The burns of a family

14 March 2008

Night time brings it joys and its horrors. Night time in the dispensary resembles instant gravity. It’s Friday again, and I try to muster some much needed slumber. 'Ma moomkin'…not possible!  I'm called to attend to a family riddled with gunshots.

If the night is not fraught with the constant battle of troubled sleeping with the deafening opera of braying donkeys, the hours are spent debriding the burns of a family whose house went to flames. The papa got away with 20% of his body surface area burned. He will not use his hands or feet again. It seems painstakingly obvious his body was shielded as he grabbed his wife dragging her out and so his hands and feet suffered the onslaught. mama however has 70% of her body burnt. Now, for the non medicals…even you can admit that her body will not sing a song again. Amazing they uttered not a single word in the 5 hours that Jens (nurse) and I peeled away their skin like a boiled potato and dressed their wounds. No oohs no aaahs not a word. It might well have been the morphine I was careful to dope them with as the pain of a burn will tear your heart apart and very little compares to that.

Problem is that the baby, found by the neighbour and brought in first had 99% burns, as he started to fade and with a sorry momentary lapse of reason on my part, that the staff and other patients had to tear me off as I refused to cease breathing into his mouth and trouncing his chest. Fighting a lost battle. I despise pragmatism. Who knows what happened exactly, a fire for food left to sinder a bit too long, someone torching the place that’s no new occurrence in Darfur…no one here tells the whole story.  I can only speculate that fear is infiltrated their beings and loss has mutated their genetic makeup……