It’s only Tuesday but this week has already hit me hard with the reminder of how stupid Africa is. It’s stupid that by sheer chance you can be born into a country where death is so common, poverty is rampant, hunger is fierce, and illness is beyond healing. It breaks my heart. And if by sheer chance I was born in Africa it would break me. But these Africans are strong in so many ways.
Here’s this week’s happenings so far:
A 40 year old man who is quickly on his way to death’s door due to multiple infections ravaging his body. Infections that could be easy to treat if it weren’t for his positive HIV status. HIV is treatable. And in this country the treatment is free. But the stigma behind HIV is so strong that even after meeting with the HIV counselor he denied it to my face that he had HIV. He told me the counselor tested him and it came back negative. I call the counselor to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood her when she told me he was positive. I hadn’t. He still denies it. HIV can tear families apart and leave patients stranded without family support. I hate the stigma behind HIV. It drives people to choose an early painful death over the possible judgment and abandonment they might receive from their friends and family. Africa is cruel.
One of my favorite staff at the hospital is a young guy in his 20s that was laid off when coronavirus reared its ugly head. In order to keep his 'job prospects,' he still shows up to work every day. He begs food off of friends. Or if he is asked to get something from the market for work he is given money for transport (20 cents). He takes the money, runs to the market and back to make it the same speed as transport. Then he uses the transport money for food. He came to my house to help fix a leak in my water tank and I saw him take a half rotted orange from my compost pile and put it in his pocket for later. Africa is senseless.
The second the young man walked into my exam room I knew he had a terrible infection because even with my mask on, the smell was nauseating. He pulled down his pants and I could literally see his intestines and stool coming out of his low abdomen. His scrotum was so inflamed and infected it looked like it could fall off. When further examined, every place his scrotum attaches to his leg is just rotting away. Africans have an amazing pain tolerance. There’s no way I would be walking and talking calmly like him – someone would have to carry me and I would be wailing. I don’t fully understand what causes people to wait so long to seek medical treatment. Fear? Lack of funds? Tried the witch doctor first? Any one of those you pick is directly related to having been born into this country. Africa is unfair.
A family lost their 3 year old boy at 4 AM this morning. He had a hemoglobin of 3 (normal is >12) and severe cerebral malaria. The peripheral health unit without a blood bank or doctor, kept him for 48 hours before transferring him to us just before his death. Africa is heartless.
And it’s only Tuesday….
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev 21:4
Can’t come soon enough.