Sunday, January 15, 2012

Annie - A diagnosis with no easy answer

One of the hardest days for me at the clinic came while working with Dr. Lauri during the Cerebral Palsy diagnosis. Since I am interested in pediatric nursing, I was overjoyed at the opportunity to work with Dr. Lauri in the pediatric room. The day started off exciting, working with some of the most endearing children and common diagnoses of ear infections, lice, and eczema. A mother came in with a 1-year-old complaining that the child was not able to swallow solid food without aspirating, had sporadic movements, and that her growth and development was very different compared with her other children at home. I knew it was going to be a difficult diagnosis. Dr. Lauri took us students aside and explained that she thought it might be cerebral palsy and that this was not going to be easy. As she continued with the assessment and teaching on diaper rash, I felt a lump in my throat thinking about the news this mother might hear about her child. I worked with cerebral palsy children this past summer and know what a joy they are, but know what a tough diagnosis CP is for a family, especially here in Patanatic. I was incredibly frustrated that we could not offer this mother any of the wonderful services and opportunities available in the States. There is no physical therapy, occupational therapy, or specialized devices to help this child walk and grow. Dr. Lauri and our translator, Deanna, sat with the mother and told her the tough things that our diaper rash ointment would not cure. Her child will most likely never walk, will not be able to eat solid food because her muscles are not strong enough, and she will probably not live a long life. It was tough. There is no easy fix for this mother, yet she sat quietly and took it all in.
Afterwards, the mother asked if Megan and I would sit and pray with her, so we sat with her in our room designated for oracion [prayer]. I have never seen someone so intent and devoted in prayer. I sat with her and prayed for strength for the mother and hope for a better future for the child. After her prayer, the mother muttered “gracias.” [thank you] I don’t know specifically what she was thankful for. Was it her beautiful child smiling up at her? The Patanatic health clinic we were all a part of? The opportunity to finally have a reason for the differences she saw in her child? Or was the grateful for the immense faith she has to keep her strong throughout? I know I am thankful. Gracias for the opportunity to experience something so unique and difficult. Gracias for the network of support we created that day at the clinic with each other? Gracias for Dr. Lauri, who taught me how to handle the tough days in Pediatrics with compassion, respect, and grace. And, Gracias for giving that child the opportunity to grow up with a loving mother in a beautiful community.