Poor Joop Jang & Rickets Disease
December 2009 has evolved as a particularly stressful month for our Baan Piranan project. One of our very dear resident children has decided to frequently express himself via fecal play, and as unpleasant as this may sound, it has proven to be even more unpleasant for our staff and our other children….our staff who has had to clean up the mess, and our other children who often become the canvas on which this child expresses himself.
As if this were not enough for December, our dearly loved 7 year old Joop Jang developed a bone fracture just above her right knee. For many days, Joop Jang not only cried, but had difficulty sleeping. At first signs of trouble, we immediately took her to the local Lanna Clinic and were told that this was not unusual and was likely the result of “changes in the weather”. When her crying and discomfort continued, we next took her to the local government hospital where she was admitted for a 3 day “comprehensive” medical examination. We were told that her health was normal, but that she had developed a bone fracture just above her right knee. The young and very new-to-the job orthopedic surgeon informed us that this was a recent trauma fracture resulting from “negligent Baan Piranan care”. Joop Jang was then placed in a lower extremity body cast and sent “home” after 2 nights and 3 days. When her discomfort continued, we next took Joop Jang to a highly respected bone specialist with his own private, non-government practice. This doctor took one look at his new set of x-rays and immediately identified the culprit as Rickets Disease….or in other words, a softening and fragility of the child’s bones caused by cumulative malnutrition, particularly the absence of calcium and vitamin D in her system during her bone developmental period. Currently, she is still in her cast, still very uncomfortable, but at least she is now ingesting a lot of vitamin D and calcium.
We report this information so that our supporters will more clearly understand what we are often up against in a country where disabled persons without funds continue to have only minimal access to often inadequate medical care. Why our local government hospital failed to identify “Rickets” as the culprit remains a question, especially after we learned more about “Rickets” and discovered that
Joop Jang had all the telltale classic symptoms – including serious dental problems, a spinal curve, bowed legs, extreme muscle weakness, and chronic discomfort. Our further inquiry into causes disclosed that during her mother’s prison incarceration, the prison had kept this 7 year old alive on a diet of baby formula without ingesting whole foods. Eureka!
Fortunately for all of us, our dogged determination to identify causes dispelled the young orthopedic surgeons premise that the fracture was caused by Baan Piranan negligence. When children like Joop Jang are sent to us for care, we often know little or nothing at all about the child’s background. We do ask basic questions such as: Does this child cry a lot? Does this child suffer from epilepsy? Does this child sleep through the night? Does this child have eating problems? And so forth. But in almost every instance, the answers to our questions bare no resemblance to the truth, or in other words…..we are told that each candidate requesting our special home care is nearly a perfect child.
This is what happens when what is now referred to as government and parental “outsourcing” of such children into private, healthy, and well managed care facilities. When parents, family members or governments want to relieve themselves of the care burden for such children, it becomes counter-productive to provide an honest health summary because who “in there right mind” really wants to care for children with multiple health problems? So all of us here are still in the process of learning the various glitches and short comings inherent in an inadequate, and often insensitive health care system.
On a more positive note, we do remain optimistic and even though we are unable to perform miracles, we are able to climb small individual mountains of progress thanks to your support.