a few words from the wards…

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Here are some random observations/thoughts from the hospital:

* Here, the patients often are called upon to take care of each other. All our rooms have 2 beds that are not far apart and they are often both occupied. We had one patient that is older and had had a stroke. One night he began seizing and no one else was around. So, the other patient came over to hold him and help him sit up when it was over. This other patient has Kaposi’s sarcoma (we think), which is a type of cancer of the skin that AIDS patients get. He is currently being treated for TB, which he probably also has, but he isn’t really going to get all the way better without ARV’s (AIDS meds) which we don’t have.  Although he didn’t know his roommate a week ago, I could tell he really cared about him when he was telling me about the seizures.  Often the patients’ families help each other, feed each other, help ask the doctor questions together, even though before being admitted they didn’t even know each other.

* Africans don’t seem to mind waiting hours or even days for things (medical and non-medical), but they are completely incapable of forming a line!  It is a part of their culture and they are absolutely not bothered by this, but it is very hard for me!

* Being a missionary doctor means being better at the things that you really aren’t supposed to know about based on what residency you went through.

* We asked a woman today how many kids she has.  She said 10.  Then, the next question (obviously) is, “How many from your belly?”  Ah, 2.  Interesting.  It reminds me of The Red Tent, a book I read earlier here.  It is a fictional story about Dinah from the Bible (Jacob’s daughter)- so, a long time ago.  Your cousins are considered brothers and sisters.  I kind of wish our families were that way.  What happened?  We are scientific, specific, disconnected.  It is though we have poverty of love.  At least in the church, we have a new family, but I don’t think we were meant to abandon our early one.  The Red Tent tells stories from Genesis– granted fiction, but I imagine it to be at least somewhat accurate.  In all these millenia, the family here still looks so similar.  We tend to say they are ~50? years “behind”- more so in some things, less so in others.  But in some ways, are we “X” number of years too far ahead?  Is it a trade-off? … Where does contentment fit?

* A patient story.  We have a girl in the Peds ward who is a very poorly controlled insulin-dependant diabetic.  For the last several nights she has been up all night crying out, praying and singing at times.  She gets blood sugars down in the 20’s-30’s (very low) and has been up over 500-600 on previous admissions.  She is acting flat out psychotic.  There are three very real possibilities: Her hypoglycemia is altering her ability to think, her brain is damaged from years of poorly controlled diabetes, and/or she is possessed by evil spirits.  She apparently visited some type of witch doctor before coming here and she keeps saying that her father isn’t her father, but is an evil spirit.  Apparently some of the other mothers in the peds ward around her have been having dreams about evil spirits as well, and they this girl starts crying out.  We have gotten the pastor involved and are trying to control her blood sugars better, but nothing has worked yet.  I ask that you pray for this girl and her family that whatever she has going on physically and/or spiritually will leave her in peace.

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