Being a respiratory therapist I am used to the question: what is it that you do? I have blogged about it a few years ago when I came to Tenwek the first time. In attempts to explain what I do I have changed my job title to Fundi wa kupumua. Fundi is a Swahili word which in language school we defined as expert. Here at Tenwek I have been told it refers to a repairman. I think either work. Kupumua is breathing. So literally translated I am the repairman of breathing.
I have had some debates but I like the title.
The fundi part of the title here is a lot more true here than back in Canada. My troubleshooting of ventilators goes a lot further than “it doesn’t work” – I have a closet full of exhalation valves and flow sensors which I pull out when needed. I also walk around with a wrench in my pocket and have started filling O2 cylinders (E size). I am hoping to learn how the O2 and air compressor works and how to trouble shoot them so when there are problems I can fix them. This is something that is currently done and I will in no way assume the duties from technical but rather share the load.
Today I learned that when filling tanks I can’t hear my pager – something I need to remember as I start doing this more often.
Don’t think I am filling tanks and becoming a mechanic because I am bored – that is far from the truth. I am doing it as its necessary to be done and helping out the technical service with simpler tasks frees them up to fix my ventilators that are out of my expertise.
On the kupumua (breathing) side of things I have been busy this week. We have some visitors from America who are helping us out with cardiac surgeries. We are doing one case a day. This week has been mitral valves, next week will be aortic valves. I get involved with the patient post-op as we wean off the ventilator and get the patient stabilized. As we do not have an intensivist managing the patients post-op it can be interesting as the responsible physicians are busy doing surgery. If problems arise the nurses and I figure something out as one of us relays info back and forth to the operating room.
This week I started a relationship with another mission hospital about 45min away, so not far. They are in the process of opening an ICU and I am advising them on things. I will probably making 2-4 trips a month for the next few months providing education to the nurses and physicians there. Its fun to help create something and I pray that they do well.
Here are some random pictures of life and work.
|Chai time in ICU - one of our patients joined us/|
|An evening game of balderdash|
|My ICU nurses excited about the "new"monitor- if only we could get it to work all the time|
|A patient needed blood - so I gave some, and I did not faint.|
|My O2 tank filling station|