Monday, June 04, 2007

Hating the fact - Introducing a hungry, dying child (10 of 10)

10 of 10

You have read about nine of my patients over the last weeks, and seen their faces. For the most part, they have been happy stories, stories of healing. Triumphant stories.

This patient is the tenth, the last one in this series. This is not a story of triumph.

Not yet, anyway.

If you scroll down, you will also see that I have recently posted about an elaborate going away lunch that we had at the Baylor clinic.

I awoke two nights ago thinking about that posting. Why should I post photos of foods that many Swazi's only eat at weddings? After all, I live in a country of subsistence farmers. Cows are prized possessions. They are investments. They are not supper. They are to sell to those that can afford to have meat for supper. The beef eaters' money is used for pap, perhaps beans or peanuts.

Very little disturbs my sleep these days, but that posting did.

Well, the patient pictured here does not eat meat. She gets pap sometimes, but access to food in the house is limited. There are occasionally peanuts and beans. There is no milk.

She was even admitted to the hospital for a month and gained little weight while there due to milk and staffing shortages on the inpatient ward.

She is nine years old. She weighs ~15kg.

She cannot stand without help.

She cannot walk with help.

Her mother carried her into the exam room, and she carried her out.

She became too thin and weak to walk in December, 2006.

She started ARVs last month.

She is in a dire, critical condition.

I worry that it is too late.

I hate the fact that it might be too late.

(I plan to tell her story in more detail soon, and she has a scheduled appointment this Thursday.)



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