Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lessons Learned.

(Guest Writer: Jessica Leong (volunteer/Nurse)

I got frustrated today.  Angry even.

It all started because of the slow day.  It’s rainy and since everybody walks everywhere, we always expect rainy days to bring fewer patients.  It was mid-afternoon and I was all caught up on wound care and immunizations and was looking to help wherever needed.  I walked into Dennis’ room where he and Margaret were trying to get an IV in a small girl who lied lethargically in her mother’s arms.  She could not even hold up her own head.  I asked what was going on and they said something about possible alcohol poisoning and aspiration. She obviously needed an IV, but they had tried several times without any luck. 

Something that I’ve realized here is that they always start IV’s in veins that are visual whereas I’m used to using my index finger to feel for and find veins.  I figured I’d give it a try.  We were desperate and after one failed attempt, additional family members came in.  They seemed upset and we found out through our translator that they wanted to take her.  They obviously didn’t trust us because of the multiple times we had already tried for an IV.  They then said they were going to take her to a “magician.”  Translation: witchdoctor.  Dut, our security guard, was supportive of them for some reason.  I didn’t understand.  How could this guy who works for a Christian organization be telling these guys to leave to go to the witchdoctor?  Not okay.  Ever.

I hadn’t given up on the search for a vein, but Dennis told me to stop.  They needed to leave.  He quickly prescribed her some medication that he thought might help and let them leave.  I was heartbroken.  These people just walked out of a Bible-believing compound to go to a demonic, worldly witchdoctor. 

I sat outside, thinking about what had just happened.  I let somebody go.  She could die.  I should have done something more about it.  I was so angry with Dut for letting them leave and even supporting their decision.  I went to my room and cried harder than I’ve cried in a long time. 

Once I could think rationally again, I realized that I needed to get the facts straight.  I couldn’t assume that I understood everything that went on.  I went back to the clinic and spoke with Dennis in private and he explained what had happened that I had not picked up on.

When Dennis saw that the situation could easily get out of control, he called Dut to speak with the family members.  It was then that Dut noticed that this man was carrying a sword.  Most of the family was drunk (as was the child) and one thing about the Dinka is that they always get violent when drunk.  Dut didn’t want to put any of us in harm’s way.  That’s when he promptly came into the room with all of us trying for the IV and the crowd of people followed him.  The father in his anger told Dut that if the child died in the room he would retaliate, meaning kill one of us.  Dennis picked up on the facial expressions that Dut was making and told us all to stop trying for an IV and let the family leave. 

Boy, was I glad I got clarification on the situation!  Dut was protecting us by sending the people away and Dennis was keeping the girl from the witchdoctor by giving them some simple meds that might or might not help.  Maybe they would stay home to see if the medications would work, allowing the girl to sleep off some of the intoxication. 

Today’s lessons: 
Don’t fight the decisions of the people who have been here longer.  They know what they are doing.
Don’t freak out when things don’t go my way.  God can still protect that girl from the harm that her family may bring on her.