Sunday, February 19, 2012

Life is Fragile


{Background information at this post written by Troy.}

If you don't remember the story of 'K' , a 19 year old woman with TB and AIDS  - please read the past posts about her.  Heartline had a pre-existing relationship with this family and began to walk along side them and provide care and advocacy through some of what they have faced in the last year.

Life is fragile.

Tonight I am sad to report that things have taken a fairly dramatic turn for the worse for K.  After Troy and John visited her Friday they came back saying that they could see her heart beating through her chest as if her heart sat below a layer of tissue paper and no muscle or fat protected it at all.

Last week other patients in the tent with K told John and others that K had been throwing her meds away, refusing to eat or take them. Since then she has resumed taking her meds and claimed it was just a one time thing, but that isn't what those watching her said.

We'd like to get to the bottom of that, but right now K is too weak to question her about why she chose to do that. There are a couple possible reasons that we can guess, but the time to press her further on this - well - it just isn't now.

Life is fragile.

Many people have been visiting and singing and encouraging K and her mom and sister.  The visits are as much for the visitor as they are for K. I had been putting off a visit, hoping to keep from seeing K on a terribly bad day. Just hearing Troy's take on it made me kind of afraid to go.

Visiting is important. Standing so close to that level of suffering and courage has a way of stirring and changing people.

Life is fragile.

If we believe what Jesus said, there is great importance in visiting the sick, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult it might be.

Matthew 25:31-40 says:

31-33"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. 34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.'

 37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

Life is fragile.

As is so often the case here, we're learning that there is a lot more to K's story than we originally thought.

Like the proverb says, 'Deye mon gen mon'.  Behind mountains there are mountains. 

At one point we mistakenly believed that she learned she was HIV + from a test done at Heartline in May 2011.  On that day last year when she was told the result her sister cried as if it was the first time they had heard.

Today as we drove away from the tent hospital where K rests we (again) asked her sister some questions, hoping to better understand how in the world she could be this sick this fast.  As we bumped along a back dirt road trying to avoid the Sunday night Mardi Gras (Kanaval) parades she shared a much more detailed version of the history of K's illness.

In 2005 when K was 14 she was in a physical 'relationship' with a 19 year old.
In 2006 the 19 year old guy died - "everyone knew it was SIDA". (SIDA is the Haitian acronym for AIDS).
In 2006 after the guy died they went to be tested and got a negative HIV result on K.
In 2007 she was sick a lot and they tested again. The 2007 test was positive.
There was a lack of belief about the result and K's sister said "they gave her medicine but she did not take it."
In 2010 we met K because her sister was a field hospital patient post earthquake.
In March 2010 K was well enough to give birth to a daughter.
In May 2011 K comes saying she is sick. Dr. Jen does and HIV test and informs her she is positive. 
In mid 2011 the TB tests done come back negative. (Or so we were told.)
In late 2011 K's sister tell us she is very sick. 
She is admitted into a HIV/TB program. 
Today she continues to reside at that same program, living in a tent with other patients.

She has probably been HIV+ since she was 14 years old.  Her birthday is in the month of September.   She will not turn 20 until September.  She is 19 years old and this is what full blown AIDS and TB looks like on a person that didn't have the support and couldn't or wouldn't believe she should take the HIV medications back in 2007.

Life is fragile.

We asked her if she wanted to stick around with us much longer or go home to her father in heaven...she says she'd prefer to 'stay here a while'.
We asked her to come dance with us in a Kanaval parade, she declined but said 'maybe next year'.
She continues to have some of the spunk we have come to love in her, but there is less of it.

Please continue to pray for K.