeding this morning from her IV site in her foot, trailing blood on the wet chlorinated floor as she walked. The profound sadness is palpable in these two families. Like a cat, the Ebola virus toys with them after it has captured its preys, until they are too exhausted to fight back and lay limply surrendering to the final onslaught.
Because of the large number of sick patients in the ETU, I stayed again for close to three hours. When finally my gloves were peeled off, my hands looked macerated as though they had been immersed in water for a long time. Indeed they were, bathed in my own sweats.
As if echoing the full moon, the Confirmed Ward was full by the end of the day.