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Monday, November 25, 2013

The most efficient health care ever, and a 2nd happy moment

A couple of nights ago I dropped my computer, corner down, directly onto my foot as I was trying to balance several things and get under the mosquito net and plug it in on my bedside table at night.  I'm pretty uncoordinated, it was the end of a hard day, and in spite of the word "air" in the name, when dropped from a height onto the unsuspecting toe, it can do damage.  It hurt.  BADLY.  I cried like I haven't in some time.  The next day my toe was purple, and the day after about a tangerine-sized bruise was fanning out on my foot.  It hurt to walk.  I wondered if it could be broken, but at least the computer worked fine, and frankly it is easier to heal a toe than replace a computer here.  So I hobbled all weekend, on my feet doing Senior Store and walking back and forth and cooking.  Today back at work, I kept looking for a few minutes between too many colliding responsibilities to get my own health care.

So let me sing the praises of being at Kijabe Hospital.  It was 12:38.  I had a meeting at 1:00 and labs to check and phone calls to make and perhaps one more patient to see.  I checked in with nursery where I was waiting for a 25 week preemie to be born.  Not yet.  As I walked down the hall I decided to just get an xray because there was miracle-of-miracles NO LINE.  I had a form in my pocket, and filled it out as I stood at the cashier's window and made pleasant conversation, writing in my own diagnosis.  Before I could look up my medical record # he had it on his computer.  Price:  30 bob please.  That's less than 50 cents.  I guess my toe is small.  I took my receipt across the hall where the xray techs were having tea.  I chatted with them and one jumped up to take my xray.  They were quite entertained.  She warned me not to walk barefoot where the last patient had been bleeding . . . an awkward position, a charge and a beep and I was out.  While they processed the film I went back over to lab to follow up on some results for my patients.  Back across the hall and the techs declared I had not fracture, but I carried the film a few steps away and showed it to a visiting radiologist.  Normal, just soft tissue swelling.

Total time:  15 minutes.  Total cost:  less than a dollar.  Total cure:  none.  That's the only down side, my foot still aches and I'm still limping.  But my computer works and hopefully each day will get a little better.

In a day which included:  calling my boys in California, rounding on my service, seeing a missionary baby and connecting the family with specialist care, getting another missionary kid discharged post-surgery, being called to the delivery of a 25-week baby whose fused eyes and transparent skin made her look even younger, and deciding to stop the resuscitation because she was not viable (weighty and sad), waiting for ANOTHER 25 week baby who is still not born, running up to RVA to applaud Acacia's induction into the National Honor Society (!),  
 evaluating admissions, going to an early staff prayer meeting and a lunch-time Moms prayer meeting and having an evening WHM conference call and just generally surviving  . . . This little pocket of efficiency was very encouraging.

And the other happy moment:  About 4 pm I was comforting the mom of the too-early-to-survive preemie and got an emergency call to ICU.  Patrick, the 11 year old with Guillan-Barre induced paralysis, had extubated.  Since he's pretty inactive it couldn't be blamed on him, but somehow in the process of suctioning and turning him the tube was gone.  I had seen in the morning that he was moving his legs a bit as he tried to talk around the tube to me.  So as I ran up I thought we would give him a chance to see if he could breathe.  It had been a week on the ventilator.  I had expected longer before he began to improve, but so many were praying, maybe he would be OK.  I examined him and talked to others and asked him if he felt he could try to breathe, and he nodded.  Then he was trying to talk and we all leaned in to hear what he was saying.  "Jennifer".  He was talking to me.  I guess he had read my nametag and heard me introduce myself.  You have to realize most of my patients are less than a year old and don't speak English.  Having an 11 year old say my name as the first words out of his mouth in the ICU was sort of sweet and sort of chilling.  It is now 10:30 pm and he's holding his own for now.

A cheap quick xray with no fracture and an unexpected turn for the better.  Against a background of struggle, two bright spots (plus Acacia and friends to pray with) for today.

2 comments:

Jill said...

GOOOOOO PATRICK!!!!!!!! Such good news and what a wonderful smile. Made me cry. THanks for sharing.

And Jennifer, your toe saved your laptop! What a small price to pay for not breaking it right? KIDDING! I've 'not broken' my littlest toe and it hurts terribly. I'm sorry for your pain. Please go easy on yourself.

Sakura Sojourn said...

"Jennifer." That must have melted your heart! Thanks so much for posting a picture of Patrick so that we have a (handsome, hopeful) face to pair up with his name. Rejoicing and praying.