LMHS graduate, Ben Irons, is spending the summer on a mission trip in Africa. The Lake Mills Graphic will be printing parts of his blog when room is available. You may follow Ben and his adventures online at: https://benya2kenya.wordpress.com/
The first couple days
May 25, 2016
I landed safely in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday at around 5 a.m. I wasn’t able to sleep on the plane very well, so I was pretty tired getting off the plane. After going through customs, I waited at the luggage claim for about 30 minutes, but neither of my two bags had come out. When I went to talk to the desk about it, they informed me that my luggage had not made it on the plane when I switched airlines in London. After getting numbers to call later in the day to figure luggage stuff out, I went outside to meet Zipporah (my host mother). She had gone to the British Airways terminal at first, because that was the original airline that I was going to fly in on, but they had changed me to Kenyan airways. With no way of communicating with her, I just had to wait there and hope that she would figure it out. It wasn’t hard to find her once she figured it out, because she was wearing a Minnesota sweatshirt that she had gotten from her previous visits to Minnesota. I got in the car and we were off. Right away, one of the things that I noticed was that there isn’t much drivers’ etiquette here. Cars try to have the right-of-way, people pass on the shoulders of the road, and motorcycles weave in and out of traffic. I would not be able to drive here, but somehow they do it without getting in accidents (from what I have seen so far). We got stuck in traffic, because the people were on their way to work. I thought St. Paul traffic was bad, but this traffic was worse. It took us an hour-and-a-half to make it the same distance that normally takes 10 minutes. I also saw hundreds of people walking to work. In Nairobi, many people do not own cars, so they either walk or ride bike. We arrived at the house around 7:30. The family that I am living with, lives in something that is called an estate. It is sort of a gated community and the houses form a triangle. I was super tired, so I went and took a nap right away, while the family went to school and to work. When I woke up from the nap (about a six-hour nap) I went shopping with the family to get some clothes, because all of my clothes were in my luggage. The shopping mall has just about anything, and I would compare the one that we went to, to a Walmart. When we got back to the house, it was time for dinner. We had a traditional Kenyan meal that consisted of a type of breading that was made from cornstarch I believe (I will ask what the name of it is tomorrow), kale, and beef chunks. At first I was wondering where the utensils were, but then I saw Larry, the oldest boy, take a piece of the breading, roll it up, take some kale, and some beef with his fingers and eat it all together. This was a very interesting way of eating it, but I want to get the Kenyan experience, so I dug right in. It was very good!
Last night, I woke up at around 3:30 a.m. and then I couldn’t get to bed for awhile. While I lay there, on the hour at both 4 and 5 a.m., I heard this sort of singing in a different language come over a loud speaker from outside. In the morning, I found out that there is a Muslim Mosque just down the road and that is was I heard. Today was the day that I was supposed to start my orientation at the hospital, but the clinical instructor was sick, so I was unable to do the orientation. She is gone tomorrow and Friday, so I have to wait till Monday to start the orientation and working. I stayed at home all day with the youngest boy, Kaprutoo (or Alexander), and the live-in nanny. Kaprutoo is a ball of energy that was fun to play with all day. When the rest of the family got home, we just chilled, ate dinner, and I watched a movie with Larry. Hopefully, I can get my luggage tomorrow, and I also hope to find something away from the home to do tomorrow.
