Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Copycat Blog Survey

Okay so I'm going to do something different today and be a copycat. I follow several other missionary blogs and have seen a few do something like this.

I know of a handful people who regularly follow my blog. Then there is another group who want to follow but actually have me e-mail the updates. What I don't know is how many people actually do follow. When we were back in the states I was surprised to have people come up to me and tell me that they read about our work and wanted to meet in person.

So if you are a reader of this blog I'd love to hear about you. Just answer the questions and tell me a bit about yourself in a comment below this posting. Hope to hear from you!

Do we know each other? If so, how?

Ex: we were on dance team in HS
Ex: we went to a nursing conference together
Ex: we are both from LBF church
Ex: we're related

Maybe we don't really know each other, but have we ever met?

Ex: i met you after your presentation at our church
Ex: i checked you out at the register at target

Do we have mutual friends or acquaintances?

Ex: I'm a friend of a friend and she told me about you
Ex: Kevin Kirkland told me about you
Ex: my child went on a mission trip to Kenya

If the answer is no to all three, do we have something in common?

Ex: yes, we both work in the medical field
Ex: i also have a passion for Africa

OK, now do your part and make a comment! It says in small print, comment, right under this post. I just thought it'd be fun to know how we're connected. If you only check this blog from time to time, feel free to comment as well! Even if you've never made a comment before.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Culture Acclimation

I was thinking about it the other day and realized that I've come a long way in acclimating to life in Kenya. There are things that are just part of normal life that I don't really even think about anymore. But when I took just a few minutes to think about them I realized they may not be quite so normal in America.
  • It feels really weird if I'm not sleeping under a mosquito net
  • I normally sleep through the roosters making a ruckus at 1AM, 3AM, 5AM and all other crazy hours that roosters decide to make ruckuses
  • When hearing a friend mention doing dishes between about ten other things I wonder to myself "How the heck did she have time to wash the dishes?" Um, Michelle, it's this basic machine they have in the developed world called a dishwasher!
  • I never drink water unless it has come out of the ELI deep-borehole, has been treated with bleach, was boiled or is in a sealed and approved water bottle.
  • My husband and I routinely take de-worming medicine a few times a year.
  • I asked my friend if she warms her water before using it for a sinus rinse. She was like "Uh yeah, I turn on the warm tap." I no longer think about the fact that I need to use bottled water which I then warm on my stove.
  • I sleep with a flashlight under my pillow.
  • I always carry toilet paper, hand-sanitizer and a flashlight in my purse.
  • If my patient has a fever and a headache I assume it is malaria until proven otherwise. Although now that I think about it, there is a good chance that it could be typhoid.
  • Straining and boiling the milk that came fresh from the cow is part of my daily routine.
  • At night I check for big lizards before entering the outhouse.
  • I've learned to measure the worth of a cat by how many rats and/or snakes he/she has killed.
  • The other day when watching an American movie I noticed that they were driving on the right side of the rode which seemed odd at the moment.
  • I say sawa (okay) and pole (sorry) all the time, even when speaking to visiting Americans who don't speak any Swahili.
  • I forget that people use something other than their laptop computer to watch movies.
I'm sure that there are many many more but those are just a few off the top of my head.

Friday, September 25, 2009

OB Specialist? My Crazy Week Continues

Wow if I thought my week was crazy by Tues I had no idea just how much fun was still awaiting me!

Nearly fifty people wound up completing the First Aid and CPR course! One of the team members from the Salem, OR team wound up creating a bunch of computer programs for the clinic. I was in heaven with the all of the formulas he programmed into Excel for me. The programs and spreadsheets he put together are going to save our staff hours and hours. Now we just have to get the staff computer literate! I'm hoping we can start computer courses next week with them.

Our measles campaign wrapped up on Wed afternoon with more than 250 children receiving a measles booster and vitamin A dose.

Monday night I started four days of being on call. Now I have to tell you that in August we only had two night cases for the entire month. So I figured I'd be able to handle being on call, while doing my normal clinic duties, while helping host a team, while assisting running a training AND a measles campaign. Let me tell you, I think it must have been a moment of insanity in which I made this decision. But our veteran nurse is on vacation and our brand-new-nurse is on orientation so I didn't think it was at all fair to start her on call in her first week.

