The Grim Routine
Two more patients died overnight. Annie, 52, roomed with her 22 year-old daughter passed away. She only manifested weakness besides vomiting. Her daughter Nuwah is understandably depressed. Kumba, a 40-year-old traditional mid-wife, robust and heavy, was significantly weakened by her infection and bloody diarrhea. Annie was buried this afternoon.
For us in the swing shift, our rounding time was in the peak of the heat of the afternoon at two o’clock. Sweats trickled down my body and face as I was donning. We plodded through each of the ward, assessing the need for fluids. Patients with diarrhea are invariably treated for other potential causes of diarrhea other than Ebola. Everyone is also treated for malaria.
Winner continues with high fever, whereas yesterday she was sitting up in a chair being fed by her uncle while holding a Barbie doll in her left hand, today she has puffy eyes and is sprawling in her bed and has a high fever for the last 5 days. She is also bleeding from her IV site. Bendu has been helping her uncle to care for her. She seems to be taken by Winner.
Young Solomon is recovering well, however his cousin, 6-year-old Christine, is reservedly quiet, refusing her fufu and fluids altogether. I asked her whether she missed her mommy, she nodded. It would be great if communication department could devise a way to show her a picture of her mother on an iPad to cheer her on and perhaps that would boost her will to live.
Zonnah is weakened with bloody diarrhea, he teeters on the edge and looks like the other patients who eventually succumbed to Ebola. Nancy has so much diarrhea that she has been given tons of IV fluid, however we could not guess what sort of electrolyte imbalances she may be having.
Sweats literally dripped through my N-95 respirator and inside my gown. We were hoping to make rounds short but IV bags and medications had to be all emptied and disconnected before we could leave. We were in the bubble of humidity for close to an hour and forty minutes. When I finally doffed, my scrub pants were soaked as though someone had doused me with water and sweats pooled in the bottom of my boots.
The hygienic crew picked up trash to be burned in the incinerator. The acrid smell filled the evening air. The ambulance brought in three more patients, one of them was the mother of Morris who just died and another was a pregnant woman in her first trimester with some vaginal bleeding.
The patients settled in their graveled pad for the evening while communication rigged up a screen and showed them “The Lion King”. For a brief moment they could try to be in the hakuna matata mood in their grim struggle with a deadly virus.