Friday, May 6, 2011

Up Country

Wow! It's been awhile! I've been away from internet access for quite a while and it's nice to be back among technology! Quite a bit has happened in the past several weeks so I'm going to split it up into a few separate blogs.
In April, we had a medical team from Canada come to Sierra Leone. We operated a clinic in two different sites, both of which I'd been to before. It's always fun going back to places where I've started relationships and to build on them. In addition to getting to build on those relationships, I got to make a bunch of new ones with our friendly neighbors to the North. On our hour long drive to dinner one night I had them attempt to teach me the Canadian national anthem. For some reason I often get this song stuck in my head but only knew the first two words..."Oh Canada." So now I at least know the first 4 lines which will come in very handy during my next hockey game! I'll sing it loud and proud. :)
Clinics like the one we did are alway fun but have their challenges as well. I always hate "the Last Day." This is the last day of clinic when we can't tell people to come back tomorrow and have to turn people who are legitimately sick away because we just can't see them all. I hate that! This time since we did clinic in two different places, we got to have two "Last Days." Yuck.
I think the most memorable case for me was a 10 month old with severe hydrocephalus. I went up to the triage area to try and find the people who were really sick and a man came up to me and said this woman has a baby at home who's head keeps getting bigger. I kind of shrugged it off because we get odd complaints like "something started moving down here (in the stomach) and has moved up to my chest and then my head and now I have a headache" and others pretty often. So I just told her to go get the baby and bring it here becasue I'd need to see it if she was going to get into the clinic.
A little while later I was back in the triage area and she was shielding a baby. I pulled back the blanket and she quickly put it back again. In the short time I saw her I could tell that her head was HUGE! "My baby's head keeps getting bigger" was an absolutely legitimate claim. There was obviously some shame associated with this because she was extremely careful that no one see her baby. I fet so bad for her. I could just imagine some of the things that she'd been told.
I gave her a card to take to the clinic so she could be seen. About an hour later one of the doctors came to me asking me to help find a hospital in Sierra Leone who could put a shunt in this kiddo. (I should explain here that hydrocephalus is a disease in which fluid collects in the head and makes it bigger and bigger, causing brain damage and eventual death. To correct the problem, in the States we put a shunt in to drain the fluid from the head to the abdomen.) I called every hospital I could think of and even called Mercy Ships, who happens to be docked here for a few months, but nothing. Nobody could fix this kiddo's problem. She's going to die. Bleh. Sometimes you just have days like that that stink. No matter how hard we try, there are just limited resources here and we can't fix everything.
Fortunately, although we do have days like that, we also have days that bring great joy at how we're able to help. We found four little kiddos who were unbelievably malnourished and would probably die in the next couple of days. One of the docs with us knew about a hospital run by some Belgiuns who do a feeding program so we put them all on the bus with us and off to the hopsital we went. Hopefully these kiddos will do great after this!

No comments:

Post a Comment