Friday, October 1, 2010

Amazing Grace

"Karibu/Welcome... You were so LOST, Sister Diana!"

"Sema/How goes it?" ("What's your news?")

"Ah, you are finally beginning to look like a traditional African woman." [I gained 10 kgs in four months, working in the U.S. at a sedentary job -- which prompted Henry, our ambulance driver, to wonder if I'd had a face lift!]

"Ndiyo/Yes" to all of the above greetings -- but no to the face lift. In short, it "goes" busily, or else I would have blogged sooner. Fortunately, we have had medical visitors here to help. Unfortunately, Dr. Diana (Vancouver, Canada, via the University of Tennessee) and Dr. George and Sister Karen (San Diego, California) left yesterday. We -- and every one of our patients -- will be forever grateful for their medical expertise and human kindness.

Many things have changed at Maseno Missions over the past few months. Sadly, both Phoebe and Joshua -- old patients and dear friends -- have died. Happily, a new hospital manager is in training, the renovation of our maternity ward is almost finished, and the water project has been completed! Thanks to the Engineers without Borders, our little hospital and the mountain community "above" us now have consistent access to water.

Many other things have not changed. We still have erratic electricity, insufficient staff, and limited equipment and medications. We still have patients who come to us too late, in part because they've been misdiagnosed or inadequately treated at more convenient, but less professional, roadside clinics.


Not long ago, Shadrack, 54, was admitted with painful pemphigus vulgaris -- raw and weeping wounds that had covered his trunk and limbs for months. After aggressive treatment with IV steroids and vaseline gauze, he was well enough to be discharged yesterday. But there is no guarantee that his remission will last.

While Shadrack was here, we admitted a 10-year-old child with second and third degree burns over her entire body. Jenipher's burns were caused by a kerosene lamp that had "exploded," a not-uncommon occurrence in rural Kenya. She wept in pain, even when we pre-medicated her with Pethedine for requisite dressing changes. And we ran out of Pethedine.

The very next day, Joan, 35, was also admitted with second and third degree burns. A large kettle of boiling porridge had splattered over her arms, trunk and thighs when she suffered a seizure at home. Joan simply hadn't had enough money to refill her previously-prescribed Dilantin.

At the time our patients needed it for pain, we had no codeine, just a mild NSAID, in our hospital pharmacy. We still have none. The order cannot be sent until we have enough money. (Thankfully, we had enough IV Ceftriaxone/antibiotic in stock.) We also had only four small bed cradles in the hospital to protect their raw wounds from irritation by bed linens, so we improvised: another cradle was crafted from a cardboard carton.

Thanks be to God and to good medical care, all three patients averted infection and were able to be discharged home with Silvadene ointment, Diclofenac tablets and prayers.

Ndiyo. I once was "lost" but now am found, was blind but now I see. It is humbling to witness, support and celebrate the tenacity of the human body and spirit. Amazing grace.

1 comment:

Nancy Rowe said...

Asante Sana for keeping us up on Maseno news. May God continue to bless you with strength!