A sharp cry breaks the stillness of the night, and awakens the staff and I from our short restless sleep.
A women in the confirmed ward was crying out, her whole body shook with grief, and her voice failed her. Distraught is a word too timid to describe the emotion. Her whole world was suddenly gone, twenty years of life, a lifetime of promise was taken away in a matter of days.
Ebola had claimed another, its second of the day, surely Charons boat must be nearing it’s limit.
I went in with Matt, one of the doctors here, and one of the nationals who was acting as a sprayer.
EDIT: One of our nurses was taking pictures during the donning procedure of our gear. She stated that it was an eerie silence as we did it, no one spoke a word. It was almost ritualistic.
She was laying on her right side, a light sheet covering her to her neck. No pulse, no chest rise and fall, and the warmth had left her body. There was no pools of blood, or bodily fluids like many would think, she lay peacefully.
She was dead. We pulled the sheet over her head.
Ebola is at its highest viral load when the person has died, dealing with dead bodies is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have in an Ebola outbreak. In order to prevent the virus from spreading, the body is sprayed with a 0.5% chlorine solution. When we wash our hands we use a 0.05% solution. The 0.5% is used for equipment and our protective suit.
The virus had stripped her of her humanity. We didn’t care about burning her skin, we just needed to stop the virus from being on another surface.
You have to move the people out of the room to do this, the chlorine is high enough concentration that any splashing can cause burns. So her two roommates, a 40 year old women and a –
3 year old girl.
Had to be moved across the hall. The little girl was in there awake and watching as we checked for a pulse and covered her body. I Made two beds in the other room and matt carried the little girl over. We Gave her blankets and toys and tucked her in. I asked her if she was okay and she nodded, her head trying to see what was going on in the other room.
The wailing mother was down the hall, sitting on a chair in a room occupied by two other patients. Matt went in first and spoke with her briefly, giving her some valium to help her sleep.
I walked in and gave mine as well, squeezing her hand trying to offer what sympathy I could, tears were already filling my goggles.
We moved everything we could out of the one room into the other, and the sprayer went in.
I stood in front of the three year olds door, blocking her view in case she was curious. She has already seen to much for her age.
The sprayer worked methodically as he sprayed her body,
Pump pump pump
Pump pump pump
Pump pump pump
Until her body was soaked. We blocked off the door and started to leave, the three year old was already alseep.
It’s raining now, thundering down in great buckets on our tin roof, so loud we can’t have a conversation across the room.
But I can still hear the mothers scream