At about 5pm tonight Fina came in and I picked out the words “Wilson”, “chipatala” and “tikupita”… Wilson, hospital, we are going. It only took me a few seconds to realize that I was part of the “we” and that I would be driving. Fina is often weak and suffers from nausea and headaches (possibly anemia) so I thought maybe she needed to see the doctor again.
But when I went outside Wilson sat in the driveway, head in his hands. Immediately I knew that I was taking Wilson to the hospital. He looked up with effort and said, “malaria”. As we drove Wilson corrected me for a wrong turn. He wanted to go to a neighborhood free clinic but Fina and I insisted that he go to Queens Hospital. It is the largest public hospital in Blantyre. So I dropped them off and told them to call me as soon as they were finished so I could bring them home.
Not an hour later, Wilson called. There was no doctor at Queens. NO DOCTOR. At 6pm on a Tuesday night. I guess Wilson knew all along what I just couldn’t imagine.
So I went to pick him up and as I was driving I called Moty Mhone. She told me about a Private Clinic that we could go to nearby if they had money, about 1500 Kwatcha, or US$10. I knew they didn’t have it, but I also knew that’s where we were going.
Wilson slouched in the backseat sitting up enough to tell me where to turn. When we arrived at the clinic he got out and walked to the door not waiting for Fina and I to gather up Christina (their 8-month old daughter) or our things. Thankfully there was no one else at the clinic. It was a smallish building with a waiting room, a room marked “Pharmacy” and an examination room in the back. Fina and Wilson immediately followed the woman – nurse? doctor? nice lady? I don’t know what her qualifications were – back to the exam room.
Soon Fina came out to get me. The practitioner wanted to make sure I had money to pay before she gave the medicine. By this time Wilson was sitting in a chair but laying his head on his arms on the desk, not even looking up as I came in. I gave the woman 2040 kwatcha ($13) for two injections, five days of oral medication, anti-nausea medication and pain reliever.
She had two glass vials. She picked up the first one and a pair of children’s school scissors. She used the sharp edge of the scissors to kind of saw around the edge of the vial. Then placed the vial within the folds of her skirt and snapped the top off. Then removed the needle from its sterilezed plastic packaging and filled the needle. She repeated the same process for the second. I know the process wouldn’t get past any Board of Health in the USA but it took 30 minutes and cost $13. Who am I to say? Wilson got his medicine and we were on our way.
On the way home Wilson kept mumbling, “I have no luck… this is a miserable life.” I could only say, “you will be better tomorrow,” hoping that it’s true. I’ve never seen Wilson like this or heard him so pessimistic. It breaks my heart to see him so sick, Fina obviously worried and to know that there are thousands of people facing these same symptoms, lack of access to healthcare and in much worse straits even than Wilson.
Wilson is sleeping now. I’ll be as pushy as I feel that I can to make sure he takes the full round of treatment. And I’ll be praying. Please pray with me…