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Friday, June 29, 2012

Take It In and Live It Up

As my time in Kenya comes to an end I've been trying to get as much in as possible and cherish every moment.
Monday I saw some more surgeries and hung out with the CURE doctors and residents.

Dr. Mbugua, Mr. Bones, Dr. Theuri, Me, Resident Dr. Victor, and Resident Dr. Chege

I don't get to work with the doctors very often because they're always tucked in their OR cave and I'm tucked in my PT cave, but when I do get to work with them I love it. It's a lot different than working with Mirriam and Elvis. And surgery is pretty cool too I guess :)

Tuesday I visited Bethany Kids, which is basically a wing of Kijabe Hospital that focuses on children with neurological problems like hydrocephalis and spina bifida.

This kid with hydracephalis was having the fluid drained out of his head. The yellow stuff in the tube is his cerebral spinal fluid!

I had met James, the Bethany Kids physical therapist just that morning and he was more than willing to show me around the ward. It was so different from the CURE hospital! Every bed was full and patients were lined up all along the hallways. I saw some adorable children, and the mom of this little boy told me I could take him home. I almost did!

While I was in the ward at Bethany I heard nurses calling for help and I saw them rushing a little kid with hydrocephalis into a private room. It wasn't until I saw the mother of the child on the floor crying hysterically that I knew something was terribly wrong. I left the ward before I could find out what was happening, but I was crushed seeing that mother helplessly calling out to her baby. CURE specializes in orthopedic cases so all of our patients are relatively healthy besides their deformity. The biggest emergency we see is a chest infection after a spine surgery. That was definitely something I wasn't ready to see. 
On Tuesday I also went to my first rugby game! RVA played a Kenyan team for the semifinals, and unfortunatley they lost. I had no idea what was going on, but I can definitely say that it's an intense sport. 

Wednesday was a clinic day, so I followed around some doctors and saw some patients. We got done early, so I went up to the PT department to talk to Mirriam and Elvis. I just love them. Elvis thinks everything I say hilarious and his laugh is super contageous, so I feel like we're always laughing. For some reason the topic of peanut butter came up (probably because I eat it for almost every meal here in Kenya) and Mirriam had no idea what it was. I had to explain to her what peanut butter is made of and what it tastes like. Needless to say, I bought her some peanut butter. I'll definitely miss them when I have to leave. 

Thursday was really slow because a cleft lip and palate clinic is coming in next week and they want to have the ward empty for those patients. We had 4 patients left in the ward and only one CP patient (out of the 3 that were supposed to show up). 

Today we had the clubfoot clinic. Mirriam left for her home village today so it was just me, Elvis, and David. I did a lot of casting and watched a few tenotomies (cutting of the Achillies tendon to release stiffness). This afternoon we had a going away party for the Executive Director, Jack, as he moves to another job in Nairobi. We did this Kikuyu tribal dance around the hospital in honor of Jack, and it was SO much fun. We were cracking up the whole time. I wish I had a video. It was bitter sweet though because I had to start saying my goodbyes. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to everyone on Monday, but it will be exciting to be home after 7 weeks away. 

I've been realizing how many people I've gotten the opportunity to meet and grow close to in my short time in Kenya and I think I'll realize it even more after I'm gone. It's crazy how eager I am to be back in the US, but at the same time so sad to leave. Kijabe has started to feel like home in a way and I can't imagine not going to work in the hospital everyday, walking to the dukas for food, and coming home to Kenyan John building us a fire and doing homework in the kitchen while we check facebook and write our blogs. I'm glad I still have the weekend to live it up and take it in! Tomorrow we hike Mt. Longonot :) I've been so blessed, and all the glory goes to God. 

Now, I can't post without showing some pictures of the kids in the ward this week. So here they are!






Monday, June 25, 2012

Kenyans will be Kenyans

I only have one more week at CURE, and I feel like I still have so much more to learn. Something I have learned is that Kenya is very laid back, and sometimes disorganized. What hospital in the US would let undergrad students just sit in on a surgery?

And let me scrub in?

