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Zizwe Is Dead

 

Zizwe is dead.

My niece Zizwe died last week in Lusaka, Zambia, and I cannot get the anger out of my mind. It consumes me.

She was a good kid who developed … what? What did she develop?

Money was spent for diagnosis and a lot of money was spent to treat the symptoms but we never heard from the doctors whether there was a definitive diagnosis. We didn’t have the money to fly her down to South Africa where “modern” treatment can be found on the continent and certainly not to the UK where folks with real money go.

The hospital where she was treated was a “public” hospital. I know all about that kind of facility. All my kids were born in public hospitals in the Third World and we had to bring hot water, sheets, pillowcases, food … the list goes on. The people there were competent but limited in access to resources. And everyone is very very nice and apologetic for the limitations of the facility. The skill levels of the staff are pretty good but anyone who could get out of the country and move to the West has done so. Certainly many Western hospitals actively recruit doctors, nurses and other medical staff from Africa on a regular basis. As for my kids, we had one normal birth and two C-sections. I sit thinking about how very blessed we were that there were no complications.

But Zizwe is dead. I know (believe) that Zizwe got reasonable treatment for what they could see and identify with their limited access to testing but I have no confidence that she was treated for what was actually wrong with her. I am consumed with the frustration that she is dead but probably needn’t be. I am so very angry.

But I also understand. She suffered greatly in those last months and I thank god that at 16 she had an active faith and is now in paradise.

But what about everyone left behind. I hate funerals. How can I go back home to Lusaka and abide their stares about me, the Lucky One, who doesn’t have to suffer and die from this terrible place. Only its not a terrible place. The country is full of laughter, music, dance, joy and happy, happy hardworking people. And then someone gets sick……

(sigh) I may never stop being angry.

There are 29 comments.

  1. Moderator
    She

    I am so very sorry. Prayers for you, Zizwe, and your entire family.

    • #1
    • March 12, 2018 at 3:46 pm
    • 14 likes
  2. Member

    Condolences on your loss. Focus on the good of her life.

    As for the anger, can you channel it into solutions? Are there real charities that can help?

    @katebraestrup?

    • #2
    • March 12, 2018 at 3:52 pm
    • 7 likes
  3. Coolidge

    We will pray for you, and your family, Hugh. You are right to be angry. I’m angry with you.

    • #3
    • March 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm
    • 9 likes
  4. Thatcher

    She has said all I can say. I am so very sorry. Prayers for you, Zizwe, and your entire family.

    • #4
    • March 12, 2018 at 3:57 pm
    • 7 likes
  5. Coolidge

    I am so sorry. I understand your anger. I have been angry too when anyone dies unexpectedly, particularly so young, even if they received the best of care. How much more difficult it is when you don’t know that to be true and you are so far away. My prayers for you and your family.

    • #5
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm
    • 7 likes
  6. Member

    I am sorry for your loss Zizwe Hugh.

    • #6
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:06 pm
    • 5 likes
  7. Contributor

    I’m so very sorry, Hugh, and for your very sad loss of Zizwe. I send prayers for all of you.

    • #7
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:10 pm
    • 5 likes
  8. Thatcher

    I echo the prayers. It is never easy when it is one so young.

    • #8
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:24 pm
    • 5 likes
  9. Member
    Hugh Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Condolences on your loss. Focus on the good of her life.

    As for the anger, can you channel it into solutions? Are there real charities that can help?

    @katebraestrup?

    I have a real problem with solutions with regards to Africa. It has all been tried. The top percent lives high and goes out of country for medial service. the middle 15 percent gets and education and then gets out and the rest, well they get to stay and do the best they can.

    No matter how hard any organization tries it just seems to be impossible to get things to the point that a real difference is being made. Meaning well doesn’t get you past the corruption. (exits grumbling)

    • #9
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:29 pm
    • 14 likes
  10. Member

    I am so sorry, Hugh-no words, just so sorry. Prayers for you and your family.

    • #10
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:36 pm
    • 3 likes
  11. Member

    May God hold her in His hand before the devil knows she is gone. So sorry.

    • #11
    • March 12, 2018 at 4:56 pm
    • 5 likes
  12. Member
    AQ

    I know how angry I have been at the best doctors and hospitals in the USA when my brother suffered brain injury for a routine surgery.

