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Sunday, May 22, 2011


Life goes on, and with each week and month we are more settled here at Kijabe.  But we learned in Bundibugyo that painful life lesson #126 is . . . there are always more painful life lessons.  Some aren't actually that painful, some are funny, some are humbling.  So here are a few firsts from the week.

First Kijabe rat--that one had to come eventually even here in Camelot I suppose.  Not as big as our average Bundi pest, lighter gray, about hand-sized, definitely more than just a mouse.  Tried and true technology, the scary spring-loaded wood and metal trap.  No more nibbles out of my tomatoes.  

First time to watch Jack play rugby--in a scrimmage on Friday, he did great.  He's been playing now for a month but we haven't been able to see him before.  The painful life lesson there is probably still to come . . . 

First BlackRock Tournament--we learned that this is actually pretty much the social highpoint of the year.  A large private Catholic Kenyan school hosts an annual Rugby tournament.  I think there were about 30 teams competing, including the Ugandan National Secondary School Champions (who looked quite impressive).  There were tents, music, mediocre food for purchase, loudspeakers, milling fans, vuvuzelas, umbrellas (first for rain and then for sun), shouts and cheers as usually 4 or 5 games were being played simultaneously.  Buses poured in, private vehicles were parked in a field.  I saw many, many families from RVA, probably more than from any other school, including lots of people without any kids playing who were just there to support and enjoy.  Kids painted their faces; dorms of girls had created matching shirts in RVA colors.  RVA varsity has a tradition of all shaving their heads the day before, which makes them suddenly quite hard to distinguish on the field of play, a lot of strong boys dressed in the same uniform with the same shiny white or black skulls.  The varsity Rugby team won both games in their first round, then advanced to quarter-finals in the "cup" tier which is the highest.  They played a well-fought and very even game, but in the last ten seconds (literally) the other team scored a try, and they were out.  Seniors pretty much crumpled on the field in grief.  JV entered too, even though they'd be playing varsity teams from other schools (talk about scary).  They won their first match and tied the second, barely losing to a very good school.  So they advanced to quarterfinals in the "plate" tier (middle), where they tried hard but lost definitively to another stronger team.  Considering that they're significantly younger and less experienced they did well.  Some moms there cover their eyes and say they can't watch their sons go into the fray.  Maybe it's being a doctor, I don't know, but I found I'm not that way.  If something happens I want to see it and be there.  I did wince when Caleb was tackled particularly hard . . but also cheered when he ran forward with the ball, or tackled others, or punted well.  

First total mix-up in communication with my new partner--to make a long story shorter, when Caleb made the rugby team we asked to be off this weekend, but the acting medical director said she couldn't manage that but would put us on call (both) with a family medicine resident so we could still go to the tournament . . .  then the call schedule changed a bunch of times, and on a later version she had stuck Mardi for the weekend instead, at a point when Mardi wasn't even going to start normal work until June . . .  Even before Mardi rescued me during my sickness last week I told her I'd still do the weekend if she could "just" back up the family medicine resident in daytime hours on Saturday while I was at the tournament . . but having never been to BlackRock, neither of us realized how many hours that would be.  But I went in at 6:30 am thinking I could tie up all the loose ends before we left.  By 8:30 a.m. my family was already in the car itching to go, calling me to find out when I was coming out of the nursery (it's about an hour's drive to the games).  By 9:30 I was still dealing unsuccessfully with intubating a baby in respiratory distress, not a small problem to leave to the resident, so I reluctantly called Mardi for help before I was disowned by the carful of people waiting to leave.  She graciously came in, but it turned out that she had thought she was just covering in the afternoon . . .  so when she ran over to the hospital HER kids were left with the houseworker . . not happy . . so I left in a very discombobulated state of regret.  God is so gracious.  The baby turned a corner, did well all day, I think there were no other crises, and I was able to get back and deal with things last night and today.  In any working relationship there will be hurdles of communication . . just sorry to have made one so early in my job-sharing effort!  Note to self next year:  plan further ahead around BlackRock.  Everyone else does.

First Java House Expresso Shake--I've heard of them before . . but now I have tasted.  There was a half-hour lull between scheduled RVA matches, not enough time to go eat.  I had had nothing all day, since I went into the hospital for those early rounds and never left until I was picked up on the way to the tournament, and arrived as the first game had already started.  Scott had the good idea (when I kept saying how hungry I was) that we would run to the shopping center a couple miles away and just do take-out milk shakes. Well, with traffic and lunch crowds that still took some time . . but it was so worth it.  I'm a believer.

First Summer Job for our kids--Luke worked as a tech advisor in the library last term, but then he got a short-term well-paying job moving furniture for Yale for a couple weeks after school ended.  We are proud of him for doing what he can to earn some money.  Ironically in that place of brains, this is a pure brawn job but was highly competitive.  He's surviving on cereal, orange juice, and take-out since the cafeteria is closed.  Only one more week from today until he lands in Africa!

First major health screening clinic day--We roped in six other doctors and in a couple of hours the eight of us examined all 70-some seniors for their pre-collge physicals, and the five nurses did 70-some PPD's and 70-some meningococcal vaccines.  It was actually pretty fun to have a little time one on one with a number of seniors, talking about their future plans as well as important adolescent health topics like risk-taking behaviors, alcohol and driving, sex and abstinence, body image and eating disorders.  I really like teenagers.  

Every week in a new place brings many firsts.  Glad to be mostly done with "first major febrile illness"  . . and "first xray" as Caleb hurt his hand in a game last week but it wasn't broken.

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