Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Chapter 7: Bad news, then some good news arrived.
I received an urgent call from Nomsa last Friday. She said that the nurse came by and told her that her results CULTURE test were back and she wanted to discuss them with us. Nomsa asked me to call her so that the nurse could explain the results to both of us.
I was in South Africa at the time and did not have a good cell line, but what I did hear clearly was that Nomsa’s culture came back POSITIVE, not NEGATIVE as we were praying for. Not only that, the positive test showed a NEW lung infection called MOWT. It wasn’t there last time she was tested, but now she had another infection! I could hear Nomsa crying in the background while the nurse gave us both the news. We had both been praying that she would be leaving the hospital on the following Monday and that she would be moving to Project Canaan. But no, she would be staying at the hospital for another 6-8+ months.
We were driving through McDonalds at the time and I just wept. I know that God’s plans are better than our plans, and I instinctively knew that He was not finished with her at the TB hospital yet. There was more for her to do, but I still cried for her.
I asked the nurse to keep a close eye on her over the weekend so that she didn’t harm herself and then I tried to calm her down as she sobbed on the other end of the phone. We spoke several times over the next two days, and on Sunday morning after picking up Lori Marschall at the airport, we headed to visit Nomsa.
I told Nomsa on the phone that we would still celebrate her life together on Sunday and so we arrived with lollipops and fresh avacados for everyone in Nomsa’s ward along with fried chicken for Nomsa.
We moved outside so that she could meet some of my friends (I only had 3 masks with me), but outside we can sit 3 feet away from each other. She was so funny. She made us all laugh with her approach to life, and then cry when she shared about the day that we met and she handed her newborn twins to a stranger.
As we were chatting Nomsa’s nurse came out to meet me in person. She said she wanted to better explain what the results meant. Then she dropped the real news… the GOOD NEWS! Nomsa’s CULTURE actually came back NEGATIVE for Tuberculosis (which is what we were praying for), but POSTIVE for the MOWT. What does that mean? It means that she is no longer infectious with her Tuberculosis and that they were now treating her for MOWT, which should be cleared up within a month. The nurse confirmed that she would have contracted MOWT in the hospital (good reason to get out!) and that they will run a CULTURE test again in a month and we await the result.
I went back over to the area where my friends were sitting and shared the awesome news. I am not sure there was a dry eye and while the news wasn’t all good news, it was much better than we thought it was!
When we finished our visit and took Nomsa back upstairs to her ward to say goodbye she brought us over to a new patient who had arrived the day before. She was very very sick (if she was admitted there it means she has HIV/AIDS and Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis) and Nomsa told me that the woman gave birth a few weeks ago and the baby was in the hospital. The woman had kind eyes and tried to smile, but then asked me if I could check on her baby. I asked where the baby was and she told me. That day (a Sunday) I was able to find the doctor who is caring for that baby to see how she is doing (yes, she is a girl). I was told that they are waiting to see if the baby also has Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, then she was going to call me. The very next day I spoke with the Social Welfare Officer who was letting me know about that baby. Today I received news that the baby is very very sick (vomiting, diarrhea, fever) and they are not hopeful. But I am eternally hopeful that the baby will live and that maybe even the mother will live. Stay tuned for more on this story.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Nomsa one day started to write this blog with her own stories of people in the hospital that she once was a patient in? I am waiting expectantly for the next chapter of this story.
PS - while I was speaking with the nurse my friends asked Nomsa if she knew how many people read this blog and how far reaching it is? Her answer was simple, “I am here right now to support many other women that don’t have the support system that I have.”
Thank YOU, the reader, for being that support system.