I love the work I do at Tenwek and did not really know what to expect when I got back in January. After being gone for 11 months would I still be remembered, would the nurses I invested time in teaching still remember what I taught them? would they still be there? Would the physicians welcome me back allowing me to run my machines and care for patients? Would my equipment still work? The answers to these questions was vastly positive. My first few days back at work were busy greeting everyone. Many of the nurses wishing me a Merry Christmas - a bit of a joke as they had not seen me for so long and I missed Christmas. I was happy to see many nurses still there and still remembering much of what I taught, however other nurses have gone to other departments, hospitals or for further training. The physicians were happy to have me back and let me know by paging me for something almost every day for the first two weeks (including nights and weekends). As for my equipment that was a different story - I came back to every single ventilator not working or "working" with multiple problems. I spent the first two weeks hurriedly trying to fix the machines. I was happy to have the help of a bio-med from Samaritans Purse who had come to help out the cardiac team. We took machines apart, swapped parts, put them back together and said lots of prayers. Some machines were just broken from normal wear and tear, others had just missed out on some routine maintenance, and one had been put back together wrong and fried a piece - when it smells burnt you know you have a problem. So fixing machines has been a priority. I can not care for patients if equipment does not work, nor can patients benefit from a life support machine that is not working. Two weeks ago I had six functioning vents and each one was in use. We were turning away patients and unable to provide the care we would have liked to for others. In Canada, this happens but a well equipped ambulance is there and able to take the patient to another hospital also well equipped. However Tenwek is the only hospital in a large area that has ventilators so so if we say no.... This is hard so I am hoping to fix another ventilator when I am back next week - I have one that is more broken so current plan is keep swapping parts until it works.
I have enjoyed being back at work it has challenges but also many rewards - being able to see patients get better after a severe illness. We had a young man who was quite sick after a road traffic accident. On top of multiple fractures his lungs were affected (Fat emboli/PE/ARDS) he spent a good week on the ventilator and it was great to see him get better and leave the ward smiling.
Life at Tenwek is always a changing landscape - I have found myself missing friends from last time who were only here for a 2 year term and staying busy meeting new people. I dove back in facilitating bible studies Wednesday nights and helping with youth group when the Kenyan youth are home from boarding school. After retreat, I plan to soon restart pizza parties with the interns; a fun way to get to know each other and relax. I practiced my rusty pizza making skills a few weeks ago as there is a couple from Edmonton now at Tenwek so I had to catch up with them. I see so few Canadians. As I am now a long term missionary at Tenwek instead of a visitor that does not leave I am now responsible for furnishing my house. I have borrowed furniture for a few more months but have done a fair amount of shopping - this weekend was expensive as I bought a fridge and washing machine. I am having a bed frame built and will also buy some furniture from a family that is leaving this summer. It is fun to set up house.
As I mentioned earlier, I also just had a week of rest. Every year all the missionaries with the organization I am with here in Kenya (World Gospel Mission) take a few days of retreat. About 100 (including children) of us headed to the hot and humid coast. It was exactly what I needed, as you can see from above it has been a busy few weeks - this has not given me a lot of time to grieve the loss of my mom. This retreat gave me a chance to talk with my colleagues who are also so busy at Tenwek, we worshiped together - most times of worship had me singing with tears running down my face. I hate crying in public but this was a safe and good place to do so. God also sent us a great speaker. A christian counselor and psychiatrist who has worked with missionaries all over the world. He led a session on grief that reminded me I was normal and reminded my colleagues that I will need time. The session wasn't just for me - most missionaries are grieving something whether something big like a death or a collection of smaller things - being away from family, not knowing if you are doing what's best for your children or the cumulative loss of too many patients etc. Anyway, this was a well needed break, a reminder that I have a missionary family that loves me and even more a God who loves me.
So this post has been long I will end with some pictures of the beautiful coast.
|Woke up early to watch the sunrise|
|A weaver bird - so beautiful|