Where is God?

She watched from a distance as we tried to resuscitate him. Attempts to lead her away failed miserably. She wouldn’t budge, she wanted to see what was being done to him. She saw that the attempts were failing, she moved closer, knelt beside the bed and held his hand. Nobody stopped her, either because they were too busy with the resuscitation or because they didn’t have the heart to. Somehow she stayed. She held his hand, not getting in our way. she talked to him. “Gai! Jerry dukakwe, Amuka, Jerry Amuka ni mami Jerry amuka!!!” (“God! Jerry don’t die,  wake up Jerry It’s mummy, Jerry wake up.”)

He was pronounced dead at 3:36 pm.She held onto him. Seated on the hospital floor holding his lifeless body. She was crying, screaming occasionally “Woi Gai  Jerry wakwa amuka.” (“Woi God, my Jerry wake up!”). She shook him, as if that would by some miracle wake him up. she looked at us, with eyes so full of pain. ” Can’t you do something? Can’t you save him for me? I still need him do something! Don’t just stand there and look at me!!!” her eyes seemed to say. we looked away. We had done everything we could. There was nothing more we could do. He was gone.

Four years in nursing school, all those lectures on therapeutic communication and I had nothing to say to her. I didn’t need to be a mother to feel her pain. It was evident in her face. What do you tell a mother that has watched her child die? what do you tell her when her child had been alive and kicking two hours ago?

Protocol required that we take the child and perform post mortem care. But she wouldn’t let go of him. How do you pry a dead child from his mothers hands all in the name of protocol? We let her mourn her baby, we let her hold him. We watched from far as she got her phone and called her husband.”Jerry Nikakwa!! Nikawka!!!” (Jerry is dead. He is dead).

So then, where is God when a mother looses her child? Where is He when she calls to Him as she watches her baby die? Does He not hear her anguished cry?  Is He deaf to her plea for her sons life? Does He even care? Does He cry when she cries? Does He feel her pain? Somebody please tell me, Just where is God???


Room 118

Menthol and eucalyptus, that’s the smell that hit me the minute I opened the door to room 118. The blinds were drawn,It was dark, took my eyes a moment to adjust. I heard the moans long before I saw her. Then, I saw her. She was standing, holding the side rails so tight her knuckles were white. Her head shaven clean.Her mother was rubbing her back with some balm, hence the menthol/eucalyptus smell. She was writhing in pain. Mourning like a little baby, oblivious of her surrounding, she was somewhere far, somewhere only she knew about,a world where her little body was constantly consumed by pain.

They didn’t even notice my presence. I stood there for a while not knowing what to do, I wished I had looked at her chart before I’d come. why hadn’t I looked at her chart? That way, maybe the situation would have made a little more sense to me. I knew her diagnosis alright, and even if I hadn’t known, it was almost obvious looking at her. I knew her name from the endorsement, but she was nothing like i had expected. And no, I didn’t know her age, and I wished I did. Damn it why  hadn’t  I just looked at the chart? that way, maybe I would have been a little more prepared!

I stood at the door way wondering if I should say anything, If I should go in or just leave,It felt like I was intruding a private moment. A moment of pain shared between a mother and a daughter.Each going through a different pain.

I second guessed myself for a moment there,but  I had to do what I had come to do, because clearly, she was in pain, and in my hands, I held the medication that would at least offer some much needed relief.If only for a while. She didn’t even look at me, her mother nodded, acknowledging my presence. I gave the medication and left, that was their moment, and I was no longer needed there.

I went back to the nurses station and looked at her chart. She was twenty four years old yet she looked like she was seventeen. Her ovarian cancer had been in remission for seven years, but now it was back. Back with a vengeance, like it was out to finish her. It had spread to her lungs, and brain. She’d had her ovaries removed at the age of seventeen, her uterus too. At 17, when most girls are busy worrying about their looks, worrying about boys, at a time in her life when she should have really started to live, She had been going through chemotherapy and radiation, losing her hair and having her organs removed. That loss of her organs had bought her another seven years, but here she was again.

