Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Chapter 10: Seizures and strokes are just a part of life with MDR-TB
Last week Baby Rahab (living at the El Roi Baby Home) was not doing well. She started vomiting and had bad diarrhea. Within a day she needed to be hospitalized because she became so dehydrated and in the end we learned that she had pneumonia. She has been in the hospital for almost a week now.
At the same time Rahab’s mother was in the TB hospital fighting for her own life. She also took a bad turn last week and by Friday night Nomsa was afraid that the lady wouldn’t make it. At 11PM the mother started to shake and had seizure after seizure, scaring Nomsa terribly. She tried texting me to ask me to pray, but I was asleep so she prayed on her own. A short time later the mother had a stroke and was left unable to move on her left side (leg, arm, neck, head). Finally she went to sleep and slept throughout the day on Saturday, only waking on Sunday morning.
We had a small team of women volunteering in Swaziland last week working on designs for knitting, crocheting and jewelry designs that we can have women make at the Khutsala Artisans Shop at Project Canaan. One of our long time volunteers is Becky Fern and she had sent some crochet materials for Nomsa to get started with. On Sunday I took Becky and Eleasha Bailey to meet Nomsa, visit Rahab’s mother and do a bit of crocheting.
When we arrived we saw Rahab’s mother lying on the floor (they had put her mattress on the floor when she was seizing so badly). She was hooked up to an IV and clearly couldn’t move the left side of her body or turn her head at all. It was so very sad to see her naked, with her skin and bones body lying under a wool blanket, waiting to succumb to a horrific death. We shared words of encouragement through and tried to smile big behind the mask so that our eyes showed her love and joy (since she couldn’t see our mouths). We gathered together to pray for her and Becky spoke words of healing and peace over her. Then we went outside to talk.
I wanted to speak with Nomsa about the very real possibility that her next Culture test may come back POSITIVE. It was such a huge disappointment (train wreck) when she got the positive test last time and she knows that another positive means that her Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis has become Extremely Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensively_drug-resistant_tuberculosis), which very few people in third world countries can survive. If she is positive, it likely means life in the hospital or going home to die. How does one prepare for this kind of news? She didn’t want to talk about it, and neither did I, but we had to. We had to have a plan (at least psychologically) so that she didn’t just decide to quit, run away and “live life” until she died (leaving a wake of destruction behind her) if her test results come back positive.
The conversation was mostly focused on God’s plan for her life and that while her plan was to leave the hospital maybe HIS plan was to use her there. Afterall, Baby Rahab may not be with us if she hadn’t intervened and told us about the baby. She agreed, but like us all, wants her plans to be brought to fruition. We had a good visit and Becky was amazing at teaching Nomsa how to crochet. She is making herself a blanket and has time to work on it while she waits for her news.
We left that hospital and headed for another hospital to check on Baby Rahab. As of today, Rahab is responding well to the antibiotics and is gaining weight back. She will be 12-weeks old tomorrow and is just 6.1 lbs today. When she hits her target weight of 6.4 lbs we can bring her home.
As we were driving back to the farm I got a call from Nomsa. She was screaming and again, I thought the worst. Surely the mother had passed away. But no, it was screams of joy. I put her on speakerphone and we could hardly understand what she was saying. After she calmed down she spoke again and said, “Janine, it is a miracle! I have witnessed a miracle! I was down on the ground trying to feed the lady when suddenly she moved her left hand. She actually reached up and touched me with her left hand! Her whole arm suddenly moved and I witnessed a miracle today!!”.
Nomsa was beyond excited.
I said, “Now Nomsa, aren’t you glad you are at the TB Hospital today?”
And believe it or not, she said, “YES! I am SO HAPPY that I am here an nowhere else!”.
Why? Because she would have missed seeing the hand of God at work.
This is a long hard journey, but I continue to be amazed by people I meet and their will to live. I pray for complete and total healing for Nomsa and Rahab’s mother. Imagine if they could one day both be discharged and come and work at the Khutsala Artisans Shop on Project Canaan. Now, that would be cool.