Day 7 began again with the report of a death of a child we'd tried to save but had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse overnight. The previous day, he’d been restless on his bed and lifted his arms to be cuddled by me when his mother was not present. As I held him I had wondered what his life would hold, but hopes were dashed at the news that it was cut short by malaria.
At emergency, patients were discharging home or transferring to paediatrics which was all good news and not so many admissions walking in. I wondered when the storm of admissions of malaria sick children would hit, like it had every other day.
Just before lunch one very malnourished boy arrived, sick with malaria and anaemia and like every other child needed a blood transfusion, quinine injection, IV fluids, NG feeding of F100, a nutritious milk substitute for those needing extra calories. Just like the other sick children it was also hard to get an oxygen saturation reading on him and his pulse rate as the heart beat so fast and the perfusion so poor. But unlike some children this one hung onto his life during our lunch break, in which I lay down for a minute and then was out like a light for a good hour. After lunch when I reappeared in emergency, he was still fighting, looking a little improved after a blood transfusion was given.
While the emergency department was under control, I wandered around the other wards saying hello to my friends in the surgical women's ward. One sweet lady called out to say hello so I sat down with her. She started fanning me with her sturdy piece of cardboard and we chatted about the hot weather, the seasons in Africa and the seasons in the UK where her cousin was living, about her family tribes, about the war in Sierra Leone and how it affected her life and those of the people here. It was very interesting and such a sweet time of interaction.
Back up in emergency I checked up on a few patients, cuddled a very anaemic, pale, sweet baby before heading back to the hostel to bucket shower, change and enjoy dinner with new friends and goodbye drinks with another.
Day 8 began with Steph getting out of bed and being so dizzy she could not walk straight. So after eating breakfast and sending her back to bed, I walked down to the hospital alone for another day.
I missed the morning meeting but otherwise the day unfolded in a similar manner to every other, rounding with the doctors between paediatrics and emergency and playing with the kids.
Unlike most other days at the hospital, this one was actually fairly uneventful for me which was nice because I was beginning to think that every day would hold some sort of intense drama.
I watched the doctors put a chest tube in a lady and drain out over 700ml of pus from her pleural cavity and we had a patient come in from a car accident with suspected multiple fractures, but all turned out to be fine. I made sure I was back 'home' at a reasonable time to check on Steph and have a cold bucket shower before dark.Steph and I took a light stroll and ended up with a couple if small kids and a very long stick, trying to fish the ripe mangoes out of the trees. There were a couple of mangoes so high in the tree I just couldn't reach! So we enlisted the help of a friend, Alpha, who kindly obliged. He did it expertly of course, as he has probably practiced for years. He tugged the mango out of the tree and then caught it as it fell to the ground! We were very impressed!
It poured rain during dinner and the outdoor area was lit every few seconds by lightening, while the thunder roared. Steph still wasn't feeling well enough to be upright for long so we retired early and watched a movie thanks to the generous lending of a friend’s computer.
Only two days left at Masanga.