Surrounded by Human Sufferings
Krubo who came here with three of her children, lost her second child early this morning, little Fatu who was wandering around two days ago trailing blood on the wet floor from an IV site. She looked peaceful in death as though she was sleeping very soundly unlike Theresa, the child of mother Fatu, who looked like what an ICU patient would look in US after being on the ventilator and multiple invasive lines for several days, face bloated. Now Krubo who looked really depressed had 5-year-old Peter left. This little boy had stopped talking since day one.
Tall and well-built Alfred K. had been restless yesterday and walked up and down the hallway with some trouble breathing. As I was exiting the ETU to doff, he asked me for water. I got him a one and half liter bottle and he sat outside drinking it. He had the hiccoughs the night before. The last time I helped a patient who asked for water to sit up in the middle of the night to drink half a liter of water was Peter who died a few hours later. Early this morning the night shift reported that Alfred K. got out of bed to walk out of the room, fell and died rather suddenly. The ER physician on did an ultrasound and did not think he had a pulmonary embolism. Ebola took the life a strapping young man with just a snap of its fingers.
Watta, by my exam was 22 weeks pregnant, had started to bleed early this morning with intermittent contractions and the fundus had descended below the umbilicus. Using the recently acquired ultrasound machine I was able to detect fetal heart rate of 130 beats per minute. As of late afternoon when I took in two physician trainees into the ETU, the fetal heart was still beating. The ETU continues to be the training ground for many to be deployed healthcare personnel and the physicians were assigned to me for the last four days.
Saad who was leaving the ETU had told one of the workers that he wanted to take me as his wife. The worker then teased him that he would have to carry me all the way to Lofa County where he came from originally. He replied he would. I happened to just come out of doffing and bade him farewell. His brother J Godpower is still fighting for his life.
The man who jumped out of the ambulance was found by the authority carrying a machete and brought to the ETU this morning. He was frightened by the space-suited people when he arrived yesterday, decided that this was no place for him. He was tested negative and sent home.
In the afternoon, four generations of a family landed in the Suspected Ward. Five were confirmed to have Ebola; two were negative including a 13-month-old baby and six-year-old girl. The baby was so distressed that she cried the whole time she was in the unit. Comfort, the nurse’s aide will spend the night with them. They are really not out of the woods as they had real exposure to an Ebola-afflicted relative.
Tonight the Confirmed Ward is filled to the gills and a few more mattresses were placed on the floor to accommodate more patients especially those belonging to the same family. In the Suspected Ward there is no suspected patient, instead there is one comatose Ebola-infected woman still breathing but does not seem to be revived by hydration and antibiotics. She was brought in yesterday without a history but my Kenya roommate who is also a midwife examined her and concluded that she is recently post-partum. We see no sense to move her to the Confirmed Ward as there are no other patients in the Suspected Ward.
She is close to the brink of death and we can only watch helplessly waiting for the inevitable.
Last week I clocked in about eighty hours of work almost equal to when I was an intern of a 100-hour work week.
Daily we are surrounded by human sufferings and yet the zeal with which everyone here works tirelessly to fight this scourge is admirable. The meticulous care with which we are helped to don and doff to ensure our safety makes us feel loved and cared for. Each time after I come out of the ETU, invariably someone will come forward to thank me, making me feel that every drop of sweat the I shed is worth its weight in gold.