Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My Protege...

Yesterday and today were busy days. I left the house at 7:30am, started work at 8am, finished work at about 7pm and arrived home at 7:30pm. I saw a total of 111 patients. I must say, between 2 and 4 pm I got a little frustrated/irritated/quick tempered when I realized how many patients I still needed to see. That’s when history taking in Krio gets a little annoying and I realize how little patience I have at times. Once the clock struck 5 I realized it didn’t even matter anymore; I just knew it was going to get late, everyone else has gone home already and I just had a little more work to do. Besides, by that time it’s fun to socialize with the patients/parents a bit as they’re waiting for the last lab results and medication. After all, they’ve been waiting all day too.

The day's best moment was with Emmanuella- who first came in August 2005 and is now 1 year 4 months old. Let’s just say she’s my protégé. While I was listening to her chest with my stethoscope she decided to take the other end of it and listen as well! Bright child! It was a welcome moment of laughter!

Friday, October 27, 2006

What I love about my job...

Someone asked me this week what it is I love about my job. You’d think it would be easy to answer that question, however, it wasn’t. My first thought was “do I really love my job?” I guess my answer is yes and no. Some days yes, some days no. Some days are just awful and make me wonder what I’m still doing here; days with tough cases, having to send patients away because its too busy, hearing that a child died, questioning decisions I’ve made etc. In summary, when I feel like I don’t know what I am doing or when I have reached my limit, I get frustrated and feel bad. It’s those days that make me feel like I’m not good at what I do and make me wonder if I want to stay. However, more often I do enjoy working here and I love it.

This week has been particularly good and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I had a number of very interesting cases this week and I was able to get good follow-up information on patients I referred to Emergency (thanks to Andy- a doctor from the UK helping out at Emergency). But what I liked most was that a number of patients showed up this week that I already know. And I realized that’s what I love- I love getting to know my patients and being able to build a relationship with my patients. I like it that the parents trust me to take care of their children. I love seeing the children when they're better with smiles on their faces.

Take 5 year old Elizabeth for example. I first treated her little brother in August. Then in September Elizabeth came to the clinic with her mom. She was very sweet. I treated her and she left again. Then in October she showed up again. She had fallen down a week earlier and hurt her arm. When I saw her she had a very swollen and painful left arm. It was pretty obvious that she had a fracture so I sent her on to Emergency Surgical Center. Two days ago she came back to the clinic to say thanks and show me her cast. She was more than happy to pose for a picture. And her little brother got quite excited about the camera as well, as did mom! It’s moments like this that make it worth it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Running in SL...

I am in no way a die hard runner like my mother. However, I am attempting the sport. Last year I had a 3 month membership to the UN (United Nations) gym located 5 minutes walk from our center. It was a decent gym with weights, treadmills, steppers, bikes etc. most of which actually worked. But after the first month I didn’t make much use of the gym; some call it laziness, I think I just had other priorities, like resting!

Anyway in February of this year we (me, Gisela and Morgen) decided we should start exercising regularly. We decided to run after work. Our center is close to Lumley beach- a perfect location. We started slowly…alternating walking and running. We would drive a car to a beach bar, then run/walk along the beach for about 30-45 minutes and then hop in the car and drive home. Slowly we worked our way up to running 15 minute stretches, which seemed like a nightmare in the beginning. It really is quite enjoyable (most of the time); I think the beach setting helps!

I am still running, although sometimes only once or twice a week due to clinic running very late. I am proud to say I did my longest run this past week. I ran from the beginning of the beach (Family Kingdom) to the other end (by Atlantic Beach Bar) non-stop; I guess it was a 4.5km run. Sounds pathetic to a lot of people I guess. But it was a running milestone for me.

One of my favorite parts of the run is when we walk from our center to the beach to start our run. That is when we see Mariama and Mohamed. They are the cutest kids. They live in a small shack with their mom and dad, situated between the UN headquarters driveway and the heliport entrance. Every time we walk past their shack, Mariama or Mohamed run up to us with big smiles on their faces. They don’t have much but they have their personalities! They’d make anyone laugh! They have managed to brighten up my day a number of times!
Okay, so they’re not smiling for the camera but they’re still adorable!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pictures online...

You can now look at some of my photos online! I hope to update them regularly. Click on the link under 'View My Photos' in the righthand column or click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandralako

Fun times...

Taken last weekend at River number 2. Fun times!

TOP: Joella (from Canada here for 2 months working with an organization involved in literacy) MIDDLE: Me and Morgen (works at our center teaching the VVF surgeon's daughter) BOTTOM: Justin Wallace (teacher at the American school), Justin Hane (Mercy Ships communications guy), Cecily (physical therapist at New Steps).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Brother in Salone...

