Monday, February 18, 2008

14 looking like 10, going on 40...


I haven't talked about what I do here...Perhaps sometimes I don't feel like I do a lot, but perhaps that is not ours to say.

This evening a group of children were brought in to the hospital by ambulance. Mixed ages, one kid looked like he was about two, the others were perhaps up to 14 years old. Some awful injuries. I don't know the story, maybe playing in a field, apparently some mortars landed on them and a house nearby. My very qualified colleagues took the serious patients, and I worked on a young child. He was scrawny, dark eyes, black dusty hair. Quiet, observant. Dried blood caking and cracking on his hands.

He had a large ragged wound on his forearm, and the mid-shaft of his ulna was smashed and splintered per our x-ray. He was quiet and pensive. He spoke some English too. I try to stroke his hair, tell him he will be fine. He didn't grimace or complain when we took blood from him.

With all the other trauma going on in the emergency room I try to stand in front of him and block his view from everything else. I ask him about soccer and what he likes to do. But he is nauseated from the morphine and glum.

Our surgeon took him to the operating room later. The child said he was 14, but he was not like the huge kids we have back in the States. ...He was as light as a feather, and looked more like he was ten or even eight years old. My medical colleagues are wonderful, so professional and skilled. I pale in comparison to them, so I just try to do what I can.

I am hoping the child will forget what he was seeing around him. The detritus of the ER, bandages, blood stained gauze, blankets on the floor, CPR being performed on a patient on one side of him. Staff all mingling and blending into a whirl of activity and purposeful action.

Peace is my wish for him. He seems strong, older than his years. He looks a bit like me, but he is more handsome of course! I wish my stupid smiling at him could actually make him better.

4 comments:

Carlos said...

Sounds tough, my friend. When young children are suffering that is very difficult to accept, especially the feelings of helplessness mixed with protectiveness that you expressed so clearly. I'm not glad you are where you are but I am glad for that child's sake that he had a good person like you to look after him. My thoughts and prayers go out to the young boy you treated as well as all the other children affected by the stupidity of adults. We should be giving them a better world than the one so many of them wake up to every day.

Ky Woman said...

Sadly, the children of war-torn countries have no 'real' childhood. Such a shame too, as I believe that childhood shapes our spirits into what we become in adulthood. May this child you
held, have more peace in his future than what he has seen in his past 14yrs.

Thank you for being there for him and all the rest too.

Anonymous said...

I like your witnessing of this child's world...to be so old when one is so young...it is not what we adults who know better should be doing...but the chaos of the universe is all around us and we participate in it, in spite of ourselves, we participate...

Anonymous said...

One thing I hope this child does not forget, and I bet he won't - is the kindness you showed him.

You are the man...brother du Monde!