Peter’s nightmare

June 6, 2009

June 5, 2009

No one would faintly consider from Peter’s innocent smile that he’s in his terrible two.  The smile that instantly melts even a person who isn’t fond of toddlers.  The kind of smile that makes one forget that Peter can be a rambunctious and mischievous little person.  The morning alarm who would easily get on Santa’s naughty list.  The potty-trained child who would  urinate on his uncle’s Picfare exercise book and defecate in the yard because it’s his domain.  An obvious hub for virulent microorganisms.

A seemingly brave child who’s unafraid of living organisms, Peter ran crying for his life when he saw my camera.  The unfamiliar black monster was going to eat him.   Even after watching me photograph his infant sister, it took a while before he became completely comfortable with the THING.

Several days ago I noticed a change that was characterized by persistent crying, limping, and decreased exuberance in his demeanor.  When I inquired about them, his mother informed me that the boy’s father took the sick boy to the local clinic, where the nurse who assumed the illness was malaria gave him a shot on his gluteus. When the mother went to the dispensary to ask for the name of the medication, the nurse refused to reveal the name of the drug.  Later when her husband and she went to confront the nurse, she finally told them that she gave Peter a shot of quinine.

The poorly administered intramuscular injection could  lead to gluteal fibrosis; an injury that damages the sciatic nerve and leaves the child unable to bend the knee, so that normal activities such as walking, running, squatting and climbing become extremely strenuous.  Many cases were reported around the country where untrained health professionals in small clinics gave children quick intramuscular gluteus injections of quinine for malarial infections leaving them disabled.  These children would need physical therapy and orthopedic surgery to rectify their fates.  The lives completely altered by malpractices that could be avoided at little cost.

Since that initial conversation about Peter’s unfortunate clinic visit, his parents took him to the local hospital to test for malaria.  Diagnosed with severe malaria, Peter was given IV quinine on numerous visits to the hospital.  His mother massages his leg to reduce the effects of quinine.  He’s slowly recovering from malaria.


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