About Me

My name is Jen Hathorn. I'm a family medicine physician. Since January 2015 I have been living in Egbe Nigeria, which is in Kogi State. I am serving at a bush hospital practicing full spectrum family medicine. I am working with an organization called World Medical Mission which is a part of Samaritan's Purse. This blog is my place to stay connected with you through stories, meditations and pictures. I hope that you enjoy reading the posts!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Peanut M&M's for Dinner

It was one of those nights…
A 10 month old baby having a severe asthma attack had been brought to the hospital earlier in the day and while she was maintaining her oxygen saturation she was still clearly in distress. Her chest was heaving and retracting with each labored breath, but her wheezing lessened a little after each nebulizer treatment and with the IV steroid doses. I checked in on her periodically and finally felt like she was stable enough so that I could go home for dinner. I hadn't been home long, however, when I felt one of those gut instincts to go back and check on her in the pediatric ward. I had been trying to decide what to eat for dinner but decided to forgot that and headed back to the hospital making my way to her bed. She was worse. Much worse. Her oxygen saturation was dangerously low because her body was exhausted from working so hard to breath. I was faced with an uncomfortable situation knowing that we could intubate her, but once that was done, we didn’t have a ventilator machine to keep her lungs inflated when the tube was in place. This meant we could potentially be manually bagging her for an indefinite length of time and we usually avoided that as the outcomes are usually not good. As I talked about it with the other medical staff, I kept watching her. She wasn't better and I felt like we needed to try intubation since without it she would most likely die. We grabbed her and rushed back to the Emergency Room where we had more supplies and more hands to help. I called the nurse anesthetist, Sunday, to come down for the intubation and we started resuscitating her while he gathered the supplies needed. No matter how many emergencies we work through, each one still seems like complete chaos. People are everywhere, there is lots of yelling, nervous speculation, hands and heads keep popping up as students and nurses swarm around the trolley. Minutes seem like an eternity when you have someone decompensating and her case was no different. Finally everything was set. Sunday was able to pass a small ET tube into her lungs and, praise the Lord, her saturation started to improve. For the next few hours we took turns bagging her manually and then to our relief she was able to maintain her saturation with a rigged up T-piece and high flow oxygen. I stayed for a little while longer just to watch her sleep and breath more comfortably and to see that incredibly reassuring oxygen saturation of 98-100% flash in cheerful neon green on the monitor. 

I walked home. It was the time of night when I am usually sleeping and I still hadn’t showered or eaten, but what relief to know she was breathing well for now. Even though I was hungry I had no energy to make food, so I opened the fridge door to look around not expecting much. My eyes landed on a bright yellow bag of peanut M&M’s safely stashed in the bottom draw of my small refrigerator. I had been saving them for a special occasion since these precious chocolate covered peanuts are sacred items to me. In a place where no chocolate is found (unless imported from a big city in a container that withstands the meltingly hot heat) something as wonderful as a bag of M&M's is a big deal. I had received them a few weeks before by my wonderful support team in the US and was waiting for just the right time to devour them. Tonight felt like that time so I opened the yellow bag and poured out a small handful of bright colorful goodness. Plopping down on my couch I ate them slowly, savoring each one. Best dinner ever! 

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