I have created this blog for anyone that wants regular updates about my time here in Malawi. I am currently volunteering my time to the Ministry of Hope Crisis Nursery and Orphan Feeding Centers.  I am a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse helping to care for the orphaned, abandoned and ill babies of Malawi.  I will try to post updates as often as I can. I thank you all for your support and prayers. Please send them to the babies, children, and people of Africa too. I hope in the pictures you are able to get a small idea of what life is like here for me, but mainly the people of Malawi.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My little peanut.

What happened you might ask? Well...my night with Chisomo was one of little sleep, as I had expected. He began to become weaker as the morning drew closer and it was difficult for me to get him to eat appropriate volumes. His temperature was the other issue. As soon as I would take him away from my body to change him or feed him his temperature would plummet, no matter how many blankets I had wrapped around him. So I fed him at 6 am and tried to get him warmed back up. He was inside my tank top and sleeping for a while. He let out a little peep, I repositioned him and he was fine. A few minutes later I looked down to check on him and I had a blue baby pressed to my body. I pulled him out immediately and began to vigorously stimulate him. No response. So, I started CPR. This was my first experience not with CPR, but mouth to mouth on a baby in a very uncontrolled environment. I felt his little lungs open and continued to give him breaths and chest compressions. The cook where I am staying was already at the house so I yelled and instructed him to call the Clinical Officer of the Crisis Nursery and tell her to come immediately as this baby needed to go to the hospital. Well, in true Africa fashion, no one was in a hurry and no one knows what CPR means. The Clinical Officer came about 15 minutes later and I had already phoned the driver to take us to the hospital. In the meantime, we went to the nursery and gave the baby Gentamicin (antibiotic) to treat any possible infection. The Clinical Officer lightheartedly kept laughing and telling me that the baby is now fine, see they do this. I was thinking, you didn't see what I saw. He was essentially already in heaven. It is a good thing babies are so resilient. He had started to perk up a little. So, she decided that the baby would just continue to stay with me, I would take care of him and we would treat him at the nursery because he would be better off here rather than at the hospital. So she takes off with the driver to go get more antibiotics and leaves me at the nursery with the baby that continues to stop breathing every 2 minutes that I have to keep skin to skin or else he becomes hypothermic. At this point I am thinking, how in the world am I going to do this all day. I have no way of knowing the second the baby decides to stop breathing. It is all reliant upon me constantly checking him. The other part that becomes extremely difficult is that the knowledge I have of knowing what can be done for a baby like this, and then not having the resources to help the child is more frustrating than you can imagine. By our standards back home, this baby wouldn't even be that sick. They just die here. Everyone continues to go about their business. It is not that they don't care, their regard for life is just different. Death is such a part of their daily life they accept when such things happen they happen. This culture continues to accept sub-standard efforts and views, that it only keeps digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself. I can't even begin to explain all the ins and outs of the views here, because I am just coming to understand a small part of it.

So, back to Chisomo. When a British woman I know arrived at the nursery, I filled her in on what had just happened. I told her the baby needed to be seen at a hospital asap. She asked me if I needed her to take me and I said please. So, off we went to the American clinic at the African Bible College campus. She knew some docs there. We arrived and immediately pulled a Dr. out of an exam room and the baby was now getting admitted. So to cut out some of the details, there is no pediatrician here, but I didn't care. They were American and could relate. So, basically the Dr. looked at me and said you know what to do, get to work. So, I did. I started an IV, gave him dosing on antibiotics, told him appropriate IV fluids, and calculated the rate. They supplied the oxygen and the heat to warm the baby. The doc was grateful and then began to persuade me to stay or come back and help him run the pediatric clinic being built. I am beginning to see the needs are so widespread. I could run ragged everyday, but the answer does not lie with the white man, it is actually part of the problem. These people need to be empowered to change things for themselves, but instead just look to the westerners to do it. When the white man leaves, it all falls apart again. Not to say they are incapable, it is just the way that it is. They have learned helplessness.

If you look outside of what is right in front of you it becomes very disheartening. I almost have to have this narrow focus of taking care of what is right in front of me and not worrying about the rest. It may sound careless, but it will consume you to be any other way.

So, today I went back to check on Chisomo and he is doing much better. I gave the nurses there instructions on how to perform CPR and they gave me instructions on how to calculate a drip rate on IV fluids. I hadn't had to do that since nursing school, as in the US we have IV fluid pumps that we program in precise amounts of fluids to be delivered. I was very resourceful with my supplies too. I made a little arm board for his IV with a tongue depressor and made due with every thing else any way that I could. It has been an extremely long 24 hours and I am exhausted. Keep us all in your prayers. Thank you for all of the kind, encouraging words you are sending our way. Chisomo has given me a story to tell, and his life that I can rest assured say... I saved.

Keep him in your prayers and I will continue to post updates on his status. For those of you that I have worked with me in the NICU, yes that is a "Bree bed". I couldn't resist, I had to snuggle him in.

Life is Precious.

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4 comments:

Kathryn said...

Hey Bree,
I was really moved by your story of Chisomo. I can only imagine how scared and helpless you must have felt. I have been in those scary situations many times but in a hospital with all the equipement, meds and other people to help right there. It just shows what an amazing nurse and a wonderful person you are. I am so proud of you for saving his life. Take care and keep up the wonderful work!! PS.. Chisomo's bed looks super comfy. Kathryn

Laura said...

Bree, I am so amazed at what you are doing. Your posts are so inspiring. I am so proud of you! Keep on making a difference girl! Oh and by the way ... I'm so glad Africa can experience your NICU bed making skills :-) Love ya! Laura

Krystal said...

Bree,
I am so proud of you and the work you are doing! I would have expected nothing less than a "Bree bed"! We are praying for you!
love,
Krystal (& Will)

Krystal said...

Bree,
I would have expected nothing less than a "Bree Bed"! I am so proud of you and the work you are doing. You are in our prayers!
love,
Krystal (& Will)