Monday, February 25, 2008

Please help...

The mood is gloomy around campus these days. Samitha, a third year medical student was injured about ten days ago as she accompanied her batch on a site visit to the BMICH. This was in order to scope out the place for the up-coming (and now postponed) medical exhibition. The Deyata Kirula stalls were still there and a sudden downpour forced them to seek shelter under the sheds.

Horrifyingly, one of the sheds collapsed on a group of students... two managed to make it out... two, including Samitha were trapped beneath the rubble. The other student escaped with minor injuries, Samitha however was not so lucky. Another student described how a metal support pole hit her head, and as she fell, how another pole landed on her back... She sustained severe injuries, skull fractures, bleeding in her chest cavity (haemothorax) and tragically, a spinal cord injury at midchest level. X-rays and MRI scans showed shattered spinal vertebrae... a grim sign of what spinal surgery would later reveal.

Samitha underwent a 20 hour surgery last Tuesday, to stabilise the spinal column. Apparently, the surgeons had discovered that the spinal cord wasn't completely cut, as feared... but was however severely crushed. The implications? Well... the worst is that there is very little chance that Samitha will regain the ability to walk.

Right now, she's in the NSICU, battling the stress effects of her injury as well as the surgery. Batchmates and other friends are keeping vigil at the accident service, combing the internet, phoning contacts and trying to find out any possible treatment method that may offer some hope. There is talk of stem cell therapy, that maybe they may differentiate into nervecells and bridge the gap. There are other treatments, mostly experimental that slow the rate of fibrous tissue formation, leaving room for whatever nerves that have survived to recover.

None of these are available in Sri Lanka. Few have shown scientifically sound, proven results... but any glimmer of hope is worth striving for. Unless a miracle happens (and believe me, there are hundreds of us in temples and churches holding bodhi pooja and other religeous services, silently offering up prayers to whatever diety we believe in that such a miracle will happen) she will need complete and long term support, physically, psychologically and socially... with proper rehabilitation to help her adjust to the consequences of her injury.

Money is scarce. Her father unfortunately passed away when she was young and her mother too is ill and has just had major surgery. Her sister, a teacher, has been supporting the family. The estimated cost for Samitha's treatment and rehabilitation is between 10 - 15 million rupees. :(

I don't know Samitha very well. I've seen her in campus, talking to friends, clutching books while running to one lecture or the other... full of hopes and dreams. Her friends describe her as being fun loving and hard working. that she faced the many hardships life threw at her with courage and determination. After days of tears, she seems to have found her inner strength again.... as she told a friend, "I am ready to face anything". She smiles up at those who visit her... and lives in hope that she will have a chance to regain at least part of her former independence.

The Sunday Times ran an article about her yesterday. More details can be provided on request. If you, or anyone you know would like to help, please call Aravinda Kamaladasa on 0773-017183 or contribute to the student rehabilitation fund started by the faculty.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In sickness and in health...

Darling was in hospital last week, and with pneumonia, no less. last wednesday, he stayed at home because he had "body aches" and only mumbled when I called from work. When I did get home, he was huddleed up in bed, burning to touch... thermometer was whipped out and showed a temperature of 103C!! Promptly checked pulse (126/min), BP (on the low side) and lungs (noisy) and then called the Asiri mobile to do some blood tests and an ECG (? myocarditis). Darling mumbles that he has coughed up blood stained phlegm twice that day. Antibiotics are given, more paracetamol and eau-de-cologne poured on to try and bring the fever down. Darling continues to doze... I keep worrying.

Two hours later the white cell count is reported as 35,000 with a neutrophil leukocytosis. Trying very hard not to freak out, I cradle his head as Mums and Dads drive us to hospital. Darling doesn't remember much of that night as he'd conk out every few minutes. Admission goes smoothly... thankfully almost every doctor in the casualty ward has been taught by Mums... some are also seniors who were in campus with me. Antibiotics are pushed in and Darling goes to sleep, the fever broken.

I spent the entire night next to him, obsessively checking the pulse and peripheries. At 4 am a nurse takes pity on me and offers me a chair. I sit next to the bed and lean my head on the mattress... but can't sleep. Every few minutes my fingers seek the reassuring little pulse at his wrist.

3 days in hospital... thankfully people are very understanding at office. I run around from lab, to ward, to x-ray room and back. Quick dash to P&S to get Darling a sugar doughnut. Stopover at Dee's office nearby so I can unload my woes on her shoulder (thanks Dee!) I'm not allowed to spend the night in a male ward so I sleep in casualty room nearby... I can be at the ward in 5 minutes flat if needed.

Darling responds magnificiently to IV antibiotics. By day 2 he's rearing to go home and is soon discharged on strict bed-rest. He's restless just lying in bed, but understands it's for his own good. He devours mountains of mandarines brought by loved ones. I quietly slip in a protein supplement into his morning tea. He's totally well now, bright, chipper and eager to get back to work. I'm just happy.

For the first time, I trully celebrate valentine's day. I celebrate by holding my loved one close, with a whisper of thanks that I can do so.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mixed birthday bunch

I turned 20-something yesterday (grin...) and just had to post some shots of the birthday flowers sent by Darling... aren't they wonderful? I'm a sucker for flowers... even while a part of me mutters in the background that flowers are a waste of good money since they're going to fade anyway. That, however hasn't stopped me from going ga-ga over pretty petals.

I just love what they've done with the colours, arranging them in blocks... Oooh, and the lillies... my favourite flowers!! The scent is really divine and can be sniffed on entering the house.

Sigh... me one very happy chick.