The following is an excerpt from my personal journal.
"Soureyatou was admitted in the beginning of January after giving birth 4 months previous. From the very beginning of her hospitalization, we were mystified by her strange mix of symptoms. It was obvious that she had heart failure in addition to a pulmonary infection and we debated as to whether or not to begin TB treatment. I went with her to the OR when the first pleural tap was performed. I helped to hold up her arm when she couldn’t. She called me a “sobaajo peulo” (a true friend) and seemed touched and relieved by my presence, thanking me profusely after the procedure was over.
The pleural tap came back clear, no blood, no protein. So after coordinating her care during her stay, we discharged her with treatment for simple pneumonia and post partum cardiomyopathy (heart failure) and I discussed her case in the doctor’s meeting, and individually with the physicians. She returned for a follow-up and was doing much better. We decided on a wait-and-see approach.
However, by her second follow up, the pain in her chest had returned and a second pleural tap revealed pus. So after advocating for her to the TB department, we began her on medications. She had been having difficulty breathing, but seemed stable enough, and lived close enough to return to the hospital in a hurry if need be.
Less than a week later, she came back with a horrible case of thrush (yeast infection of the mouth) due to all her antibiotics. She had weakened considerably and we admitted her. I reviewed the medications she was currently taking, add the necessary treatment to her carnet and checked on her in the evening before going home. I asked Doctor Jacqueline to go and see her which she did, making a list of propositions in the carnet, secured a room for her close to the nurse’s station and reminded myself to bring her a toothbrush the following morning, since she had left hers at home.
The following morning, despite receiving oxygen, she was struggling to breathe. That afternoon her sister found me and asked me to come quickly, stating that Soureyatou was not doing well. She was in cardiogenic shock, with a pulse of 92, no peripheral blood pressure and ice-cold limbs. I hastily added a fluid bolus, Lasix and hydrocortisone, but we were only able to conduct half of the requested care before she passed away.
She had been barely conscious, but her last words to me were to ask for a “sleeping medication”. With tenderness, I asked her to wait, and if she had trouble sleeping that evening, I would give her something. I praise God for enabling me to show compassion and love to Soureyatou and her family during this past month. I feel they knew that I cared for her and I believe God showed his love for them through me.
As I entered her room to pronounce the death her uncle, the bulwark of the family was directing her heartbroken and crying husband as they gathered their things to go home. Soureyatou’s daughter, a girl of about 5 years old stood in the middle of the room sobbing, a look of terror, pain and confusion on her face. After confirming the death I turned to her uncle and he shook my hand, crying silently.
I was a bit timid as I always am, not really knowing how the family was going to react. I gave them their space and waited at the nurse’s station. Eventually, all their bags packed, the uncle approached me and compassionately took my hand and thanked me. I gratefully accepted and rushed to gather nurses to remove Soureyatou’s body at his quiet request. The nurses hustled to the room and moved the body to a waiting truck. I followed, my own sort of funeral procession, and upon going outside saw a group of women huddled together off to one side.
I prayed about whether or not to approach them. God told me yes. As I walked over and knelt down, a woman I believe was Soureyatou’s mother took my hand and held on. She thanked me and stated “a habdi” that I had tried. Soureyatou’s young daughter wailed, and I tried to rub her back but she pulled away from my attempts to comfort. Two other women, perhaps sisters, each took my hand and murmured their thanks. Their kindness was such a relief and as I repeated the fulfulde phrases used in times of grief I choked up and we cried together.
In the moment of their greatest sorrow, they comforted me."