We are asking for prayers for our newest family in our care center. His name is Brihanu. He is 1 yr and 3 months old. He came into our program a bit over a month ago. He certainly looks smaller than his age and we knew he needed to be “plumped up”, but so many do. He also appeared to be behind on some developmental milestones, having some poor coordination and weak muscles. Again, nothing terribly alarming to us, since his mother carries him around, and he was brought with his parents everywhere since they are beggars. She uses a walking cane since she has one leg that is longer than the other. Her husband is blind. How difficult that must be to keep track of a little one and even harder if they start crawling around or walking? So it is reasonable to think this was a reason for some of his poor muscles. He never had the opportunity to use them. And extreme poverty affects nutrition. Fast forward from all of this “getting to know you” process, to over a week ago, when we were told that he was having back problems and the “massage therapist” told the mom that this was a more serious problem and they could no longer help. She needed to take him to a doctor. We were never told of this pre-existing back issue. So we get the story now that he fell off a bed (only 2 inches off the floor) and injured his back. 2 months ago. Hmmmm. Ok. So he gets back x-rays and it looks like there is a compression fracture between L3 and L4. Not good, but nothing is broken and according to many medical people that were consulted, these things normally heal on their own. So I thought it was done. The child would heal and we would work on strengthening and putting pounds on.
Our manager was insistent (thank God!) that we follow the recommendations and go and get an MRI done. Wow, am I thankful for God providing this wisdom. Went to a wonderful MRI diagnostic place that is brand new and still under construction for parts of the clinic. I have never been so impressed with a place. Well, honestly at first I was not. They told the mom that she needed to put him to sleep and then they would have him sleep for 15 minutes on the table for a good MRI. Huh? No drugs? You expect this little one to stay completely still? So, not to my dismay, this strategy did not work. They even put mom next to him on the table, breastfeeding him, to keep him still. Still no go. I had another appointment, so I had to leave. When I was updated later that day, it was reported that 3 hours after I left, the child fell asleep and stayed asleep for the entire MRI! Miracle? Super calm Ethiopian baby? Whatever it was, I was shocked and thankful they could get a good reading.
The next day we picked up the results and it seems as if all evidence is pointing towards Pott’s disease (TB in the spine). So we went for further consultation and labwork today. We will go to a private hospital this week that specializes in TB treatment to see where to go from here, more than likely a long regiment of medication should clear things up.
Looking through pictures that I have taken of him, he has gotten more weak and possibly lost weight. We weighed him at 8.4 kilos a month ago and today he weighed 7 kilos. We could be off a bit on either end, since the scales are different, but still, the kilos decreased. He is over 1 years old and only 14 pounds! I took a picture of him when he first came and he was sitting up. He can no longer do that. He was absent from us for a week and home with mom when she was getting the xrays done. Last week, we were figuring things out still, so it is easy to miss some of these things since he is always in somebody’s arms. He is not walking yet. Never did.
The patience that mom and dad have had throughout this process is inspiring. As well as our social worker, Masresha. I am almost in a panic thinking about the possible outcomes and what is to come. And it seems like they are ok with waiting for answers, going to the next waiting room, waiting while a baby is fussy and tired and tired of being poked at. Me? I am looking at my phone, looking at the time and wondering why we have not been seen yet! Mind you—the wait at these places have not been long. Quicker than the pediatrician office for my own kids at times! But I feel this urgency to get this little one “fixed”. I know we have to rely on the Lord. Yet another faith lesson for me. Mom just loved sitting next to me in the waiting room and look at my pictures on my phone. I loved that she was so comfortable with me…not understanding half of what she was telling me, but a big smile on her face when she would see her son, or my own kids. Then she would rest her arm on me or her head on my shoulder. She is really just a child herself. She is only 19 years old. She grew up an orphan on the streets.
People want to know how the center and our mission help the families here. All I can think is that we are helping not only a little 1 year old that probably would not have had the means to this medical care, but also helping this very young mom that needs guidance, love and support. They look like they have some great neighbors. Dad is always around (which you do not always see here) and available to come with us. They all wanted to hop in my van when I picked her up this morning. But we told them it was ok—and we took just one older woman. They all help her carry the baby since she uses a walker and it is difficult to carry him around herself. Now this is the community we fell in love with when we first visited. I could go on and on. Mark said 2 paragraphs. But I just had to share more. I hope people still read it! Please pray for Brihanu and his parents Almaz and Abebe.
P.S. For all the sponsors—this is yet another reason why the updates are not complete yet! I promise they are coming!