Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thank God for vicodin

Her name is Jeanita and she is probably 20 years old. Last Sunday she was at home alone, cooking lunch for her boyfriend when she had a seizure. She fell into the fire and lay there for an unknown period of time until someone came home and found her. Initally, they took her to Providence Hospital and in the 4 days that she stayed there, Jeanita received exactly one bag of IV fluids and one dressing change for the burns that cover about 15% of her body.
So her older sister brought her home to Jubilee and to me. On the first day, I didn't have any pain meds strong enough, so all I did was change her bandages. But since Thursday, she has come to clinic every morning for an excrutiating ordeal.
First, I double-dose her with vicodin, my most powerful pain medication. After the drugs have kicked in, I start scraping. All the dead skin has to come off, and all the scar tissue that forms in the middle of the burns has to come off too. We want it to heal from the outside in, not inside out, so that she doesn't end up with horrible skin contractures, with skin pulled too tightly over the healed areas. It's an awful process.

We're tag-teaming it. I did it with my nurse Vesline on Thursday, then with Josh on Friday. Saturday Oscar and Samuela did it, and today, Oscar and Cody are doing it. With 2 people scrubbing, it still takes a full hour to debride her burns and rebandage her. A full hour of agonizing pain. Luckily, there are several large patches of third degree burn where the nerve endings are gone and she can't feel as much, but she is still in so much pain that she cries, writhes and even vomits throughout.

In America, Jeanita would be hospitalized, maybe on a burn specialty unit. She would be continually on a morphine drip and probably IV antibiotics. Physical therapists would work with her daily and she might even get skin grafts eventually. In Jubilee however, we consider ourselves fortunate to have running water in our clinic so we can do her dressings and an ample supply of burn cream recently shipped in from the States. And thank God for my bottle of vicodin! I hate to think what this would be like without it...

1 comment:

Mama-Beth said...

Oh, my gosh, Kez!! I felt light-headed & slightly nauseous just from looking at the photos & reading your descriptions of the process. I don't know how you can stomach this work, but God bless you for doing it.