Friday, June 11, 2010

Even playing field?

Today I got to hold a baby. She is 34 weeks old. Her mama just died of complications from HIV. Her mama was my patient and died just after they did an emergency c-section to save the baby. I found every excuse in the book to go see the baby in the NICU and today got to hold her. She is 3lbs and we don't know if she has HIV yet or not. For having had no pre-natal care and for being carried by a very, very sick mama, she is doing well. I held her and whispered prayers to the heavens for her. I prayed that soon DFCS would find someone in her family qualified to raise her. I prayed that she did not contract her mama's virus. I prayed that she feels the love of the nurses and doctors and stalking social workers around her. I prayed that she has no major illnesses from her scary entrance to the world and that somehow she is given opportunities in her life. I prayed that somewhere along the way, the playing field evens out for her.

I followed her visit with a visit to a 16-year-old. I don't usually see pediatric patients but was asked to see her. She was raped 4 years ago (do the math, age 12) by her older sister's boyfriend. Boyfriend got 20 years. My patient got HIV. Not likely that either of them will see 20 years. Before the rape, little girl was an honor student at a charter school. Now she is 16, on 24 pills a day, and just had a baby. She is not on welfare (medicaid doesn't count) and is working to support her baby. She told me that she has been scared every day since the rape and stayed with a boyfriend so he would protect her. God bless him, he is still with her and trying to protect her, but now they have a baby. Little girl (mom, not baby) is smart and took every precaution once she found out she was pregnant. Baby should be fine.

I have no intention of starting a political or social discussion. I want to respect both patients and their stories. I can't talk to the baby's mama in the first story anymore. And the next patient is so open about her mistakes and wrong turns. She is humble and apologetic. I held her hand and asked her not to apologize to me. I told her that I'm glad she's looking at where she went wrong because it will help her make better decisions going forward. I didn't say it to her but I thought, this playing field is not even close to being even.

It does her no good, nor it will do the baby above any good to focus on the terrible unevennness of their playing fields. But the next time I hear the phrase, "pull yourself up from your boot straps" I might kill someone. These two little girls don't have boot straps to pull up.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'  Matthew 25


  1. Keri - thanks for sharing this. So touching...sitting on my sofa crying right now and praying for these babies and teen mama!

  2. Thanks Shan. It's all I can do to not run home with that sweet baby!