The Man Who Refused to Die

Filed Under (Stories) by admin on 11-01-2010

Two days after I arrived Maripipi Island I sat down in the patio thinking about returning to Colorado.  It was a humid day. Mosquitoes were all over me. I missed Colorado so much but my ticket was scheduled in 3 months. I was living alone in a big dilapidated old house of my late parents.  If I can only change the schedule of my trip I would leave sooner.

I was like in a trance counting the days when I will leave when my neighbor Martin approached me.  I asked him where he had been because I did not see him.  He said he was in the hospital because he had a bump in his back and it was painful. “How long has it been there?” I asked. “Five months. It started as a boil in October and now it is growing. It is very painful and I can’t eat, sleep, or work. All I know is pain. It is now March and the pain is getting worse, especially at night”.

I asked him whether he’s seen the doctor.  He said that he was admitted in the hospital for one week and was discharged because the doctor couldn’t do anything for him. They could not diagnose what was the cause of the bump in his back and was discharged to die at home.

I told him that he needed surgery to which he replied that he had already spent a sizable sum to the doctors and hospital and was financially wiped out. He told me I was his only hope. “Please help me because the pain is excruciating and I have not slept soundly for a long time” he cried.  “I don’t think I can last another month with this pain. I am in misery. Please help me.”

I told him I was a nurse, not a doctor. I didn’t have any medical instruments to remove the buildup of pus that was in his back. He was given antibiotics, and now the pus was trapped between the tissues.

I was wondering why the doctors couldn’t do a simple procedure as an incision and drainage to relieve the man from his pain.  Suppose something happens to me in the island what will I do? I asked myself.

The following day Martin came back with his wife. He looked haggard and stooped forward. Again he came begging to be help. I told him I didn’t have a syringe. He said his wife bought a needle and syringe in  Naval. And he said they were going to sign a statement to the effect that if anything happens to him from the procedure I will not be held responsible for it.

Well, I had to do something if I have to help this man. I asked the wife to get a bottle of alcohol in the store and wiped it on his back. Then I looked for a very thin area in his back and punctured it with the needle. Just when the skin was broken blackish pus mixed with dead tissues started to ooze. Because the dead tissue clogged the needle hole, I had to suck out the pus with the syringe.  I obtained 270 cc of pus that had settled in his back for the past five months.

Every day Martin came to see me to see to it his back was drained of the pus. He was able to sleep now. One week after I did the procedure he went back to school and blared that I was better than a doctor because he got well.  And most of all, it was free.  From then on my house became a trauma center.  Most of my patients were the poor who could not afford medical treatment they needed.  Children and adults alike were my patients.  Some slept in my house for the night.  Without provisions for the unintended stay they got fed

In Maripipi we have a hospital. But patients don’t go there for treatment. It is understaffed and the staff are fresh from college who have no experience because they are mostly political appointees.  They don’t even know how to insert a catheter fully, or an intravenous solution in case of severe diarrhea. But death is an accepted fact of life.  Nobody gets sued if a mistake is done by an inexperienced health care worker.  You can hear about the mistakes but that’s about it.  Sometimes death is welcome when a sick person dies; it is a less of a burden to the family and actually one less mouth to feed. Anybody who can help ease the pain of hunger or abuse is appreciated.

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