    I can’t imagine how terrible you feel when you know something more could have been done.

    So very sorry, and I pray your Zizwe is in paradise with God, and you and your family are comforted.

    • #12
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:07 pm
    • 7 likes
  13. Thatcher

    Sorry for your loss. Losing one so young from your family hurts that much more.

    • #13
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:19 pm
    • 4 likes
  14. Member

    So sorry, will be praying for you and those who loved Zizwe.

    • #14
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:21 pm
    • 4 likes
  15. Member

    Condolences Hugh. Try to remember her as you knew her. I will not say do not be angry, in fact if the anger helps you to remember her with affection, then by all means hold onto the anger as well. As Tolkien said; “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

    • #15
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:21 pm
    • 12 likes
  16. Member

    Hugh (View Comment):
    I have a real problem with solutions with regards to Africa. It has all been tried.

    Hugh (View Comment):
    Meaning well doesn’t get you past the corruption.

    I know very well, which is part of why I phrased things as I did. Still, sometimes acting, even when one knows it is useless, can help the anger. I once spent two months of my life on a quixotic and useless adventure. I reaped great abuse from leftists the world over. I also made some friends. It was a silly and useless thing to do, but I needed to do something at the time, and nobody else was addressing the situation.

    • #16
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:23 pm
    • 9 likes
  17. Member

    I feel your anger, Hugh. I felt the same and still sometimes get angry about my 12 year old nephew. He also died from incompetent care, here in the USA.

    • #17
    • March 12, 2018 at 5:55 pm
    • 8 likes
  18. Member
    Hugh Post author

    What really frustrates me is that everyone in the medical community did the best they could with their skills and the resources available to them. The system itself was not up to the task. But there is no real change on the horizon. It will always be the same. Come soon Lord.

    • #18
    • March 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm
    • 8 likes
  19. Member

    Hugh, I am at a loss, and feeling sad and inadequate in my wanting to comfort you. I will pray that you and your family members are find some level of comfort in your memories of her.

    • #19
    • March 12, 2018 at 6:39 pm
    • 6 likes
  20. Coolidge
    TBA

    I am sorry for your loss and sorry that she is gone so soon.

    • #20
    • March 12, 2018 at 7:25 pm
    • 5 likes
  21. Coolidge

    My heart goes out to you and your family, mine suffered a similar tragedy a year and a half ago.

    Funerals of children are horrible, but not attending would be worse; your family needs your support right now, and you need theirs.

    • #21
    • March 12, 2018 at 10:30 pm
    • 8 likes
  22. Member

    What a tragedy. My sincerest sympathy.

    • #22
    • March 13, 2018 at 5:25 am
    • 5 likes
  23. Member

    Africa is no place to get sick and I always found it hard to stay healthy. After three rounds with malaria, I left. I was lucky.

    The wife of a friend of mine (also an American) had a ruptured appendix, but died. No time to get her on a plane and what would be fairly routine here was a death sentence there. So I understand the frustration.

    The country I was in, the medical service and pharmaceuticals were a monopoly of ministers’ and ex-ministers’ family members. Is it that way in Zambia?

    • #23
    • March 13, 2018 at 5:45 am
    • 7 likes
  24. Member
    Hugh Post author

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Africa is no place to get sick and I always found it hard to stay healthy. After three rounds with malaria, I left. I was lucky.

    The wife of a friend of mine (also an American) had a ruptured appendix, but died. No time to get her on a plane and what would be fairly routine here was a death sentence there. So I understand the frustration.

    The country I was in, the medical service and pharmaceuticals were a monopoly of ministers’ and ex-ministers’ family members. Is it that way in Zambia?

    Issues with the medical system are many and various:

    • Corruption: Money that is to flow to medical services is siphoned off and never makes it to people or services that need it.
    • General inefficiency and incompetence; Well meaning people just don’t have the training and support to run a complicated medical system dealing with a population in the millions.
    • Population demographics: Since 85% of the population is “poor” they just don’t have the money to be able to afford medical care. The money they have goes towards the basics of everyday life. (There is a high focus on education. People know the value of putting their kids in school since that is the way out of poverty for many. Sadly there aren’t enough schools, topic for another post)
    • There is no way to pay for a “Health Care System”. There aren’t enough dollars for a health insurance company to make any money delivering care. What tends to exist is a system where folks with money pay cash for treatment and the government funds a public alternative for everyone else. Since the governments are generally poor there is not enough money to provide the medical services required.
    • So…. foreign nations and NGOs step in to help and you move back to the top of my list again…..
    • #24
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:35 am
    • 7 likes
  25. Member

    Hugh (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Condolences on your loss. Focus on the good of her life.

