Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg...

...is where I’ve been living for the past 6 weeks. Joaquim had a horrible accident: on the 21st of September he fell into our rubbish pit where for two days previously we had been burning lots of garden waste: branches, leaves etc. As a result the pit was full of hot coals and he ended up with 3rd degree burns on both feet. It was horrific, I don’t want to describe it. We flew to Jo’burg where an ambulance was waiting for us and we checked in at Milpark. At which point a lot of very competent and caring people took over and Joaquim began to recover. We avoided skin grafts, just. The plastic surgeon was great, keeping me informed about progress at every dressing change (first 48 hours then 72) and then at the end allowing me to stay in theatre so I could have a look. By then the worst had long passed, and I could see the skin healing at 3 day intervals.

Joaquim was amazing. Once the pain had gone (about 2 weeks) he was cheerful, uncomplaining, patient, playful and positive. He went off to theatre for dressing changes with a smile, put the mask over his nose and mouth and took deep breaths – pausing to tell me it was yucky – and passing out with minimal fuss. He didn’t try to walk until the doctor said he could, and then was brave enough to put his feet down and have a go. Once he could leave his bed we went to the zoo (4 times), the park, shopping malls and so on. And we made some new friends: Chris, Dez and Mekyla, a lovely South African family who took us in with open arms and took us out for week-end “jols”: picnics, candle dipping, monkey park. Joaquim loved it and Mekyla in particular, who, although 12 years old, was incredibly sweet and lovely to him. Meeting them and the 10 day stretch that super-maman (that’s my mother for those of you who don’t read Marie’s blog) spent with us to give me moral support, were the highlights of our stay. And the only other good point was that I read more in six weeks than in the last six months. Apart from that I spent a lot of time playing with plastic dinosaurs, cars, plasticine and mega-blocs, colouring in and reading children’s books.

We were both very happy to be back in Pemba last Saturday, and were met by a very excited Sebastian and a beaming Paulo. Home at last. Joaquim is very nearly better. His feet are still bandaged to protect the new skin, which is thin and fragile. I change his dressings every three days. In about 10 days we’ll progress to socks and slippers, and a few weeks after that, if he’s comfortable, soft shoes. For six months we have to be very careful with the sun, and the surgeon says that although they will look healed, they won’t actually be fully healed for 12-18 months. It’s a long and slow process. Nonetheless, he’s already walking with support and playing with his friends at nursery (he was determined to go back on Monday and his teacher says he’s doing fine) and at home. I reckon when the bandages come off he’ll regain full mobility very quickly. On the whole, we’ve been very lucky, he should have no or minimal scarring and hopefully no long-term trauma. Although he’s a little sensitive (cries easily, easily startled), he’s generally happy and cheerful so I think he will soon be fine, if very wary of matches, candles, stoves, hot drinks, etc. (maybe not such a bad thing). So the long-term perspective is very good.

And now we both want to move on and get back to normal, so I will not be saying much more on the subject here.

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At 12:19 pm, Blogger Terryhenry said...

Sounds horrid. Glad to hear he's doing well now, he sounds like a tough little cookie! - Marie has been keeping me informed! Colette

At 12:44 pm, Blogger swisslil said...

Poor J, poor you...can't imagine the trauma. Thank God he's making a great recovery. Just reading that made me come out in a sweat..
loads of love xx
PS we're off 25th Nov

At 1:54 pm, Blogger Rebecca said...

You're off on 25th! I'm really quite envious. What with the obvious, I missed the conference in Kampala I was meant to attend so now we'll HAVE to come and see you en famille. Once you've settled in a bit of course.

BTW when is bump due and are you now fully recovered from the horrendous first few months?


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