She is 2 yo almost 3 yo, but wasn't very tall and wasn't walking or talking like other almost 3 year olds. Her mom brought her in, concerned that her daughter wasn't developing okay. A blood test confirmed that her thyroid wasn't working, causing her to not grow, walk and talk like other kids her age. If we didn't do anything she would remain much the same as she is now, even 10 years from now - she would stay very little, would be very short and wouldn't be able to understand much of what was being said to her. Thankfully, there is a relatively easy fix, she just needs to take a medicine each day.
The challenge is getting the medicine to take each day. To those who live outside of PNG, going and seeing a doctor every month or two would seem to be pretty easy. You see your doctor every once in a while, they do a blood test, they call you with the result and then call in the prescription and you pick it up. That isn't the case with Joice. Joice lives hours away from Kudjip, getting here requires her mom to have money to make the trip to us, and to give up three days of working in her garden or working at the market to come and see us.
As I explained all of this to Joice's mom, I saw her processing and seeming to really understand that if her daughter didn't get the medicine she would stay short and won't develop normally, but if she got the medicine she would likely be okay. As we kept talking, I realized she was processing to the point of gauging what the cost was going to be in getting the medicines. She asked what would happen if she gets medicine now, but doesn't get it in 5 years - would she regress? She asked what if she doesn't get medicine now, but gets it in 2 years - would she still be okay? Or what would happen if she took medicines now and then when she was 18 yo she stopped, what would happen then?
I talk to many patients each day about their illness, most have a blank gaze on their faces leaving me to conclude that they don't really understand much, if any, of what I have attempted to communicate. This mom was different, her questions were the right ones to ask. She was counting the cost of finding a way to get her daughter the medicine she needs within the challenges and reality of living far away from Kudjip. Pray for Joice and her mom to be able to continue to get the medicine she needs.