Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun Times

Being so far away from my family and friends back home, it's nice that those here on the mission station have become like a second family to me. Here are some pics of some of the fun things we do.

Proudly displaying his batter

Isaac crawling over for a visit

Hudson helping me pick lemons from my lemon tree - not sure what Jude is doing

Getting ready for a movie under a homemade tent in my living room

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A little Faith and a big miracle

B is a very sweet 21 year old lady who presented to Kapsowar Hospital when she was 33 weeks pregnant. She was complaining of abdominal and joint pains, headache, and fevers. While this might not sound like anything familiar to those in the West, here those are the classic symptoms of malaria. B is from Kapsowar and malaria is not actually common here because we sit at 7500 feet altitude. I asked her if she had traveled recently, and she said that she had gone to Kisumu, which sits on Lake Victoria and is a hotbed for malaria. We tested her blood and saw that she was very positive for malaria, so we started her on the appropriate IV medication.
The next day, B was feeling a little better, although still having occasional fevers. Her baby seemed to be doing well too. That night, one of my colleagues was on call, and he was called to maternity because B had become agitated and confused and now had no control over her bladder. By the next morning, she was essentially comatose, responding only to pain. She had developed cerebral malaria - a condition caused by blockage of the blood vessels in the brain by the malaria parasites. Something I have definitely never seen or taken care of before. So, after quickly reading up on it, we added another medication, placed a tube into her stomach (to prevent her from vomiting and aspirating) and waited.
In the midst of all of this, I did an ultrasound to evaluate how her baby was doing. After watching for over 30 minutes, there was no movement. She had received some medication that might have caused this, so I decided to wait a few hours and repeat the ultrasound. The next one showed the same thing. There are no textbooks to tell me exactly what to do with this - how do I best save the baby and the mom? B was certainly not in good condition to have surgery. I prayed and prayed. One of my Kenyan colleagues told me that he had seen a mom like this before who improved dramatically after delivery, because a lot of malaria parasites can hide out in the placenta, making them difficult to get rid of. On the other hand, her baby was premature and here that can be difficult to care for.
In the end, we decided to do a C-section. I spoke with her family and they agreed. When we got her to theatre, we all gathered around her as she laid there completely unaware of what was going on, and laid hands on her and prayed. The C-section went well and her beautiful baby girl came out screaming. As we brought her husband in to see his new baby, he had a huge smile on his face and thanked us for saving her.
Over the next few days, we didn't see dramatic improvements, but each day she was a little better. By the 4th day after delivery, she was able to respond to commands. The next day she was fully awake and answering questions. Yesterday, I discharged her from the hospital, doing very well. She still has a bit of a flat affect (residual effects of the malaria), but is so happy to be with her new baby.
Thank you to all of you who were praying for B and her baby, Faith! I was able to tell her that she was brought back from near death by the prayers of people all over the world. I praise God for answers to prayer and His ability to still work miracles! I also praise Him for the opportunity to work in a place where I can openly pray for patients and tell them about God's power in their lives.

Me with B and baby Faith on the day they went home


So, after much thought and consideration, I decided that my days of depending on matatus (the public transport here that is usually packed with 30+ people) and my subsequent nausea during travel are over.
A couple of weeks ago, while I was in Nairobi, I met with my friends' car guy (apparently everyone has one here) and he showed me a couple of cars. By the end of the day, I was a car owner and he delivered it to me the next day.

I am now the proud owner of a Mitsubishi Pajero iO. I never in a million years thought I would drive an SUV. Then again, I've never lived someplace where 4WD is required and the roads are often 3-4 inches of mud. So far it's been great and I even survived the 6 hour drive from Nairobi! Thank you to all of my supporters that made this vehicle possible.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Amazing Safari

At the end of their time here, Jen, Corney and I went to Masai Mara so they could experience an African safari. We had such a great time and commented over and over again how amazing God's creation is!

This is one of the coolest things we saw - a lioness had just made a kill and she called her cubs over to share in the feast

We saw a family of 11 elephants. Here were a few of them, with 2 babies.

Our tents were right on the Mara River - a favorite hangout for hippos!

This day we counted about 34 of them!

A baby elephant nursing

At one point, our driver said "Now it's time for a walking safari." We rounded the corner and came upon some rhinos! You can see one just behind me.

Corney and Jen with the plains of Masai Mara behind them

This is a secretary bird. I just thought it was funny looking.

Thank you Jen and Corney for giving of your time to visit me! I had such a great time and you were both an incredible encouragement. For all of you considering visiting - doesn't this look like a great vacation? :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Visitors from Romania

I was so blessed last month to have two of my dear friends from Romania - Jen Schroeder (an American living in Romania) and Cornelia Fieraru (a Romanian I have known since 1999) - visit me for 2 weeks. It was so much fun! I hadn't seen either one of them for so long and it was so great to be with them as they experienced Africa for the first time.

While here, they spent most of their time on Children's Ward, which was wonderful. Both of them have a gift with children, and it was a blessing for the many children in the hospital who spend day after day with nothing to do. One mother thanked them for making her son happy for the first time in weeks.

Jen with David, one of her favorite patients

They also came and watched me do my work. I think they enjoyed seeing the C-sections the most!

Jen is ready to assist!

Corney loved the newborn babies

We also had the opportunity to have dinner at Mikal's house, our "wazungu hostess" here on station and my Kenyan mom. At the end of the night, she said that she now has 2 Romanian daughters :)

From L to R: Rhiannon and Emma (2 medical students from London), William and Mikal, Corney, Jen and Me

The end of their week here in Kapsowar brought a memorable memento of Kenya for Jen. While playing basketball with some of the kids here on station, she put out her hand to stop herself and broke her wrist. So, 2 days before we left for safari, Bill, our surgeon, had to reduce her fracture and put her in a cast. She was a trooper, though, and we had many laughs about it.

Probably the neatest thing for me was seeing Corny's reactions to things. Cornelia grew up in an orphanage in Romania, which is where I first met her. Many of you who have followed my work overseas since then will remember me talking about her the year I lived in Romania. She came to our Bible studies and became a great friend, but never became a Christian while I was there. A few years ago, Corny became a Christian and now works as a missionary with Heart to Heart. It was amazing to me to see the life change God has done in her. While she's still herself, the hard edge that was always there with her is gone. It was great to see her see, for the first time, a place that was more poor than Romania and see how she responded to that. I was nearly moved to tears as I listened to her talk about how she was affected by the children at the orphanage here. I know that God changed her life while she was here.