M.U. went home today, cured. He was one of those rare kids who came in simply HUNGRY. He had a mother, and a father, and no chronic incurable diseases. Back in December he got sick with something, a typical diarrhea virus or malaria. He stopped breast feeding, because he just didn't feel well. He was over 1 and a half, so his mom did not push it when he didn't want to nurse. But he never bounced back the way a healthy kid should. He dwindled, until he was picked up by one of our outpatient programs. His weight for length was so low that Nathan referred him for admission rather than treat him as an outpatient. Like many, he got worse before he got better, dropping down in that first week. But then he turned the corner, got his appetite, began to drink the UNICEF milk. And he came back to life. Woke up. Smiled. Began to stand, and then walk. And then play. He is the kind of happy child you hate to send home because he's such a joy to see every day!
He and Kabasa both packed up and went home today, amazing examples of moving from death to life. And three other kids who all had TB: two in joints which I may have missed if I had not gone to our recent CMDA conference and learned more about the subtleties of TB diagnosis, and been emboldened to start sticking more needles into places I had feared to go. All five of those kids would have been dead within a few more months, and all five should live normal lives now. Another discharged 8 year old boy had presented with severe anemia, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, perhaps dengue fever, but went home much improved. His dad said he had no way to come back for follow-up because they lived hours away . . he had spent all his money to get here because he knew his kid was really sick and he'd heard this was a hospital where kids got help.
Many times, things don't work. Many things blow up in our faces (as our colleague experienced with a generator yesterday, which led to no injuries but a BIG MESS). Many times we are misunderstood, or we blow it relationally.
But some days we get to see kids cured, and then we forget the messy frustration and feel that the struggle was worth it. Scott led us in John 16 yesterday in Bible study, where Jesus uses the analogy of childbirth to demonstrate that pain is forgotten when joy emerges. He asked us: is there real joy without passing first through pain? A good question for life, in Bundibugyo and elsewhere. Maybe not. For this evening we are just happy for our little patients' cure.