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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Showers . . .

 . . are drumming on the mbati roof, soothing and chilly enough for a fire in the fireplace.  Fourteen years ago today my nephew Noah was born.  Six years ago today (that year it was just after midnight of Easter Sunday) my Dad breathed his last.  Today I remembered both experiences, of happy aunt and grieving daughter.  I miss most of my real nieces' and nephews' milestones, and that is a loss that can not be ignored or minimized.  But God does give us small compensations, glimpses of family.  Today my colleague left her young kids with a babysitter and took visitors to hike Mt. Longonot.  When they were half-way up the side of the extinct volcano, her 3-year-old fell off a chair smack on his sizable head.  So I got to be aunt as well as paediatrician, holding this sweet boy who would normally have nothing to do with my lap (or with sitting still), stroking his blond curls and cleaning up his concussion-induced vomiting, while bearing the worry of whether he was going to be OK until his mom returned.  I know that doesn't sound too fun, but let me say that when you're temporarily responsible for someone you care about's kid and he gets sleepy and lethargic and punky after a head injury and you conjure up disaster scenarios, his recovery is pretty joyful.  On the other hand, I spent part of the afternoon holding a 2-week-old baby who breathed his last as my Dad did.  Whether the end of the path on this world comes at 2 weeks or 71 years, it is painful for those who watch, who are left behind.  Baby M was born with not one but five missing segments of his small intestine (jejunal atresia).  After two surgeries his poorly perfused gut fell apart, again, leaking air into his abdomen.  To make a long story short, after much prayer and consultation we explained to the parents that further therapy would cause pain with no hope of recovery.  Together we removed his tubes and handed him to his mom to hold.  But she shortly became so overwhelmed with grief, that I had to hold baby M while the father held the mother.  I felt him breath, and then slowly stop.  Another holy moment of witness, a human passing from this life to the next.  

It was a long night as Scott did an emergency C-section for a woman whose baby's umbilical cord came out ahead of the baby--a deathly situation.  In this case we were able to revive the mostly-dead baby, while Scott delivered the surprise brother.  Unexpected twins.  Other kids with rare congenital syndromes, heart disease, brain abscesses, rubella, possible TB, wasting, rickets . . . and a sister who brought her 10 year old brother with new neurological symptoms because he's the 4th of 7 siblings to begin to deteriorate this way at this age, and the other three died.  No idea what to think about that one.  A typical day at Kijabe.

The April showers drone down, drenching, the promise of life to come.

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