Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

christmas in kenya....

Christmas Eve camel ride on the beach...
Christmas Day snake killing!? Black Mamba came out of the pool!!! And was promptly done in by the staff at the beach cottages where we were staying. Apparently this snake is the most poisonous in Africa. Wow. It was 6 feet long!!
Boxing Day...ant infestation. One of the boys we were with woke in the night to ants, millions of ants...covering his mosquito net, inside his mosquito net all over him, covering the floor, coming out of the sink. No apparent reason, just decided to march in....
The next day/night we were exploring to make sure the invasion wouldn't be repeated, this led to torching the trail...fireworks used to burn the biggest pile...lots of DOOM (the spray)...etc. So much entertainment! They still made their way back?! Boys weren't sleeping in the same room of course!
Trip home....crazy, arduous journey around trucks, goats, cows, people, speed bumps that are random and everywhere without any paint or warning, lots of passing and many potholes!
Just before leaving the coast we loaded John and Joe onto a "Simba" bus for a trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar for New Year's. At last report they are in a hostel in Zanzibar.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Story...

A patient I have been treating for the past three months named Maria is the subject of my story. She is 30 years old and I admitted her to the ICU in September for a number of serious problems. She was in pulmonary edema with a low blood pressure, on Coumadin with an INR well over 35 with a low HCT requiring emergent blood transfusions, and she had a loud systolic heart murmur. She spent a few weeks in the ICU and ultimately was stabilized and went home. Since that time she has been stable on a mix of medications. An echo showed severe mitral valve stenosis. The valve is so damaged that it is just a matter of time before she decompensates again. This is where a friend of mine comes in. Beth is a doctor from Boston who spent four months working in our ICU and somehow has connections to a group of Italian heart surgeons who do charity care. Maria needs a valve surgery that is not available here in Kenya. She is a rural Kenyan who has never flown on an airplane or had the need for a passport. She speaks no English and has little money. We were able to send her medical information to the heart specialists who agreed that she was a candidate for a heart operation. It just so happens that this Italian group is based in Khartoum, Sudan. The Christmas miracle is that we were able to get Maria a Passport, Visa, plane ticket, and spending money. Three days ago she flew to Sudan by herself and is now in a hospital preparing to have her heart fixed. Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2010

merry christmas!

Warm greetings for Christmas! We really miss our friends and family right now! Celebrating a holiday here that is normally full of traditional foods, people and activities is very odd and confusing. We keep reminding ourselves that Christmas Eve is tomorrow!!
And so strange to think that the story of the birth of Christ actually happened in a place more like this than any place we have ever celebrated before!? We actually saw a whole bunch of camels today as we drove to the coast! And I saw one in Nairobi on Tues?? Not sure what that was about. That one seemed a bit lost....
In any case, this change in circumstance has caused us to wonder what the coming of Christ means for people in such totally different locations and life experience? There are few outward signs that Christmas is about to be upon us. But we are still often sent off with "Merry Christmas" when we part with someone, and I have had conversations about plans for meals, family gatherings etc.
Warren has noted that the Outpatient Clinics were slower this week, hopefully due to people being distracted by preparations for the imminent holiday??
One thing we are quite clear about...We miss you! We love our family and friends and our familiar celebration. So much of what the coming of Christ means comes to us through those we love!
We aren't suffering...We are in a warm place, have great people around us, and we feel loved and supported from afar as well.
Warren, Sandra, John...and Joe for now as well.;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A week in Mozambique...time with people we love, Yohani, HEAT, dirt, poverty, children, love, connections, heartbreak, HEAT, questions, amazement, conversation, play, mangos, cashews!, celebration, perspective, new friends, physical exhaustion, a beautiful beach, HEAT, rain...and a return...our first return to Kenya as "home".

We traveled to visit Christina, Victor and Yohani Carlos in Nampula, Mozambique. This is our second trip to a country during it's hottest time of the year. I also MOVED during each of 3 pregnancies?! Hmmmm....??? It was so hot that the kids said, "espera!" when we tried to initiate a game...meaning "wait", until the temperature went down a slight bit, just before darkness came at 5pm! As Christina says, "Mozambique is on the wrong time zone!" It gets dark at 5 and light at 5. Wouldn't you think they would want to adjust this...for their own sake? When the world is fully lit and everyone is up working at 5!?...why not push the clock a bit!? But this wasn't the only question raised about life in Mozambique. It is a place ravaged by war, corrupt government, difficult weather, challenging fresh water access, extreme poverty...and on and on...

The piece of land they have along the coast is spectacularly beautiful and with proper care could be a source of great income and enjoyment. As it is, few ever see it or benefit from it.

On the other hand, as always...there are wonderful people living in Mozambique, many of them children. We spent the week with close to 50 children who live with Christina and Victor at on orphanage just on the outskirts of Nampula. They were warm and hospitable, easy to connect to, willing to work with our terrible attempts at communication (Mozambicans speak Portuguese), happy, grateful...Fun!

We got to love on Yohani, Christina and Victor's incredible crowned as the easiest baby I have met so far! He loved us, laughed with and at us, and generally made us feel good in our souls!

We came to a new appreciation of what we have in Kenya...and the timing was perfect. Perspective is important, and especially at certain times! We came back with Joe, a friend of Erika's from her life at UW, who was at the orphanage when we got there. He is fabulous...and John is soaking up the opportunity of his companionship. We hope he sticks around for awhile!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

another birthday etc....

Some of you may be followers of John's occasional blog. Somehow we succeeded in making his birthday enough of an event that it warranted a post. Wow!
Although it might sound exotic to celebrate a bd in Africa, which it actually is, I don't think it feels that exotic when you would really prefer to be with your sisters and your friends. But hey, school is out...and we made the day into a mini vacation.
After a bit of research we put together a day of eating, golfing and Harry Potter! The golf course was fabulous...much less expensive than such a place at home and with monkeys as an added course challenge...Will he pick the ball up and leave, or just smell it and walk away??
The power only went out once during the movie and the bottles and garbage that were thrown as soon as the lights were out only hit the chairs around us, never us directly?? Seriously. What was that about?
There were a few treats from home that made their way here in other people's suitcases over the past few months...and the day felt complete.

It poured rain here today. I did a full on sprint in my skirt from the hospital, alongside our middle aged and rather overweight property manager....still got completely in dripping!

This was after I spent some time in the newborn nursery where there are 3 sets of twins!? each set sideways and together in little incubators. One had his hand outstretched resting on the belly of his brother. Amazing.