Sunday and back to work. This clinic is the only medical provider open on Sunday. There were many sick kids today. I worry because when the cold weather comes they are so vulnerable and the MSF vaccination campaign is still on hold. This little guy in the photo, 4 years old from Iraq, was smiling all the time. He had really tight lungs, wheezing loudly but he kept smiling. Such innocence, obviously well loved and cared for. What is going to happen to him? Will he spend his precious youth displaced? Living in an ISO box or tent in a refugee camp? According to the UNHCR the AVERAGE time a person is displaced is 24 years. How does that affect a child’s development? Will he ever go to a real school? Maybe, maybe not.
I have to say I love doing wound care. I see most of my patients everyday and we have developed a relationship. They smile when they see me. I treat their wounds and bandage them with TLC and often get them onto Karen’s massage table because many of these wounds are devastating to their physical body and will never fully heal.
Karen and I have been treating a young man who stepped on a bomb. He had lost toes on one foot and has severe damage to his other foot. There are notes suggesting amputation but he is walking, using a cane, and we have not given up on some functionality of this foot. I change his dressing everyday and apply Georgia’s magic herbal potion. It has helped the scar tissue and the deep areas not infected but not closed. We were trying to figure out some shoes for him and Karen found a pair of very soft cushiony high top sneakers in the market. We had him try them on, they fit. He got off the table and walked across the room!!!! He stood up straight and his smile lit up the room. We literally cried with joy! Abdul Hadi and Sema remarked he has become a different man. Sema said he has changed, he had come in as an angry man, arguing, verbally combative. His transformations started with Maria the Slovakian nurse who proceeded us. Now he only smiles, is calm and grateful and Karen and I both just adore him.
My patient from Libya with all the gun shot wounds to his abdomen waits everyday to see me. He is quiet and kind and always takes my hand to thank me. He too has wounds that will never totally heal.
Then there is the really cute and funny Somali guy who lost his eye in a bomb blast. He is kinda a cool dude! Young and resilient, seems to have many friends. Everyday I irrigate the eye socket and put a gauze eye patch on. I have looked and had everyone look in the market for an eye patch like a “pirate patch” and cannot find one. SO tonight I am hoping to construct one from fabric. Best would be for him to be fitted with a glass eye but I don’t even know where to start with that in this situation.
Georgia and Leslie had a very sick young man come in, high fever, I think with some diffused chest pain, He had a respiratory rate of 40, racing pulse and low blood oxygen saturation. He was an unaccompanied minor with no family in the camp. I think he was either 13 or 15, alone and very sick. He was sent to the hospital by ambulance and someone from the UNHCR (I think) had to act as his guardian.
We returned home and Zoe and I cooked dinner for our group. Sema, Hadi and Omar came for dinner. It was a relaxing evening and we enjoyed getting to know them better. Omar is so busy literally working day and night to get the new warehouse open for business. Omar said Genevieve is his construction manager and they all just LOVE HER!!!!
Our days here are getting short, I feel like I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and continue caring for these people. Most of us feel this way. Tama is going to stay another month and work in the clinic. She got an apartment in Pamgoudia – really close to the camp.
This work though hard, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, and heart wrenching on a daily basis will be difficult to leave. I will come back to work! . . . Again my privilege to come and go.