9.1.10

My First Call Weekend

This past weekend, I was on call for the Pediatric wards, which means that myself and the intern on call had to see all 60 or so of the children on the wards and in the NICU each day, and cover any neonatal resuscitations after delivery. A couple of weeks ago, this seemed incredibly daunting, but at the end of last week, I was feeling up to the task.

I had it all planned out. The intern would see the Peds ward patients, while I came in early to start seeing the NICU babies. I would leave the NICU at 9am (to leave the ladies alone during the 8th day of Christmas) and go and see the floor patients with the intern, have some chai, and head back to finish NICU. All in all, I should be done by noon.

It went well for about 10 minutes. I got to the NICU, and the overnight nurse wanted to draw my attention to some "sick" babies. One was a preemie in obvious respiratory distress despite our most aggressive assistance. The other was a full-term baby brought in from home for severe jaundice, leading to a brain problem called kernicterus (which, in this case, was due to mom not getting that little Rhogam shot that some pregnant ladies need based on their blood type). The baby was getting light therapy and I thought that was all we had to offer. The nurse asked about "exchange transfusion". We do that here? (And by "we", I guess I meant "me")

The next several hours, I had to consult a total of 7 of my colleagues, despite my ardent desire that my efforts would enable them to have a well-deserved weekend off. During this time, the other baby died. I finally made it to the general ward, where I learned that my tardiness was not minded, given that they had been busy trying to save a little girl, whom we had been treating for HIV and TB. She also had just died. So, it was lunchtime, no work was done, a bunch of my colleagues had helped out from home, and two kids had died.

For the sake of at least facade of brevity, I won't tell the whole saga. Five children died during my 48 hour watch. Each time I watched one die, I would pray for God to receive his small child, and each time it got harder and harder to trust in the subtle, yet powerful, albeit mysterious, goodness of God.

It doesn't break my faith, but it creates a tension inside me, one that is greatly complicated by my feelings of helplessness, despite many years of my life, gone into training that is seemingly not nearly enough for the need around me. This tension makes me want to run, but I don't deny its presence. And I would assert that I have the Psalmists and a chunk of biblical prophets who would back me up.

God, how can you let this happen?

God, I can't do this.

God, I still believe that you're good. Please, please, show me.

There's so much death. How can I just keep going?

Rachel wraps her arms around me, and softly says that God's strength is made perfect in my weakness. Later, Alyssa empathizes with the simple retelling of her own first call weekend, and reiterates that I can always call her at home. And late Sunday night, we gather in the Cropsey's living room and listen to an old sermon from Knox, where Chuck preaches a characteristically somber sermon on joy from Habakkuk, asserting that we must decide whether we will view God in terms of what we see in the world, or view the world in terms of what we see in God.

This is only one part of life here, as our lighthearted exploits into pet squashes, milking moms, and dead geckos surely show. But it is significant. It is expected. It is incredibly hard. And by God's grace, I pray it be fruitful.

"Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know you (I'm a friend of the Faders), but know that I am praying for you. Residency nearly broke me with calls like these and I know that you will face them regularly. May God bless and uphold you.

Family said...

Thanks for sharing both the good and the challenging.

Kathy Jeter said...

God is holding you in His arms. Our prayers are with you always.

David Durham said...

Eric, thanks for taking the time to record this. It's a good thing for lots of reasons: I think the process of writing your thoughts while they're fresh is healthy, and it will be interesting for you down the road to go back and read about this formative experience.

Much strength and love to you.

Anonymous said...

A brilliantly written, and wisely posted explanation of your thoughts and experiences this past week. THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS!! I was Jason's music teacher at RVA, so I am a "distant" friend. I will lift you up in prayer, that your heart will be encouraged.

Lois said...

Where was God? God was being seen through you. It's the way God works in such an imperfect world. Our love and prayers for all of you; keep sharing with us.

Linda S. said...

I am a fellow adoptive friend of Faders...a fellow MK from Africa and I am praying for the three families. May God give you that undivided heart to continue to serve HIM during the hard times. Your story touches my heart. Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan said...

I love you Eric. I'm so sorry. I can't imagine. I'll continue to pray. I'm so proud of you and Rachel.

Love, Sami

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. It gives us a look into what it's like over there--and what we can be praying about. My heart broke reading this--for your heart and the struggle that this work brings day in and out. I'm a friend of the Faders and feel a connection to you who I've never met. May God give you wisdom and strength as you do his work.

Anonymous said...

My prayers are with you, Rachel and your little Maggie. As I've been told, God gives you no more than you can handle. I thank you for the love of medicine you both possess. God bless, adriann (from Gallup)

Anonymous said...

It is hard to be the Mom of a son going through such pain and growth. It is even harder being so far away. We are all called to go through the Jordan River and experience difficulty in our lives. These only lead to recognizing and experiencing greater joys that may be over looked. I know their are Moms thanking you for saving their child's life. Thank you Jesus for giving a loving wife that can relate to his trials and tribulations. Love, Mom

Philip said...

I listened to a sermon series by Tim Keller on Habakkuk which I found helpful and which I am sending via Shawn Quinn or his delegate. I will remember you in my prayers.....

Anonymous said...

Eric, your grandmother B shared this with me before I read your blog. Our adult Sunday School listened to my story of you and your family now in Africa...we will hold you all in our hearts and prayers as you move forward serving God with your hearts and knowledge. your Fredericksburg, VA friends!