Judelin – Part 2

Judelin – Part 2


January 19th 2013

Three days ago, I took Judelin to the Emergency Room. A fever had menaced him for weeks & his stomach was constantly in pain. He did not eat and slept through his first week back to school (after passing with of the highest overall grades of all former street boys in our program!).

I explained Judelin’s symptoms to the doctor in the emergency room of the General Hospital of Les Cayes. He prescribed chloroquill: a 3 day malaria treatment. Leaving Judelin with Gatorade, food and medication, I went to Port au Prince for two days to visit families in our Outreach program.

Last night, the last day of Judelin’s malaria treatment, I found him too weak to stand. He sat silently on a chair on his balcony. I noticed an egg-sized bump on Judelin’s head, as I entered his home in the moonlight.
“I fell,” he explained. I looked at the boy’s thin, wiry arms and knife-scarred neck. My eyes rolled over his scar-spotted legs and I realized that he knew fear. He knew it well.

“Judelin,” I said as he lay down, limp, like a trusting toddler in my lap, “…if someone beat you, would you tell me?” He nodded without hesitation.

“I fell when getting down from bed,” Judelin explained. My heart burned as I realized how weak this 16 year old was. I moved his mattress from the top of his metal bunk to the floor and help him lie down. As Judelin passed out on the mattress, I covered him with a blanket Samaritan’s Purse had donated to us. I caressed his arm and lay my hand on is neck, expecting a raging fever. Shivers were sent through my fingers: Judelin was deathly cold. He barely moved. I slowly passed my finger over his eyebrows; this was something my mother did for me as a baby, to help me fall asleep. Sure enough, Judelin’s breathing became deeper and his face relaxed. He dozed off. He didn’t see me crying next to those limp, chilled arms.

The next morning, I bought a large pot of boiled orange leaves and sweet oranges, along with a towel, with which to wash Judelin’s head. The tea was meant to be healing, and combined with laundry soap, calming.

I entered Judelin’s house to find a white, chunky liquid splattered across the floor. He’d vomited.

Stepping past the vomit and into his room, I found Judelin stretched across his mattress, still on the floor. He felt he could eat an apple and some juice – Judelin loves juice (and has quite the sweet tooth). He communicated to me by nodding or shaking his head; not with words. He was still stone cold.

On a motorcycle taxi, I returned with some juice, electrolyte drinks, apples and an ice cream bar for Judelin. He took the ice cream in his hand and stared at it.

After a few minutes, I unwrapped the treat and handed it back to Judelin. This boy was too weak to tear the paper wrapping off of his ice cream. I lay down as Judelin ate the cream and let it settle for a while. He was drifting back to sleep, pulled into it by lethargy.

“Judelin,” I gently asked, “do you want to bathe now?” He hadn’t had the strength to shower for the last three days, but I was hoping a snack had given him the power to sit up. Judelin nodded.

He sat beside the pot of boiled leaves: a comforting array of deep forest greens, spotted with two bright oranges. Suddenly Judelin looked straight at me with wide eyes and a panicked expression. He stood up and quickly stumbled out of the room. Leaning over the white chunks in the hallway, Judelin added to the vomit. With each heave he paused to shoot me a pleading look. I could not make it stop. Judelin’s eyes were dark yellow, spotted with red. When he finished vomiting, the boy sat on a folded pipe in an unfinished concrete room at the back of the house. He held his head in his hands.

I began to massage the laundry soap into Judelin’s hair and spread the orange leaf mixture over his shoulders. As Judelin became somewhat refreshed and centered, he stood and finished bathing himself. I took some of the tea water and the mop, and began to clean the vomit-filled hallway. Judelin stood in his underwear and froze. Once again his eyes widened and he stared straight at me: this time his intense look was filled with pain. He winced and looked at me with disbelief.

I looked at Judelin’s feet. Dark yellow urine drizzled past them to the floor. The 16 year old boy continued to stand in front of me, wincing and peeing – without dropping his direct gaze. I looked back to the ground. His pee was now brownish-red.

Alarmed, I asked Judelin to return to the hospital. He was eager to.

When Judelin had finished bathing and was dressed, we took a motorcycle to the General Hospital. The emergency room was chaotic and overflowing with dramatic injuries. Next to me, a man’s chest heaved with each forced breath. His heart seemed to be struggling to continue. Across from us as we stood, waiting, was a similar patient, rolling and wailing in pain. Nurses were bandaging feet and foreheads that had been ripped open in vehicle accidents.

I stood behind Judelin and we waited.

A flurry of injured patients and their caregivers passed by us, pushing for space and attention. Three middle aged men entered with a small, elderly woman who must have been at least 85 years old. She could not stand up – or see – and waited in pain as the men held her up.

“Go to a different hospital,” the chief doctor had told these men, “We have no more beds.”

It was true.

Seeing the desperate need of other medical cases – in both extremity and amount – I was torn. Judelin was ill, but he was breathing. Others needed the doctors’ attention more urgently, and we were taking up precious space.
“Let’s come back later, or try another hospital,” I suggested to Judelin. He agreed and we went to a private clinic called City Med.

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