Today at Queen Elizabeth Government Hospital I saw
… an ARV clinic with standing room only, lines for drugs and lines for counseling.
… a woman carrying another woman on her back to the radiology department. The old woman hung on her daughter’s back just like the hundreds of children I see each day slung onto mothers’ back with deft precision, skill and nurture.
… two mothers leave the waiting room and returning with mops from some unknown broom closet to clean up their own children’s urine on the floor.
… a woman walking through the radiology department whose right side of her face was swollen three times the size that God created it.
… a mother whispering over her shoulder to her unconsolable and sick child wrapped in the chitenje on her back. The mother couldn’t have weighed any more than her daughter.
… a little girl laughing and cooing in the waiting room oblivious to the pain around her.
… a young boy, maybe 8 or 9, dressed very smartly in gray trousers and a button down shirt. I don’t know how long he was there before I noticed him because he was so quiet. But at one point I looked up and saw him pressing his right hand gingerly to his right cheek that seemed to be slightly swollen. At some point I noticed he was gone but I didn’t see him leave.
And I noticed all of this to keep my mind off of the reason I was there. Jeff and I were there with our dear friend and the backbone of Tiwasunge, Lucy Kandioni. She fell ill last night around 11pm and her friend Tereza came to our house this morning about 8:00am asking if we could take her to the hospital.
Lucy is HIV positive and the doctor suspects she has tuberculosis. Not good. She is currently waiting for a chest specialist because the x-ray that she waited two hours for was not clear enough to make a conclusive diagnosis.
We had to come at home at 1pm to be with the kids after school, but Jeff has just left to return to the hospital. He took water, rice and bananas in the hopes that Lucy will have appetite to eat them and because Tereza has not eaten all day.
Sitting on the stone bench in the waiting room this morning, Lucy laid her head down on my lap to sleep. This women who inspires so many with her strength, who carries the burden of an entire community on her shoulders with such grace, who I have never seen bowed over – laid down and put her head in my lap and slept.
I rubbed her back like she was my child. And I prayed that all the healing, compassion and Spirit that has seeped into my bones during the past 8 months might flow into her and give her strength to overcome the illness in her body.
And now we wait…
Post Script: It’s now 4:30pm. The doctor requested blood work that hasn’t come back. So they sent Lucy home and prescribed a barrage of medicine in hopes that something will make her better. She’s to go back at 8am tomorrow morning. Still praying.