Monday two weeks ago I was on my way to the heliport to pick up my brother. He flew in on a late Astreus flight and then had to take the helicopter from Lungi to Freetown. (Like everyone does.) Anyway, he ended up arriving at the heliport later than expected but that too is not unusual. It was great to see him again. It had been over a year since I had last seen him. Needless to say it’s been good catching up and it’s been great having him around here. It’s been fun introducing him to people I work and live with and taking him to various places. It’s been entertaining having him around as my brother is always telling funny/exciting stories. He makes me laugh which is very refreshing, especially after a long day at the clinic. He also brought along the tv show “Arrested Development” which has made many of us here laugh! Stefan will be here for another week and a half. It’ll be sad to see him off again, but I know I’ll see him during my Christmas break, so it’ll be more like a “see you later”.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hmmm...holiday time...

So, I’m not so sure what to write. It seems like lately I either write about work or the beach. Hopefully that doesn't bore you. I guess that is a lot of what I do here. Mainly work of course…but also fun times on the weekend. I’m not very good at planning ahead so all I can say now is that my weekend will probably consist of food, sleep, beach and movies.

Speaking of planning ahead; I booked my ticket to go home for the holidays. I fly out on December 1st and arrive back on January 8th. I am looking forward to an extended time away. It will have been almost a year since I have been in Holland, so it will be great to see family & friends again. I am especially excited to see my niece, Zoey, again, who will turn 2 while I am there. And for those of you who don’t know, my sister is expecting her second child in December, so that makes it extra fun! It's hard to believe that exactly 7 weeks from now I will be at the airport in Lungi waiting to board my flight! Crazy. I’m looking forward to it. Meanwhile there’s enough to keep me busy here.

I can't wait to see Zoey again! Isn't she a cutie?!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Made it to Shepherd's pie night...

On Sunday evenings I start to wonder what the week will bring. How many patients? How sick? Will I cope?

So last Sunday evening I already felt overwhelmed. When I looked at our menu I noticed that shepherd’s pie was on the menu for Thursday’s dinner. My favorite! Seeing as I have clinic on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays my first thought was ‘I need to make it to shepherd’s pie night because that means I survived another week of clinic’. Well, today is Thursday and I enjoyed some amazing shepherd’s pie. I made it!

To be honest it was a busy week. The hardest was having to send people away.

On Monday morning there were about 90 children outside the gate! This meant I had to turn children away at 830 in the morning already. In the end I saw 60 children which took me until 7pm. On Tuesday there were 60 children outside the gate- I let them all in, and again worked till 7. Today I had to send 14 children away again as there were too many. I ended up seeing 59.

I struggle with the desire to help all of the kids versus knowing I can only handle so many on one day. It is horrible to stand on one side of a locked get, look into a parent’s eyes on the other side of the gate and tell them “sorry, tickets don don”. Some of them really have nowhere else to turn to. It’s hard to send someone away when you know that in many clinics the child will not even be examined and will probably walk away with a couple of random injections and bottles of medication. The health care system here just doesn’t work.

I guess I have to set boundaries for myself if I want to stay here for some time. 40 kids = a good day. 50 kids = busy but manageable. Over 60 kids = hectic, feels like factory work, impersonal. So, I have set my limit at 50. At least for now. Well, 50 plus a few (few usually being up to 10) extras if they are waiting at the gate when the clinic opens.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Another amazing day...

Today was wonderful.

A group of us got together at the house and had ‘church’. It was great to talk and discuss life issues based on a teaching we watched. We’re watching a series by Andy Stanley called ‘The best question ever” which is pretty much about making wise decisions. It’s quite interesting. Good food for thought.

After that 6 of us headed out to River no. 2. The one hour journey was fun- good music, lots of chatting, and many bumps. There were a few ‘road blocks’ on the way. Road blocks on the way to the beach usually consist of kids pretending to work on the road and sometimes (young) men. Occasionally they really are patching up some of the pot holes but generally speaking they’re just standing around. Two of them stand on either side of the road holding up a rope which they will lower after you pay them some money. Or- they lower it when they realize the car is not slowing down! One of the kids made a costume out of branches and leaves and was dancing in front of the rope. We decided the ‘tree dance’ deserved a couple of blocks. (1 block = 100 Leones = 3 US cents).

When we got to River 2 it was amazing; as it always is really. The beach was absolutely gorgeous. We had a great time swimming in the ocean, walking along the beach, climbing some rocks, sitting around chatting, sheltering from the rain (which only lasted about 10 minutes), laying on the sand etc. Good company, beautiful surroundings, great food, fun conversations and plenty of time to relax.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~