Wednesday, January 23, 2008

See One, Do One, Teach One.....

It is a saying I have heard often since my arrival in The Gambia in 2002. I heard it first in reguards to stitching up a wound. Except in my case it was see as you do. Then I heard it with draining an abcess, tapping a knee, etc. I learned all kinds of things. I even heard it out side of the clinic setting; fixing a faucet, fixing the truck, looking into solar problems. I have learned many very helpful skills since my arrival.

Today, as I was getting up and preparing to go to work, the guard came to my door. There is a pregnant woman, in labor waiting for you. Now, you need to know, I saw a delivery years ago, but the Gambian Nurses do the deliveries here and I am very thankful for that. I like the newborn baby, but the birthing process, all though it is amazing, God has a wonderful plan. I think it is a bit more than gross. I got dressed quickly and ran down to the clinic, knowing Teresa was there by herself. The sun doesn't come up as early these days and our staff doesn't arrive until well after sun up. I found the woman and led her into the labor room, praying for time for a staff member to arrive. God answered my prayer in a different way. Before any other staff member arrived, a bouncing baby boy was making his appearance. Praise God there were no complications. I am sure the mother doesn't know this was the first baby I helped deliver (she had the hardest work). He is definitely a cutie with a good set of lungs. Mom and baby headed home about two hours later.

So if you hear.... see one, do one, teach one.... watch out. You never know what might be asked of you!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Foreign Bodies

When I was working at the practice in Dunkirk, New York, the nursing staff had kept a treasure box. In that box, they kept the things I found in kids. (noses, ears... all good hiding places) The box held all sorts of objects. There were pencil erasers, glitter, beads, GAK, lead from a pencil, pebbles, and my favorite... a BB. I got to thinking about that box this week and what Gambian children would contribute. The most common object... the peanut. To remove the peanut I perform a CHARGE procedure. Crochet Hook Assisted RhinoGerberEctomy. A crochet hook is inserted into the nostril and then turned. The hook catches the edge of the peanut and waa laa, your peanut comes out. This week I had a parent bring in a young girl who had put a watermelon seed in her nose. They said it was five days ago. Now, I haven't seen a watermelon in weeks. I took a look, the inside of her nose was swollen with yes, a barely visible watermelon seed. I tried the CHARGE procedure. A watermelon seed is definitely not like a peanut. I did get pieces... but even with suction, I could not get a hold of the slippery little thing. I gave the girl a break and some antibiotics (I did cause a bit of trauma to her poor little nose) and had her come back Friday. Once again... I had no success. I had to send her to the capitol where a MD could sedate her to get it out. Friday afternoon Teresa came by. Her namesake's daughter had a peanut in her nose. Since the last CHARGE was unsuccessful, Teresa still hadn't seen it done. I told her to meet me in the clinic and we would try it. Praise God it was a peanut, it came out so slick! The little girl was very vocal about not wanting me to mess with her nose. She was happy to have it out, but still not very willing to communicate with me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wait three days... job is done in 10 minutes...

Yes, it is sad but true. After waiting three days to find some muscle, the plumbing problem is fixed. Alhajie showed up for work today and I took him up to the water shed. I asked him to turn off the water. He was able to do it, first try (I must have loosened it!) Then we stopped by Joanne's house to tell her the water is going to be off for a bit, hopefully I would have it done before her houseworker came to work this morning. I walked down to the lower shut off valve. It is in the ground and accessed by a plastic pipe sticking out of the ground with a plastic cap. Of course by now you probably have it figured out that I couldn't get the cap off. It took Alhajie a little bit of time, but he got it. Then it was a simple matter of unscrew the old faucet, tape up and screw in the new faucet. Turn on the valves and WAA LAA, the job was done. : ) Praise God the water supply is still good and Alhajie came to work on time (he usually does!)

Now I am off to work in the office. Paper work... who thought of that?

Have a good one.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

more computer woes

I am looking forward to the challenges that a new year will/may bring. As january gets off to a good start I think about the reports that ABWE asks us to fill out each year. Reviewing your goals and your accomplishments each year. As well as looking at what may have been a stumbling block. For me that last one is easy. Health! Or the lack of it, and Computer Woes.

2007 ended on a sad note. While I was in Banjul over the Tobaski/Christmas week, two of our employees died. I was able to go to the compound of the family of the clinic emplyee who died. She had been sick well over a year and had been out on leave for two months prior to her death. Then a few days after Christmas we learned that on of our station workers, who had been sick for a couple of weeks, died. The three of us visited with the family when we returned to Nk. Our work in The Gambia is not done, God has opened the doors and we have had many opportunities to share Christ. Continue to pray for open doors.

In the last 36 hours, I have faced the maintenance challenges of West Africa. Thursday night Joanne came to the door to tell me our water supply might be short in the morning. A water faucet was on and she and the night guard couldn't get it to turn off. They tried the shut off valve on the main line to the faucet and that was also stuck. So, I grabed a few tools and headed out the door. Long story short... I broke the stem off the shut off valve and the faucet will not turn off! You didn't know I had such power! Well, we thought we had slowed the flow a bit. Friday morning I would either... replace the faucet if we had one or... plug the line. : )

Friday morning came and we had plenty of water. I left the clinic at about 11am to work on the plumbing. I had to turn off the water to that side of the compound. PROBLEM! I couldn't get the valve to close the line. I called the one yard worker I had working that day and had him try. It wouldn't budge. So, I got in the truck... PROBLEM, it wouldn't start. The clinic driver came over and we pumped the fuel filter/pump... still no start. Then I took the line off the filter that goes into the engine and we pumped the pump until fuel flowed freely. Put the line back on and ... it started! I was off to ask for some help in the braun department. One of my yard workers was in Banjul, another was sick, so I turned to Tijan...PROBLEM, He was on a trip! I had a nice visit with his wives. Returning to the compound, I didn't get any plumbing work done so returned to the clinic.

We are very thankful that the water supply has been great and the sun has been enough to have the pumps keep the tanks full. Plumbing will happen... tomorrow... maybe!

Opps, I forgot to mention the computer woes.....
After my unsuccessful attempt at plumbing I came home and went to get on line. PROBLEM: My laptop wouldn't start. I tried a few different times on Friday and Saturday. We do have a man we know who repairs computers... he lives in the Banjul area. So, I planned to call him on Monday. Today as I was packing the machine away, I tried again. It wouldn't start. I thought about taking the battery out, and did. The compartment was a little dusty, I cleaned it, put the battery back in and tried to start it once more. I was shocked. It started. Praise God! Pray with me that it will continue to work.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I often get asked if I decorate for Christmas. So I thought I would show you my house as it looks usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

I like snowman. They remind me of home and the cold, which we are experiencing a bit of. Not to the degrees as in New York, but chilly enough for West Africa.

The snowmen in the middle top shelf were a gift from mom and dad a few years ago. My Gambian friends love them. If you push on the woman's hand they sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" as they jiggle a little. They all love to watch and listen to the 'dancing' figures.

Over the years I have made this cabinet look like a fireplace. But I was a bit lazy this year. The cabinet houses my batteries for the electricity I have. It has two 12 volt batteries inside. It is a nice place to show off more of my collection. Usually I have photographs on display there.

My Kitchen gets to be a bit festive too. It is hard to see but there are snowmen and snowflakes on the refrigerator.
The sad part is that my snowmen get really dusty by the time they are reurned to storage. My white snowman are now Gambian Sand off white. I will give them a good shaking and pack them away soon.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my house.