Friday, January 30, 2009

The Village of Kaban

Before we left Mali, we traveled by van to a remote village named Kaban. In this village we met with the Chief and asked his permission to do check ups on the children and to clean and bandage any wounds that the people in his village might have. We also gave him an offering of 50 lbs of rice for his people. He gave us his blessing and said that we were the 1st American group to ever come to his village. Many of the children were given antibiotics for ear infections and such. As the doctors did the check ups, the rest of us cleaned wounds. The sores we cleaned were crusted in dirt, ulcerated and infected from the lack of proper care. However, even the smallest children held still while we scrubbed their wounds, applied ointment, and then bandaged them up.

I hope that this picture is not offensive to anyone, but I have to say that I got a kick out of it.
This is inside the school building. The children sit on these wooden benches in this concrete room.

This is me cleaning the sores on this little guy. Honestly the children were so brave.

These pictures are a little out of order, but this is also inside the school house. They just use chalkboard paint on the concrete walls for a blackboard.

This is a picture of the village chief offering Dr. Kammeyer a chicken in his gratitude for us coming and helping his people. He said he wished he could give us 5 chickens, but he could only afford to give us one. This was a very kind gesture considering their lack of food and resources.

This is just me looking out one of the windows of the school house.

This little girl came to us with 2ND degree burns on her arms from spilling scalding hot porridge on herself. I actually got sick to my stomach listening to her scream as I watched another nurse scrub off all of the dead, burnt, and infected skin. My nausea was probably made worse by the mid day heat. But either way, I had to walk away and sit down for a few minutes.

The top part of this sign reads "Educate a girl and you will educate a community". Pretty forward thinking in these parts.
As a side note to the three of you who played the "pay it forward game", I finally put your gift in the mail a couple of days ago. You should be getting them soon. I am anxious to know if you like it.
Take Care!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cardiology Appointment

We just got back from Ethan's cardiology appointment and I am happy to say that everything continues to look good. He was 32 3/4 inches and weighed 23.9 lbs. According to his MD his EKG, vital signs, and Chest X-ray all looked good. However, he did agree that Ethan is looking more blue. (His oxygen levels in the office were 79-80%.) So, the plan at this point is to go back in 6 months and we will start talking surgery. The main thing we need to keep an eye on is that Ethan is breathing heavy with exertion/activity. We were told that if it gets worse, we need to take him in sooner, but hopefully we won't go back until the summer. The doctors want him to be as big as possible for the 3rd surgery (Fontan). So hopefully he will start eating again and we can plump him up in the meantime.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Africa Post #5

OK. Are you getting tired of these Africa posts yet? Well, the next time I post I will give you a break and will update on Ethan's cardiology appointment which is tomorrow. Until then, you're stuck with Africa.

If you look closely, you will see two women in the background pounding millet (one even has a baby on her back). Every morning I would wake up to the sound of this rhythmic pounding.

Just a couple of shots of some different houses. I think the thatched roofs look pretty cool.

The women were always seen working so hard. I was told that a lot of the women didn't mind if their husbands took another wife because it helped in their work load. (Again, they never bend at the knees.)

They of course didn't have running water. So they would have to haul up the water by hand (no pulleys) to have access to water.

It is no surprise that people have infected sores on their legs and feet. Look how dirty these little guys legs are.
I thought that this bike was unique with this thatched chicken basket on the back.

Brandie, Carie, and Myself on our mosquito netting beds.

I couldn't help but take a picture of these little friends. They were so stinking cute! Do you see why I said that little children just roam around with no supervision? Honestly, how old do you think they are?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Africa Post #4

My cousin Holly arranged a service project making bracelets for the women in this village. I have to say that the woman and children absolutely LOVED them. I looked forward to passing them out every day. I would sometimes wear a few at a time and let the women have one of mine. I think that made them feel extra special to get my "personal" bracelet. Thanks Holly!

These 2 ladies were from the Dogon (sp?) tribe. Their faces were a lot longer and thinner and they also had the distinctive mouth tattoos.

This is the baby that we saved by performing an emergency C-section. Once delivered, the local nurse will take the baby and do the "standard" measurements. I have to say that I was obviously surprised to see how they measured the baby. They were not even the least bit gentle with these little ones. I guess it just goes to show how hearty these children really are.

This is just a picture of the Post Op Girls (Carie, Myself and Brandie) and our Transporter (Paul). This was taken on our last day just after we had packed up the OR.

OK, I'm really not trying to be gross here, but you just have to see it (I wish you could smell it) to really appreciate it (looking down inside was 100 times worse). This is the bathroom that we had to use during our days at the hospital. It was truly remarkable to see women who'd had an abdominal hysterectomy the previous day, walk out to this and squat. These women were amazing! Really, we are truly blessed.

We each got to scrub in on a case to get up nice and close. It was really cool to actually help assist the doctor and see everything first hand. Very exciting and educational.

Now, you can't have all work and no play, right? This is Kammisa giving me a WONDERFUL foot rub. This was the day that we went to the market and my feet were killing me! Honestly, Kammisa was the best. (I think it is really interesting that they never bend at the knee. They always bend straight down from their hips. Also, you can't help but notice how straight their backs are.)

These 3 ladies were hilarious! (The one in the middle was our patient and the other 2 were family members). The 3 of us in post op were given African names (mine is Yiridio Doumbia). From what I understand, certain family groups get along better with eah other than others. These women would tease Brandie and I and tell us that they didn't like us and to go home because their family didn't get along with our "families". However, they did get along with Carie's "family". So she could stay. Funny ladies.

