Poor Okiki! She sat quietly on the exam table in the emergency room. In fact, she was sitting more quietly than any other little girl her age would. It was as though even in her 2 year old understanding of things she knew this was not the time to make a fuss. She had deep burns on her face and hands. Her mother had burns much worse, covering more than 30% of her body. Her 4 year old brother hadn’t survived. Victims of an accidental explosion of petrol in the house both child and mother were brought to the hospital after 24 hours of getting poor care at another place. Poor Okiki! Once admitted, she had to be scrubbed down in the shower by the nurses to remove the dead skin from off the burns. She then had to endure bandaging and the application of our makeshift apparatus used to keep her hands elevated while she slept . This was essential to keep the swelling from cutting off circulation to her little fingers. She was a pitiful site that first night. Poor Okiki.The morning after her admission, I started my rounds in the ICU so that I could see her first. The image I saw upon entering the unit was one of the sweetest I have ever seen. Kneeling next to Okiki, gently feeding her soup and wiping her mouth between bites was a young boy. He was totally engrossed in his job, speaking quiet words to her while he feed her and then gave her water to drink. There were a few adults sitting around her also, but they seemed so absorbed in their own grief they were paying little attention to this 2 year old. Not so with Sunday, her 10 year old cousin, he was completely focused on taking care of her. Throughout the day every time I came to see her, there he was washing her, giving her drinks, comforting her when she cried, helping to change her when she was wet. It was priceless!
Okiki has now been here many days while she continues to heal and Sunday has been her constant companion. Even when her hands were free to hold her own spoons and cups, he has not left her side. I love coming upon them sitting in the hospital yard playing or eating fruit. I love to see how she watches him with grave little 2 year old eyes as he swats at cashew nuts in the tree or plays with a toy car for her entertainment.
The work that I do here at the hospital involves constantly facing sickness, suffering and pain, that’s the reality of being a doctor. After all, it’s not the healthy who need a physician, it’s the sick. So when a bright ray of sunshine, like Sunday, peaks through the melancholy of my day, I am glad! I am glad that Sunday reminded of my own sweet nephews and nieces living half a world away from me. I know that if they were in a similar situation they would be just as quick to help and care for each other. I see in Sunday the same love and familial bond that exists between them. So thank you Sunday, for reminding me of the power of a family that loves!