Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
The well is drilled using a bore hole method and it is all done by hand. Different soils/rock require different tools.
We started off cruising, digging several feet every couple of minutes. John was very excited!Then we hit some rock. John was not very excited. We were stuck for about 5 1/2 hours and thought we might have to pull out and start somewhere new BUT......we made it through!
Then John was very happy again!(Sorry, no picture of him being really happy).
And after five days we had water!!!
The plan is to place a solar pump as well and treat the water using UV rays. It's all completely over my head. My job was to document the adventure and serve as the anchor to keep the big metal poles in place while they were pounding around down there. (After a minor accident in which the tripod fell down and hit Chad's car. We realized the importance of the "safety zone" after that! All in all, not a bad way to spend the week! :)
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I was getting ready for another road trip and was filling my car up when it happened. I heard a "SMACK" and then someone said "Ohhh...accident!" I turned around and not 50 feet away from me were two people lying on the ground with their motorcycles beside them.
My background is ICU nursing. A few years ago I started working in the ER and really loved the chaos that happens there....doing some of the first assessments, figuring out what's going on, etc. In few months before I left I was lobbying to do some ride alongs with some of the paramedics I met because I wanted to be "first on the scene." I know it may sound sick....but I love the adrenaline rush!
So there I was. Two people in an accident just a few feet away. Neither were wearing helmets. One guy was moving and I thought the other one must be dead because he wasn't moving at all. All of the sudden I had a million things running through my head. It went like this.
"I need to do something. There are two patients sitting right there! What should I do? I should call 9-1-1. Wait, there's no 9-1-1- here. Ok, let me grab my first aid kit. Wait, I didn't bring it. Also, what do I have in my first aid kit that will help an unconscious, probably dead person? They shouldn't move. I need a c-collar and backboard. I have neither of these. What should I do? I could take them to the hosptial. Where's a hopsital around here? How do I get to the hospital? How do I get them there without moving them? Is that guy alive? I need to do something, it's my civic responsibility. What should I do???????"
This conversation probably happened within a few seconds.....it felt like forever. As often happens in accidents (especially here it seems) many people started converging upon the scene immediately. I started moving in that direction but paused. Then I noticed that there was an ambulance that happened to be driving along at the time of the accident. I've probably only seen 5 ambulances since I arrived. They did a literal scoop and run and picked these two guys up, threw them in the back of the ambulance and off they went. Then the traffic resumed as normal. It was incredible how fast it happened. At home that road would have been blocked for at least an hour!
Even though it happend quickly though, I still think I had time to do something. But I didn't. I totally froze. Rarely have I felt as much like a failure as a nurse...expecially an ER nurse....as I did today. I mean, this is the stuff we live for! I've literally been jealous of my other nursing friends who have happened upon an accident and were the first to get there. And today I blew it! Couldn't I have at least stabilized the neck....somehow? Wasn't there a big piece of board....somewhere....that I could have used as a backboard? I should have done something!!!
I've gone over it a bunch of times in my head and I'm not sure what exactly I would have done differently. However, this experience did make me think that I need to have some kind of plan for if/when (if you've seen the driving here you would know it's going to be a when) this happens again. I was caught way too off guard today and don't want that to happen again!! Sheesh.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Another thing I've learned is that it's all about the greeting. In Sierra Leone there's no "hi, now let's cut to the chase of the conversation. A minimum of at least two greetings must take place before the real conversation can start. Now there are a lot of options you can choose from such as "how's the body?" "how's the day?" "how's the work?" "how'd you sleep" "how's your family" and my personal favorite..."how's everything?" Now, I tend to be a very "cut to the chase" kind of person so these extended greetings are definitely an area in which I need to grow. Especially when I just have a really quick question on the phone and ESPECIALLY when it comes from my 3am caller!! How's the sleep? Really? You want to go with that one when you're calling me at 3am in the morning??? :) Ha! Sierra Leone....you make me laugh. :)
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
The story goes like this. Ali was playing soccer with some friends the day before when he collided with another player. His leg snapped in half. He came to us in a great deal of pain. We didn't have an x-ray machine but from the cracking in his bones that we felt when we were assessing his leg, it appeared that he probably broke both of the bones in his lower leg and probably broke them in more than one place. Shoot.
