Irons and Governors

When coming to Africa, you’re bound to do some things you never expected. For me, one of those was to iron a pair of boxers. Apparently, if you want/need to wear any clothes sooner than two days after they were hung dry, they need to be ironed. The reason is that there are bugs here that lay eggs in wet clothes. The eggs persist for a few days and can severely irritate skin they come in contact with. Thus, I ironed a pair of boxers. Or I’ve been fooled like the step-mother in Parent Trap when she tapped sticks together to “scare away bears”.

Today, the governor of our district (similar to a state) visited the hospital and spoke to us. Throughout his speech he made several statements that made me think he believed the hospital we work at is very important to the district. He had conversations with people sitting outside the hospital and discovered that several of them were from far away, from other districts. The fact is that people sacrificially travel from far away to receive treatment at this hospital because of the level of care available.  The longer I’m here the more I believe our staff of six doctors is amazing. Three months ago there were only two docs here to care for all 160 or so patients. I can’t imagine how busy that was!

As I mentioned before, this week I’m working on the male ward in the morning and pediatrics in the afternoon. About 40% of the kids we admit are for malaria infections. Some are fortunate enough to receive treatment before the infection causes organ dysfunction and others aren’t. If the infection persists it can cause cerebral malaria, causing the child to be comatose and have seizures. About 50% of the time they recover from cerebral malaria. What makes treating cerebral malaria more difficult is that the medicine they are on (Quinine) can cause low blood sugar, which in turn can also cause brain injury and seizures. However, there are only two glucometers in the hospital so we scramble to get them and keep checking blood sugars. Medicine here feels like a battle. I feel like every parent and patient I’ve interacted with has truly been grateful for the care we provide. Because of that, and the “victories”, the fight is worth it.

Here’s a photo of Matilda (one of the victories I shared a few days ago) and her first child.