Roadblocks and a Bleeding Head

Yesterday afternoon I asked Percy to take me to town to sell bread and to buy feed. We had run out of goat feed just that morning. He told me we couldn’t go because there have been protests since Sunday against the government raising the price of fuel. Roads into Compone and Izcuchaca were blocked with protesters.

Well, there went that plan. For some reason, it especially bothered me. I had also planned to go to the municipio to get my proof of residency.

I can’t go anywhere because of the virus. I can’t go anywhere because my documents were stolen. I can’t drive. And now I can’t even be taken places because the roads are blocked. It made me feel slightly claustrophobic. I sarcastically complained about the only way we’d be able to leave was to go to the emergency room.

Be careful what you complain about. Anne, Dane, and I were upstairs scrubbing the floor in China’s room to get all the little paint spots up when Abbey came screaming upstairs about Walter falling.

I ran down to find Steph and Walter covered in blood. There was entirely too much blood for the small gash on his forehead, but it was very deep. He’d tripped and hit his head on the concrete doorstep while carrying a puppy.

I asked Percy to please take us to the hospital. We were loaded up five minutes later. Our first roadblock was at Inquilpata. They had rocks and trees across the road and were burning small piles of what looked like dried cornstalks.

Percy got out and begged to go through, but they wouldn’t listen. They were drunk and angry and yelling. One man told us of a route that wasn’t blocked. We left to try that way.

We did meet up with a roadblock, but it was deserted. A man in a moto ahead of us was removing a section of rocks and posts. We were able to slip past the fire. It looked like there was a tire in that one.

Nearly to Izcuchaca, we met another roadblock. Percy got out and begged to go through again. He explained we needed the emergency room. One man began yelling to move the truck, but another louder man stepped up and yelled that they weren’t moving for anything.

We left to try another route. We went up the mountain a short distance, climbing a washed-out dirt road–mud road now. We entered into Anta, a small town above Izcuchaca, and were able to drop into Izcuchaca from there without meeting another block.

We arrived at the hospital at the same moment Rafael did. I had messaged him about the roadblocks. We tried to go in, but they would only allow one person in. I carried Walter in by myself.

I explained the situation. We had been holding the cut closed, so the bleeding was stopped. The doctor said to just put a butterfly bandage on it, and it would be fine. I was pretty sure that wouldn’t be enough. I asked for stitches, but they wouldn’t listen.

Being Peru, they had no bandages in the regional hospital emergency room. I would have to go buy them. Rafael had decided to come in anyway and was listening at the door. He immediately jumped in and said he’ll go buy the bandages. I stayed in the emergency waiting room.

Rafael and Percy both went up and down Izcuchaca, stopping at every pharmacy–there are literally dozens of small pharmacies. Surprisingly, not a single one had bandages. That felt like an answer to prayer to me.

Rafael had sent Steph in, so we sat and waited for nearly an hour. Steph fed Walter chocolate while I held his cut closed.

Rafael returned and explained to the doctor there were no bandages. She suggested we go out to the street and buy an egg and bring it to her. She would take the egg white and put it on the cut to seal it. I stared in astonishment.

I said no. I wanted stitches. There was some debate, but she finally agreed. But they had no sutures or gauze for bandaging. Rafael went to buy that. Thankfully, they had some at the pharmacy on site.

Rafael and I served as nurses. I held Walter’s head, Rafa his body. We wrapped him up in Rafael’s coat to pin his arms down. The doctor got a shot of lidocaine, and as I’ve seen the vets do so many times, she sprayed it into the cut. Does that work?

Walter didn’t seem to think so when she slopped a rag of peroxide on him, leaving it to foam while he screamed bloody murder. She then proceeded to put a stitch in. Nothing was washed. Nothing was sterilized. She did put gloves on, but she was grabbing stuff from her desk drawer with bloody hands. I prayed the whole time against infection.

As soon as her needle touched his forehead, the wound opened up. I was thankful for a strong constitution as Walter’s blood poured over my hand, onto the bed, onto the floor. The doctor exclaimed in shock that it was much deeper than she thought. She started grabbing more gauze and other stuff from her drawer and covered the wound to sop up the blood. My brain was screaming, “Sterile field!” The nurses in my family would have been apoplectic.

I helped her hold the wound shut while she tried to put in the stitch. Walter was screaming like a banshee. The doctor kept saying, “He can’t feel anything. He’s just scared.” But I cannot see how any numbing could have happened.

With one stitch in, she declared it done. I had said he needed two. I felt fairly arrogant telling the doctor what to do, but considering the circumstances… She put her tray away and removed the gauze. Blood went shooting out the other side of the cut.

She exclaimed again in surprise. I calmly asked her to please put another stitch in, and she agreed. More blood. More screaming. At last it was done.

She washed around his cut a bit and bandaged him. I cringed hard when she grabbed tape from her desk drawer with her bloody hands and used her teeth to rip the tape. How she does not have any number of communicable diseases, I cannot fathom.

I washed all the blood off myself at the same sink as she was washing her instruments–in cold tap water. I felt medically traumatized at every step.

The doctor prescribed an antibiotic that says it combats Staph and Strep among other infections. At least that seemed prudent, all things considered. We paid our bill of $5.50 for everything and left.

We stopped and picked up feed on the way home. Praise the Lord, the roads were empty of protesters though we had to watch out for debris. They will be back out in full force today.

We arrived home around 8:00, I think. I had to mix up the antibiotics myself, using boiled water. So, I played doctor, nurse, and pharmacist all in one day!

Steph and I are convinced more than ever that we cannot deliver a baby in that hospital. I’m glad at least that we were able to reach that confirmation through the ordeal. We weren’t sure if we were overreacting by going to Curahuasi, but now we’re confident we’re doing the right thing.

Thanks to our church and family from the States who prayed with us as we were going through the evening. It felt fairly big in the moment. Actually, it feels kind of big the next day, too.

A fellow removing part of a roadblock
Climb, climb up sunshine mountain…
Asking for help at one place
Walter was petrified the whole time
Rafael trying to calm Walter
Safe with Mama!
Reconstituting the antibiotics at home
Happy this morning