Saturday, March 29, 2008


My morning started with a phone call in my room at 7;08 AM. "Meggee..we need you in D ward."
Apparently my alarm clock had not gone off. A nauseated feeling ran through my body. Fortunately, my commute is all of 30 feet and I made it to report by 7:13. While sitting in our circle of nurses still 3/4 asleep, I heard a screaming child from behind the curtain that veiled the patients in the ward.

"That's Phillip. He hasn't been able to eat all night." His screams were understandable.

In report I was told Phillip had an eye tumor that was going to be removed that morning. When I went to assess him and check his paper work I did notice the typical bulge I expected. His eye seemed fine.

But when the lights were on I noticed his left eye had a slight roll. When you looked directly into it a clear yellow flashed in place of his pupil. Something was wrong.
The next day, Phillip was my patient again. It was Thursday. His surgery had been postponed until Friday. We would just get to hang out. When I went to his bedside his mother tugged my arm.
"Are they going to take Phillips eye out?" she asked.

I told her I didn't know, but I would make sure the surgeons clearly explained what they would be doing tomorrow when they made their morning rounds. She seemed content with my answer.

The surgeons came around and explained to the mother that Phillips eye would be removed. She took it well, the tumor would have to be removed, but no mother wants to see their 2 year old lose an eye. Later in the morning, she tugged my arm again.

"What causes tumors?" she asked.

Her intonation and body language indicated a guilty conscience. Not to surprising. Many people here think sickness is a direct result of a curse or something someone has done. A sad belief system.

I explained to her that tumors can be caused by many things and that many people from my home have tumors. Sometimes we don't know what causes them.

"It's not caused by anything you have done," I said.

"It's not because I had my pleasure when I was pregnant? I am told that causes tumors".

"No, nothing you did caused Phillips tumor."

Her conscience seemed relieved at my explanation. How sad to think she would put the guilt of her baby's sickness on herself.
Phillip is from Sierra Leone. He is two years old. I heard of a study that said two year old boys were the most active people on the planet. Phillip provided great evidence for this theory. He didn't stop moving all day.

He laughed. He spun around in the middle of the ward for the sole purpose of making himself dizzy and then laughed hysterically when he fell to the ground like a drunk soldier. He took off his gown and his underwear and ran around the ward naked; hysterically laughing the entire time until his mother snatched him and made him decent again. He followed around our translator who was mopping the floor and tipped over her entire bucket of water, flooding the left side of D ward. The floor got a little extra shine on Thursday. It probably needed it.

Later in the afternoon his mother tugged my arm again.

"Could you take Phillips photo? When he is older, he will want to know why his eye is out," she said. I agreed.

That afternoon we went outside and I took a few photos of Phillip and his mother. Phillip spent most of the time out side kicking around a soccer ball. He looked like a mad wind up toy with an inexhaustible amount of energy. A total two year old boy. A very cute two year old boy.
The next evening I popped my head into D ward an learned that Phillip still had not had surgery. Apparently he did not have tumor but an inflammatory process that would not be resolved by surgical intervention. He was able to keep his eye.

1 comment:

tif said...

that seriously was so exciting for me when i read that he could keep his eye! I am just sooo glad! I love and miss you Meg!