Thursday, November 26, 2009

Something to be Thankful For

“So what would happen if we did not have these antibiotics?” my father asked his doctor as the doctor wrote out a prescription. My father had developed a fever as his body was fighting off of an infection and he was curious which would win – the infection or his body.

“Well, before we had these antibiotics, people died from this,” the doctor replied.

As my father was later relaying this story to me, we were both struck by how much we take for granted the life-saving medicines that are readily available to us.

I reflect on this conversation every time I have a child who would likely die if it were not for modern antibiotics.

Last weekend was one of those times.

Ed developed an internal infection that led to a soaring fever and abdominal pain. After 12 hours of tests and debates among doctors in the emergency room, the root cause was discovered. IV antibiotics were injected into her veins and she was admitted to the hospital for close observation.

Ed responded well to the antibiotics and she is back home with us now, although the sum total of her activity each day has been to move from her bed to the couch in the morning and then move back to her bed at night.

This most recent event has caused me to reflect on how many children I would have lost already without access to medical care. By my count, the number is three. But the divide between “would have lost” and “have lost” is so enormous that the two hardly seem related. I recall reading a news article that had a photo of an Ethiopian mother holding her dying child. Her despondent face clearly conveyed her pain over the hopelessness of the situation. There were no doctors, or enough food for that matter, and her child was going to die.

Naively, I thought it could not be worse for this mother. But I was wrong. She actually had three kids and this was the third time she was holding one as they died. Such pain is too great for me; I cannot come to terms with it.

So this Thanksgiving, as I see Ed moping around the house, I am truly thankful for how access to modern medicine will allow all of my family to be together on Thanksgiving day. As I look at my family, however, I also see beyond them to the families of Ethiopia and I realize that I need to do more for them.


Are These Kids All Yours? said...

second that here!!!!

Mama of 5 said...

Very moving post!

B.E.C.K. said...

I'm constantly amazed by the medicines to which we have access (and which we take for granted). Last week I developed pinkeye and already had antibiotic eye drops for it. My son had a headache and we had ibuprofen in the house. When he had bronchitis, we were able to get antibiotics in less than an hour. It is astonishing. Thank you for bringing our blessings to our attention, and for reminding us that other people need extra help to have that to which we have come to feel entitled.

B.E.C.K. said...

P.S. I'm so glad your daughter is starting to feel better!! :-)