The hospital is very relaxed because that's how the Kenyan culture is. We have cerebral palsy patients come in on days that we don't have clinics, so those days are the most random schedules ever. In Kenya, they don't make appointments to see the physical therapist. They will be told to come back in a week, so sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Some days well be sitting in the rehab room and Mirriam will be checking email while I just sit around. I'll ask if we have any more patients for the day and most of the time she'll say, "I don't think so," or "we should have 2 more but since it's after lunch they probably won't come." It kind of drives me crazy, but it's totally normal in Kenyan culture. A lot of our patients come from far away and they have to wait until they have the money for transportation to come to the hospital. So appointments just don't really work here.

Kenyan culture is also very relaxed when it comes to privacy; At least when it comes to who is in the room while a patient is being seen. CURE's rehab room is literally about the size of my dorm room at Asbury.

That doesn't stop them from putting up to 3 families in here waiting to be seen. Like I said, no privacy. And it's not unusual for the therapists to answer their phone in the middle of an appointment and have a full out conversation in front of the patients. I can't help but laugh every time it happens. In America you just wouldn't even think about answering your phone when your with a patient. But like I said, Kenyan culture is very relaxed and I don't think that's changing anytime soon. Kenyans will be Kenyans. 

Our clinics are not much more organized, but they are much more fast pace, and we see a lot of patients. Fridays we have our clubfoot clinic, so we see about 30 babies and children with clubfoot. I think those days are my favorite! We see some really cute kids :)

Although I tend to get frustrated with the disorganization in the hospital, I love how easy going and loving everyone is. I feel like I can ask to do anything and they will let me try (within reason of course). Right now for example, I am sitting in the OR waiting to see a surgery because we don't have any patients in physical therapy. It's only because of their laid back attitude that I can have most of the experiences that I've been having here in Kenya. My slightly type A personality wants to schedule my whole time here, but what would be the fun in that? 

CURE International genuinely loves the children they treat and they will do everything in their power to make sure their patients get the best care available. I hope that wherever I end up one day that I can bring this same attitude. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

1 Child Challenge

CURE is holding a 1 Child Challenge, and it's so easy I had to share. 

How do you take the 1 Child Challenge?

1. Go to
2. Pick a child's story
3. Click Follow on the right hand side toolbar of that child's page.
4. Sign in with Facebook or CURE
5. Share the child's story on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

As a result, one of CURE's donors will give $1 towards that child's care. You don't pay anything! Yes, it's FREE! So why not do it??

I'm following Daisy's story.

A few weeks ago I sat in on her PMR surgery (posterior medial release) to straighten her clubfoot. Now she's home and hopefully recovering well. 

You can follow any story, but if your interested in following some kids I've met here in Kenya you can choose one of these! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Things That Frustrate Me

* WARNING: Some of the pictures in this post are very graphic. If you don't think you can handle it, scroll quickly through.

I've seen some great things in Kenya, but I've also seen some really terrible things. Working in a mission hospital has shown me just how desperate the people of Africa are for good health care. The problem is that good health care isn't free. CURE International is a wonderful organization that provides free surgeries for children with disabilities with the help of generous donors. Unfortunately we can't give all of our treatments for free.

This is James.

He fell from a tree in February and was sent to a local hospital for treatment. He was admitted, but he sat in the hospital for over a month without seeing a doctor because his family couldn't afford the fees. He finally left the hospital and was forced to lay in bed at home without anyone attending to him. He came to CURE in search of a wheelchair because he had lost all feeling and function of his legs. When Charmi and I first saw him, his father explained that he had sores, so as is protocol for distributing a wheelchair, we had to take a look. I was definitely not prepared for the severity of his sores. You can literally see the femoral head and his gluts. I have never seen anything so terrible in my life.

