I stopped by the hospital this afternoon to see how No-no was doing. I walked in and Sipho started to cry almost as soon as I got there. Once again I’m not sure what to do in this situation, so I stopped patting No-no’s back for a minute and patted his shoulder. I can tell he doesn’t want me to see him cry. I think most men don’t want people, especially women, to see them cry, but in Swaziland, this is quite unusual; especially since I’m not family. Sipho said he is almost out of hope. No-no is not getting better. She sleeps most of the time and though her coughing spells have greatly decreased, she still has them from time to time. She definitely had a fever. After not having a fever for 3 or 4 days, her fever had gone up to 101 earlier that morning. Her eyes weren’t quite as swollen, but she still wasn’t opening her eyes. Sipho said all she wants is for him to hold her all the time. And she doesn’t like it when he tries to sit down with her. Sipho spent all day yesterday with her and stayed the night as well. It was now about 12:30 and he was still with her. And there wasn’t any one with him all night and this morning. He said No-no was talking to him a lot last night. He said it was like she was telling him good-bye because she was telling him how much she loved him and appreciated all the things he has done for her. He was also asking him questions that were hard for him and painful for him to answer, such as why he is estranged from her older brother who is about 21.
Sipho also said he feels like the nurse is angry with him because we finally organized the pot and extension cord so he could steam the room. He feels like the nurse won’t do anything for No-no and that the nurses aren’t treating her anymore but he really doesn’t know why. I told him my American response would be if she got angry for taking 3 days to partially organize a way to steam the room No-no was in then that was just too bad. She should have done her job quicker. But then I also backed down and said perhaps she isn’t mad, but he just thinks she is, or perhaps she was busy with other children. He said he wants to take her out of the hospital. I can’t say as I blame him, but I don’t’ know what the alternative is.
I asked him if he thought she would let me hold her for a while so he could at least go out to the rest room. Sipho asked her and she said yes. So Sipho gave her to me. I didn’t know such a thin, though tall girl could be so heavy. She weighed 22 kg’s or 48.5 pounds when she was admitted about 3 weeks ago. I’m sure she weighs less now, but she’s so long and so weak that she felt heavy and was hard for me to hold.
I told Sipho to go take a nap, take a walk, get something to eat, or just go and take a break. I sat there rocking her from side to side, patting her back, humming and praying. After a bit I heard her quietly say my name and ask me to stand. So I did. It wasn’t long after that before Sipho came back. He had been gone for probably about 30 minutes. When he returned, he had a cousin with him. She walked in the door, sat in the chair and cried. Big help she’s going to be. I left shortly thereafter because I didn’t want to intrude.
When Sipho took No-no from me he put her on his back and tied a blanket around her and him to hold her in place just like the mothers and grandmothers do. No-no had asked him to put her on my back, but I told her I didn’t know how to carry a child on my back. What I didn’t say is I wasn’t sure I could hold her on my back and I didn’t want to try it with a child very sick child of her size. But as I watched him, I thought of what a loving father he is and how much pain and heartache he is carrying. Very few men in Swaziland even hold their babies, let alone put a child of her age on his back the way women carry them. As I left, I asked him to call me if he needed anything. I hope he will.
Please keep No-no in your prayers. Pray for healing for No-no and for strength and hope for Sipho.