I’m often asked what keeps me going in the face of the hardships and emotionally taxing situations we face working on issues such as childhood malnutrition and HIV/AIDS day in and day out. My answer is simple: it’s all about finding inspiration in the most unexpected of places and circumstances.
Caitlin, and the mothers and children at the Malnutrition clinic
On Tuesday while out on a village visit we came across a little girl, Gila, who was extremely sick and dangerously malnourished. She and her family had just returned from a month long stay at a private hospital in Dahod, Gujarat where Gila was properly diagnosed with tubercular meningitis, but unfortunately was not given the proper treatment. Over the month she was there the family spent their entire savings and then some only to see Gila rapidly deteriorating. After a month when the family could no longer afford “treatment” they were sent home. This is when we found the family in the village, desperate for us to help in any way we could. As soon as I saw Gila I knew she needed expert medical care not available in the state of MP. We told the family that we would have to bring the little girl to the hospital immediately and they eagerly agreed without a second thought.
Back in April I blogged about an HIV+ pregnant woman who came to talk about terminating a pregnancy. She had already lost 4 children, still births, before she was diagnosed HIV+, and then saw no hope in this 5th pregnancy. When she came in however, she was already past 3 months pregnant, too late for an abortion. We counseled the family that its possible for an HIV+ mother to have an HIV- child, 99% positive actually, if the family follows the proper Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission protocol (PMTCT). I’ve never seen someone more relieved and hopeful in my life than this woman that day (here’s a link to my original blog: http://www.realmedicineblog.com/2010/04/12/the-most-beautiful-smile ).
Over the past 6 months our patient and her husband have been extremely diligent about following all of the doctor’s orders and our counseling advice. The expecting mother was religious about taking her ART medication and made sure she ate for two. When the time of her due date came near, the family went to Indore, the nearest ART center for delivery.
On September 9th, our two HIV+ patients welcomed a beautiful, healthy, 2.6 kg, little boy. Before even calling his family to tell them the happy news, the father called Devika, our HIV counselor who had been with the family every step of the pregnancy, to tell her the news.