Indeed, Marda, indeed.
I got there at 7 am Saturday. Auntie Linda led me through the halls back to the waiting room. There was a temporary waiting room of some sort in the lobby. This one was more like a semi-permanent waiting room. Think: beds. If you're going to be waiting there long enough to need a bed, that doesn't seem like a good sign to me. (Although, I'm sure many a person in a US ER room would be grateful for one. Still, this place takes waiting to a whole new level.)
It was filled with five or six babies and young children in said beds and/or walking around, plus numerous assorted parents, aunties, and workers whose status was sometimes obvious and sometimes confusing to me...the number of people increased the longer I sat there. Random pen marks decorated the walls, along with oddly proportioned cartoon characters. I saw one that looked like a bleeding duck amoeba ghost. The floor looked like it had never seen a mop or broom. I sat down and stuck my hand on what I think was someone's old gum. I didn't want to investigate. This was probably the dirtiest waiting room I've ever seen, hands down.
Small was lying there in a large crib (or cot, as they say here). Auntie Linda and I exchanged blankets, baby clothes, etc then she turned to the small gaggle of ladies sitting there. "This is my friend. Take care of her. She doesn't know ANYTHING!" This piece of advice was apparently meant to invoke pity on their part. (They were all really sweet, so I guess it worked.)
There was one sweet lady with a red skirt and silver scarf whose son had a heart condition, and another small lady with a sickly looking preschooler that she carried everywhere. In the bed next to Small was a very, VERY FAT four month old baby. I'm pretty sure we could have fit three Smalls inside of Fat Baby. Poor Fat Baby. The doctor (?), who looked like an older version of Megan, came in and tried to either take blood, insert an IV, or do SOMETHING with a needle. It took her about 15 minutes to find a vein and the baby screamed the entire time. (A lady from church took her baby in a month or so ago, and after an hour, they still couldn't get blood.)
The baby in the next cot down was very small, a newborn. He had multiracial parents (a colored mom and a black dad) which is fairly unusual here. (For those of you just starting to read my blog, 'colored' and 'black' are not offensive terms over here.) Dad finally stood up and said, "We've been here 24 hours and you have done NOTHING. My baby needs care."
The nurse completely flipped off on him. "I cannot do anything about it! You can leave and go to a private hospital, but you don't have money or you would have gone there first. Go ahead, try to leave. I'll save you a bed because you're going to come back here. You don't have money, you won't be able to pay, I know you'll be back! I cannot do a single thing about it!" (She was a lot nastier than I can communicate in a blog post.) Mom and Dad meekly backed down and said "We'll wait."
Apparently Small had not been admitted until after 3 A.M., almost 12 hours after he'd gone into the hospital. They took him to another government hospital first, but he was transferred to this one because the first one doesn't have room. It's debatable which is "better."
I think he had been x-rayed sometime in the middle of the night, but nothing more had been done except to stick an IV needle in his foot and an oxygen tube in his nose. The IV needle was glaringly absent of any IV, and remained so for several hours. The oxygen fell out every five minutes until I finally realized I was going to have to ask for medical tape to affix it to his face. He woke up and started to cry - he was finally hungry. Red Skirt Lady helped me find the warm water to mix his bottle. I sat down and was just about to feed him when a nurse (they call them "Sisters," but not thanks to any friendliness on the Sisters' part) walked by. The conversation went something like this:
Sister: You can't feed that baby. You aren't allowed to feed him until the doctor sees him.
Me: But he's hungry. He needs to eat.
Sister: You can't feed him. See, it's here on his chart. "No food by mouth."
Me (noticing that he's glaringly absent of any feeding tubes, or anything that would give him nutrition, and eyeing the couple who has waited 24 hours to see the doctor): But, he is so hungry.
Sister: He needs to see the doctor first.
Me: *calls Marda and explains situation*
Me (to Sister): Marda says that our doctor says he HAS to eat.
Sister: What doctor? The one he saw here?
I called Marda again. She said to wait 5 minutes and see if anyone hooked up the IV (called a drip here), and if not, to feed him regardless.
Finally, a man (male nurse? orderly?) walked by and handed me a bottle. "Here, the doctor says he can eat now." I'm pretty sure no one talked to the doctor and he just had mercy on us. No one has bothered me about feeding him since, although they gave Britt a hard time last night. Shortly thereafter someone finally came and hooked up the drip to his foot.
The waiting room filled up with more people...and we waited...and waited. The moms, at any rate, were pleasant company. I got asked about 500 times, usually by nurses, "WHERE IS THIS CHILD'S MOTHER?" I soon learned not to reply "We don't know" when they looked at me like I'd kidnapped him. Once I held him up next to me and replied, "Don't you think we look alike?" which resulted in a very confused nurse, so I didn't try that line again. Finally around 11:30, the chart-following Sister came in and said "Here, let me hold the baby and you pick up your bags." Her grammar was such that I didn't actually realize we were going somewhere, but I figured it out after she rephrased it a few times.
While she was holding Small, his drip came loose and blood shot EVERYWHERE. Bed, blanket, floor, IV tubing, etc, etc. Blood cleanup procedures here are VERY complicated...not! They consist of throwing a brown paper towel on the floor and rubbing one's foot over it a few times, MAYBE picking up the paper towel, and ignoring the blood covering everything else. I finally had to clean it off all of his tubing, later, with some wet wipes. Thankfully he doesn't have anything infectious. I don't know about the other people in the waiting room - this is the second blood spill I'd seen that morning.