Second week of work
June 10, 2016
Hey guys! I just finished my second week of work here are Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital. This week, I was working in outpatient care in the Accident and Emergency ward. I had no idea what to expect going into this week, but I was excited do try something else. On Monday, I showed up at 7:30, just as I was told to be there for report. I was the only one that was at report on time and once everyone was there, it was not very organized. I then got a tour of the ward and started out the day in triage with Daphine. Triage is when you get the basic information about the patient, such as height, weight, temperature, vital signs, why they came in, and if they have any allergies. Then we have to make the decision on if the patient is priority or not. If we feel like they need to be seen right away, then we will put them at the top of the list to be seen. Monday was not a very busy day, because every Monday is when they have protests in Nairobi. A lot of people try to stay home on Monday’s, unless they need to leave the house. The protests can get quite dangerous. On my way to work, the exit that we normally take was blocked by burning tires that were across the whole road. This was my first experience of the protests. Then on Tuesday, I started out in the procedure room, but was moved to triage, because one of the nurses didn’t show up to work. Even though it was only my second day, I had to run triage all by myself. On this day, we saw more than double the patients than on Monday. I triaged 130 patients throughout the day. It was stressful at first, but then I got pretty good at it. This was very good experience with interacting with patients and working through some language barriers. On Wednesday, I got to work with the procedure nurses. This included making sure that the emergency room was ready and that all of the procedure room had enough supplies. Throughout the day, we would do small procedures, such as collecting blood samples, administering nebulizers, and inserting intravenous catheters. It was a pretty chill day. Thursday was the same as Tuesday. I ran the triage all by myself, because one of the nurses didn’t show up. This day wasn’t as busy as Tuesday and I was able to connect with a lot of patients. Today, Friday, one of the nurses had to leave because her child had gotten malaria. Because of this, I had to work the desk all by myself. This includes recording the patients into a log book to see how long they have to wait before seeing the doctor and the I would lead them to the doctor’s office, once one was free. I would also check up to see when their lab results were done. It was a nice relaxing day. I really enjoyed the nurses on this unit. They loved to talk throughout the day and were very fun. I even got lunch with one of the guy nurses, Wilson, a couple of the days. I will really miss working on this unit.
On Thursday, I had an experience that I have never had before and is one that I will never forget. We received a call that the surgical ward needed the ambu bag from our emergency room. I was the one to go grag it and race it up to the surgical unit. When I walked into the room, there were about 10 nurses and doctors working on an unresponsive patient. The eight-year-old girl was not breathing at all and lay on the bed limp. The mom was in the corner and everyone in the room was working to save this girl’s life. The doctor called me over quick and I began to give the girl air, via the ambu bag. I made sure to give big even pumps, as I watched the doctors and nurses administer medication and try other stuff. We sat there for an hour-and-a-half working on this little girl. Just before the transfer team came, one of the other nurses came and took my place, because I was pretty worn out. They transferred the child to the ICU and I never found out if she lived or not. During this time, I was able to be affirmed that I am going into the right profession. Being in the medical field has its good days and its bad days. But some days, we might be in the position to save someone’s life and that is why I am pursing this career. Everyone in that room had one focus and that was to save that girl’s life. Nobody complained that we had been working too long, or that they were tired. They stayed calm and focused on the skills and knowledge that they had. It was sad to see this girl laying limp and may have possibly died that day, but knowing that I was a part of the effort to do everything that we could to keep her alive, is what kept me from breaking down in that room. It was a life changing experience.
Next week, I am going to be in the Theater (Operating room). Hope everyone had a great week!
God has opened a door
June 11, 2016
Yesterday after work, I had the driver drop me off at the church, so that I could talk with the pastor. The pastor is a very cool guy that loved talking about missional work. He has partnered with a group in the states to do mission trips in the places of Africa that need it the most. The church is going on a 10-day mission trip and he invited me to go on it with them, but it is after I come back home. Because I am not able to go, I am still planning on sponsoring one of the church members, so that they can go along and help spread the word of God. Also, the church plays a big role in providing food for some widowed women and a couple programs that feeds kids from the slums. The food that they need is fairly inexpensive over here, so I am using some of the extra money from my fundraiser to provide a good amount of food for them. Then he invited me to go serve the food with him to the kids from the slums. This food may be their only meal of the day and it helps take the stress off of their parents to figure out how to feed their kids. Also, we are going to go spend time at a school for kids that have special needs. He said that theses kids don’t really care about getting stuff, but all they want is for people to spend time with them. I am super excited to serve this community in different ways and to partner with the church. Thank you to everyone back home who has helped give me this opportunity.