I walked into the disability room and said hello to everyone. I'm amazed that I visit this place so little, yet they all still remember me. It then saddens me that they must remember me because I am one of the few people who have shown them kindness? I don't know, I'm speculating.
As I walked round the beds, there was a girl on the bed who is severely physically disabled. Her body has been taken over by atrophy and I cannot move her position. Her whole body is a tangled mess and I can't stretch her out at all. Her wrists sit at unnatural angles and won't budge when I tug lightly on them. She is whimpering softly. I went up to her and spoke to her and she moved her eyes in my direction. As I walked away, I turned back and saw that her elbow was, well.... A huge open sore. It was around her whole elbow and was red raw, blood filled, covered with a layer of pus and a few flies buzzing around in there. My heart tightened. Crap. She had an open wound.
Surely they must know it's there and have been giving her meds. I consoled myself with that thought as I walked to the door. But I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn't turn my back and walk out without knowing. I went back and asked a carer and she just nodded at me. I asked if they had medicine for her and after a lengthy getting lost in translation dialogue, I found out that nope. They weren't giving her anything. They had this one natural spray remedy but that ran out. Then one carer motions to me and together we lift her up and I see two giant bed sores just on top of her bottom.
I wanted to vomit. They were ghastly. I have never seen bed sores this bad before. They were infected, open and there were holes separating her flesh to the rim of the sore.
I wanted to gag. Stage 4 ulcerative sores.
I asked about a Dr. No. No money for a Dr. I asked to take her and was told nothing could be done about these. What to do?
I took photos of them and went to the chemist. I showed the chemist and he gave me iodine, this wound dressing powder and a gauze dressing.
I went back and there were six student volunteers in the room. One spoke limited English that I used as a translator. I got them to help me lift her as I tried to clean the wound. When the students saw them, one ran out, couldn't handle the sight, one burst into tears and one started taking selfies! I told him to get out quickly. A few hung around as I was cleaning her, crying and suppressing my gag reflex. They were watching, stunned in silence, a few crying quietly now with me.
The poor girl was crying as I was trying to move her and get her cleaned. She was shaking and quivering and I tried to work quickly.
I'm not a nurse or know anything about bed sores but I instinctively took a towel and rolled it and placed it under her arm so her elbow was off the bed.
But her two major ones on her bottom. I can't flip her onto her side or her front. She is that tangled. I just sat and lovingly stroked her hair and forehead as I cried and tried to tell her I was going to try make her feel better. The powder the chemist gave me ran out after three cleans.
Then we had an issue: I couldn't find this wound dressing powder anywhere- and I ran from chemist to chemist and all the way to the hospital. The hospital had no idea what I was talking about. I showed them the photos and they all grimaced and said there was nothing for those. I started to panic as what I was going to do for her.
Facebook came to the rescue with me posting for any advice. First I was told that iodine was not to be used on her. So I took that away. Everyone had great suggestions, but all useless in this country. I didn't have any access to fancy bandages or meds.
The only thing I had on me was two jars of paw paw, a nappy rash cream and some gauze.
It took some old school thinking to get there but we did thanks to a few old-er friends.
Salt water to clean, nappy cream as a barrier around the sore to protect the good skin and then soak the gauze in paw paw and pack it into the sore. Cover with another bandage and cover that bandage with another bandage.
I went to the chemist and bought syringes, gauze, dressings and more nappy rash cream. Things I could find.
I went back to the orphanage again.
The girl was crying in bed and the carers took her for a bath. I tried to explain to them that they shouldn't be getting wet. The elbow we could control but the bottom we couldn't. They are close to her anus and she urinates and defecates and then it all gets into them and needs a bath. I'm not sure what else to do for her. I tried to explain to them to try keep them clean but it was falling on deaf ears. I worry these wounds will never close and heal.
So in I went armed with three months of supplies and got the carers around and demonstrated the steps. They listened and thanked me and asked me to stay there with them. I wish I could. I wish I could split myself into three and be at each of these places at once.
The disabled girl who is 14 years old, would look at me and I felt like she knew I was there to help her. When I worked in her sores she kept still and didn't cry as I talked to her throughout the whole thing. I saw her leg shaking at one stage when I was using the salty water on her and tried to calm her, all the while crying, dry retching and irrigating her wound.
My god. I felt sick. I couldn't sleep that night.
Some of the responses I got back from people was that these sores were beyond me and that a Dr and hospital was needed. I know that Sherlock! I don't need a degree in medicine to know that. But I'm faced with a dilemma where a Dr and hospital was not an option. Was I seriously meant to just leave her after seeing them?
I did the best I could with what I had. I'll be back soon and will bring back the fancy covers we have In Australia for her. I just hope that the carers keep at it until I return.
I walked out of that place that night crying behind my sunglasses, breathing in and out and sending gratitude for my healthy, able body and sending thanks to Australia where we have whatever we need at our finger tips. I'm sure not everyone does in Australia, but me, I do. That I am lucky enough to have access to this health system that protects me. And then I cried thinking about everyone in the world who doesn't! It was an emotional night.
I couldn't just walk away knowing I didn't try my best and gave it my all to help this poor girl. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice via social media. It was a group effort!