Today its a warm, nervous smile. Today I can see her cheekbones – a big improvement. Lacan is only 19 and on top of the blessing of a new child, she walks a tightrope between life and death.
Her heart inexplicably ballooned at the end of her pregnancy. Think a rubber band that’s stretched just a little bit too far and can’t return to its previous, powerful state. It now pumps blood only around 1/5tth as effectively as a good heart, and the body struggles. Her kidneys try not to give up as their blood supply drops. Her body swells like a balloon as her feeble heart causes water to backlog and seep into her tissues. 3 days ago she couldn’t walk, her swollen legs hurt so much.
But this morning, its a warm, nervous smile. She points to the wrinkles on her shins that shows her fluid level dropping. We hope and pray. Medical research says the odds are in her favour, but that research was done in places like New Zealand, where they have better drugs, better tests, and they wouldn’t let an inexperienced doctor like me near the drug chart of a patient like her. Even if she recovers, bearing another child may well lead disaster – but try explaining to a 19 year old Acoli woman that she can’t have another child.
I return her warm, nervous smile with one of my own.
“Itye?” (How are you?)
“Atye” (I’m OK)