A Call to Prayer

Monday, May 26, 2014

The past two weeks we've had constant flow of Chikungunya victims arriving at our door with high fevers, severe bone-breaking pain, dehydration, and tachycardia (higher than normal heart rate).  It's a vicious mosquito-borne virus and I detest it. It's debilitating and no respecter of persons.

A week and a half ago we had three babies born in eighteen hours at the MC. I think we broke our record for most babies in the shortest amount of time.  The days following broke a few more records we didn't know about. Two of the babies born in that eighteen hour time period exhibited symptoms of Chikungunya within 48-52 hours after birth.  Though Chikungunya has a very short incubation period after being bitten by an infected mosquito, 48-52 hours was too quick. Considering both mothers of these babies presented with signs of Chikungunya during or shortly after labor, we believe their babies contracted Chikungunya via vertical transmission.

One of the babies who contracted Chikungunya, via vertical transmission, is Marven. I'm quite inadequate to tell his story.  It has so many more factors than just his battle with Chikungunya. To give you a better picture of his story, it begins with his momma, Christella. She has three other children and the heartache she experienced with them during her pregnancy was more than I want to tell you about here. Christella bonded beautifully with her new little boy in the days following his birth. When he started showing signs of Chikungunya, she held him, talked to him, and cared for him around the clock. It might not seem like a big deal...every mother would do that, right?  It's different here.  That's most often not the case. Holding babies close and soothing them isn't really a thing.  We have to do endless education to get the skin-to-skin and a baby needs its' mom idea across. For Christella, that was just instinctual.  I never had to prompt her to feed her baby, never had to encourage her to hold him rather than set him on the opposite side of the bed. She was the first one to notice his strange body movements 36 hours after his Chikungunya symptoms started.

After watching a few "episodes", I was fairly sure he was having seizures. Scary. Watching a little baby seize is enough to break my heart into a million pieces. The care this little guy needed is so beyond my knowledge and skill level, but there really weren't any other options of places to care for him. Hospitals are full and turning away Chikungunya patients.

This is the part where I could write a book on how deeply grateful I am for our Dokte Jen, her heart for Haiti, her wealth of knowledge, and her ability to remember every medicine we have. I could do some serious technology product promoting as well. Thanks to Jen and technology we spent the next 24 hours trying to get his seizures to stop. Marvens has been seizure free since Friday night!

Yesterday was a heavy, scary day of unknowns. As we waited for the sedative effects of phenobarbital to wear off, we didn't know if Marvens' hypotonia (lack of muscle tone) and lethargy were due to the effects of medicine or damage from seizures and encephalopathy (disorder of the brain). As 24 hours without phenobarbital came and went and the hypotonia and lethargy remained, there were a lot of unanswered questions and crashing hope. Christella became increasingly discouraged and asked that we quit giving Marvens all medication because she was scared of how it was effecting his body. She understands we can't promise anything, that we can only try our best and that seizures can do damage. The possibility of having a mentally disabled, epileptic child here is completely overwhelming. It's hard to get medical care for the basics sometimes, let alone something as complicated as this.

Christella agreed to let us give Marvens another 24 hours of seizure medications. This morning I was so relieved with the improvement he had overnight. He is moving, breastfeeding, and awake and alert for periods of time. Tonight we are 72 hours seizure free, which means it's time to come head to head with more unknowns. Will he have a life-long seizure disorder? Will the effects of encephalopathy be life-long? We will be taking Marvens off seizure medicine tonight to see how he does.

The unknown is scary.  We've seen God answer our prayers over the past few days as medicines have stopped seizures, lethargy has faded, and he has started breastfeeding again. Will you pray with us tonight? Pray he will have no more seizures and that in the coming months, as we watch his development, we'll see normal developmental progress.

"When all else is unclear, the heart of trust says, as Jesus did on the cross, 'Into your hands I commit my spirit.'"- Brennan Manning
So I'm committing this night  into His hands and asking Him to help me trust.

I've thought about these words much over the past week.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a nicu nurse in Rwanda, and hopefully you have seen good improvement in the baby over this week. Phenobarbital stays in the system for 5-7 days, so it is not uncommon to have a "sleepy lethargic" baby for that time until the medication is out of the system. The fact he was breastfeeding at 72hrs post meds being stopped is hopefully a good sign for his future! Julie


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