Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Back to Work

The last few blogs have been filled with a lot of excitement. For a few weeks in a row I don’t think I had put in any five day weeks - with Mom and Dad coming, Christmas, Nairobi Visa trip and Kenyan Holidays. All that is over now and it is time to get back to work.

When we returned from safari I had thought of taking the rest of the day off as it was the last evening with my parents however, it was so busy that I could not just sit by. Mom and I took off to the hospital and Dad was content with his book in hand. Mom had a great experience as we intubated a fellow in casualty (ER) we almost coded a patient in ICU – I made Mom bag. There was also the desaturation of another ICU patient to the 60-70s, mom got to see me in action as I lectured the student nurse (he had written down the low vitals for the last hour and did not do anything about it) and as I turned down the new packaged non-rebreather mask for the one that had been bleached multiple times – this was all in less than two hours. I managed to escape the hospital for a few hours and chat with them a bit until the pager went off and I went up to set up a previously unused ventilator on a patient. The page came just as I had invited a friend to join the three of us for supper. The three of them did enjoy supper, I joined in late. All in a afternoon at Tenwek.

I feel like there are trends at Tenwek just like there are back home. I have noticed a few different trends recently, I had bagging afternoon where after a quiet morning I spent the afternoon bagging various patients: one with decreased SpO2 and three others who had coded. Sadly none of the codes survived, especially difficult as two of the codes where pediatric patients.
Bagging afternoon led to fixing bagger day. Tenwek reuses almost all their respiratory equipment. This includes baggers (ambu baggers as we like to call them here regardless of brand) that are designed for single patient use. As they are single patient use they are not made to last as long but stand up remarkably well, however there are a few styles that have a port on the patient side designed for a pressure manometer or delivering medications – this makes sense as long as you have the cap however after the tenth time something is cleaned the cap disappears giving us a leak when we bag. I realized this problem soon after I came to Tenwek and would remedy it with putting my finger there or plugging it with the cap off a sharp. However, I was the only one doing this meaning patients were only bagged effectively if I was around – as there is only one of me and I am not always around a permanent solution was in order. I asked the electrician who functions as biomed for something to fill the hole with that would with stand up to multiple jikings (jik is our word for bleach). I was given a 2 part epoxy and off I went finding every bagger I could and filling the holes. I am pleased to say that it has worked well, we no longer have a leak. I am still walking around with epoxy in my lab coat pocket so that I can catch the ones I have missed – one more thing to carry, lab coats do come in handy.

I have been busy with multiple lectures, as well new interns have started at Tenwek and after three years of medical school with minimal practicum they are quite green. This is in addition to the other teaching I am doing. Last week was busy with a lecture to the nurses about high flow cold nebs and venturis on Monday, Tuesday was a lecture to the interns on low flow oxygen, followed by a Wednesday lecture to the nurse anesthetists on ventilation by pathophysiology.  A busy week. The lecture to the nurses was the hardest as venturi and entrainment are difficult concepts and there is a lot of room for error but overall I think it went well.

Besides new interns at the hospital January has brought a lot of visiting staff to the hospital as well. This makes me busier in two ways, the first is visiting staff are not familiar with our (ancient) ventilators and need education as well they are used to having a RT around. I also am more willing to help out the short term visiting staff as they leave before I do meaning they will not be left in a lurch when I am gone, in comparison to the long term staff who need to get by without me in a few month. All in all I end up helping out a little more – but that is fine. The other part of having visiting staff here is a lot more (young single) people to hang out with. I have spent evenings hanging out, learning how to play racquetball, playing settlers and going for walks. Weekends have been games of ultimate Frisbee and hikes up Motigo. This had been wonderful I am enjoying getting to know everyone and the games are a lot of fun – I think I need to keep at it as I am out of shape. Racquetball was right before bagging day and my forearm was sore.

            Being busy both socially and at work has taught me to prioritize things. This has changed up my routine and it has been great. I now have to schedule time to take for God – this has been wonderful and I should have made myself do it years ago instead of leaving what time I have left at the end of the day, making time for God and setting it aside for him had brought so much more meaning and insight into my walk with God. Please pray for me as I take this time to get to know God better and inquire his plan for my life

Ultimate Frisbee - Waiting for the next play

I am gonna say I caught this one and then we scored (really I have no clue)

everyone laughing after the Frisbee hit "A" in the head
Still laughing - see even the Kenyan kids are laughing

