The medical wards contain people with varying degrees of illness. Last week 37 year old Samuel and 4 year old Ranson were 2 of the sickest and their prognosis was not good. Ranson was admitted with severe malnutrition as he would eat only carbohydrates. He was extremely edematous and spent most of the day whining as I am sure he did not feel well. After 10 days of eating foods with more protein his edema began to diminish. Yesterday morning we found an entirely new Ranson. A smiling Ranson who was no longer whining. It appears that Ranson’s mother let him choose his diet. With his mother now understanding the need for more proteins in his diet, he will hopefully continue to improve.
A Smiling Samuel
Samuel also came in 2 weeks ago extremely confused. Test revealed he had HIV and Toxoplasmosis Encephalitis. Despite initiating treatment for his Toxoplasmosis Samuel showed little improvement last week. This week also revealed a new Samuel, a smiling and now oriented pleasant man. His Toxoplasmosis treatment will continue another month and I plan on starting his HIV medications in 2 weeks.
It was a normal workday here in Cameroon today but it was a wonderful Thanksgiving never the less. I found myself reflecting on what I was thankful for. Certainly the usual things came to my mind first. Good health and a wonderful family. What kept returning to my mind was that I was thankful for being here in Njinikom, Cameroon. I am thankful that God put all the pieces in my life together in such a way that Terry and I ended up here, doing his work. We are surrounded here at St Martin de Porres Hospital by wonderful people. We enjoy the work. Helping people in need is not difficult, and as many have said before about being involved with MDA, “you receive more than you give”. Let me thank all our supporters for helping us on our path.
Cynthia, a 6 year old girl has been in the hospital the last 3 days with Malaria. She has been very ill with high fevers and has been lying in bed like a limp dishrag. She has been miserable. This morning I started my rounds in the Pediatric Ward at bed 1 and worked my way around the 8 bed ward. As I finished bed 5 I looked up to see Cynthia waiting for me. I did not have to ask a question about her condition. The beautiful smile on her face told the entire story. Her fever was gone, her appetite was returning and she should be able to go home in a couple of days. Cynthia’s smile made my day and it was only 30 minutes old.
The Dutch Orthopedic Surgeons are here for 2 weeks for their semi-annual visit. They will be operating on over 70 children with crooked legs. Cameroon has an incredible number of children with severely crooked legs for a variety of medical reasons. Every bed in the hospital is presently occupied and some beds even have 2 children in them. The Dutch have been coming here for many years and over 1000 children have benefited from the surgeries they provide. It is a joy to see the smile on the faces of the children as they look at the casts on their now straight legs. Most of the children will remain here for 8-12 weeks until their casts can be removed and Physical Therapy can be started.
Julius is a 16 year old man who has spent the last 3 years at St Martin de Porres Hospital as a patient. Julius has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and has suffered with recurrent open leg sores that have kept him from going home. He has been in he surgical ward but over the last year I have occasionally seen Julius for a new medical issue. Despite crippling effects from his arthritis there were never any medications available to treat his JRA. I consulted several Doctors at home and those here on short term visits and was able to secure some Methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug used to treat JRA. We got Julius started on medications in June and very quickly began to see his leg wounds improve along with reduction in his joint pains and swelling.
Julius is a very engaging young man and has become a fixture at the hospital. He has befriended many of the visiting Doctors and Nurses. Despite his debilitating illness, years of painful dressing changes and confinement to his bed and wheelchair he has kept a smile on his face and a cheerful disposition. The medical team from Belgium who was here last month introduced a wound care ointment consisting of honey and vaseline. In 2 weeks time Julius’ wounds made enough further improvement that he was able to be discharged this week. He will remain on his methotrexate and hopefully enjoy life back at home with his family.
Thursday was Feast Day of St. Martin de Porres whom the hospital is named after. We had the usual big celebration. The OPD was closed and Mass was celebrated at noon in front of the Maternity Ward. The weather cooperated and tents shielded everyone from the sun. A program followed with skits from different hospital departments and Native Dancers. Food was then served in the hospital hall. There was a wonderful spirit of celebration shared by the hospital staff and community members.
Shelma has spent nearly 2 months in the hospital with fever, cough and Failure to Thrive. At 6 months of age she was under 9 pounds and very frail. Mom is HIV positive. We treated her for pneumonia but her fever did not clear until we treated her for TB. 2 weeks later HIV medications were added. Despite feeding her every 2 hours she has gained only 1 pound. She was finally able to go home today. Hopefully she will continue to gain weight as her immune system recovers.
This afternoon I had the pleasure to meet Theckla, a spry 110 year old lady. It took quite some effort for her 81 year old son to convince her to come to the hospital with cough of 1 weeks duration. Her exam was quite good so she will hopefully improve and be able to go home in a few days.
Jim and Terry Hake have been at St. Martin de Porres Hospital in Njinikom, Cameroon since July 2010. With the prayerful support of their family and friends, and relying on Our Lord to be their daily companion, they are in the second year of a three year mission.