I thought I'd blog about my day for a change. I feel like I have enough good news to share that it will be worth posting.. even though I'm a little bit sleepy.
I generally really like Saturdays. The rest of the week is wonderful too, but on Saturdays, because fewer people from outside the gates come seeking help there seems to be more time to focus on our little ones here. Saturdays always feel significantly different (in a good way). :)
I started off the day with a full night of sleep which is rare in light of the 5 new admits we have staying in the volunteer house and apartment. We try to rotate the babies to allow people to rest when they really need to. For the past 2 weeks I've been responsible for a one month old baby girl. She was born 2 months prematurely and was less then 5 lbs when she arrived at COTP. She's chunky now and weighs over 7 lbs. She sleeps in my room and I feed her throughout the night and day. I love her ALOT and I always miss her when its my turn to rest or take care of a different baby. The night before last 2 other little boys needed some extra attention. One baby needed NG tube feedings and another little one needed oxygen and monitering. So I had TWO roommates. Praise the Lord both babies are doing well.
Today the first little boy pulled out his NG tube. Apparently, he'd had enough! He arrived a little over a week ago with the classic signs of protein-energy-malnutrition plus a terrible case of scabies. Unfortunately, because he'd forgotten how to suck and would gag every time something was placed in his mouth, we had to insert a nasogastric tube for his feedings. I've learned a lot about PEM the last few days as I've researched how to take care of this baby. Who knew that iron shouldn't be administered until two weeks after a malnourished child is without infection and gaining weight? The fluid balance involved in Kwashiorker malnutrition is also quite challenging! He'd been progressing too slowly for my liking, but today things really turned around. Without the tube, we decided to feed him his formula via a medicine cup. Even though at each feeding he cries through the whole process, it works. The best part of today was seeing him smile and really laugh! The edema has resolved and he is finally starting to look and act more like a four month old should. I'm so grateful for Silvia, a volunteer who's taken excellent care of him this past week. She's also a nurse and is so so helpful.
I've also learned quite a bit about faith and healing while being here in Haiti and working in this setting. I know that ultimately God holds the lives of these children in his hands (I hope that doesn't sound to corny). I trust that He loves them, provides for them, and protects them. Over and over again I find myself recognizing a problem, praying for wisdom, deciding on a treatment, praying for protection for the child in case I chose the wrong course of action, hoping I chose the right course of action, and praying for healing. And after that I never worry, or at least I rarely worry, because I know that they have a Father who is stronger than all. Without a doubt I know that God is REALLY taking care of these kids. I don't know how else to explain why last month a baby had an oxygen saturation of 39% followed by a 2 hour seizure and didn't die or have any residual damage.
The night before last, we had the two boys I discussed above in a room downstairs. I was leaning over a playpen and adjusting the oxygen for the one (one year old) while another volunteer, Lydia, was holding the other infant. She was rocking him back and forth and singing him a Sunday school song based on the story in the Bible where Jesus tells Lazarus to get up and walk. She laughed and said, "whenever I want to sing a song about healing, I have to sing this song because they're just aren't many songs about healing." I searched my brain for another option but Lydia was right.
This isn't the first time where I've been with a child who isn't feeling well, have done everything in my power to help them, and have arrived at the point where the only thing left to do is pray for them and sing to them. So, if you do know some songs about healing please send them my way. Maybe there aren't enough written songs about healing because we as humans prefer a more independent route. We do everything in our power to heal/help ourselves and when that's not working we just start over and try everything once more. I've discovered that I'm not strong enough or smart enough to go through this life independently. Thankfully, God's in the business of healing.
Later today we did have one visitor. A woman from a neighborhing village came in with a little 3 year old girl. I didn't recognize her right away but then I recognized the little girl's black shoes and skinny legs. Then I saw her face! I practically ran through the hallway in the baby house to greet our guest at the gate. I had seen this little girl once before, a week ago. At that time she presented with a severely swollen face, milky white discharge in her eyes, a eczema like rash on her face, neck, upper back, and scalp, infected lesions on her scalp, and a papular rash in her perineal area. She was a mess. I was a little overwhelmed when I saw first saw her. The caregiver told me that she had suffered for over a year with this problem and had previously received medication that had not helped. Together Silvia and I decided to send her off with some chewable vitamins, an oral antahistamine, an antibiotic suitable for skin structure infections, and a lotion designed to treat eczema. Today, one week later all of her skin issues had been resolved. She was smooth as a peach and I wanted to kiss her! The caregiver, perhaps an aunt, was glowing. Sylvia and I were ecstatic. "Mwen kontan!" I exclaimed. "Ou kontan?" I am happy! Are you happy? "Wi," she answered. She made a point to tell us that everyone in her household was very happy. She had brought the little girl to show us the extent of her happiness.
It was really rewarding.
Today was also weigh day. Every Saturday I weigh a handful of kids that are relatively new or are struggling to gain weight. Once a month I weigh everyone! Today was a big weigh day (all 24 kids). It's always fun to watch the kids grow. It's especially exciting to monitor weight gain in new babies and in kids who are overcoming malnutrition. We have a set of twins, just 2 weeks old. Weight gain has turned into a competition for these two, with one baby just a few ounces heavier than the other. All of the volunteers are cheering for the underdog. There's another little boy that arrived at COTP last week. He was just 14 lbs and almost 3 years of age. But he's doing extremely well. Two days ago he took four steps and today, he weighs 16 lbs 8 oz. Ironically he weighs just as much as our biggest 9 month old.. but that's another story..
Thanks for reading.
Please pray for the health of everyone working at COTP. Currently, 5 people are pretty sick.