We are thinking of our families and friends this Independence Day, imagining what you are all doing to celebrate this holiday.
It is Wednesday morning in Tanzania and we have begun a very busy day.
Our last post was an update on our weekend. Since then the work at Mazimbu has continued and we do not leave the hospital until 6 or 7 pm each night. We have reached the point in our schedule where we are completely full, so we are not accepting any new patients. Dr. John has five procedures scheduled for today and will be seeing about seven new patients that will wait all day until he has some time between each procedure.
Although the purpose of our mission is surgery, we find that each year God brings an acute case to us that is unrelated to surgery. This year there have been two. Kulwa is an eight-year-old Maasai boy that we first saw laying listlessly on the bench next to his mother, who was waiting in queue to register her baby daughter to see Dr. John. Emily came to check his vital signs and his temperature was recorded at 105.7. There were many other indications that Kulwa was a very sick little boy. Unfortunately, it was after 5 pm and the Mazimbu doctors had left for the evening. After consulting with Dr. John, we advised his mother that he needed critical care through the night and to take him to the Regional hospital. When we arrived the next day, we were surprised to see Kulwa again, but this time he was walking around and smiling, clearly improved after treatment. The team gave him special attention every time we passed him by during the day, hoping to catch his infectious smile. By the end of the day, Kulwa felt happy to be around any of the team and would greet us willingly. The following day was a different story. Kulwa was sick again so one of the Mazimbu doctors took over his care and admitted him to the hospital. Dr Richard determinted that Kulwa is HIV+, has acute Malaria and probably a cardiac problem and possibly pneumonia. IV antibiotics were given and Kulwa was discharged yesterday. But, again, we had our friendly, sociable Kulwa greeting us all day yesterday.
Our second case came to us on Monday. Happy James and her husband Manfred registered in the queue for services. As the day wore on, Happy became increasingly weak and needed the assistance of a wheelchair. She was treated by the Mazimbu staff and seemed somewhat improved by the end of the day. Happy and Manfred were told to return on Tuesday but when they arrived, Happy was even sicker and was unable to walk. Dr. Richard admitted her, and the team has accepted financial responsibility for Happy. She was given a unit of blood yesterday and may need another unit today. The team stands ready to donate if we can help. We have checked on Happy this morning and she is now sitting up in bed and smiling.
After today, our work will be almost complete. We are not at Mazimbu tomorrow, but are journeying to Berega to meet with Tisho and learn about the orphanage where he is the director. So, Friday will be our day for cleanup, packing and farewells.
We haven’t mentioned this yet, but this year we added a few new things—we brought MANY reading glasses of different strengths and Eileen and Debbie have been having fun with patients, teaching them how to use a reading chart to determine the best strength. There have also been some sunglasses to pass out. And Dr. John found an app for doing hearing tests (yes, there IS an app for that!) and Pati and Epsilon have been giving hearing tests. This is trickier than you might think because it requires a very quiet environment, which is very hard to find at Mazimbu!