Saturday, August 28, 2010

Charcoal and Goat Hair

A woman walked up to the clinic holding a lethargic boy in her arms. She didn’t hurry. She didn’t scream. In fact, she barely even asked to be seen. Saturdays are reserved for emergencies, so I went to assess her. The translators standing by explained that the child had been sick and in town for the last three days.

One of them asked her as to why she was just now coming. I saw no hope in her eyes. That worried me.

He was feverish, lethargic and severely pale. I called for Dennis as I have no experience getting IV lines in 8 month olds, and started on a paracheck (test for malaria). I was pretty certain it was malaria. It was.

When the translator asked her how long he had been sick, she explained that she had come from a far village. She had been in Tonj three days but... was being treated by the witch doctor.

The witch doctor diagnosed him with heart problems and even withdrew ‘charcoal and goat hair’ from it. But it didn’t help.

So, as a last resort and even as a bit of an after thought, she brought him to us. When we got him the quinine he needed, he immediately started getting better. We kept him overnight... but he was able to go home the following day.

Doctors one! Witch doctor zero!