• kwankew

The Valley of the Shadow of Death


The Calm Before the Storm

I am on night shift tonight. In the early morning before my night shift, my roommate came back from her shift feeling weighed down by all the deaths in the ETU. She looks forward to her R & R.


The one-day-old baby was tested positive for Ebola. The cord blood was also positive but the placenta was indeterminate.


Orphaned baby Jackson died yesterday, my roommate felt that we were partially to be blamed for this because of the decision to move him to stay with his mother while he was still negative for Ebola for the lack of a caretaker. Neither of us was present at the time but when we returned to our shift we tried to argue for his move out of the Confirmed Ward that was when Comfort came into the picture. But still he could have been incubating since he had been breast-fed. With his death, Ebola wiped out the whole Kerkula family. May his little soul rest in peace.


For the other family that came at the same time as the Kerkulas, Krubo lost two of her three children, she only has Peter left. Watta who lost Alfred actually lost five of her seven children to Ebola and she is now also left with five grandchildren to care for.


Saad lost thirteen members of his family; he is left with his father and a brother. He has been through too much tragedy in his short life.


Joseph came with his son Jeremiah. Joseph struggled mightily but lost. Before he died he requested a shower, he wanted to be clean when he left this world. The 10-year-old Gremelier who fought everyone since he came in was gravely ill with high fever and most likely encephalopathic. No one could put in an IV line because of his combativeness. He started to bleed from his mouth and died last night.


With my roommate recounting all these deaths, all of a sudden we felt truly despondent and that we are fighting a losing battle. Ebola seems to take one person here and there randomly from the ETU.


Early this morning another Kenyan nurse and I went in at three to administer IV fluids. Deafening thunderous rain came pelting on the tinned roof; he and I struggled with our fogged goggles right from the start. Two of the patients were placed in rooms where the light bulbs did not work; we hooked up the IV by feel and peered through a streak of clear plastic in the goggles cleared by our sweats to see if the drips were going. Big boy who came in in the late afternoon was unkempt, groaning and barely conscious. His IV was not running and the lighting was too dim for placing an IV line. It was against protocol to insert an IV at night and with our fogged goggles, we were almost blind. The lamps in the hallway were haloed and my partner was a white spectre, it was as though we were walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.


In the Confirmed Ward, Jeremiah, Joseph’s son has been moved to the last bed where I have witnessed so many deaths; I have begun to associate it with death itself. He has the hiccoughs. He is going downhill very rapidly.


All these deaths have to be balanced with some good news. Eight-year-old Josephine and 21-year-old Otis will go home. The night Otis came in, he was scared and dehydrated. In the midst of giving him IV fluids, he had a seizure. Miraculously he recovered rather quickly and will be going home.


Still, death awaits.



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