Foosball anyone?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day at the Market

Have you ever wondered what a Wal Mart in Africa would look like? Well, here is your glimpse. Every Friday, 44 villages come together in Oulessebougou to sell their goods. Surprisingly, you can find almost anything you need. (I actually found some Betamethasone cream for the rash on my face.)

This is what the Market looks like Saturday through Thursday. Very empty.

This was the hardware stand.

Anyone care for some dried fish? Honestly this stuff stinks!!!! There are flies all around this stand. The people would put the whole fish, (or parts) in their porridge. It was really gross to watch them eat it. I'm not a fish lover anyway. But this, was gross!

When I say that you can sell anything at the market, I mean Anything! This was from part of the stand selling things for medicinal healing. A dead rat still in the trap? Disgusting!

This is from that same stand. Turtle shells, snake skins, dead parrots. Seriously, the market was CRAZY!

This was just a stand selling produce. Notice the flies all over the cut up pumpkin (I think).

Here is another display of the dried fish. Since there are a couple of piles missing, I am assuming that someone was having a yummy dinner that night! (Eeeewwwww)

While in the market, the children would follow you everywhere trying to sell you their items. I felt bad that I didn't want what they were selling. Don't you love the Mt. Rushmore sweatshirt in the 95 degree weather?

In the tied up leaf balls, you will find Shea butter. It comes from Shea nuts that they roast and then prepare to get the oils out of. The oils harden and they put them in these leaf bundles to keep it from re-melting in the heat.
There are still more posts to come. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Africa Post #3

This is Tanini on fly duty/control in the OR during surgery. There were also lots of spiders in the OR on the ceiling which would sometimes beat us to the punch. They looked like very big Daddy Long Legs. It was actually pretty cool to watch.

OK. This one is for the ladies. For all of you who may feel that you had a bad labor and delivery experience. Next time, just be grateful that it didn't take place in this labor and delivery room. Honestly, can you imagine?

This is Brandie, Carie, and myself outside the hospital wall. We were the 3 post op nurses that came on this mission to Ouelessebougou.

This was taken just inside the hall in our surgical building. (Just past those double doors in the background is the actual OR and the stretcher in the hall is the one use for our lovely transports.) This woman was selling fresh papayas. We bought some and had them with our lunch that day. Not only was she very beautiful, she was amazingly poised carrying these melons on her head with a baby strapped to her back.

This is just a couple of our patients before they were discharged home.

Don't forget that this is 95 degree weather. I just can't get enough of the babies.

The children when not playing were often seen doing chores.

I asked if there were any wild animals in Mali. Lions, Zebra, Giraffes maybe? No. I was told that there were donkeys and goats. (Although they did say that there were hippos in the Niger river a couple of hours away). Honestly, there were donkeys, goats, and chickens roaming everywhere. They didn't seem to belong to anyone.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Africa Post #2

After looking through all of my pictures, I've decided that this is going to take a while if I only do 5 pictures a post. So, thanks to Melanie, I will do 10 in a post. Some posts will be structured and some will be very random, like this one. Enjoy.

Unlike here, there are no clothing stores in this village. You have to buy material at the market or the material shop and then have the tailor make whatever you desire. I had a couple of outfits made and a bunch of fun purses. (Hint, Hint, for the 3 of you that I am sending "pay it forward" gifts to,{I still need your contact information Emily}).

For New Year's Eve we were invited to a dance club called the "El Dorado". I am not sure who came up with that name, but anyway, we had fun. We were unable to stay very long due to having to be up bright and early for more surgeries the next morning. The work never ends.

This picture just illustrates why you always felt dirty (even the cold showers were from well water and so were deceivingly clean). The orange dirt was so fine that it was easily stirred up into the air. I developed a fine itchy rash along with big welts on my face and neck after a few days in Africa (add a sunburn from the day at the market and you'll understand why some of my pictures are not very flattering). I really think the rash had to do with the dirt (and whatever it contained) that was in the air. I also had multiple itchy welts on my feet and ankles .

Proof that this trip was not just a vacation. We really worked hard and I am proud to say that we helped improve many lives.

I couldn't get enough of the babies. They were SO cute! The women carried them on their backs with cloth. In this case, it was a beach towel.

I was shocked when I saw this for the first time. I don't know who came up with the design of the hospital, but the OR is about 5 buildings down from the Post Op Recovery Room. We would have to take these poor ladies across a busy courtyard filled with people along a very rocky and bumpy path. True to form, they never complained.

Some of the women had very interesting tattoos (the men were never tattooed, just the women). Some of them had the soles of their feet and hands tattooed and many of them had their lips/mouths tattooed. Also, most of the women and teenage girls had two cut mark scars next to their eyes like this lady. I am not sure exactly why, but I would guess that it is considered a sign of beauty.

These 2 pictures are of Yatt's house. He was kind enough to let us inside his compound to meet his family and see how they lived. You will meet him in a future post. He spoke some English and interned last year for the Utah Alliance which is how some of the group already knew him.

This is just a picture of the first surgery performed. In our time there, we were able to perform 24 surgeries and 2 C-sections. The first C-section was an emergency and the baby was saved. With the 2nd C-section, the baby had already passed away and was stuck making the surgery necessary.