Saturday, August 21, 2010

Life changing day

Have you ever been with a friend, loved one or even a total stranger when they have heard or experienced a life changing event or received news that changed their life?
Maybe it was good news, something exciting that changed their life, their marriage, birth of a child, a new job offered...
Maybe it was something terrible. The death of a child, the news of infertility, the death of a spouse or loved one, loss of a job that left them with nothing...

This week I was with a little girl, 8 years old, and experienced news that will forever change her life.

Thursday Maureen and I went to meet Fanny in Kabanana to check on a couple of the kids we are sponsoring.
We went to visit one girl who is 8 years old. She has been sick off an on for the past couple years. So this time she was vomiting and not keeping anything down for 3 days. Her mother took her to a local clinic and got some medicine but that did not seem to help. So we asked to take her to the clinic to get looked at. The idea behind part of this was to see if we could test her for HIV, without coming out and asking the mother to take her for an HIV test.
We first tried the local compound clinic and were there an hour being taken everywhere in many different offices but not accomplishing anything before we were taken to another office to ask another person if this was the right place to get a test.

A woman there said before they even test they need to do counseling. We tried to explain that this was for a child and an orphan so why did we need counseling before a test. The woman than became irritated and said she was being nice and doing us a favor to offer the counseling now because it was later in the day. At that point we said ok thank you maybe we will come back another day and then decided after that to go to a local private clinic.
We drove there and walked right in. The doctor saw her right away and asked many questions about her health and what was currently going on with her.
After discussion with him he checked her out and then wanted to do a HIV test.

He led us to another room where we went in and sat down and he pricked her finger and did the test. He mentioned that she did not seem to have much blood.
She did great. I later told her how brave she was and that I almost always get weak and dizzy and pass out when I have my blood taken. He then took us back to his office and we waited a few minutes until he came back in.

He said a few things and then said, the test was positive. She is HIV positive.

At that point, I did not know what to feel or think. We suspected she was, but there we sat in an office, this little girl sitting on Fanny's lap and the doctor told us news that would forever change her life.
He then went out to get some medicine and Fanny and I just looked at each other,not knowing what to say. Here we were to hear this news and the girl seemed to have no idea what was going on.

It's hard to know what to say.
I never expected I would be sitting across from a doctor hearing him speak the news that the test was positive.

Once we got her some medicine to help with the current situation, he told us to come back in a week to begin several test to determine her levels and liver function and things of that nature.

We then had to think through how to tell the mother. This child is a single orphan, (father died) but does have a mother.
So how do you tell a mother that we found out her child is HIV positive? Fanny and Maureen discussed how to tell the mother and as we were driving back Fanny said she was so glad that all 3 of us were going there together. When we got to the girls house, though the mother was not there and all of us had to leave so Fanny ended up having to tell her later by herself. Thankfully she took it well and said she was expecting maybe that was the case, she just asked that she be able to come with us the following week to the appointment. (To which we said yes).

As I got home and was telling James about the events of the day we discussed the sadness and soberness of this day.
The day that this little 8year old girls life was changed. And I was there as a witness to it all.

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