Well I wound up with at least one case every night. Some nights were more than one. And I should tell you that in a typical month we deliver between 2 and 6 babies in our clinic. That is for a month okay? Well in less than one week we have had five deliveries!!! What is up with that? At one point this week I made the comment that someone must have put something in the water supply to make all of these women go into labor. Wednesday night's call brought a perfect delivery with a few of the Salem team members assisting me. Oh, I should mention that this delivery took place in the dark using flashlights and head-lamps since the power was out. Yesterday after we had diagnosed a false labor and referred a pre-term labor to a hospital I said that I feel like an OB resident with an additional day job!

After saying goodbye to the team late last night I figured it was my last night on-call for this week and I had already had at least one call every night. What were the chances of really getting called in again? Well 30 minutes after my head hit the pillow (I'm not convinced I had actually hit an actual state of sleep) we got a knock on the door that there was a case at the clinic. It turned out to be.............you guessed it, a delivery!

The woman was about half-way into her labor. I set up for the delivery and was seriously considering heading back to bed and telling them to get me when her water broke or she felt like pushing. But then a vehicle pulled up from the Children's Home with an emergency asthma case. After about an hour I had the child stabilized and headed home so I went back to check on the laboring mama. Well at that point I realized that the two ladies with her did not have a lot of delivery experience apart from their own deliveries of their children. Sometimes women bring a traditional midwife to the clinic with them to assist the nurse (which is always great!) but this was not the case. These ladies were very concerned that it was almost time. After a quick check I realized it was not almost time but that if I went home they were going to be calling me every thirty minutes thinking it was time.

At some point during the night I confess I got a bit impatient and so I started her on a Pitocin drip. I had a terrible time finding a vein to start a line but got lucky with a blind AC stick (for my medical friends out there!). She finally delivered around 6 in the morning. This was my first delivery completely solo. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe this was the reason I had had so many OB cases this week. It was all a warm-up leading to last night. At each previous delivery I had either another nurse or a paramedic from the team on hand. This one I just had two ladies supporting the mom. She delivered a healthy baby girl. Unfortunately she tore pretty badly and I wound up calling in our new nurse to help me close the three-layer tear. And praise God this baby didn't need an resuscitation!

I finally dragged myself home at 7:30 this morning. Thankfully I have a full week before I go on call again. And even more thankfully I think I might be able to actually rest this weekend! When looking at my calendar I realized that this is the last weekend until mid-December that we don't have a team, visitors or some event or meeting going on. So I better rest well.

Oh and as a sad side-note our baby calf Bonita died this morning. I've had so much on my plate that I've been in denial all week that she was sick. I'm still processing that my sweet baby heifer is gone.

I'm not making any summary comments about this week yet because it is not quite over. But I will say I'm hoping for a weekend of down-time!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busy Week

This week has been both amazing and crazy, and to think it is only Tues! We have a team from Salem, OR visiting right now. They are doing a ton of amazing projects ranging from a Pastor's Conference to a course on CPR and First-Aid.

Monday I arrived at the clinic to receive a report from the on-call nurse that we had a woman in labor. We already had patients lining up for treatment AND we were kicking off the First-Aid course. I spent about an hour running like crazy woman and then settled in with the laboring mama.

It was a really tough delivery and we lost the heartbeat about 20 minutes before the baby was born. He wound up being a stillborn but we did CPR for over a half an hour just to make sure. I have to confess that it was a tough way to start the week. I'm convinced that there are some things that will just never make sense on this earth. During the delivery I had prayed for a safe delivery and that mom and baby would both be okay. It's so hard to understand why sometimes God allows things to go the way that they do. This is one of those cases where I really hang on to I Corinthians 13:12. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part but then we shall know fully just as we are fully known.

On a more positive note we have over 45 people attending the First Aid and CPR training. So many people wanted to get in on the training that we actually had to split the class and add a day to the training.

