Tuesday, February 21, 2012
What is that little thing for anyway??
Obule church is the place I attend Sundays and on Wednesdays ladies of the church visit the sick to encourage those that we would call marginalized. It isn’t really socially acceptable to visit those with HIV or the dying so I’m really glad this church isn’t following with society and culture and they are doing it anyway. I joined them last week on their visits and we went to the home of an older woman who is HIV positive. She has living with her some of her grandchildren whose parents have died. One of them is a 14 year old girl who I was introduced to because she had “surgery” that morning. Trying to understand what surgery and why proved challenging then unbelievable. I’ve since seen the child again and gotten a more complete picture. (Warning: the next paragraph isn’t for the weak of stomach) The girl has had a cough for a long time that is especially bad at night so the grandmother brought her to a local medical practioner (witch doctor?) who did an uvulectomy. (They cut out the uvula, a large part of the soft palate of the back of the throat) But picture mud hut, household knife, no sedation or pain killers. O.K. I’m going to stop there but you at least get an idea. I can say this, when I looked at the back of her throat I was absolutely speechless. When I saw the girl (a few hours after the “procedure”) she was still bleeding quite significantly and the cough, that the removal of the uvula was supposed to treat, was exacerbated by the blood dripping down the back of her throat and then her strong cough most likely was keeping a good clot from forming so the bleeding continued and the cycle went on. Well, about 20 minutes after some Percocet both of us were breathing better. (The acetaminophen was for pain and the oxycodone for cough relief was how I justified it.) By the time I left I had her sleeping pretty soundly. I’ve done a bit of teaching since as to what the uvula does and under what circumstances it should be removed out in the village (NONE!) Somehow, the girl doesn’t have an infection and shortly I’ll have her under treatment for TB (technically I’m still waiting for a chest x-ray but all symptoms point that way and honestly even if a “radiologist” reads it as negative I’m confident I’ll be treating her for it.)