Just twenty four and she would never hold her baby in her arms, She’d forgotten what it meant  to be free,what it meant to be young, she was living everyday as it came, not knowing what to expect. Not even knowing if she would live to see 25. In her eyes was resignation. In her mothers eyes I saw anger and pain, a kind of pain that only a mother could feel.

The monster that is cancer does not discriminate,not against age, gender, economic status, race, religion or even political views.It just attacks and, it holds on with it’s claws so tight. Some have manged to fight it and have won the fight. Some have not been so lucky.They say no pain is like cancer pain, I did not want to see what it was doing to her, I wished there was something more I could do for her, Something I could tell her mother. But what could I do? what could I possibly say?

I will never forget her. I will never forget how she smiled at me later in  day when I went to check on her. A smile so bright it was as if she was saying, “it may have taken over my body but I will never let it have my soul.” And then she thanked me, for what? I don’t know. She was calm when I left,comfortable, at peace. She kept her smile. I closed the door to room 188. My shift was over, but her image remains forever imprinted on my mind.

Human error

On that particular Monday morning, the ER was not busy. It was what the student nurses called Benign. They huddled together and did what they normally did on days like that.Talk. “This is the worst day ever. No cases, its so boring.” They murmured amongst themselves. You would think the fact that no one was visiting the ER would be a good thing. Actually, it was a good thing, to the surrounding community maybe, because it  meant they were all safe and nothing drastic was happening, But not to the eager students who were always looking for something new to learn.

They yearned for the adrenaline rush that is often associated with hospital Emergency rooms. They wanted to be able to triage the patients, To clean the messy wounds, they wanted to perform code blue, witness an intubation, scrub into the mini OR and assist the Attending physician. And while they did not wish harm on their fellow human beings, they wanted the experience. They needed it. They lived for it.

They spotted her from afar. She was different. Nothing like you would expect in an ER. she was calm, collected, and although they could tell she was upset,almost angry, she walked with her head  held high. They could tell she was educated. Her presence demanded their attention. Her makeup was flawless, It was obvious she had taken meticulous attention to her dressing.Walking besides her was a man. A young man. Tall, dressed as well as she was only difference was, he walked with his head down. like he bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. He looked beat…Defeated.

The student nurses were hesitant to approach them at first, but their clinical instructor reminded them that it was their duty. Upon questioning, it was discovered that they had been referred to the ER from the Out patient department. Theirs was not an emergency. they were there to receive intravenous medication and since the Outpatient department was packed, they were asked to have it done in the ER.

“Sir, what happened?” asked a curious student nurse while performing the skin test. The lady chuckled and looked away. Not a happy chuckle. It was sarcastic, angry, almost dark if a chuckle can be called dark. For the first time since walking into the ER he raised his head, looked the student nurse in the eye and said “Human Error.”

The Students  were later to discover as they prepared the medication that the couple were in deed married, and that they were in to receive a rather painful medication for a sexually Transmitted Disease. While the pain of the medication could be lessened by being administered together with an IV solution, they opted to have it injected through an intramuscular injection. It would take too much time to administer it intravenously, she said,plus it was to embarrassing, she couldn’t stand being in there that long.

They sat next to each other and waited for the medication. She winced only slightly when she was injected, he toppled over and almost fell, prompting two of the student nurses to hold him and lead him to a bed. She said the pain was nothing compared to what her heart was feeling. She could take the Physical pain a hundred times over if it meant she would never have to feel the betrayal she felt. She sat there and took it like a man, the painful consequence of his human error. She didn’t flinch, she didn’t even shed a tear, she took it all in. They felt her anger, They saw her pain, Sensed that she was hurting, a kind of hurt that cannot be put into words. The betrayal she felt was obvious in her eyes. She had to suffer through the pain, she had to pay for his  human error. And she did it with  her head held high.