A day in the clinic
The morning starts at 6.15. Time to get kids ready and to school. 7.30: mission accomplished. 9.00: home, shower, breakfast. 9.45: pick up Wendy and Vivien, our volunteers. They want to sit in with me.
10 am arrive at Rau. All 25 kids at the Rau Day Care Centre shout: “Good morning Mother” (to my great irritation). No matter how many times I try to explain that the Kiswahili Mama doesn’t translate to Mother... never mind... mission impossible. Everybody calls Jeremy daktari without a fail but me, I’m Madam or Mother. The veranda is empty of patients. Perfect. I have many small patients from the Day Care that I want to treat. In comes Upendo, the teacher, with a bunch of them.
First in line is Johnson. He is 3 years old and HIV-positive. His mother knew she was positive but because she didn’t want to be stigmatised, she breastfed Johnson. Hence his positive status... Johnson is a very serious little boy. His first remedy was Ozone 12c, which I gave him in June 2010. He had black spots on the skin, rash, itching. His eyes were itching and he had serious strabismus. He had a dream of his mother walking on a narrow bridge, with a big drop on each side. He is a naughty boy, climbing, touching everything, a noise maker, says Upendo. He loves spicy food. He is the youngest of 3 kids. He is not on any medication for HIV. He came back in December with itchy skin, very watery eyes, and a milky glaze over them. He looked miserable; Upendo says he cries all the time. He can cry for 3 hours non-stop. He gets also very angry. Upendo says the remedy in June was very good and that he has been completely well and symptom free until now. So, I repeated Ozone 12c. Immediately, his mood improved and he stopped crying. No more fighting. Skin vastly better, itching gone, black spots are less. Eyes normal, no more watering. He is smiling, looks happy, and his strabismus is less pronounced since the summer.
Today, he comes in with a cough. He has had it for a few days and it’s painful. He is very thirsty and drinks a big mug of water in one go. That’s enough for me and I give him Bryonia 12c daily, with instructions to come back next week, if he hasn’t improved. Next.
Joseph, 4 years old. He is very small and thin for his age. His HIV-status is unclear but Upendo says his condition improved after his mother stopped breast feeding him. I saw him in November 2010 for the first time. Upendo brought him in because he was generally tired and sleeping a lot, with very little appetite and a distended stomach. He was frowning a lot and sweating a lot, when asleep, especially on the head. He is also very afraid of injections. I gave him Silica 12c, which helped him a great deal. His appetite came back, he put on weight, his stomach was fine, and the sweating was gone.
Today, he is back because of a nasty eruptions in the right ear. He had them all over the body; back, nates, tummy. The ear is oozing clear liquid, blistering and cracking open. He also has a boil on his head, under the skin. I repeat Silica 12C, with a question mark for Graphites. Next.
Ida, 5 years old. I love this kid; she is totally wild. A total tom boy, only plays with boys. She is totally ADHD, can’t sit still for a second; on the go all the time. Big problems with concentration. She is always ready for a fight, very aggressive. She pinches other kids, hits them, or slaps them during play. She hits the wall in anger and often bangs her head against the wall. Her mother is in a psychiatric hospital and Ida lives with her grandmother. She misses her mum a lot. She is not HIV-positive as far as we know. Headache on the vertex with pain on the right side of face, cheek bone.
I gave her Tarentula 12C daily. Now she is back. She has a cluster of ulcers on her chin and on her thumb. They look like warts when they dry up. She used to suffer from these in the past. Her mood is much better. She has started playing with girls and really enjoys to play home and to cook. She doesn’t hit anymore and is able to sit still for much longer than before. She doesn’t pinch anymore, nor does she fight. She has stopped with the head banging as well. No more head aches. I repeat Tarentula 12c. Next.
New kid. Her name is Saumu. She is 6 years old. We don’t know her status but doesn’t look good... She has a very bad skin condition on her feet and hands. The skin is hard with ulcers that turn into hard crusts. She gets sick often. She has a sister who is 10 years old and who doesn’t go to school. The mother doesn’t care about the kids, says Upendo, who took Saumu to our Day Care. Saumu is too thin for her age, she weighs only 14 kg. She is a happy child but a slow learner. She has a good appetite. She suffers from stomach aches sometimes, cutting pains. She says she has a fever every night with a lot of sweating. She dreams of being chased and she throws stones at the pursuers. She hits when she gets angry, she also throws things when angry. She is afraid of dogs and loves milk. I hesitate between Tuberculinum and Androctonus, but decide on the later in the abscence of any chest problems, and because of the dream of throwing stones. I give her Androctonus 12c daily. Next.
Another new kid, Zufra. She is 3 years old and suffers from ulcers on her knee. She has had them for a week now. She has chronic discharge from the nose, whitish-yellow and thick. She likes to sit on someone's lap, to be cuddled. She is very thirsty. She is afraid of being shouted at and ‘surrenders herself’; “don’t hit me!” I give her Pulsatilla 12c.
1.20 pm. At this point we get lunch: rice and beans with a banana. Just in time! I’m about to faint. I check my watch, for once I will be on time to pick up my kids from school. Last week, we fired all our staff for stealing, including the kids’ nanny. A whole hour and no more patients! I make the remedies. In comes a follow-up. Oh well!
He is Nestor, a new organizer for a new clinic where Wendy and Mel work. He is beaming, he feels so much better. I gave him China. He says he has no more problems and for the first time he has hope.
Good. Great. Now can I go home. No, Vivien needs help with a few cases. 2.05pm: I’m going to be late. 2.35pm: pick up kids and another few for a play date.
The rest of the day is a blur of kids, homework, cooking, emails, admin, and finally crashing at 23.45. Way too late for this Mama! But another good day has come to its end. You have to love it, Africa!
Photos: Camilla Sherr
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, weight loss, ulceration, night sweats
Remedies: Androctonus amoreuxii hebraeus, Bryonia alba, China officinalis, Ozonum, Pulsatilla, Silicea terra, Tarentula hispanica