Life in western Kenya continues to treat us pretty well. While we lose power almost every day, and the water on occasion goes out for days, we are reminded that we are still part of a relatively small group of lucky individuals in this part of the world (for starters, simply by the fact of having electricity and indoor water and plumbing, for example). Though several of the cases are challenging and saddening, most of the patients have been doing relatively well. We see a patient with a new diagnosis of HIV, TB, or malaria most days. But thankfully, there is treatment available now for all of them. It’s those that wait the longest before presenting to the hospital that have the hardest time recovering. Besides the common cases of infections, we have recently cared for some patients that have suffered various types of trauma. An adolescent girl was hit by a motorcycle as she ran across the road and presented with a swollen face. The x-ray revealed a fractured jaw. Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of death in Africa. She was one of the lucky ones that could walk away from one. She was referred to the regional hospital for evaluation by the surgeons to see if she needs her jaw wired so that it can heal well. An adult woman came in after being beaten by her son with a hammer. Thankfully she has no broken bones and will heal, though I can’t imagine what the psychological and family healing processes will be like.
I witnessed an interesting cultural phenomenon today. An elderly man with advanced chronic illness passed away as his wife took her lunch in the next room. When I suggested that someone go tell his wife, every Kenyan health worker I asked said to allow her to finish eating before telling her the news. They said that she would be mourning for a number of days and would probably not be eating during the process. The cafeteria crew seemed to know the family, and after she had received the news of his passing, brought her to his bedside and sang a local hymn to the tune of Amazing Grace.
The weather has been mostly fair, with cool nights and mornings, sunny blue skies in the day with temps up to the mid to high eighties and a short shower in the evenings. We can tell that the rains are letting up though, which means fewer blackouts, and hopefully, fewer malaria-carrying mosquitos.