    As for the anger, can you channel it into solutions? Are there real charities that can help?

    @katebraestrup?

    I have a real problem with solutions with regards to Africa. It has all been tried. The top percent lives high and goes out of country for medial service. the middle 15 percent gets and education and then gets out and the rest, well they get to stay and do the best they can.

    No matter how hard any organization tries it just seems to be impossible to get things to the point that a real difference is being made. Meaning well doesn’t get you past the corruption. (exits grumbling)

    I am so sorry, Hugh.

    One of the best gifts in my life has been my nephew, adopted (rescued?) from west Africa as a tiny boy: he’s a wonderful, healthy young American man now. And it is strange and painful to contemplate that Togo is full of people just like him, babies who would thrive if offered western medicine and western protein, men and women whom we would all love and admire, who could thrive and accomplish and serve just as he does…if only.

    Zizwe would be one of these. If only.

    I don’t have any special insight into what you or your family could or should do with your anger and pain about Zizwe. I can only say that when a child dies who oughtn’t to die—when the wardens and I respond to a death that never should’ve happened, for instance— it brings anger and pain even to strangers like us.

    I still have the names of these kids on my heart. “Ayla,” for example, has been written there for years now, in lead I imagine, because her name feels heavy. She should have been taken care of. We should have been able to save her. At the very least we should have been able to find her little body, and enact justice on her behalf. There is so much (too much!) that we end up having to yield to God, even here in America where all the resources are right there… if only.

    After some time, I realized that the weight I bear for Ayla is sacred. It is the voice of love, frustrated, and is at once the least and most I can do. My love is not enough. It is all I’ve got.

    Ayla is with God, and that doesn’t quite fix it either. But I no longer resist feeling sad and angry about her. I can’t say I welcome it, exactly, but I accept it because she is worth this pain and far, far more. SO that’s my only advice, such as it is—recognize the anger, the pain, the guilt even for what they are, and know that Zizwe is worth every excruciating moment.

    There will come a time—not right now, but sometime—when you will make this pain into wisdom. You will create more love out of it. I have no idea what that wisdom or creation should look like, I just know that it will come. You won’t have to go looking for it.

    Bless Zizwe, and bless you for offering us a tiny portion of her weight to carry. She (and you) shall be in my heart and in my prayers.

    • #25
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:25 am
    • 10 likes
  26. Member

    My sincerest condolences, sir.

    • #26
    • March 13, 2018 at 12:44 pm
    • 4 likes
  27. Member

    Hugh, my deepest sympathies. We lost my niece several years ago. She also was 16. The anger has faded, though I can’t say it is gone. I don’t think the grief will ever leave, though it becomes less all consuming. Prayer helps, as does focusing on the people who did amazing things, the nurses working pediatric oncology, the company that bent the rules to allow my sister’s co-workers to contribute vacation time to my sister so she could vest and get access to their excellent medical benefits and the co-workers who did so. Try to ignore the people who failed Zizwe and her family. I will keep you, Zizwe and the rest of her family in my prayers. God bless.

    • #27
    • March 13, 2018 at 5:59 pm
    • 6 likes
  28. Member

    I don’t like this post for the content. I like this post for the eye-opening to the suffering that happens in the relatively “developed” world.

    I am so deeply sorry for your pain. I know that my opinions on healthcare are well-founded, but there are moments that I feel that the charity toward the Third World is insufficient, that if we built it ourselves rather than funneling money into black holes… maybe something would be different.

    I do not know that it would be.

    I am so sorry, Hugh. I continue praying for you and yours and hope that sometime in the future, perhaps I will be well enough to take on a mission to Africa.

    • #28
    • March 13, 2018 at 11:38 pm
    • 6 likes
  29. Thatcher

    Oh, @hugh! May His light and joy surround your precious Zizwe; may His peace and consolation uphold you all! Panda Hug to share…Prayers!

    • #29
    • March 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm
    • 5 likes