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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Luke's HOME! Day One

I'm typing this as I eat dinner at midnight, which is also lunch, which gives some overview of the wonderful chaos and energy that has always seemed to swirl around this boy.  If Day One of his Christmas Vacation Visit is any predictor, we may not survive.

The above picture was taken about 9 am at Jomo Kenyatta Airport.  If we all look a little weary, realize Luke had been on the plane two straight nights, and the rest of us had arisen early to arrive at 6:30 ahead of the traffic, for his 7 am flight.  Only KLM seemed to have stashed his bags so deeply in the bowels of the aircraft it took them two hours to locate and unload.  Nevertheless we were all thrilled to hug him.  We stopped for coffee on the way back through driving rain and traffic and didn't reach Kijabe until almost noon.  At which point Scott and I guiltily ran into the hospital to relieve our friends who had held down the ship all morning; and the kids were enveloped by a happy noisy Letchford/Rabenold/Kinzer crowd.  I didn't know it would be the last time I saw them all day.

While I was catching up on dying patients, putting my 10 month old malnourished baby B on not just dopamine but epinphrine AND dobutamine drips, panicking over my 6 year old post-brain-tumor surgery girl, and helping a colleague find referral numbers for another 6 year old with leukemia and matching hemoglobin and platelet counts (2), plus working on policies for newborn resuscitation . . . Luke and Jack decided to go on a piki ride.  First day home, first priority.  They were joined by several other boys and headed for the highest point around, Kijabe Hill.  When I finally finished work at 7 and walked in, I was surprised to find out I hadn't missed any time with them.  They were still gone.

In fact I found our neighbors, ever kind and patient, coming for tools to take to Luke and Jack who were stranded by a flat tire.  Luke had gallantly stayed with his little brother when the puncture occurred, in spite of the cold and rain.  Tyler K rode back to the rescue in the dark while I finished cooking dinner, though as it turned out they had to seek help from a random mechanic who fixed the tube with what looked to me like a bolt through a patch of rubber . . .  Only before any of that could actually get finished, Scott was called back to admit and ICU patient and I was called back to nursery. Rachel S happened to be stopping by at that moment, so she gamely followed along.  And spent the next three bloody (literally) hours with me putting an umbilical venous line into a 2 1/2-day old baby with a bilirubin of 28 and then pulling his blood out and putting fresh blood in, 10 cc at a time (2 teaspoons), 44 times, to completely exchange is blood volume twice.  Rachel is in a nursing program at Calvin so she claimed to be happy to monitor and record the baby's vital signs every minute or two, while I carefully did the exchange.  This baby would have been severely brain damaged if we did nothing, and hopefully now he can recover and possibly be OK.  We prayed with his anxious mom.

Thankfully Luke and Jack survived darkness, rain, and a detour on a dangerous highway, to make it home. with only one low-speed sand-induced spill that resulted in seven stitches, but a mere flesh wound.

So dinner at midnight, while the Christmas lights sparkle, thankful for all these fun college kids and their enthusiasm for Africa and each other, thankful for survival, thankful for getting a line in the baby and making it through the procedure, thankful Caleb is packing right now having finished chemistry exam, and hoping for a bit less eventful of a day tomorrow.

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