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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ebola in Bundibugyo-Tues-Day 6

I hit the wall, perhaps because now my kids are out of the danger zone (I hope), perhaps because we’re finding it hard to sleep, perhaps because we now have lots more information on Jonah who is holding his own but definitely continuing to have symptoms, perhaps because the adrenaline has limits.  I’m very weary, and back to borderline weepy.  

Jonah:  still with fever, not terribly high, still with diarrhea, no bleeding, up and talking and walking and drinking in Mulago Isolation unit.  Day 5 of illness.
Sessanga:  Refused to unlock door for Scott to enter his house this morning, but answered the phone.  Diarrha and vomiting better, but complaining of headache.
BGO Isolation ward:  one death this morning 5 am, another contact of Jeremiah Muhindo, who seems to have been very infectious.  2 new admissions, so total caseload 22.  Scott says they are finally getting up the mesh fence and controlling the access a bit better.  
Kikyo:  no news yet today.
The rest of Uganda:  Panic mode.  Lots of people are coming to have their symptoms evaluated at other hospitals, worried.  We have word from the CDC that their lab in Entebbe should be functional on Wednesday, so that will help SO MUCH with the sense of impending spin-out-of-control spread, if the suspect cases from Fort Portal and Mbarara are not confirmed (though I don’t even want to think what it will be like if they are).
The REST of the patients in BGO:  Scott got called for another obstetric emergency at 7:30, was up to BGO by 8 but the mother had died, perhaps a ruptured uterus.  She had delivered one twin in a distant health center, but by the time they got her to Bundibugyo and called it was too late.  He and Scott Will saw all the maternity ward inpatients this morning, trying to discharge those not critical for their own protection.  He ultrasounded about 15 women.  Staff are present and functioning.  There is a police surgeon who came in, and we anticipate any moment the arrival of another doctor sent by Ministry of Health, to be medical superintendent.  
The REST of the patients in Nyahuka:  Meanwhile I went down to Nyahuka where we still do not have any confirmed cases, nor is there anyone admitted for isolation.  The staff is somber but present, willing to work, even a couple of nurses who are not usually there showed up to volunteer during their school break!  That surprised me.  Since I don’t have any kids I made “hot ice cream”, milk from our cow cooked with eggs and sugar, and took the whole lot down to the ward to feed warm to the inpatients.  I was able to discharge 8 kids, one I hesitated on since he had hepatosplenomegaly and diarrhea and a prolonged fever, though he was improving, I considered whether he qualified as an alert case . . . .  Then I was called to see a new admission, who is almost certainly going to die.  A two-year-old, malnourished-looking, with a week and a half history of fever at home, mucus stools.  Not classic Ebola symptoms by any means, but when I saw him gasping and hot and dehydrated . . . I put on gloves at least.  Then the knot of panic began to build—is this kid infected?  What should I do?  Called Scott who called MSF who said that they never saw a child as the first case in any community, so since this kid was from a village with no cases and the only one sick, not considered a suspect.  OK.  We are giving IV fluids, antimalarials, and antibiotics, but I think they came a day or so too late.  When all the inpatients were seen and I had moved around the hospital checking in with all the staff, I came back up to the community center where we had shifted our normal first-Tuesday-of-the-month distribution of food to families with motherless infants (we provide a month of milk when a mother dies, then a ration of beans to increase the caloric intake of a surrogate breast feeder).  I should have counted, we must have had 40 families or more.  We used the opportunity to do some community education about Ebola, they asked good questions, like WHERE DOES THIS DISEASE COME FROM???  And another lady wanted to know what she should do if her husband gets sick, should she care for him or keep away with the baby??

In a single day we can go back and forth twenty times from “we are OK, we are protected, people are praying for us, we will get through this” to “what if one of us or even worse both gets sick?”  Is it wrong to feel anxious when you’re living in the middle of an Ebola epidemic?  I don’t think God will judge us.  I miss my kids, oddly when I read about myself in my team’s emails I cry.  


Bethany Lytle said...

I know that everyone who leaves posts say this, but I am praying for you a lot. I have also e-mailed all the people that prayed for me while I was in Fort Portal this summer and they are praying too. I wish someone could provide answers about why this is all happening but I don't think anyone can. All I can say is you are in the Lord's hands and He loves you. So continue loving the people of Bundibugyo out of His love.

afriend said...

Thank you for taking the time to keep us updated. We're praying for you.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

FloridaRhinoNana said...

Jennifer, not only are so many praying for you, we thank you for your strength, and your continued updates. We read every word, and feel every emotion...Thank you for helping us also...

Anonymous said...

Our God, is an AWESOME God,
He reigns, from heaven above,
With wisdom, power and love,
Our God is an awesome God.

That just hit my heart as I sit here and tearfully pray for you. Not only are you ministering to people and hearts in Uganda, but here in the States as well. Thank you and Scott for your hard work and faithfulness. You are being prayed for mightily. We love you, and yet we've never met you! God has a way of weaving us into another's heart and lives. Thankful to have you guys as "friends". Jennifer

jane. said...

* oh, jennifer.

<> said...

You do not know me. I am a part of an e-mail network of adults who grew up as missionary kids in Nigeria. Another member of my mk-net forwarded your link to all of us. I just wanted you to know that I/we are praying for you.

2nd Chronicles 14:11 "Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us O Lord, our God, for we trust in You."

susan childress said...

i don't know if you remember me...susan from kagando, heather's friend in richmond... i am blown away and incredibly saddened by everything. there's just one tragic thing after another. please know that i am praying for you, your kids, your patients, and your team. "...and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--- the Spirit of truth...he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans...because I live you also will live." i pray that the Lord will be ever real and close to you and the patients, families you're helping. thanks for serving...

blitzen said...

You would not be human if you did not feel anxious. Just wanted to tell you thanks for your service to humanity and know that mine and my families prayers are with you all.

chuck Dallas Texas USA

Luke H. said...

hey guys. I and my friends are praying very much for you, the whole medical staff, Bundibugyo and surrounding areas...
My heart aches with each post I read. I can see people's faces in my head. I'm imagining an ambulance navigating the roads. I can only imagine the fear...
but I pray for God to be present there and revealed in the midst of it all.

Anonymous said...

We are praying for you.

J. Barrett said...

I wish I had the words to express what is on my heart. All I could do was cry after reading your most recent post (I just found the blog today). I have forwarded the link to many good friends and family, and we will all be praying for you, your family and those in Uganda. The Lord be with you