Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Faces of Nyankunde-June 2013

June 19, 2013

This month’s theme is: “Faces of Nyankunde.”  We would like to introduce you to some of the dear people we work with everyday and some of the faces of our patients.


I am so thankful that we are moving forward with our malnutrition program here at Nyankunde.  We have found a lovely cook, Mama Ruth, to prepare porridge and milk for the children in the program on
Mama Ruth making porridge
a daily basis.  We are hoping that this will decrease the variability in the food preparation with our previously distributed food.  This part of the country does not currently have access to the usual supplemental feedings: F75/F100, for a host of reasons.  So we do the best we can with what we have, which is a protein-dense porridge made from soja/corn/groundnuts.  Hopefully very soon we will again have a stock of these supplemental feedings.  With all the fruits and vegetables our garden is producing, it is nice to be able to give this to Ruth to prepare for needy people.  I have a new appreciation for health and wellness as I watch our garden grow and reap its’ benefits.  God has been good to us in that the ground here in DRC is so fertile! 
Mama Ruth and I

Baby Ruth and her mother

One of my patients, Baby Ruth, has survived neonatal tetanus!  So thankful!  I have been told that it is rare to see neonatal tetanus here and even more unusual to survive.  The mother was not fully vaccinated during her pregnancy and we think the infant acquired the infection as a fetus.  Every day this baby fed by ng-tube, as her muscle tone did not allow her to feed by
mouth.  This mother hovered over her in a dark room and fed her faithfully with the nasogastric tube for days.  She is an amazing mom!  Some people lose hope in these situations, but each day we shared in her trials and prayed for healing.  Each day she looked a little better until she was finally breastfeeding on her own.  The baby acquired her name from the staff, as the mother delayed the naming process (likely due to the uncertainty of her survival).  The mother adopted our name-Ruth.  I am waiting for her to come for a follow-up.

I am also thankful to see the recovery of young Solange, a 4year-old who was in a coma for a week with cerebral meningitis.  Every day I struggled to find hope.  I just kept praying and telling the mother to keep up her nutrition, hang on, and leave the rest to God.  Well after more than a week, she started to open her eyes and show interest in eating (always a good sign!).  We were overjoyed!  She spent over a week in the intensive care unit and about 2 weeks in the hospital.  Here she is on the day of discharge wearing a crown!

I spend most of my time in the ICU, emergency department, and with the more complicated hospitalized patients and malnutrition program.  There is always at least one “mystery patient,” such as the little girl pictured drinking frantically while sitting on the toilet.  She was septicemic for days although I couldn’t pinpoint an infectious source, and then came the desquamating rash.  The work is enough to keep me busy and enough to get calls many nights.  
A rare moment

We felt our first earthquake here the other night.  It was about 8:30pm and we were drinking tea and talking when we heard what sounded like a loud truck approaching and then the ground started trembling.  We looked at each other for a consensus that indeed it was an earthquake.  Indeed, this is an ancient volcanic area, the whole Great Lakes region in fact.

Working Together
Warren and I collaborate on a lot of cases during the day.  He is always a steady hand and willing to help with an echocardiogram or a difficult IV start.  We share in the joys and sorrows together.  I think it helps being married to someone in medicine in that the other person simply understands if you had a difficult day.  We work together in the kitchen a fair amount.  It is fun to see each other during the day and to drop in to watch surgeries.

Lots of people have been interested in our garden, so we must include an update.  We continue to clear and plant new fields.  Our newest additions are coffee and passionfruit, bell peppers, and beans.  The vegetable (or rather fruit) of the week is eggplant (pictured).   There is nothing quite as motivating as
Did you know that eggplant is really a fruit?
having a field full of food that you need to find a way to eat!  Eggplant makes a great vegetarian lasagna (moussaka) and is great as a base for a tomato/basil sauce.  I have even made eggplant curry.  Also Warren has been roasting and grinding coffee and making peanut butter!  We have plans to install a traditional oven outside to be used in baking bread and pizza.  It has been a fun adventure learning how to cook and garden in this setting.  There are no grocery stores, only lots of fresh produce in the markets.  Here’s hoping that I am becoming a better cook!

Thank you for your interest in our lives and to those of you who support our work here! 


Last day of nursing school

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