Catfish and IVs

“Have you seen Mau’s thumb? He was stung by a catfish two weeks ago and it is extremely swollen.” They were right. His thumb was twice the size it should have been, grossly swollen with red and white patches and the end of his thumb was shriveled and crusty. After church, Boaz tried to drain it, but with no luck. Poor Mau was in so much pain and our lidocane shots were nowhere to be found, so we took him in to a clinic we often refer more complicated patients to.
The doctor was very kind, he looked at the thumb, suggested we try IV Rocephin every 12 hours for 5 days and didn’t charge for the consult. We picked up the Rocephin on the way home. We decided the best way to do this was to do a IV push but without an IV in place. Accessing the vein with the needle then pushing the antibiotic very slowly. The first dose went well. Boaz did it once we got back to the clinic, and left everything for me to be able to drive my moto to the village the next morning and give Mau the antibiotic.
A key point to mention is that Mau has Grave’s disease. His thyroid has gone into overdrive so his blood pressure is high, his heart rate runs in the 130’s, and his metabolism is super fast so he has no body fat. This is nice for me because his veins stick out quite nicely so locating them is the easy part. The not-so-nice part, is that since his blood pressure and heart rate are always high, his veins are now very fragile.Ive lost count of how many veins I’ve “blown” while trying to give the medicine. A typical visit goes like this:
Its 6:30 am. I don’t want to get out of bed, but the entire village has been up since the 4:30 call to prayer over the loudspeakers of multiple mosques, and I don’t want to look lazy. I find appropriate Muslim wear (long sleeves, long pants or skirt, and a hijab), find the keys to the lock and to the moto, and stumble out the door.
Whoops forgot an extra syringe. Go back in, find the syringe, medicine, touriquet, and alcohol wipes. Once the lock is open, I bodyslam the door to the moto storage area. I really should remind Boaz to get it fixed, but a good bodyslam wakes you up in the morning so I don’t particularly mind. I check the chicken who has made a nest in the canoe, and back the moto out the door.
On my drive to the village I manage to avoid 9 chickens with death wishes, one cow, 16 children who all scream “HELLOOO!!!” multiple times as I come into sight, and doge a grandma or two. At Mau’s house, I call a Cham greeting and he will either come to the moto or I will go up into the house. Neither are good options for several reasons. By the moto I will have more of a crowd and less space to work. But Mau’s house can hardly be called a house. If I try to climb the stairs I’m afraid I’m going to either break one or slip off, and once I duck to get in the 3 food opening I have to be careful where I put my feet.
Today is a house day. He invites me up into the palm leaf covered hut and I gingerly walk on the cross beams because I am absolutely certain I’m going to fall through the floor one of these days.
As I open the sterile water and mix it in the antibiotic vile, Mau tries to discuss which vein will be the best to use. I have my own opinions, but since he is the one being stabbed (often) multiple times a day, I try to honor to his wishes. I look at his various limbs. I’ve blown his hand veins at least once each, arm veins are either previously blown or I’ve used recently enough that somewhere else seems like a better idea. So onto his legs. I’ve blown one foot vein, Boaz used that other one yesterday, so lets try for this ankle. Nope. I will admit to having some veggie curse words come to mind simply because a blow vein really hurts, I’m not sure where to go next, and I’m running low on alcohol wipes to clean my puncture area with.
A very very nice looking arm vein suddenly catches my attention and I wrap the tourniquet around his upper arm to see if the vein will plump up. It does “Thank you, God!” I whisper in my brain. I clean the area and pray it goes in this time. One stick and a bit of wiggling the needle later, I get blood return, remove the tourniquet, and slowly start to push the antibiotic.
Pain suddenly starts to break through my thoughts because my right leg which is under me in my criss-cross-applesauce sitting position is not happy with the bamboo slats. I want to push the antibiotic quicker but that results in blown veins so onto praying without ceasing for my leg. Down to 7 ml now… oh flibberty jibbit my leg is tingling like crazy… 5ml… ok yep never walking on this leg again. We are talking totally numb and tingly now…2ml…I wonder how it will get down these steps on one leg… aanndd we are done! Mau shoots me a grin, I tell him its good and I apply pressure to the puncture site. He takes over holding pressure as I secure all the needles and gather my trash. I remind him I will be back at 5 pm to repeat this and hobble to the door. I slide down the steps and force my leg to walk to the moto to head home. I do enjoy this and will come back later. Yea. It’s a pretty good morning.

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