Sunday, November 09, 2014

Kwan's messages from Liberia

Ebola is already off the front pages in American newspapers, consistent with the media's fifteen-minutes-of-coverage pattern, but the disease continues in force elsewhere.  Here's an excellent blog with front-line observations by Kwan Kew called Ebola in Liberia. An excerpt:

Seventeen-month-old Jackson, son of Fatu, spiked a fever and was readmitted to Suspected Ward to test for Ebola.  He was initially tested negative but was brought into the Confirmed Ward to be with his mother while waiting for a suitable caretaker.  Then Comfort, a nurse’s aide who recovered from Ebola a few weeks ago, cared for him until last night when he spiked a fever.  We retested him today and unfortunately he is now positive.

Fatu’s three-year-old Theresa, who had one of the highest Ebola titers in the county, died this morning, curled up in bed and her face puffy beyond recognition.  All morning long Fatu lying in the next bed did not realize her child was dead.  Struggling with bloody diarrhea and profound weakness, she barely could take care of herself. 

At the end of our morning round we approached her with the psychosocial nurse to let her know that her daughter had died.  At first there was disbelief in her eyes then despair, she quickly and fleetingly glanced at her daughter in the next bed.  Confirming the truth, she was overtaken with grief, her face dissolved into expressions of pain and deep sorrow, but she shed no tears.  We gently asked whether she wanted to touch her child, she shook her head.  At home news and images of people afflicted by Ebola often moved me to tears so much so that I knew I had to be here.  Seeing Fatu struggling with her loss this morning, for the first time since I came here, tears filled my eyes.  Grateful that no one could see my tears behind my goggles, they just innocuously mingled with my sweats.  As a mother I felt her deepest loss.

Because of the large number of sick patients in the ETU, I stayed again for close to three hours.  When finally my gloves were peeled off, my hands looked macerated as though they had been immersed in water for a long time.  Indeed they were, bathed in my own sweats. 

As if echoing the full moon, the Confirmed Ward was full by the end of the day.


Isam Osman said...

From Facebook:

I am at a loss for words to express how reading that makes me feel. This is the biggest test of mankind's willingness to help each other certainly in my lifetime. I hope we pass the test. So far we have struggled.

Vicky Lindo Kemish said...

From Facebook:

Thank Goodness that life is such that there are people willing to do things that others aren't, and other people wiling to do things that other people aren't, and other people willing to do things that other people aren't…...
Everyone is a hero in some way; whether visible or invisible to others.
My hat's off to this particular hero this morning.