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Can you see it

I have been back from the Mara for more than a week and it is high time I tell you about the trip rather than just the journey getting there. If you saw on the map on my previous post Fairmont Mara Safari club is right outside of the park. This did not limit our experience one bit. We stayed in large tents situated along the Mara river in which a lot of hippos live. I would sit at our table having lunch and I would watch the hippos in the river. At one point a large bird landed on the back of the hippo, probably thinking it was a rock. The hippo did not like being treated as a rock and "jumped" up it was quite exciting, all while I was enjoying my soup.
The days on the safari are a little structured with two game drives a day: one from 6:30am-8:30am and the other from 3:30-6:30. Getting up early may not sound like a holiday but being able to see the sunrise and watch the active game in the cool morning hours is beautiful and well worth it. The time between game drives is spent at the resort where my parents and I would go for walks to see more hippos, read a book, take a nap and enjoy the wonderful meals prepared for us - yum.
The game drives were of course the highlight of the trip. We had an excellent driver who could spot the wildlife from a kilometer away. At one point we were driving through the bush and he pointed out a lion deep in the bush quite far away. How he saw it while navigating the mud amazed me, practice I guess. We saw all the Big Five (name given to the five animals hardest to shoot when hunting, now refers to the top five animals to see - lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros) except the leopard - although we did see 2 cheetahs which look similar to leopards. Rather than post all my pictueres - you can look at them here on facebook (you should have access even if you are not on facebook). However, here are five of my favourites.
Mom and baby, baby was almost as big as mom

I think giraffes are one of my favorite animals

Those of you who were in Junior high art with me know how much I love sunrises
 The trip back was much less exciting than the trip there, only two hours. Then it was back to work at the hospital which had gotten really busy in my absence, five ventilated patients at one point - usually we max out at three. On Friday I said good-bye to Mom and Dad who are now seeing some more of Kenya before they head home next week sometime. It was great that they could come and see what I do here and meet many of my friends and co-workers here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rescued by the Masai Warrior and Canada Post

As you probably read in my last post Mom and Dad are here and you can not come to Kenya without going on Safari. So Monday morning we took off for a few days. Tenwek has a deal set up with the Fairmont Mara Safari club which gives Tenwek visitors a deal so off we went.

We were picked up at the hospital by a driver arranged by someone at Tenwek. I had not met this driver but assumed all was good so off we went. A little while down the road I asked the driver if he had been there before and he said yes - we went on a field trip when I was in school. This had me a little concerned but in his broken English (my 8 year old neighbour spoke better English than him) said he knew the way. Drivers are common here as many of us don't drive and every time I have one I simply say go here and they go, no need for me to give directions as they just know where to go, this is good as I have yet to learn my way around here.

Anyway we continued on myself giving the driver the benefit of the doubt, however I was getting a little worried as my Dad said, "we are going to Fairmont, right?" because the sign we just passed said Fairmont. We asked the driver and he responded with no this way is fine - and you have to trust the driver right. So off we went we eventually turned off the highway (at Narok for those who know the area) and headed south it was a paved road with lots of potholes - the same one I think we had taken to Olderkesi. Anyway, we eventually turned off to a bumpy gravel road being unsure I texted a friend of mine at Tenwek asking if going down a bumpy road was normal she responded with yes but we should be there in 10 minutes. Ten minutes later there was no end in sight. We then asked the driver what was going on and he responded with, "I turned late so now we have to detour a little bit." A little bit was an understatement the gravel road ended at a Masai village, an hour or more later. Here I was quite concerned as the Masai  men told us we had a long way to go - and the road had reached a deadend. A decision made was to put a Masai warrior in the car to guide us to our destination. The man climbed into the car and off we went backroading in our little Toyota (car, 2 wheel drive) we went through a river, through the mud and all sorts of other places that would have been a lot of fun in a quad but not the most enjoyable in the back of a little car at 3pm which you have been stuck in since 9:30 am (read no lunch or bathroom breaks). The amount of crazy places we went through it was amazing we made it through. There were many times that we would go through something and I would just pray that God would get us through as I envisioned being stranded and lost in the middle of the mara for a few days. Here are a few pictures of our experience
The Masai man who led us through 100km of bush, without him we might still be there

The Road - this is a better section, we may have driven through the puddle on the left if not this one others like it.
The route I think we took is in yellow, destination in red, all approximate as I had no clue where we were. I know we came from Narok and went through Talek, which there was no road to and I don't think we ever entered the actual park.
This was an adventure we were rescued by the Masai warrior and eventually met by one of the vehicles from Fairmont where the staff member was wearing a Canada post shirt, so he gets some credit in the rescue. We were met at the lodge with a late lunch (it was now 5pm) and showed to our tents. For those of you thinking drive for 7 hours and sleep in a tent - no way, The drive is only supposed to take 2 1/2 hours and as for the tent this is what the inside looked like.

Beautiful - and behind the curtains is the en suite
So the first day of the trip done, we had missed our afternoon game drive although on our round-a-bout trip to the lodge we did see some wildebeest and ostriches. I will blog again soon about the rest of the trip it was exciting as well but a much better form of excitement.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mom and Dad are here

I am writing this Sunday evening and I hear that all my family and friends in Alberta are stuck in a blizzard, and even some church services have been cancelled and the roads are horrid. I will pray for you all and in the meantime enjoy the beautiful weather here.