And today the clinic is filled with the sound of wailing children under the age of five. But believe it or not this is actually a good thing. We are hosting an anti-measles campaign at our clinic today and tomorrow. We have already seen over 150 children who have received a measles booster vaccines as well as a special vitamin dosing! And we aren't even half-way through the campaign yet. I will tell you though that the sound of about 20 kids all screaming at the top of their lungs at one time is a bit unnerving. I think that tomorrow we definitely need to change techniques. Lining each group of kids all up so they can see the first one get the shot and begin the ear-piercing screaming has not worked out so lovely.

Well that's it for the moment. I'm finishing my lunch break and heading back to the controlled chaos that I love so much! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Overdue Update

I realize that I have done a terrible job of keeping my blog updated. And it's been even longer since I've sent out a general e-mail update! I have recently had quite a few requests for an update on our life, so I'm going to make a brave attempt to be brief and yet still bring you up to speed!

A few months ago, at the end of June, our clinic began going through a time of transition. At that time I was asked to step in and assist with some administration activities. During that season we were already in full swing with teams and interns coming to volunteer for the summer. So over the last few months I've been working with clinic administration, running the Mama-Baby clinic, treating sick patients and coordinating logistics for teams and interns in both Kipkaren and Illula. As my dear Aunt Betty so aptly put it I'm "Running like a cat on a hot tin roof!" The beautiful thing though is that I actually LOVE everything that I'm doing! Some days I just wish there were a few more hours in the day. But I honestly don't know if I have ever felt so satisfied or fulfilled in my work before. It is a wonderful, beautiful, crazy, busy time of life!

William is now working as an assistant to the Kipkaren ELI director. I'm not sure exactly how to describe what he does because it seems to me like he does a little bit of everything. From setting up media presentations, organizing workers at the training center, putting in time in the ELI gardens, driving back and forth to town, repairing broken stuff, managing the guest cottages, to helping sort out village conflicts! I consider him the ultimate fire-putter-outer and trouble-shooter in our area!

We have had quite a few teams and interns come through since May. Just a few highlights from their projects were:
  • Getting the Training Center dorms remodeled
  • Running an incredible optometry clinic
  • Helping to host the annual youth camp
  • Running pastors and women's conferences
  • Reinforcing the walls of the Children's Home buildings
I've had a handful of nurses, students and other medical professionals come and spend some time with us in the clinic.

One recent interesting clinic case I had involved a boy who fell on a stick and has leg impaled with it. The five inch stick broke off and could be felt under his skin but not visualized. I wound up having to use a scalpel to slice the skin open and remove the stick, irrigate then sew him back up.

We have also had some interesting (read crazy-challenging) deliveries lately. A few times I was just praying that we wouldn't lose the baby. One case involved a 15-year-old delivering her first child. I had several interns from the USA assisting with the delivery. As things got really challenging I began to think that the baby probably wouldn't make it. This particular baby was born with the worst cone-head (medical friends please forgive my lay-language here!) that I have ever seen. He was floppy, bluish and not breathing. I just kept thinking that this would be a terrible way for the interns to end their experience if the baby didn't make it. I was praying over him while I worked on him and then he began to breathe. When we have cases like this particular one I always wonder as the baby goes home how he/she is really going to do. Well this particular mom came in today with her beautiful six-week-old son Joshua Kipchumba. Not only does he no longer have a cone-head he is doing terrific!

I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by. This month we are looking forward to hosting a team from Oregon who will be helping with quite a few projects while they are here. In Oct we have a powerhouse medical team coming from Iowa. Then in November it looks like my parents and youngest sister may be coming to visit us!!

I have a passion for preventative medicine and I've been hoping to incorporate more and more education into our work in the clinic. This month we are looking forward to hosting our first education outreach. We are starting with some women's health care classes and hope to move into general educational classes by next year. I'm also preparing for my first meeting with the adolescent girls at our local public school. I've been asked to give a lesson on personal hygiene and sexuality. We have tentatively scheduled Sept 14th for this initial class. Both the teacher and myself are hoping that I can begin building relationships with some of these girls over the next year. We have a pretty high teenage pregnancy rate in our community.

Well so much for my attempt at brevity! Our life is just too full to get it packed into a few paragraphs. I'll try to be a little more faithful in keeping the blog updated. Until next time may the peace of our Lord and Savior go with you today!