I was just finishing up my work at the clinic – tallying receipts, recording drug orders – when a family came rushing in. The sweat pouring down their faces told me that they had run a long way, and as I took their medical book, I saw that they had run for about two miles, from a place called Alamacar (the c makes a ‘ch’ sound). The mother of the family was carrying a child of about eight on her back, tied on with a dirty blanket. They were all hysterical and out of breath. I asked, “Is this the sick child?”
The father answered an emphatic, “Yes, he’s very sick! Please, help us, he can’t move his neck, he’s very sick…”
I froze. A stiff neck is the sign of a critical case of meninghitis. I looked at the child, who was grimacing with pain, and, though he was hanging precariously from his mother’s back, was holding his head straight upright.
I checked them in and let them go on, then finished tallying up the receipts, including one for the child’s IV medicine. I got up to leave, and noticed one of the nurses tying on a mask around his mouth and nose. This confirmed my theory of the child’s condition, so I walked over to the hallway between the pharmacy and the nurses’ offices that serves as our ER.
The family – his father, mother, brother, aunt and baby cousin – was crowded around the child, who was still wrapped in the ragged blanket and lying on the table. The nurse was preparing an IV carefully, and stepped forwards, blocking my view, so I ventured around the back of the pharmacy, so as to come around the other side.
It was then that it hit me. I walked over to one of the many staff members who was relaxing against the sink for cleaning slides and asked, “Do you think it would be okay if I prayed with them?
He said, “Yes, that would be very good.”
I walked over to the family and stumbled out a few broken Ngakarimojong phrases, hoping I was saying what I meant. They nodded and murmured quiet thanks.
We all watched silently as the nurse inserted the IV into the child’s arm. It was then that I noticed that his mother was cradling his head in one hand, with another on his forehead. She stood protectively over him, gazing down at his face, smoothing the sweat off of his brow. Once the IV was in place, the nurse stepped back and the father took the child’s hand with the IV in it in his own. I stepped up into their little circle and asked if they would like to pray. They all nodded and said yes. I called over one of the translators and began to pray.
Once I finished, I thanked them and told them I would keep praying. So I ask you who read this to also call out to God for this child. His name is Lomongin. Meninghitis is a serious disease, and we had a bad epidemic a few years ago that killed many. A stiff neck is a dangerous sign, and usually people who get that far don’t make it.
Please, pray for this child.
(Note: I wrote this a while ago. He has since been discharged from the hospital, thanks be to God. Continued prayers will be appreciated, however.)