Sadness During July

The following video is full of happiness and “good times”. I think it best represents an effort to try and chase away feelings of sadness and guilt about not being in Kijabe. Coming to the USA is a mixed bag. It is home and I really love being here. Everything is known, comfortable and easy. It is the place where I feel normal. I will appear to be and truthfully will be happy when you see me. However, when I see pictures of friends working in Kijabe, when I get their messages through Whatsapp, when I hear the struggles and victories, I get sad and even jealous. There is great work going on there that is full of purpose! I have a sense of what it is like for many of our friends who have left Kijabe and Peru permanently although they did not wish to do so. I am sure every time they see pictures of friends back in Kenya, it is a mixed bag of emotions. The mission was where the work was, home is where the comfort lies.

We are home for a little while, and hopefully we will be back to Kijabe at the end of the year. Please pray that Rift Valley Academy will open as planned in January. Please pray that some needs for our kids will be met while we are here in Texas. Please pray for Allison as she continues to teach at RVA online. Our girls will continue to take classes from RVA. Our boys will enter the local public school. Please pray that I will get a some work locally that will both give me a sense of purpose and also supplement our salaries. The US dollar goes a lot farther in Kenya than in the US. Thank you for partnering with us, and as COVID allows, lets try and see one another.

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It has been a crazy great month

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Fourth of July

Thank you to Robert and Amy Reid for letting us stay in their home while they are away for the 4th of July weekend. No parades, no fireworks, but some awesome hamburgers, pool, and sparklers.

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Happy Fourth of July

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Back to Our Other Home in Dallas

Feeling mixed about our welcome home.

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Not the welcome we were looking for!?

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That is better.

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Good advice any time!

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That is more like it!!!

 

(Photos from Paper City – John Haubert)

A Day in the Life . . . Friday in the ICU

I walked the long way into work (its not long really) because we have closed off all but two entrances into the hospital so that all can be temperature screened before entering. It is nice to enjoy the very brisk morning air, watch the monkeys, and listen to a podcast.

8:30 AM     Time for the weekly audit of mortalities and close calls on the internal medicine service. This week a lot of time was spent discussing the COVID ward and some ICU complications from the past week. At the end I got a nice despedida with a coffee mug that I had been hoping to get with the Kijabe Hospital logo.

10:00 AM     Rounds in the ICU. In the last 2 days we have added 8 new patients. Yesterday was worse when I had six new patients in the span of just a few hours. Today it is just two new patients. Severe hyponatremia, a patient with a adrenalectomy in whom we have to closely watch the potassium and blood pressure, a myasthenia gravis with mucus plugging causing one lung to not function well (she got a tracheostomy yesterday), a traffic accident with a broken hip and ribs, status epilepticus, sepsis in a patient with esophageal cancer, another who has had her right shoulder and arm removed for cancer complications, severe diabetic ketoacidosis and sepsis . . . the list goes on!

12:30     Time to do some record keeping of the patient for the last week so that we have good records of what they presented with, how they did, how long they were in the hospital. We do this to see trends in our care and illness and improve quality over time.

2:00     No lunch today. It made me wish I had eaten breakfast. The coffee from the morning was serving me well. Time to teach EKG reading to my trainees. One is an orthopedic resident. The other is a medical intern (1st year out of medical school). They have been with me all week on the ICU service.

3:30    Afternoon rounds on all the patients from the morning to see how they have progressed. Everyone seems to be ok, although many are still sick. Several are well enough to leave the ICU.

4:15     I get a call from one of my ECCCOs (ICU clinical officer) stating there is a problem in one of the HDU (like an ICU but without a ventilator). One of the surgical patients we have been rounding on who had major spinal surgery now has a heart rate of 200! This is new to us. An EKG is ordered. She is stable, and I take the moment of getting the EKG to take Dr. Steve on rounds of all the patient in the ICU service. Steve is on call tonight, and I confess I am relieved that he can take the lead on dealing with the tachycardic patient. Is it a sinus tachycardia or atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. Hopefully the EKG give him some clues.

5:00    Steve is in charge. I leave notes on all the patients for the weekend coverage doctor, and head home to start packing for my flight on Saturday. A pretty full day for my final ICU day for awhile.

Being at Kijabe has to be one of the best jobs in the world!

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Our Internal Medicine team after morning audit.

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Passing Head of Department duties happily off to Dr. Tony

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Friday Morning Internal Medicine Audit

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Teaching EKGs

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Prayer Requests

We are just a few hours from getting on our plane. Could you pray for these things.

  1. Safe travel with smooth connections, no lost luggage, and family sanity.
  2. Work for Will in the US to help pay the bills. Our mission salary is good in Kenya, and not enough in the USA. Fortunately, I have usually been able to get work when home, and I pray that I will be able to do so again.
  3. Wise decision regarding school for the kids. Public vs. private vs. RVA online. We suspect it may be a combination of the above. In addition lets all pray that somehow school will be as normal as possible for all kids in the US!
  4. The kids still have 2 weeks of online school left. Focus!!

