Sunday, May 25, 2008

Faith in parents restored...

On Tuesday a 1 month old boy showed up at the clinic with a fever and cough. Apparently he was having great difficulty breathing the previous Saturday, but his parents didn’t take him to see a doctor. When I examined the child, his breathing was fine but he definitely had crackles in his chest. I decided to treat him for a chest infection with an initial intramuscular injection and then have him continue with oral antibiotics. Because he’s so young I wanted to be sure to see him again after 48 hours of treatment. On Thursday when he came for review I asked the mom how she thought the child was doing. She said he was better. However, after talking to her, I found out the baby had started vomiting that morning and having diarrhea. When I proceeded to exam him, I noticed his respiration had gone up from 48 to 80 per minute and he was recessing; signs of labored breathing. I decided I wasn’t going to take any chances and wanted to refer the child but unfortunately there were no beds at the free NGO hospital, so I would have to refer to Children’s Hospital. The mother decided she wanted to call the child’s father first, to see what he advised. Great I thought, this is a working father, who will make sure his child gets admitted.

I was caught by surprise however when the father said bluntly that he didn’t have the money to admit the child at the Children’s hospital and then hung up the phone. That made me mad. I immediately had a nurse call him back and explain that this child really needed admission and he would have to meet them at the hospital downtown. I then sent the mom off with a referral letter and a little bit of money for transport. Why was I upset? Here I was trying to help this child and the child’s father (employed, credit on his phone) was telling me he didn’t have enough money to have his own son admitted? What’s wrong with this picture? I felt like if the father didn’t care about his son, why should I bother? It sounds harsh, I know. But I was pretty frustrated by the situation.

The next morning (Friday) I had to go down to the hospital to sort out another one of my patients at the feeding center (yes, even when referring a patient, somehow I remain somewhat responsible, more so than I would like to be!). We also went to the ward to find a patient that Anna referred. While we were up there I saw this mom looking at me. I didn’t recognize her at first. I asked if she knew me and then it clicked; the mom with the 1 month old from Thursday afternoon. I was so amazed that they were there. And my faith was restored in these parents. I felt bad for thinking so negatively about the father, for being so frustrated with them, for telling my colleagues how ‘stupid’ some people are. I was so wrong this time. I totally misjugdged this family. (who am I to judge anyway?) This was for once a family, who, in the end did have their child’s health as a priority. I was so happy to see that he was alert and feeding well, and although still breathing fast his breathing was definitely less labored. And, he was on iv antibiotics; just what he needed. And to top it off, the mother did not ask me for money at all, unlike so many of the families we refer. This family deserves a star and I am put to shame a bit for my assumptions! I hope and pray this little guy does well.

No comments:

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~