Sunday, December 20, 2009
So, one day I talked with Wilson, the head of nursing, about my idea to turn the office on maternity into a good gyn exam room. He was excited about this and ran with it. The old, monstrous computer table was replaced with a new slimmer model. A shelving unit was built for the wall to store textbooks and supplies. A new exam table was built to replace the one I took with stirrups from the outpatient area. I was given soak buckets for speculums. I will soon have exam lights. While it may not seem like much, it is a huge improvement and so much better now for me to care for the women here. So, thank you to those of you who have, and continue to support me. Because of your generosity, women can now be examined in at least relative comfort!
It started early Saturday morning as I boarded a matatu at 5:45am in Kapsowar for the 2 hour ride to Eldoret. I was told I had to be there early, because we were supposed to be in Kitale (about an hour and a half from Eldoret) for the wedding at 10. I was met in Eldoret by Lynn, one of the maternity nurses who was in the bridal party, and we went to Claire’s (the bride’s) brother’s house. There I was greeted by many members of the family (including the adorable flower girls and mini groomsmen seen below) who I was told had all eagerly been awaiting my arrival. It was great to see Claire as well. I settled in while they all finished (or began, rather) their wedding preparations. In true Kenyan fashion, 10 o’clock came and went and no one was even dressed yet. About noon, all the children sat down to eat lunch and about 12:30, the bride and bridal party finally emerged in all their glory. We then all piled into several vehicles that were decorated in flowers for the trip to Kitale. I rode in the front seat of Claire’s car (why the bride wasn’t in the front, I have no idea), which was a very nice Land Rover. After about 1 ½ hours (which included a bathroom/snack stop!), we arrived at the church in Kitale, where needless to say, everyone was eagerly awaiting the bride’s arrival (for about the last 2 hours).
There was no fanfare for the bride’s entrance, as we were so late, and the bridal party hurried right to the front. The service was similar in many ways to a Western wedding – a short sermon, vows exchanged, a kiss. There were, however, many additions, including a gospel choir that sang several songs, including one where the bride and groom danced, as well as several other “mini sermons” by other people in the church. Another thing I was delighted to see were some Pokot (a tribe in Kenya) people in traditional dress – including feathers on their heads, animal skin clothes, and lots of beaded accessories. Claire’s husband is Pokot and so these were his relatives. The Pokot people are a very traditional tribe in Kenya and the Pokot district borders Marakwet (where I live). They are herders and dress if very bright clothing and lots of beads. They also did some traditional Pokot dances at the reception. It was a true cultural experience!
After the ceremony, I was whisked away with the bridal party to a local agricultural center for pictures. Then it was back to the reception, where I was sat with the bridal party to eat. We enjoyed a meal of roasted chicken, pilau (a rice dish), chipate (flatbread), a cabbage salad, and soda. It was wonderful! It was a great day and I was so thankful to get to be a part of it. I’ve put some pictures below.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Last weekend I decided to get away and go visit some friends at
So, I hitched a ride with Dave into Eldoret (2 hours). Once there, I found a matatu (a 14 passenger van and main method of public transport here in
The people I was visiting were the Cropsey family and Alyssa Pfister, fellow post-resident physicians with World Medical Mission. Our paths have crossed as we all prepared to come to
I was amazed as I saw this large hospital that not only serves as a witness to the many patients they see but also as a training ground for Kenyan physicians – training them to serve God through medicine. I also was extremely blessed by the church service there on Sunday as it was more like home with familiar songs. It was a wonderful weekend and I look forward to going back again soon (2 more post-resident families arrive there in December).
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
One of the great things about Kapsowar is that we always have people coming and going from station. We almost always have medical students rotating here, from all over the world. From Oct – Nov, Kim and Eleasa were here. We were told they were Australian medical students – so I was very surprised when I first talked to them and they didn’t have a hint of an Aussie accent. Turns out, Kim is actually from
Another sad goodbye was saying goodbye to Ben and Cathy Sawer. They were here to fill in for Bill Rhodes, the long-time surgeon here who has been in the States (and returns in less than a week). They became like surrogate parents for me here and I enjoyed many long discussions with them, as well as Cathy’s weekly Sunday night dinners (chicken, stuffing, homemade biscuits, veggies, even smoked salmon!). They are incredible people with an incredible story of hope to tell, as they recently lost their daughter to breast cancer. You can read about/hear her powerful story and testimony at www.deathisnotdying.com. They made a lasting impression on all of us here and we were so sad to say goodbye. We’re hoping they’ll be back sometime!
As we said goodbye to the outgoing students, we welcomed 4 more (well, 3 plus a husband J). More to come on them later.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
As many of you know, construction is currently going on to build a new theatre (operating room) building at Kapsowar. This is much needed as we currently only have one theatre (see previous blog about this). Just to re-emphasize our need for more than one theatre, I recently again did a C-section in theatre at the same time as a general surgery case (actually more a plastics case) was going on. This one had a bit of a twist though. At the end of my trying week, a young girl came to the hospital in labor with her first child. She was very young (probably around 14) and along with that somewhat immature and not able to handle labor well. We got to the point of pushing, but she was a very uncooperative pusher, to say the least. I tried a vacuum, but when that failed, it was clear she needed a C-section. So, we headed up to theatre (meanwhile, she’s thrashing on the bed and trying to pull out her IV). When we get there, Drew was doing a repair of some crushed tendons under local, but his patient was on the main operating bed. No problem, we’ve done this before. Only problem – the patient is too uncooperative to do a spinal, so we need to put her under general anesthesia and Drew’s patient is on the bed we need for that. So, we have Drew’s patient get up (while holding his arm above his bed) and Drew stays sterile. We have my patient move from the gurney to the operating table and then have Drew’s patient get on the gurney to finish his surgery. I can’t imagine what that poor patient must have been thinking as my patient continued to be completely irrational. Drew got his headlight so he could have decent light for his surgery, and we proceeded with our C-section. It was comical, now that I look back on it, but once again emphasized our need for more than one theatre.
Below are some pictures of the progress on the new building. It is quite an undertaking, as you can imagine. One of the biggest hurdles is that no materials are available locally, so everything has to be trucked in from at least 2 hours away. One blessing, though, is that it is providing much-needed jobs for people. They work very hard, as you can see in the pictures, for 200 shillings/day – that’s about $2.60. Every morning they have devotions together before starting work, which is providing much needed spiritual nourishment for them as well. I look forward to continuing to share pictures of the progress with you. Please keep the project as well as Dave Peterson, the contractor, in your prayers.