Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Yesterday I volunteered to sit in B ward while the patients and other nurses went to ward church. While I enjoy the service, sometimes the over stimulation makes me very tired.
And I already drink too much coffee.

Midway through the 1 1/2 church service, Edwin's mom wandered into B ward. She said she didn't feel good. I was sitting on an empty bed filling out paper work. Often the patients and caregivers don't understand that if the nurse is in the middle of doing something (writing in a chart, pushing an IV medication...) proper manners would suggest waiting until the person is finished the task. When this happens I generally try and politely explain that I am in the middle of doing something but will help them as soon as I am finished.

Edwins mom interrupted my paper work once. I politely said I needed to finish what I was doing and could talk when I was finished. I tried to write again. She interrupted a second time. I gave my explanation again. She remained unfazed and interrupted a third time. I finally just gave up on my paper work and we started to chat.

I began to ask her a few questions about how she got here. She gave me some answers and some tears along the way.

In February, Edwin was hit in the back with a soccer ball, causing a small sore to form on his shoulder. The sore developed into necrotizing fascitis a.k.a. a massive infection. His entire body became swollen from the waist up. Huge blisters of puss formed throughout his back. Edwin was very sick. He was not laughing or smiling. His life was in danger.

Someone told his mother to take him to JFK, one of the few working hospitals in Liberia. When his mother brought Edwin,

"The doctor charged 100 LD (Liberian dollars) just for him to be seen."

Edwin needed to be admitted to the hospital, but she had no money to have him treated. She manged to take Edwin to a free pediatric hospital in Monrovia. When he arrived, Edwin was admitted to the ICU. He was given IV fluids, antibiotics, and blood. The blood cost Edwin's mother 1500 LD (a HUGE amount of money) and she needed to replace it after it was transfused.
She told me that a Mercy Ships surgeon came to the hospital and removed the necrotic tissue from Edwins back. He then stayed in the hospital until he came to the ship about a week ago.

Edwin came to have a skin graph. The day he came to the ship his older sister had a baby; and the baby died. His mother could not go to comfort her daughter or help bury the baby because she needed to stay with Edwin.

I'll never forget the first time I saw Edwin's pre-op photo; his entire back was a streak of exposed red flesh. All the skin was gone, from his shoulders to his butt. I can't beleive he survived that large of an infection.

When the surgeon grafted the skin, his back was slightly wet- not a good sign. It was likely that he had some infection on the site, which can cause a graph to fail. The surgery could be a bit of a long shot- but it was Edwin's only shot.

On Saturday, when the dressing was changed, it was beginning to fail. A culture revealed that a antibiotic resistant organism, which presumably had been there before surgery, was growing. Which is not very good news. If the graph fails, Edwin will most likely die. His skin is not going to grow back on it's own; there is no where else for him to receive treatment; and it's only a matter of time when you sleep on a dirt floor that your skinless back will become massively infected. And his "sore" is painful.

Edwin's mom realizes how serious Edwin's situation is. At several points in our conversation she buried her head into my shoulder and just cried. Her biggest fear was that

"the skin on Edwin's sore would not take."

And she was tired of seeing Edwin suffer.

"If God will carry Edwin, let Him carry Edwin. But I do not want to watch him suffer."

Edwin is a sweet, sweet boy. He eats up affection and gives kisses to all the nurses. He loves to play Jenga and is quite good. Yesterday he took all the Jenga pieces and set them up like domino's. He then called me over and gave me the privilege of knocking over the first block and initiating the falling cascade. He does not like to take his Cipro because "that medicine is bitter." He didn't complain once when I changed his dressing and made him lie on his bed with vinegar soaks. He told me to "mind his sore", and frequently stated/asked, "Meggee, my sore is getting better?" His mom told me he really wants to take a bath but he can't because of his bandages. He asks me if I am "working tomorrow" before I leave my shift and makes me promise to visit if the answer is no. He has a fun, energetic, and joyful spirit. It breaks my heart to think of his graph possibly failing.

After our conversation I unitized my break to email everyone I knew; asking that they would pray for Edwin. I told his mother I would and she was comforted.

Before going to bed (well, I'm still not quite in bed...) I checked B ward to see how Edwin was doing. Apparently he is doing small small better!! His back was dry and it looked as if the graph was starting to take. His mother told Katy, the night nurse, that all my friends were praying for Edwin.

Please keep praying for Edwin and the sore on his back.


Journey said...

Meg- Thanks for your open heart and for sharing--- I will be praying for Edwin- and his mother. I love reading your blog! Whenever you make it back home, you should seriously do some more writing about all of this-- you are a gifted writer with a joyful and generous heart which shines beautifully through your words.

Anonymous said...

Meg, please give Edwin a kiss for me and tell him I am praying for his back. Please tell him the love of God is bigger than the ocean that separates us and we will trust Him to give Edwin what he needs.

Love ya,