Consistency speaks volumes here in Ukraine as became evident a few weeks back when we were once again visiting hospitalized HIV+ children.
The head doctor approached me as she was leaving the building for the day and asked me to do her a favor. She told me about a teen-aged patient who would not take her ARV medicines by mouth. She would not eat and if food or medicine were pushed on her by mouth, she would immediately vomit. The head doctor feared that the patient had lost her will to live — her father had died about six years ago and her mom died last year. She was feeling all alone and the doctor wanted me to just visit and tell her that God is always with her. I was more than surprised at this request, specifically being asked to talk about God!
I went to visit Dasha and found a gorgeous young lady with penetrating dark brown eyes and beautiful long brown hair. Though she seemed to wonder why Lena and I had stopped in, she was smiling by the time we left. We asked permission to visit her again and she readily accepted the proposal.
The next week we returned accompanied by Jana Daley and her two daughters. Dasha picked the colors and the girls made her multiple bracelets and anklets. They even left extra threads so that Dasha could make more later. The conversations centered first on food — what had been Dasha’s favorites before she became sick — and we all shared in the light banter. I asked her whether she liked McDonald’s — there is one nearby the hospital — and when she responded yes we began to make plans to visit. Of course, she’d have to be off the IV and strong enough to make the short trip. She gave the idea serious consideration and thought it might be fun. Motivation to eat by mouth.
When we asked if there was anything that she wanted she replied that she would love some music. Her equipment had broken so she threw it away and she was yearning for some good old Russian pop. We didn’t promise anything, but told her we’d try to help out. She even gave Lena access to her social site to be able to download her favorite music.
She told us about her godmother who was now staying in her room with her. And we located a Bible and some biblical DVDs in her room. She seemed to know God. But I planned to take the Jesus Storybook Bible to her…requesting she let me know what she thought about it for children.
The youth leader in our church donated a CD player, Toliy added headphones, and several people gave us CDs. We were excited to visit Dasha and present her with her heart’s desire. But when we arrived at the hospital, she had been transferred to the intensive care unit. It seems they were attempting to feed her through a tube while she slept so that she would not reject it. Because she was under anesthesia to keep her knocked out we were not allowed to visit.
Nor the next week.
The following week — last week — we were told that she had had surgery to remove some sort of intestinal blockage…THAT was why she couldn’t eat. It wasn’t just in her head. And much to my surprise, we were told that we could visit her! Lena and I put on our fancy blue shoe coverings and rang the bell at the intensive care unit.
Shoe coverings alone would not allow us in. We needed a robe. A mask. And a hat. So back we went to the previous unit and borrowed what we needed. Upon our return, we were permitted to enter her room. She was so weak and could hardly keep her eyes open, but when we showed her the CD player she whispered, “Spaseeba.” Thank you. The staff cleaned the machine and set it up for her right next to her pillow. The nurse even put the earplugs into her ears. She was so happy.
She wanted some mint drops…a small request, we thought, though it took us a half hour to complete the search and buy them at a nearby drug store. She was looking forward to our excursion to McDonald’s and she said that she would no longer be in intensive care the next week, but would be back in her room. She wanted us to come back again. She spoke so quietly that Lena had to lean close, but her words were certain.
So Wednesday I arrived at the hospital to see our recovering patient. You needed to pick my chin up off the floor when I was told she had died on Saturday. What? Why? Are you sure? Jim continued to discuss the medical aspects with the doctors and I quietly left the area. I settled down on ‘my’ couch where we wait for the little ones to come and play and I silently cried out to the Lord. Tears for Dasha. Tears for me. (Selfish, I know.) But additional happy tears that she no longer felt alone…she is in the presence of the living God.