Normally, when I think of 7-Eleven, I think of slurpees and visiting my dad in Louisiana during the hot, humid summers. Every year, my dad would collect change in his piggy banks and when us kids arrived, we would count it up and divide it. It usually amounted to about $30 each. We were in Heaven. And you can be sure that we almost always spent it ALL at the 7-Eleven just around the corner and down a block. Don’t worry. At the time, he owned an aerobics studio, so we were doing at least 3-4 aerobics or karate work outs a day. Today, 7-11-2011, was anything but slurpees and hot, humid, candy filled summers in Louisiana.
My morning was filled with the sounds of wailing. Upon entering the hospital, I saw that several of the nurses eyes were swollen and red like they had been crying. I asked about their night to be told that one of the mother’s had died from complications of the surgery. The entire morning you could hear waling throughout the hospital. I saw the rest of my patients and the wailing continued. All I could think of was this little girl and how she would be taken care of now that her mom is gone. When I was done rounding, I asked where I could find the newborn. The baby was outside with the family. Her mother was wrapped in a white cloth and laid in the grass of the hospital. Some people would uncover her head to see her one last time. About 30 people were around her crying. I didn’t know if it was ok for me to approach, but I needed to do an exam on the baby. I was almost immediately surrounding by the mourners. I held the husband/dad for a few minutes and said a short prayer. The nurse that came with me had found the baby. An aunt was holding her, so we went inside. She is a perfect little baby. Chubby cheeks, a head full of hair and her gorgeous Ethiopian eyes. I asked the aunt how they were going to be able to provide for the baby. She proceeded to pull out her boob and spray the nurse standing across from her. She didn’t mean to spray her, but it happened in her demonstration of how she could care for her. She giggled and it reminded me how welcome a laugh can be in difficult times.
During rounding another little girl was born. She is the youngest of eight now. At birth it was discovered that she has a large defect on her sacrum. We thought that the mother was pregnant with twins because we had found 3 heartbeats during labor. I was concerned because the “twin’s” heart beat was irregular and at times slow. One was the baby, one was the mom and the other must have been the mass. It doesn’t make medical sense, but it is what it is. I honestly didn’t know exactly what the mass was and the operating room was closed for the day, so I brought her over to the other hospital to be seen. The mass is like a big deflated sac that comes off of her coccyx. It is about a third of the size she is. She will be having surgery tomorrow.
Baby boy Mimi was born with an omphalocele. This is a condition where the babies intestines are coming out through his umbilical cord. The only thing protecting his intestines from the outside world is a thin membrane. In the United States, with the best of care, only about 50% of these babies will survive, partly because so many will have other major defects, such as heart defects. After reviewing the options with the family, they decided to go home and pray over their son. Surgery is the treatment, but with such a poor prognosis they have decided to wait to see if he has any other problems.
Life here is just hard. And sadly, it is the only thing the people know. Please keep these families and those taking care of them in your prayers.