We finally got ourselves together and the Sister, without any warning, promptly took off at a dead run through the halls and corridors, which scared me slightly. She had Small in one hand and several files in the other. I had about three tote bags, two water bottles, some blankets, and Small's disconnected IV bag, and was struggling to keep up. She stopped at a gate off in the distance (think prison gates - they looked just like them) and punched in a security code, dropping her files and papers all over the floor as she did so. "Pick those up!" she yelled over her shoulder as she again started running. Remember, I was carrying about 10 awkward and floppy things at this point. Thankfully someone else standing nearby had mercy on me - they picked them up and handed them to me. I bolted after the Sister, but thankfully we were almost in the ward and there wasn't as much chance of losing her as I'd thought. She hooked Small up to oxygen again - apparently the reason she'd been running, although I was not sure it was THAT urgent. I mean, he needs the oxygen, but he's not to the point where 5 minutes without it is going to kill him...
Now we were in the corner bed in the back of the ward, and we resumed our waiting. Once or twice someone came by and handed me a syringe full of green medicine to give to him - I found out eventually it was fever reducer, and not cough syrup like I'd thought. Wait Wait Wait...that is the name of the game here.
In the bed next to me was a little 11 year old girl who kept falling asleep. Her mom came in later and explained that she had tried to climb their property fence and gotten shocked by the wire at the top, then fallen and hit her head on the pavement. They'd been there 24 hours already without seeing a doctor, and they'd been told "The doctor doesn't come in until Monday. There is no doctor." Which was a lie - I saw one yesterday, and one this morning.
Across the aisle from us were small individual rooms. The one across from Small held the multiracial couple and their baby. It had jaundice, and despite the Sister's tirade, someone had indeed gotten them some level of care and placed the baby in an incubator.
That was about it for the day. Small and I spent the afternoon on a very hard, very backless bench and I held him most of the day. Poor little guy. He was eating better, but still throwing up sometimes. Britt came to relieve me about 4:30.
I came in again this morning. Until he gets better, she's doing nights and I'm doing days (unless she ends up needing to swap.) There was a chair with a back. Still, no doctor. We took some pictures - I brought my camera today.
Poor Britt, she had a long night I think.
Even though he's sick, I can start to see chub, and that makes me happy! He was so tiny when he first came!
All snuggled up. =)
This was his bed. He didn't spend much time in it, can you tell? =)
Finally a doctor came by later in the morning. "They told you he has pneumonia, right?" No. No one had told me, but I wasn't about to belabor that point. "Yes, we have him on antibiotics (so THAT'S what the drip was) and they will probably take 5-7 days to work." She listened to his chest and confirmed that he did, indeed, not sound so great. Not a word was said about feeding him (or not), so I'm not sure what that was about. I am thinking, though, that he is aspirating when he's eating, as he has coughing spells after drinking even a little. Not sure what the solution is to that, and I'm afraid to ask as this hospital is not famous for giving expert medical advice - they told one mom with a dehydrated baby to go home and give him saltwater.
Auntie Jeanne came to visit! I'm glad - I was getting lonely.
So, for now, he's there hooked to oxygen and an IV waiting for the pneumonia to clear up. The little girl with the concussion was feeling much better today, and proceeded to narrate the almost-muted TV shows for me, in between telling me various snippets of her life. (She speaks three languages. Three! And that's not unusual for here. I know an adult who speaks at least nine.) The doctor had her walk up and down the aisle, then pronounced her fit to discharge. She waited hours, and finally an aunt and uncle came to get her.
I think we're bonding. Uh-oh. ;)
Love the shirt. This was right before he vomited all over it. Blech.
What I read today - so much more fun to read this while you're actually holding an orphan. The only thing that would be better would be, well, if he wasn't an orphan anymore.
Incidentally, there was this poster on the wall promoting the disposal of all bottles and pacifiers. Apparently they're "unsanitary" and it's "just as fast" to feed even very small babies from an open cup. The entire hospital had a 50's type air to it, but this little bit didn't fit in with even that stereotype.
Conversation on the way home:
Me: It was nice to talk to all the other moms.
Donovan: You realize what you just said there, right? OTHER moms?
Tomorrow morning I'm driving on the left side of the road for the FIRST time! Thankfully Heather and Donovan have an automatic, as me + stick + first time on the 'wrong' side of the road = death trap. Nonetheless, please pray for me and everyone else on the road at 7 A.M. Many of the roads around here are one-way, which is nice, because it's harder to get stuck in the wrong lane, but difficult, because you have to learn an entirely different way coming and going somewhere...
On a sad note, I have had approximately one person per day tell me that Small should have been aborted. A white person with a black baby leads to a LOT of questions here, and when they found out he was abandoned, the response has been "That is just so sad. If his mother knew about the pregnancy and didn't want him, she should have taken care of it early on." All said in a tone of "what a shame!" I was just so floored. I've never had to experience those comments in person before, holding a precious little life in my hands as someone tells me he should have been murdered. Tiny baby whom I love, made in the image of God, and WANTED by all of us here at MBH...and they say that to my face? I stumbled over my words, said that abortion is wrong and all life is precious and I LOVE him...but my words felt weak. I am so grieved.
Funny for the week:
"HELP! HELP! I'M STUCK IN THE COUCH!!" ~ Megan