James has no sensation in his legs due to his injury and lack of treatment, so when he lays in bed 24/7 without being moved, this is the result. As you can see, his condition is critical, and it's been much much worse than it would be if he had seen help initially. He may actually have function of his legs if he would have been able to afford treatment from the hospital he went to first, and in turn he wouldn't have the pressure sores. Because CURE Kenya specializes in orthopedics, we don't have the doctors to treat James. He needed to see a plastic surgeon immediately so that the wounds wouldn't become infected, but that means that all we can do is refer them to Kijabe Hospital. James and his family couldn't afford to go to Kijabe Hospital, so they ended up just going home. This is just one of the sad stories that are a reality everyday in Africa. The health care is here, but for some it is impossible to acquire. James will probably not survive infection if the wounds get to that point. It's frustrating because I want to do something, but sometimes you just can't.

Jeremiah has a similar story.

He broke his wrist about 3 weeks ago and soon after went to a traditional doctor near his village. They splinted it, but they ended up creating a tourniquet type of device that cut off all circulation to his hand. As a result, the skin covering his hand died and pealed away leaving just muscle and bone. His finger tips were gangrene, but the good news is that his bone has healed!

The wonderful doctors here at CURE were able to do a minor skin graft to prevent infection, but they still don't know how much function he will have in his hand.

Click here

So you may be feeling some of my frustration. I want the best for these patients and so does the staff. Elvis worked so hard to find a solution for James, but there just wasn't anything we could do. I just can't stand the fact that he just went home in the same condition that we saw him. Right now, I feel like all I can do is pray and hope that God can provide a way for these people with little money to be healed. Please join me in praying for these people and the Kenyan health care system! 

On a lighter note... Mirriam had Charmi and I over to her house for dinner on Tuesday. She taught us how to make chapatti! 

Mirriam is seriously the best! And I am definitely making chapatti at home. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Ugandan Adventure!

This weekend was very eventful to say the least! We left Thursday afternoon to head into Nairobi, where we met our bus that would take us 10 hours to Jinja, Uganda. After dealing with having to cross the boarder at 4am and not sleeping hardly at all, we arrived safe and sound at a gas station on the side of the road. Thankfully, among the hoard of boda boda's (same as Kenyan piki's) that wanted to drive us to our destination was a nice man named Simon who called a taxi that would take us to the resort. This resort turned out to be more like a backpacker's hostile, but it was great none the less! After getting checked in, we took some boda boda's into town to get some pizza and coffee.

We had some wonderful pizza at a place called Surgio's which is owned by an Italian family. It was SO good! Then we went to The Source for some coffee and internet. We met up with Jake, a guy we met at the hostile who was meeting up with some street boys. He bought them all drinks and we sat around the table sharing the gospel. It was powerful to hear the questions and doubts these young boys had and how much they longed for something more. They all ran away from their homes, and are now living on the streets of Jinja. They said that they beg for food all day, and if they don't find food, they eat dirt. One boy was carrying a sheet that he used to sleep on, but the other boys had nothing. None of them wanted the life that home offered, so they choose this life of living on the streets. The saddest part is that they feel betrayed by God for letting their lives end up like this. We prayed over them, and Jake took them to the market for some shopping. It was great to see God working in a place we totally weren't expecting. 

Praying over Omar

Coffee at The Source with the street boys and Jake. 

After seeing Jinja we headed back to our rooms to get ready for the night cruise on the Nile. I have to say it was a little disappointed cause it was kind of short and the clouds covered the sunset, but we met some great people! I feel like we have been so blessed to come across people from all over the world with amazing stories and very interesting backgrounds. A guy we met earlier that morning at the hostile was on the cruise with us. He evidently produced this video of a group of orphan boys that he works with re-creating the 1986 World Series game where Bill Buckner's error led to the Mets winning the series. He basically was freaking out because he was "becoming a celebrity over night." I don't know if anyone actually saw it on ESPN, and if you did please let me know! We would get a laugh out of it for sure. Here's the video. 

Saturday was our big rafting day! We left early in the morning to gear up and head out. I'm the only one of the four of us girls that had ever been rafting before, so we decided to try to take it easy. The only other people that didn't want to go full out were a big Venezuelan man named Antonio, a sweet Irish girl named Gi, and a story telling South African named Kevin. It was an interesting group. I was a little worried in the beginning when our guide Henry asked if everyone could swim and Antonio and Gi both said no. We had so much fun though! After the first grade 5 rapid, we were all ready to hit the water hard! We ended up not flipping at all, but it was an exciting day for sure! 