Why is RVA Closed and We Fly Tomorrow

As of this writing, Kenya has all schools closed at all levels. Our hospital does not have its nursing school open. Medical schools are closed in the country along with theological schools, high schools, universities, and grade schools. Even most training programs are shut down, which means many of our Kijabe students in advanced areas such as anesthesia and critical care are not in classes. We still have our interns, but we cannot do large classes with them. So with all of that stopped, it is not a surprise that Rift Valley

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The chaos and pain of packing!

Academy is closed as well. Our next term does not start until the very end of August, so you could propose that there is a chance it could possibly be open in the fall if the government changes its rules. However, schools are not scheduled to restart until September at the earliest, and then only in stages. And there is word that boarding schools may be some of the last to open. RVA is basically in an all or nothing situation. We open all the way with all or our grades and students, or we offer online classes. There is not the staffing to do it any other way. And so the school had to close for the fall. We are praying for the Spring. I want to get back to the hospital, and David, as a Senior next year, wants to be a graduate of RVA. Allison wants to teach her students in person, and the others want to see their friends and be back to their normal lives which are here in Kijabe.

We fly home tomorrow. I have been working in the ICU all week and Allison has been working on her online teaching and department evaluations. The kids are still in school because RVA does not end classes until mid July. So there is a lot of packing that has to happen tonight to prepare for a 6 month visit to the US! We are looking forward to being home for an unexpectedly long period of time. It gives David more chances to visit some colleges. Maybe the kids can be in marching bands (is that even possibly going to happen)? We can see our parents, grandparents, and cousins. We can happily see our friends! Maybe I can go snow skiing! Maybe Allison can do BSF in person? There is lots to look forward to even as we try to not look behind too much.

 

 

Sadness and Happiness

I want to confess that I do not want to leave Kijabe, even if it is just for a short period of time. I really enjoy working and serving here. I love the hospital, even with its challenges. I love my coworkers, and I love the trainees. I can see that Allison is happy teaching at Rift Valley Academy. And now, when things could get difficult with COVID-19, at a time when the hospital may need us more, we are leaving. It is so hard! But I love my family more than the hospital, and I trust God over all. Without Kenyan school in the fall, it has become clear to us that it is better for our children to be in the US than to stay in Kijabe. We have made lots of decisions that have been hard for them, and I hope this is one that makes life a little easier. Not all of our kids have loved living here as much as their parents, and so maybe a change is owed. Therefore we are heading home in sadness, but also in hopes of good things!

I love the USA. I know things are difficult there currently. Kenya has fewer COVID cases total than Dallas County gets in a day. The important Black Lives Matter movement is a point of division. However, I surely miss my family and friends in the USA, and I miss a lot of what is familiar in Texas and Oklahoma where I have spent most of my life. I miss practicing medicine with lots of resources. I miss good food, good friends, and feeling culturally secure. We are looking forward to coming back as much as we are sad about leaving. So we are a confused group of people in this family! Please pray for us.

We leave this weekend, arriving home late Sunday night. We are so thankful for a mission guesthouse in which we have stayed before. We are thankful for a minivan! We are thankful for the mission guesthouse small car! Wow! God has been good to us through his people. Everyone who helps us and is friend with us, you cannot know how much it means!

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Flamingo House

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Homeward Bound

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We’ll be flying to the States this Saturday! It has always been the plan to visit this summertime, but then there was the ‘rona, the needs of the hospital, the needs of the kids, the decision by RVA to not open school this fall, the failure to open the airports, cancelled flights, repatriation flights, and now we have one way tickets to Dallas. We plan to stay until the end of the year and possibly longer if the school here does not open in January.

Right now we are looking for a “special” place to quarantine when we arrive home. We have a house provided so kindly by First Baptist Church Richardson in which we can stay, but we are wondering if someone might have access to something different we could use or rent cheaply. We will be arriving in Dallas on Sunday, June 28th and then we will need to spend some time away from our family for 10-14 days until we make sure that we have not brought more than our luggage with us. Ideally, this would be a time for our family to enjoy scenery or activities that we cannot experience here. It would be fabulous to do a big road trip, but that is not advisable during this time. Do you have a friend who has a vacation house? We are willing to drive there. Do you have an idea of a place with a private pool? Our kids would very much enjoy just hanging out by the pool for hours. This quarantine time falls over July 4th weekend, so many places that we have checked out on Airbnb are already reserved. If you have an idea of a place that we could isolate or you know of someone who might loan or rent their place to us, would you let us know? Thanks ever so much!

Another Plague – Seriously, What is Next?!