My parents have been very supportive of my trip to Kenya and the work I am doing here. When I told them things were falling into place for me to go my parents responded with: we will come visit. So Tuesday I went into Nairobi and picked them up at the airport after a long wait of seeing them through the glass while they were picking up their baggage I could finally give them a hug.
The next day after a stop at Nakumatt we headed of to Tenwek
Dad excited to see a bag of Red beans in Nairobi
Mom and Dad experienced  the long drive to Tenwek - beautiful at one point as you look down and across the Rift Valley and drive down through it - pictures do not do justice. Once we arrived at Tenwek is was time to walk around meet some people and get settled in.
The next day was a tour of the hospital where Mom and Dad had Chai with the ICU nurses as well as saw the nursery including the quadruplets (please pray for the quads as they have an infection) Mom also was able to watch a C-section in the afternoon. Dad was more than happy to stay as far away from the hospital as possible and talk to the yard men.
Mom and Dad at the Waterfall

Enjoying Chai and Mandazi in ICU with the staff
A day at the hospital done, Friday we went for a walk, being in a Rural part of Kenya ladies wear skirts, so Mom and I hiked in our skirts
Our hike brought us to the top of Motigo the local high point and it is great to see the view you can see previous pictures of Motigo here. I was quite happy that we made it to the top and that we did not get lost as I had always hiked it with people who  knew the way and never paid a lot of attention to the direction we were going.

Those of you who know my parents well know how much they (Dad) loves to see farms. There was never a family trip without touring a farm whether it was the San Joquin Valley in California or a dairy in Ontario or a green house in Holland. A vacation was not complete without it. Therefore when I heard my parents were coming to visit I found a farm to visit. Saturday we took off to Kericho were we had a tour of a large tea farm, factory and a green house full of roses, it was great to see a different side of Kenya and see how tea is made.
Heather and I in the tea

Harvesting the tea by machine, much of it is still hand plucked.
Tea and trees as far as you can see all run by the same company

At the end of the tour we stopped for some lunch we were quite excited to see burgers on the menu I ordered the beef burger, Dad the pineapple burger and Heather the cheese burger. When our food (finally) arrived I had a normal hamburger, Dad had a burger with pineapple - no meat and Heather, well she got a cheeseburger - no meat she had ordered cheese. Many surprises in Kenya.

So this is Marie blogging now. The next time I hike in Kananaskis, will I wear a long skirt? Today was so special, I still am pinching myself to see if it is real. After church we were invited to a co-worker'  for chai. We walked over hill and dale, and he met us at the end of the path which lead to where he and his wife lived. It was about a 20 minute walk, which he and his wife make daily to work at the hospital. What a beautiful commute. Both have very good jobs. He owns a small farm which produces far more than he can eat. For instance, he grew three varieties of dry beans which yielded 50kg in total each. They eat some and sell the rest.We visited in his home and felt very blessed by each others company. They are so happy to own land. They hire people to help with harvesting, because they work full time. Someone milks the two cows and pans out the milk. I think of the lifestyle of a couple in Canada where both have good jobs--quite different.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years and Laughs

Life here is becoming more and more routine. I celebrated New Years here by playing games and there were even fireworks, very similar to home however as midnight approached we did not have a TV to turn on and therefore picked someones watch and counted down. The watch we picked was 15 seconds slower than the watch down the hill so we heard them shout and cheer a little before we did. We will never know who was really right. Regardless I did welcome the New Year 10 hours earlier than all my Albertan friends. Happy New year to all.
I mentioned in a previous blog how I moved a month ago and have a new roommate. Last week a piece of her luggage arrived (big complicated mess at the airport)  and it was like another Christmas (almost as exciting as the Quadruplets). The best part was the new curtains I am not a very stylish person and window coverings are not super high on priority list however one of the windows in my room had a hideous set of curtains, they were not even the same length so I was very excited to take them down. My friends and I had some fun with the curtains as you can see here.
I think someday I may regret that I posted this.
We find plenty to do to keep us entertained here. Yesterday I attempted to go for a run and realized how out of shape I am I think I need to train some more.

Life at the hospital continues on, we are getting some more visiting staff coming the next few weeks as well as new interns (first year residents) starting so I think my pager will be going off a little more than usual. Today I was asked to do some MDI teaching, this is something that I do back home as well, however this being Kenya it was slightly more complicated. Aerochambers are expensive so we stock very few and never give them away. We usually use a plastic coke bottle converted into a spacer. I realized that we were all out of spacers so I went home to make one - cutting off the neck of the bottle was easy (this made the mask part as it is for a baby) however have you ever tried to cut into the bottom of a plastic pop bottle - it is hard so here is what I ended up doing

I heated up the knife on the gas stove, I tried a candle but it was not hot enough
Then I cut/melted a hole onto the bottom of the soda bottle
So now that I had an aerochamber I found my patient and showed them how to use it, done. This worked so well I think I may just start a side business.

Anyway life continues to go on here and I am quite excited as tomorrow my parents fly in. It will be great to see them again, they will be here for  a few weeks so I am sure I will have more pictures to share with you as we go on safari and tour a tea farm together.