When I asked him how old he was, he said he was 22 but when I asked him again later, he admitted that he didn't really know his exact age (very few people here do) and to me, he didn't look like he could be more than 17.
In the States, this kid would have been x-rayed, splinted and then probably taken to surgery to have pins or plates placed. Then he would have been in a cast for several weeks, gotten his cast taken off and continued on his merry way. That's not what's going to happen here.
I felt utterly helpless. After two unsuccessful attempts, my friend Katie and I were finally able to splint his leg with old school plaster. During each attempt he would cry out in pain as we shifted his leg. We couldn't even offer him crutches because we were too far away from anything to buy him a pair. He left being carried by some friends with his leg on a pillow, some Aleve for the pain and instructions to stay off of his leg for 4 weeks.
As I saw him leave....I kind of lost it. It wasn't the pain that I caused him that affected me. Maybe I've grown cold, but I'm used to having to hurt patients at times to ultimately make them better. It killed me that most likely, if his leg heals, he'll never walk normally again....never play soccer again. He was such a strong, healthy kid and because of this one accident that would be so easily treated in the States, his life is changed....forever. It killed me. And I cried.
BUT! Fortunately, that's not the end!! We held a team meeting and decided that we wanted to do what we could to help this kid! I called my friend who was in Freetown and asked if he knew of any options. I didn't even know if there were any orthopedic doctors in Sierra Leone so I didn't know where to even start. I explained the situation and he went to see what our options were.
After chasing down a bunch of leads, our two options were an emergency hosptial that only deals with emergencies and a private hospital that would be pretty expensive. The emergency hospital was full so our only option was a private hospital. We took up a collection and that was that. By this time, it was the end of the week and we were leaving for Freetown in the morning.
The next morning we went to church and then a few of us went to find the boy to tell him our plan to bring him to Freetown.
We found his home and there he was, lying on the ground with his leg on a pillow (the splint that we made nowhere to be found....they said it got too tight.) His leg was significantly larger than when we originally saw him a few days ago but he was in good spirits. We gathered his guardians (his parents were in another village) and explained our plan. He didn't love it. In fact, he said he wanted to stay where he was. What??? So we explained it again. We explained the severity of what we thought he had...the fact that if he didn't get it fixed he would probably never walk right again and wouldn't play soccer again. We didn't want to bully him, but we also wanted it to be clear that this was very serious. He became very solemn and finally nodded his head that he would go. My dad told me that I should tell him that we were going to pay for the treatment if the community would provide the rice for him while he was there. I thought "I don't think we need to do that...it's assumed that we're going to pay for it." But I decided to humor him and told him that we would pay for his treatment...etc etc etc. All of the sudden his face lit up and all his family and friends started smiling.
I'd been wrong. I'd been giving them a dismal prognosis with little hope because they knew they wouldn't be able to pay to go to the hospital. Oops! So we discussed some more details and told them we would be contacting them once we had everything arranged to come to Freetown. It was a good moment. :)
The next morning was "Beach Day" and I went to pick up the team at their hotel. And who should be there but the doctor of the hospital that I'll be working at in a couple months. I spoke with her about the boy and she said that they would be able to take care of it at that hospital!! For $300! Awesome! What an amazing "coincidence."
So after lots and lots of calling around, we arranged a ride for him (I dreaded that ride for him....the roads are less than ideal for a normal person, set alone someone with a busted up leg!)
and the driver went to pick him up.
And he refused to go. He and his family were afraid that they were going to cut off his leg. So we spoke with several people, assured everyone that they definitely wouldn't cut off his leg...and off he went.
He arrived safely, if in quite a bit of pain and they took his x-rays. I haven't heard anything but am going to call tonight and check on him.
There is a lot of hopelessness here.....especially in terms of medicine. This is one case that I'm praying will turn out awesomely!!!