Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The second call was much more fun: the Kenyan lady who runs the "Supa Duka", the one-room everything-you-really-need small store in our village, had just delivered a strapping healthy baby boy. We are always called for C-sections, but this time there was nothing to do other than admire the lovely boy.
And while I was in the nursery, I checked on Dancun, the little boy whom I agonized about a couple of weeks ago, an HIV-exposed 28-week preemie who nearly died that night. He's now a "feeder and grower", a seemingly healthy little speck of a baby, who in spite of starting out similarly to Francis has miraculously lived. And I ran into Scott in the operating theatre, who had just finished his fourth or fifth surgery for the day, a woman whose ectopic pregnancy had ruptured her fallopian tube spilling two litres of blood into her abdomen. Thankfully her life was saved.
Which was a nice end to three solid days of nonstop work. Well, not exactly end, but at least it's in sight tomorrow morning.
Let's see, the last couple of days included a little boy with an rare congenital syndrome called Pierre-Robin, the usual parade of malnourished marginal toddlers and their desperate mothers, another boy with meningitis, preemies, two kids with severe heart lesions, a girl with damaged kidneys after an infection, the amazingly improved and nearly-healed baby born with part of his intestines missing as well as the one who had hemorrhages in both lungs, quick consults for rashes including chicken pox and fungal infections. And most distressingly, an 8 year old deeply jaundiced with a liver mass that turns out to be lymphoma, a cancer that could potentially be treatable. Only we need to get him to a hospital with an oncologist and chemotherapy. Which requires a lot of money. Which his Maasai father thinks he can manage by selling off his cows. Meanwhile we are starting chemotherapy at Kijabe and hoping we can keep him alive long enough for the cow market to come through.
The sheer breadth of pathology on this service always surprises me. One can spend all day, non-stop, from bed to bed, to ICU, to nursery, to the clinic or the emergency room, conferences and meetings, and then back around to all those places again, without a moment of down time. Yet the doctors in Kenya have threatened to strike on Monday, Dec 5. Meaning a barely-survivable day could get lots worse. Kijabe hospital without any functioning Kenyan doctors is unimaginable.
When a patient dies, the nurses use their own creative verb, saying "he complicated". It's an interesting take on death, as a complication of life, or of their disease. Or does it mean that the patient has made our life or our job more complicated? Difficult, confusing, complex, interrelated, entangled. Not the ending we all planned. Life as a doctor here is just that, complicated. The clues to a disease are often obscure, the labs unreliable, the history vague. Understanding the thoughts of the parents who come looking for an easy fix adds another layer of complication. And sorting through all of those layers with the pressure of time and people waiting complicates things further.
Hoping that no more patients complicate tonight.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
1. Advent Conspiracy: Worship fully, Spend less, Give more, Love all. http://ac.wcrossing.org/default.aspx?page=3684
And here is their 2011 short video on youtube: http://youtu.be/9IN0W3gjnNE
2. Daily Scripture readings from the Anglican Book of Church Order: http://www.crivoice.org/advent2.html
3. A booklet of Advent readings and meditations from my friend Bethany's church: http://fairmount.liberti.org/advent/
If these don't come up as links, then copy and paste into the browser (sorry!!).
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
If you want to donate some of your slightly used but still lovable animals for this cause, mail them by Dec 10 to Luke who will fill his luggage with as many as he can to transport them here:
PO Box 201510
New Haven, CT 06520-1510
If we get more than 50, we will pass them on to the children at the hospital. Thanks so much. No doubt the suite of guys at Yale will get a kick out of this influx into their dorm too.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
By Tuesday evening, going up the hill to the jazz band concert with Caleb after having actually managed a creative and nutritious dinner ON TIME for the whole family, I thought, someone is praying, and why do I ever worry?
Which was, of course, a short-lived triumph. Because that grace-cloud did not last very long. In the last 24 hours, life settled back a little towards normal. That beautiful call schedule, it turns out, had to be totally changed when other doctors objected to being on call Christmas, so now Scott and I are (though we're working out a way to share so others take Christmas Eve and Boxing Day). Internet issues slowed me down, went to watch soccer scrimmage and ended up with a student with a broken arm, fighting general single-parent tiredness, one kid forgot to turn in homework, another bombed a test, finals-week edginess as everyone struggles to get things finished.
Yes, my thankfulness is very fickle. Just like the Israelites. God might part the Red Sea one day, but the next I'm ready to complain about food. A 24 hour stretch of an amazing series of things-going-right is quickly forgotten when I get back to a normal day. You'd think I would be on a faith high over that senatorial nomination for weeks, instead of worrying about the next nomination or application.
I suppose I'm learning that thankfulness is a daily discipline. Like manna, one day's does not spill over to the next. I think that a "series of fortunate events" will inspire me towards perpetual thanks, but it doesn't. I have to be thankful again the next day, and the next, even when (especially when) the circumstances are less ideal. Perhaps if days of triumph worked thankfulness in us, God would give us more, but He knows that we haven't changed in several thousand years, and no matter how richly He blesses us we still have to be prodded towards thankfulness.
