Youlou's gone. Sunday morning. Barely responsive. Tubes sticking out everywhere. No family. Brother arrives. Call from Moundou. Cousin's a doctor. Knows him well. Has treated for years. Yes, HIV+, he knows. Evacuate. Ambulance arrives. Put Youlou on a stretcher. Out the door. In the Land Cruiser. Anatole and Augustin accompany. Gone.
The baby's gone. Bottle feeding. Changing poopy rags. Burping. Soothing. Sweet. Calm. Sunday evening. Mother's still denying. Local chief comes. Doesn't recognize. Operated patient does. My mother's relative. She's coming. Washes. Feeds. Mom sitting up. Drinks. New wrap. Uncle will come. 50 kilometers away. One more evening. Crying. Washing. Preparing milk. Sucking bottle. Morning. Knock, knock. This is the uncle. Over to Augustin's. Baby brought out. Sit in chairs. Recount stories. Mom AWOL. Family unaware. Went to market. Never came back. Gone.
Baby in box. Take out. Give to uncle. Merci beaucoup. Gone.
Monday afternoon. Woman in labor. Not progressing. Husband demands surgery. We stall. No progress. To the OR. Prep and scrub. Fat baby. Cries. Uterus closed easily. No complications. Back to ward. Wash hands. Go home. Evening. Oscar comes. Knock, knock. Breathing gone.
Rush. Run. Don't look panicked. Pupils dilated. Inner eyelids pale. No blood. No pulse. Occasional gasp. Chest compressions. Oscar take over! Call Delfine! Get a gurney! Run to OR. Scramble for Adrenaline. Nursing student! Draw up adrenaline. Broke and spilled. Take another. Broke again. Another. Finally. IV push. Heart beat. A little pulse. Push on chest. Air moves in. And out. Dump on stretcher. Run to OR. Open fridge. Take blood. O negative. Cold. Run it in. More adrenaline. Delfine! Another IV! Call lab. Blood type. Anatole comes. Blood sugar. Normal. Breathing on own. Heart beat. 140 per minute. No blood pressure. Oxygen sats normal. More blood. Hydrocortisone. Stop adrenaline drip. IV fluids. No urine output. One hour. Breathing well. Out to ward. Stress gone.
Move to bed. Woman speaks. Wants to sit up. Turn around. Crank handle. Raise head. Breathing bad. No pulse. No heartbeat. Adrenaline twice. Gone.
Tuesday morning. Call from Moundou. Youlou. Getting better. Coma gone.
Tuesday evening. Ring, ring. Anatole. 6:30pm. Youlou dead. Gone.
Knock, knock. Anatole. Samedi. Come in. Sit down. Have some tea. Almost seven years. Hundreds of deaths. Samedi, over 30 years. Anatole over 25 years. Cholera. Liquid diarrhea. Up to knees. Wear boots. 1996 epidemic. Family won't help. 24 perfusions. Doxycycline. Doctors without borders. Money. In other's hands. Gone. Only Samedi and Anatole. Bury the dead. Stuff cotton in nose, mouth, anus. Even at night. Family doesn't help. Only Samedi and Anatole. 24 hours a day. Three months. Never got sick. Many others gone.
Measles epidemic. 1987. Samedi. Four children. Measles. Family emphatic. Don't treat. Samedi ignores. Penicillin for each. Eye drops. Citrus. All live. Many patients. Hospital full. Father of four. Loses two today. Loses two tomorrow. All gone.
1983. Black September. Curfew. Anatole and friend. Thrown in jail. Come out. Beat or killed. Three days. Finally released. Village of Bere. Hospital empty. Village gone. Samedi in one house. Anatole in another. No electricity. By themselves. Protecting. Watching. Guarding. Anatole gone. Samedi 24 hours a day. One week. No one else. Next week. Anatole alone. Doctor taken hostage. Samedi captured. Night. African bush. Military. We'll kill. Who's that? We're with you. Who's that? Nurse. Samedi? Let him go. Samedi runs. Gone.
Funeral. Youlou. Tomorrow. Let's go. Ok. Good night. Walk to gate. Laugh. Why are we alive? My brother dead. Same car. I'm alive. Anatole and Samedi. Alive. Back to house. Stars. Cloudless sky. No moon. Tears flow. Sobs wrack. So many...gone.