Monday, November 17, 2008

'Bad Luck', as they say

Last Wednesday afternoon I thought I was finished seeing patients for the day when a father and his daughter showed up. The previous week, this pair had visited me because the child was hit in the face with a rock while at school. The poor seven year-old was in the wrong place at the wrong time; she got in the middle of a fight between two other big kids. I was glad to see that her wound had healed but dismayed to find a new wound on her face. Her father said she’d been standing over the fire at home, trying to help her mother when the oil splashed up into her face. It looked like a third-degree burn over the eye with a second-degree burn around it. She couldn’t even open her eye because of the burn location. Her father said that the incident had happened on a Monday night and that they couldn’t go to the hospital until the next day (due to insecurity at night). On Tuesday, they took the girl to the hospital only to be given tetracycline and told nothing else could be done. I then saw her another day later and gave her the first dose of pain medication she’d had since the incident. I also showed the father how to clean the wound and apply burn cream. They walked away with instructions about how to treat the wound and give the child pain medication. I couldn’t get over the look of misery on the child’s face. It’s hard to see one so young being traumatized by life at an early stage.

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