But I'm still grateful for whoever prayed, and would welcome you to do so again.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
These are all kids who remind me that what looks like a disaster often turns out to be an amazing story of healing, or love, or something else intangible and important. Our moms' prayer group guide this week included this paragraph, even more poignant in light of the top news story out of Penn State football: " Where they (our children) have been the victim of evil, I pray that You would heal, restore, and lift them up above it. Bring good out of it. Just as You raised up Joseph to save a nation after evil plots on his life were carried out, I pray You would raise up our children to great things in spite of the evil perpetuated on their lives. In the meantime, enable them to navigate through this time and find “grace in the wilderness” Jer 31:2." What a powerful reminder that God is at work even when the hard realities of a fallen world impact our children. Whether it is having an application denied, or being born with brains bulging from one's face, or being abused by supposedly responsible adults, our kids suffer and our hearts ache, but we cling by faith the the story of Joseph, that evil can be transformed to bring good.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
And unlike one of my friends, who responded to her son's match-winning glory goal as an answer to her prayer, my prayers along these lines don't seem to get the answers I would hope for. It isn't very noble, but in my heart I've struggled with that.
This weekend I started to get a glimpse, that while I'm hoping for glory, God is working on grit.
Caleb's final game of his high school career was Friday afternoon, the Semi-finals in the Association of International Schools of Kenya league. It was an exciting match, extremely close, with passionate fans and reversals of fortune as one team went ahead, and then the other. We ended regulation time 2-2, but then the opponents scored in the first five-minute OT period. In spite of losing, it would have been a memorable end . . . except that Caleb hardly played. Perhaps he would not have been subbed in at all if the other boy who plays the same position hadn't chosen to leave the field, winded or mildly injured I'm not sure, and the team and coach yelled for C to go on. But within a few minutes the other boy had recovered, C was off, and that was that. He's fast, smart, accurate in passing, dedicated, tireless, but not as physically large as the other boy, and the ability to overpower, push, and take hard shots from far out is highly valued on the team. So in key games like this, he sits on the bench. I felt bad for him. But that was just me. After the game, Caleb has two comments. One, an admiring observation that the boy he "competes" with for the position played so well, had a great game. And two, that he really loves his team. No complaint, no bitterness. Once again I needed to learn from my kids. I've been hoping for that moment of glory, the goal scored, the key pass, the unforgettable save. Instead Caleb has learned a lesson in team support, good attitude and perseverance. I also found out yesterday he applied to manage the girls' varsity team, a big time commitment to a sport he won't even get to play, hopefully to spend more time with his sister if she is chosen. Another sign that he supports the coaches and the program. He was also inducted in the NHS this past week, after being rejected 3 times he went ahead and applied a 4th time. That boy has grit, and that grit will take him further in life than a glorious reputation.
A couple months ago Scott came across a NYT article about a school in NYC that is trying to redefine success in terms of character development rather than test scores. They looked at characteristics that predicted future competence, and the first one was just what I've been talking about, grit. Grit that comes from struggle, from some experience with failure and disappointment.
And as I've pondered all these things in my heart, a Bible story came to mind. I'm not the only mother who would like to see her sons pushed ahead, recognized for the amazing people that they are. In Matthew 20, Zebedee's wife puts her request in to Jesus, that her two sons be honored with high positions in the Kingdom. I'm sure that's the same thing I pray. Jesus answers that the path to glory takes serious grit. Can they drink the cup of wrath, pain, judgement on behalf of the world? Can they bury themselves, even die? In the Kingdom reversal, leaders are servants, who seek sacrifice not glory. Glory is a consequence of faithful perseverance, not a goal.
I doubt I'll ever be cured of praying for people to make the team, pass the test, get the SAT score or college acceptance. But I'm beginning to suspect that there are more important prayers as we put our kids in God's hands, prayers He's answering even if I don't really have the courage to pray them. Caleb has been teaching us this since he was a fetus with his life on the line, but I guess 16 years haven't been enough to really get it.
Praying for grit, and trusting God for glory.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The rest of the day blurs together: rounds, teaching, notes, labs, run home to start some bread dough, consults. The usual, as Kijabe is a mecca for the floppy, the weak, the neurologically devastated, the wasting away. More seizures and poor growth, calculations and xrays. Low is that Scott is on call for ICU, but all 4 patients there are pediatric, so when he got called in the middle of dinner I ended up leaving our 7 guests and 4 kids to fend for themselves and joined him for a few hours, as he intubated two critically ill babies and we sorted out their therapy. Then the real LOW came in precisely the same spot as the high, 12 hours before . . standing by the same bed . . admitting an 8 month old with intractable seizures, maybe a viral encephalitis. As I talked to the intern the nurse said "Doctor!" and we looked at the baby, who had been in respiratory distress, and now completely stopped breathing. Flat. Still. Nothing. The intern reached for the ambu bag (ventilating equipment) and I reached for the baby and at that very moment the power went out. Completely. Pitch black nothing. I fumbled in my pocket for a tiny flashlight I carry, tried to get the mom to hold it so I'd have hands for the baby, she was in hysterics and unable, I grabbed the dad's hands and showed him what to do, and at that moment the power came back.
High number two: came home just now to find the girls had washed all the dishes and put everything away. I love boys, but tonight I have to say, hooray for girls.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Thursday, November 03, 2011
As most of you know, World Harvest Mission subsidizes the operating expenses of Christ School each year in order to keep tuition fees affordable for the average subsistence farmer of Bundibugyo District. On average, WHM helps to raise about $50,000 per year to help cover the basic costs of running a boarding secondary school - namely, paying teacher salaries and buying food for the students. We operate on a shoestring…our average teacher salary is something around $175/month and we feed each of our students for less than $1/day.
Unfortunately, in 2011 we had a major donor default on major pledge. We don't blame the donor (he has promised to contribute in the future), but we are left with a significant gap in 2011.
that we need
to finish 2011 at Christ School -Bundibugyo in the black.
(that means paying the final month of salaries to our teachers!!)
CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO THE WHM DONATION SITE FOR CHRIST SCHOOL…. Any amount, little or large, is appreciated. Thanks so much.