Thursday, July 7, 2011

Isabel - part one

The story of finding Isabel:
Living in Honduras I have witnessed a lot of things that lacked in the justice department. I've seen things that would make grown men break and sob. I've experienced things that I thought were surely the greatest acts of injustice in the entire world. However, when we found Isabel (March 11th 2008) I knew that injustice had taken on a whole new meaning for me. A friend of ours (Carlos) runs a daycare center in Teguc called Jen to ask her to go with him to deliver food to a starving family in a village near us. Shortly after they left Jen called to say that they were on their way back but needed me to warm up some water and find something that would serve as a bathtub. Upon their arrival at the house they had found a little girl that was so malnourished that she was literally starving to death. Jen was bringing her back to Casa to get cleaned up and then planned to make the long overdue trip to the hospital with her. Just as I was about to hang up the phone I heard Jen's voice barely whisper the words "Ash this is worse than anything I've seen here."

Let me just say that nothing could have prepared me for the site that I was about to see. Jen walked through the door carrying a tiny little bundle that was unmistakably a baby from the wails that could be heard from miles away. Wails that screamed of injustice and pain. We headed straight for Jen's shower where I had set up our make shift bathtub. As Jen began unwrapping the blanket I felt my heart drop and my stomach turn at the site before my eyes. I managed to lift my gaze. I found the rush of emotions that were gripping my heart staring back at me as my eyes met Jen's. Knowing the time for tears and breaking down would come later I allowed myself to look past what I was seeing and meet the needs of the little one Jen was placing in my arms.

We managed to get her changed and wrapped up in a clean blanket. Within minutes after I found myself sitting in the car cradling that same bundle and staring down into the eyes of a little one I would quickly fall completely in love with. As we drove to town Jen helped me piece together the rest of the story that I had yet to put together. The bundle in my arms was four year old Maria Isabell. (we call her Isabell) She and her brother, sister, and cousin were living with their grandmother just outside of Ojojona. The mom had abandoned them months before when her new boyfriend said he didn't want kids. From there the Grandmother (who isn't all there) struggled to find money for food and medicines that were necessary to keep her grand kids healthy. Isabell was by far the worst. She had begun having seizures off and on about four months ago and continued to have them in my arms as we rushed her to the Emergency room.

Once there we learned that she weighed only 19 pounds....4 years old and 19 pounds. They hooked her up to an IV and we soon saw a doctor. However, answers were few and far between. Priority became getting fluids in here and getting her stable. Getting her belly full and her strength back was far more important than dealing with the seizures that came off and on or the distorted/deformed way her body had become over the past months. Her hunger pains had sent her into the fetal position. The fact that no one had touched/moved her for days on end had allowed her muscles to disintegrate and the skin literally just hangs from her legs.

Not willing to let her spend a night in the hospital alone I volunteered to stay the night with her. I spent the night massaging her feet. She LOVES having her feet rubbed. (oh yes ME touching feet! ....God does have a sense of humor) I've decided that it is one of the few places that people can touch without causing her great pain and she really just longs to be touched. Every time she would cry (which was often) I would be by her side singing or talking of the days ahead when we would be playing tag, singing together, giggling, and doing all the normal things that 4 year olds were made to do.

Let me just say that those late night hours bonded us on a level that I didn't know could exist after such a short amount of time. By middle of the night she was drinking water and able to swallow again. Around 2 a.m. she had the last seizure and by morning her eyes were brighter, her body was a little stronger, and she was beginning to develop a little bit of an attitude. We spent the night and today bending, flexing, and moving her limbs the best I could. She still prefers to keep them curled up and bent the way we found her but they have each at some point been stretched all the way out so we know it is possible. We also treated her head for lice and may have managed to kill half of them. (she had a head FULL of lice)

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