Our group with our amazing guide Henry

After rafting and dinner we headed back to the hostile to wait for our bus back to Kenya. We met Wil and Ben from California who were also waiting for a bus.

It was exhausting, but SO worth it! I loved Uganda and all the people I got to meet. Now we're back in the hospital for two weeks. It's crazy to think I'll be home in 15 days! 

- Continued enthusiasm about my work in the hospital 
- That ministry opportunities would present themselves and that God would prepare me for whatever that entails

- Made it home from Uganda safe and sound
- My ankle is doing much better! We're planning on hiking Mt. Longonot my last weekend in Kenya :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's been a week since I last posted and I'm sorry to say that not much has happened since. I've been in Kenya for 4 weeks now, and everything is starting to feel normal. Not normal in a boring way, just normal in a way that I feel like my days are starting to feel routine. So I've been doing more castings, seeing patients, watching surgeries, and hanging out in the hospital ward. It's all exciting, but I feel like I've talked about all of that on here already. Something I haven't talked much about though is what I've really been learning. Of course I've been getting a lot of experience and learning a lot from Elvis and Mirriam (my internship supervisors), but what's been on my mind a lot lately is how I'm going to apply the skills I'm learning in America. The thing is, I might not.

Here in Kenya a lot of hospitals are short on staff, so the physical therapy department takes on many roles. As a PT in America I would not be applying and removing casts, building wheelchairs, and I probably wouldn't even be prescribing wheelchairs. What I've noticed is that my favorite parts about my internship are the parts that I wouldn't be doing at home. I love casting; I love watching surgeries; and I love playing with the kids. That's great and all, but that kind of presents a problem because my major is pre-physical therapy and I'm starting to doubt if I actually want to pursue physical therapy. I've prayed a lot about my major and I know that God wants be to pursue a degree in pre-physical therapy, but I still don't know what His big plan is. I also know that God called me to CURE this summer for my internship, and praise Him because this is a good time to figure all of this out. So basically, if you could pray for me as I figure out what I'm really passionate about and seek out God's plan. In the meantime, I'm trying to get my hands on a little bit of everything. 

That's what has been going on lately. Here are some other things I've been doing!

Hanging out with Dr. Theury! He is the medical director here at CURE, and he does a lot of the surgeries for the kids. He was just in the States for meetings at CURE headquarters in Pennsylvania and met my grandfather who is on the board for CURE. He is a great guy and he cares so much about the kids. 

Last Thursday the hospital had a mobile clinic in Thika about 2 hours away from Kijabe. 

They set up little doctors offices at Joy Town school for disabled children.

We saw a bunch of kids from the primary and secondary school. 

And I did more casting! 

Monday, I got into surgery again and I saw Daisy getting a PMR (posterior medial release). Basically, they just cut the tendons and reattach them to straighten out the foot. Follow her story here and please by in prayer for her and the other kids in the ward!

Tomorrow we leave for Jinja, Uganda for a little vacation weekend to raft the Nile! Pray for safe travels, and that we make it out of this alive! :) 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

OR, Casting, and Prayer

It's only Wednesday and this week has already been my favorite as far as work goes at the hospital.

Monday I joined Lauren and Haley in the OR to sit in on some surgeries. I was kind of nervous in my first one because the last time I tried watching a surgery (2008) I passed out. Thankfully, I made it through, and I wanted to see more! The first surgery I saw was Ehona, a 2 year old little boy with clubfoot. I also saw Hesbon's elbow surgery, and an arthroscopic ACL/meniscus repair. It was so cool. The arthroscopy is a little boring because you just see a mess of tissues on the screen and it all looks the same to me. When they made the new ACL out of the patellar tendon it started getting really interesting though! I'm really hoping I can get back into the OR and maybe 'scrub in' before I leave.

