We post often about all the wonderful things going on at Wat Opot. We post often about all the projects, the games, the events that take place. Posts that show the smiles, the joy, the laughter. Posts that reflect the time and energy put into our children’s future.
What we don’t post often about is sickness. One reason is because there isn’t much to post about. Our kids take their meds twice a day and that’s that. But once in while we are reminded of those days when death and sickness was a daily occurrence. When you feared you may loose a young life even before they had time to shine.
Mr. Somnang came to us in December 2016. A sturdy 4 yr. old boy who quickly was nicknamed “bruiser”. Before coming to us he lived with his blind grandmother and his mentally ill father. In order to keep him safe, he was tethered to a bed. Without this setup, he could have wandered off. Social services informed us of him and his situation and with his family’s blessings, we brought him toWat Opot to give him a safe life.
Because of his prior confinement, he hadn’t had much exercise. This was evident in not only his lack of large motor skills, but in his huge belly! He definitely didn’t lack food in his family home.
It was a sight to see when he got out of the truck. He took off running and fell, got up and ran and fell…over and over he fell down as he ran awkwardly and jumped inconsistently. His sweet little face was soon covered in cuts, scrapes and bruises and it was good his family didn’t come visit his first few weeks here!
He then had a seizure, going limp and falling to the ground. He ‘came to’ a few minutes later, was groggy for awhile and then slept for hours. It was uncertain whether he hit his head and then had the seizure or he had the seizure and then fell. We just kept an eye on him that day and then he started to have them every day finally turning into grand mal. He would soil himself as he writhed on the ground, then he would vomit and then sleep. (Cafe Cat, a.k.a. C.C. kept him company the first time it happened.)
After contacting his family, we found out that he had had them before and that his father had them when he was young (information that would have been nice to know prior to his arrival!) After the last really big one, we rushed him in to National Pediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh.
With Phnom Penh 2 hours away, we gathered his items and our wonderful Srey Oun (a former Wat Opot child who came back to work with us for a few months) and headed in….only to have a tire blow out along the way! It was bad enough that Somnang was still kind of out of it and had thrown up all over Srey Oun, but now we had to wait to get the tired changed. But as the universe deals blows it can be kind as the tire blew literally 20 feet from a tire shop in the middle of nowhere.
Finally arriving at the hospital, Somnang was still dozing off and on and didn’t even flinch when they inserted the IV.
He ended up staying for 4 days until Srey Oun said he was driving her crazy as she tried to keep him subdued when his natural energetic self emerged. He pulled out the IV twice! Being a bottomless pit, you could always keep him happy eating and he loves books.
We convinced the doctor that we would keep an eye on him at home (instead of keeping him confined in the hospital) and that we would bring him back if there were any changes. Meds in hand, he was released back into our care and he had one of the best welcomes of all. Running to and fro with arms outstretched hugging someone briefly before heading to the next big sibling. No gender dress code here!
Two year old Srey Kah came to us in January 2017. Her mother died and her paternal family struggled to care for a very ill HIV+ granddaughter. The Takeo Hospital where our children go, informed us of her after she had missed her doctor appointments. You see, Srey Kah’s deceased mother was HIV+ but her father is not. Regardless of why, the fact is that her biological family was not medically taking care of her and at 2 years old, she weighed only 6 kilos.
It was like having an infant with us since she could not walk and had no energy at all. She couldn’t eat because of painful ulcers in her throat and thrush allover inside her mouth. She usually had a frown on her face and anyone who tried to love her was met with tolerance, as if she knew she needed us, but given the choice would rather just not be interacted with.
Except for animals, reptiles and amphibians, she had a special fascination with them and would rather smile at a frog than a human.
Srey Kah’s health went up and down. Her mouth cleared up and she started eating and got up to 6.5 kilos (14.3 lbs.), but she kept throwing up and many times threw up her meds. She had a week stay in Takeo Hospital, but came back no better off than when she left. Then over Khmer New Year she went home to stay with her family and they brought her back at 5 kilos (11 lbs.)! As beautiful as she is, she was gaunt and her bones were visible all over that tiny body.
We took another trip in to the National Pediatric Hospital with Srey Oun. Srey Kah was admitted and they started pumping her with nutrition after finding a workable vein in her foot. After a few days, her lethargy diminished and she started eating.
She came home a little over a week later and was back up to 6.5 kilos (14.3 lbs.) and we started making her major nutritional shakes with Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) bars from the hospital, adding Ovaltine or Milo for chocolaty goodness and some baby formula we need to use up. She loves helping to make them!
It’s been a week since she came home from the hospital and she’s 7 kilos (15.5 lbs.)! She’s a different child, laughing, eating everything in sight, trying foods (especially fruit) which she had never been able to tolerate before. She’s crawling on her own and even pulled herself up to the table in the playroom the other day and took some steps around it. She’s playing with the other kids, jabbering and finally able to act her age.
Unlike stories from the past, this story has a happy ending with 2 happy (and getting healthier each day) little ones!
Thanks for stopping by….