Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Just do the best you can

and Learn Something New Every Day, and Make Do With What You've Got - three phrases from my grandmother, who passed away almost 2 decades ago were phrases I heard growing up, and that I've passed on to my own girl.  And sometimes, that's about the only thing that keeps me going, because otherwise I look at what I have and can give in to discouragement.

Clinic today - saw 25 patients, and at least 24 of them I was able to help, in some capacity.  But the one that I ended up thinking about was the one that got me thinking about where I am, what I'm doing, and what has happened to get me here.

I found myself in a community with well water access only (contaminated at that), torn up dirt roads, shack homes, and many many naked children running around - I don't know what it is about sweet little African naked babies - but their innocence and joy for life in the midst of what we would consider a slum, lifts my spirit.

Here I found myself, serving this community, and a little 2 year old boy comes to my clinic in severe respiratory distress.  He was barely moving, offered no concern when I started assessing him, and his eyes were a bit too wide for my liking.  I barely needed my stethoscope to hear his lungs, as the noise coming from his lungs was SO loud.  I knew we were in some immediate need for this little guy, and FAST.  I don't have a nebulizer here, have asked every doctor, nurse and pharmacy where I can buy one and they all tell me the same thing - no where in country.  Okay...well...this little guy was in trouble.  So, I pulled out my "tools" I had learned in Honduras and fashioned a way to get meds to this kiddo.  Cutting the bottom off of a water bottle,  covering that end with gauze (so it's not sharp), and putting my own (unused) personal inhaler on the "mouth" piece of the water bottle - seal it up with tape - and there you have it.  I used this to give my little guy two "breathing treatments."

As I sat there, talking to this mom, and asked her about what her resources were for her kiddo, if he had been hospitalized in the past for his condition, and what was available to her, my heart sank.  Little to no options, and she had never been told about using an inhaler at home, she had NO access to a nebulizer.  So...she got my inhaler, of course.  And I looked at her holding tight to that plastic-rigged/gauze protected "spacer" with taped on-inhaler, and I thought - what is happening here?  I was up against a LOT in Honduras, but at LEAST I could purchase equipment for people who were in desperate need - and here I was - "all" I had to offer was a plastic taped bottle...it just made me sad...I won't deny it.  This kiddo has a LOT of things he is going to have to combat just to make it to 5 (where 95 out of every 1,000 kids dies before the age of 5), I wasn't very hopeful/optimistic.
My awesome volunteer helpers.  Two Guinean nurses, and a church member.  I LOVE having nationals help nationals!

But...then I was reminded....yes, the words of my grandmother came back to me, "Just do the best that you can."  And so I was, and so I did.  They came with nothing, and were leaving with a kiddo who could actually breath, meds for home, some to buy, but with at least a chance...

And so I will continue on...just doing the best that I can.


Adelle said...

Erin this story made my spirit sing. I feel so for this child and then realized God feels even more. He sent Erin Pettengill to a place that some have never known, to visit with a child and mother that were in distress. Now what could Erin do??? What did she do??? She took what God gave her and showed that child and mom that Erin Pettengill cares! She showed them that not only does Erin care but that God cares, gives direction and discernment to His child that feels lost at times. God bless you Erin, this child, his family and the families that you meet in this journey. I sure was blessed by your time at Faith. Thank you for taking the time to share. God bless you and keep you in His care.

GranMarty said...

That may have been a turning point in a little boy's survival—praying it is. And perhaps he will become a man God will use—pray that is part of the story as well. Your ingenuity and resourcefulness always amazed me.

Caroline Newkirk said...

As the mama of a little boy (Ethan) who has desperately needed those asthma meds before, my heart just breaks over this mother's lack of resources. I can certainly understand your emotions but am so thankful God has called you there to serve families like this one. I know it must ache to realize how much they lack compared to the bounty of meds/supplies in developed countries. Praying for God to help this child, and to guide you in your new role in E.G.