Haley and I watching the arthroscopy

Probing around the knee

Tuesday I saw the patient that we did the ACL/meniscus repair on during rounds with physical therapy. He said he remembers seeing my in the operating room because he wasn't asleep. He had an epidural because he wanted to watch the surgery! That is one brave man. I also did my first cast! Lucy was the cute little girl that had the honor :) She has spina bifida, which affects how she walks and led her to develop a wound on her foot. It was what they called a "healing cast" so I didn't have to set the foot or anything fancy. But it was fun! 

Today was a clinic day, so we had a lot of patients in out-patient along with the patients that we usually see. For the physical therapy department, clinic days mean changing a lot of casts. I applied 2 more casts today and attempted to remove a cast. I'm not a big fan of removing casts mostly because it involves a loud saw and usually screaming babies. It's much harder than the doctors make it seem. Tomorrow, Haley and I are going on a mobile clinic to Thika (about 2 hours away), and I'm only one of two 'therapists' going so I'll have a lot of practice removing casts. 
Haley and I have also been wanting to get more involved with the spiritual department. We are either in surgery or seeing patients all day and it can start to feel like we're not really sharing the gospel or speaking to the lives of the people we meet. I've had to learn that the medical and spiritual healing that CURE emphasizes is definitely going on, but they have staff in charge of managing each. Today we talked to the head of the spiritual department to see how we can get more involved and she invited us to come to their afternoon fellowship session. It was great to see the parents and children in the ward worshipping and sharing testimonies! Please be in prayer as we try to get more involved with this ministry and as we prepare a message for next weeks fellowship session. I can see God moving in this hospital and I encourage you if you are reading this to pray for the patients that as they see the healing of their body through the doctors that they would also receive healing through the Spirit. 

There's a lot going on and it's hard to believe I am almost half way through my trip! Thank you all for the prayers! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

piki piki

Yes! I rode on my first piki piki today! I mean I've been riding four-wheelers since I could walk, but it was still exciting to ride a motorcycle in Kenya. If I ever end up in Africa for longer amount of time, I have decided that I will own one of these.

Now I have to say that what got me a piki piki ride is a little less exciting. In fact, it's kind of annoying. It's also a little bit of a long story, so here we go...

So today was Kenya's independence day and therefore, we didn't have work at the hospital. My housemates, Lauren and Haley, both work in the O.R. at the hospital and a few of the O.R. staff thought it would be fun to go on a "nature walk." They said there was the potential for seeing elephants, monkeys, and waterfalls so of course we were in! This morning we met at the matatu (15 passenger van) station at 7:30 to depart. Now we are in Africa, so we didn't actually have everyone there until 8:30. Once all 12 of us were present we got on our matatu to head out to the park. We had a private driver because the wonderful Terry arranged a van that would take just us and not half of Kijabe (which is what they tend to think will fit in a matatu). The workers at the station were not very happy about this because our van wasn't next in line to leave, so we got out and walked about a mile up the hill just to meet the same van driver for the rest of the drive. Oh Kenya.
When we finally got to the park, we began our walk. It was BEAUTIFUL.

It was also a pretty tough hike.

So needless to say, it was only a matter of time before this happened. 

Yes, I sprained my ankle in the middle of the Kenyan rain forest. Thankfully, I was with a bunch of nurses and surgical technicians. 

They cut up one of their bags and gave it to me to use as an ace bandage.

As Lauren will more than willingly tell you, as soon as I went down I said, "I just broke my ankle!" Not gonna lie, it kinda felt like I broke my ankle. So I was a little over a mile away from any form of road, and you saw the pictures of the valley we climbed through to get to where this little accident happened. We decided I definitely shouldn't keep going with the hike, so Samuel who is one of the Kenyans from CURE, called his piki piki driver to come meet us at the closest road. Poor Sam, David, and Terry helped carry me to the road to meet the piki piki. They are seriously the best.

So that's how I got my first piki piki ride! Lauren and Haley got back to the house about 7 hours later with mud caked all over them and absolutely no energy. Evidently I didn't even see half of what they would encounter.

Part of me is glad I left when I did, but part of me is bummed that I had to miss out. Tomorrow is our trip to Nairobi, so pray that we can get some crutches in the morning so I'm not hopping around like an idiot all day!