Saturday, July 30, 2011

B, C, D, and Hope Center

This week was so packed and busy, it seemed to go by really fast! I worked day shift (7am-3pm) Monday-Thursday, and evening shift (2-10pm) Friday. I was a ping-pong ball this week, bouncing around from ward to ward. Monday I got pulled to B ward for the first time, which is where the general surgery patients are - mostly hernias. Tuesday I worked in D ward (where I'm usually assigned, max-fax), but it was so slow I went back to B half-way through my shift to help them out. Wednesday I was in B again, and Thursday I worked in C. Up til about a week ago, C ward has been left empty. Now we have overflow, low-acuity max-fax patients in there. That day consisted mostly of wound care and dressing changes for me, then playing with balloons and bubbles with the kids once my work was done. Friday I was back in B. It was a good week, but I did feel a little displaced. D ward has come to feel like my home, and I missed it a little. After work we had various meetings and worship services, so I didn't have a whole lot of down time this week. Here are some more pictures from the wards this week:

worship time on D ward

Ursina with some of the kids

Natalie (the max-fax team leader) playing with Lamin

2 of our little ones making friends

Juanita, me, Hannah, and Beth

crazy B ward nurses, with 2 of our translators and one of our patients

Despite the business of the week, I did have time one day to go visit the patients at the Hope Center. That's our outpatient facility down the road from the docks. When patients live too far away to go home, they go stay at the Hope Center to wait for their surgery or follow-up appointments. Going there definitely lifts my spirits - as soon as I walked through the gate I was surrounded by kids who wanted to talk and play and arm wrestle and hold my hands and sit in my lap.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

this week's recap

Well, my walk into town to visit the market on Monday didn't happen. Sunday night, about half of our group that went to the beach came down with a nasty case of food poisoning and we spent the day in our beds. Our sweet friend Rachael became our private nurse, and visited everyone in their cabins bringing us gatorade, bread, and encouragement.

My stomach's been a little upset all week, but I was well enough Tuesday to go back to work for night shift. All was quiet on the ward for 3 nights in a row - which was good for our patients, but made it very hard to stay awake! I got a lot of reading done this week, while listening to the heavy breathing of sleeping patients and their family members. The only "exciting" thing that happened at work this week was finding my little 4-year old (see the last picture) asleep without his bandage on, and having to get my coworkers to hold him still for me while I did a dressing change at 3 am.

Last week the photographer took some pictures in the wards, so here are a few of the patients I've been caring for the past couple of weeks. The first 3 are out on deck 7, where we take the patients out for an hour every afternoon to get some fresh air, and to let the kids run off some of their energy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

alive AND well

Thank you everybody for all your prayers for my health! After lying in bed for what seemed like forever, I finally got back to work this past Tuesday. It took me a few days to really feel myself again, but by Thursday I was feeling back to normal. We had some pretty adorable kids in the ward this week, so I got to do a lot of playing and baby-holding in between dressing changes and administering medications. When preparing for Mercy Ships, I didn't realize I'd be getting more than just a taste of pediatrics. The kids and adults are all together in the wards, rather than separated, so I don't know until I show up for my shift if I'll be caring for babies, kids, teenagers, or adults. Usually it's a mix. I was kind of scared of the idea of taking care of kids - I haven't done that since college. But it's not as scary as I thought it would be, and there's usually someone on shift who has some pediatric experience, to use as a resource.

Since I worked several days, then was sick for a week, then worked several more days, I hadn't really had a chance to get off of the ship in about 2 weeks. I walked on the dock a little and went out on deck for some fresh air, but I didn't really leave the ship for the first half of this month. I was starting to go a little stir-crazy, but had a chance to get away this weekend and even spend the night off the ship. A group of us planned an overnight trip to John Obey beach, about an hour and a half away. It was lovely to get away for a day, get lots of sun, walk up and down the beach, swim in the ocean, and just relax and listen to the waves breaking. By the time we came back to the Africa Mercy this afternoon we were sunburned, hungry, tired, and covered in a layer of salt, sunscreen, sweat, and we were ready to be back! After dinner and a shower we joined several people in the International Lounge for an impromptu time of worship, which was a great way to end the weekend. I get to enjoy another day off tomorrow, and am planning a walk into town to visit the craft market and eat lunch with a friend at The Crown Bakery, which I've heard good things about. After that I'll head back to the ward for night shift the rest of the week!

Here are a few pictures of our mini-vacation at the beach:

vitamin D!

storm rolling in over the mountains

lovely long walks on the beach

posing in a fishing boat we found

snacks and books

our home for the night

the view from our mudhut home

Saturday, July 9, 2011

alive, but not so well

Hello friends. I've been getting questions along the lines of "are you still alive?" lately. Yes, I'm still alive. Just not quite myself. Monday I got hit hard with some kind of nasty bug that resulted in 5 days of fever, chills, general achiness, headache, and sore throat. I've been to the doctor, started antibiotics, and have been drinking lots of water and getting lots of rest. A crazy amount of rest, actually. I'm really not used to this. I'm hardly ever sick, but after spending the better part of a week lying in bed, I'm still exhausted. The fever's gone down a little, but my throat still looks like raw hamburger meat. Hopefully I'll be back on my feet again soon, and can go back to the ward. I feel guilty for missing work, but am very thankful for the friends I've made who force me back into bed time and time again when I've deluded myself into thinking I'm well enough to get up.

But enough about that. Here are some pictures I found on the hospital transfer drive. We aren't allowed to take pictures in the hospital, but we can pull the ones that the official photographers take and share them on our blogs.

This first one is from the 4th of July barbecue we had out on the dock:

This is what happens when we take our patients to surgery. We sit them down on a bench outside the OR, and when the OR nurse and a translator come to fetch them, we all lay our hands on them and pray for the surgery. I love this.

These are 2 of my lovely coworkers, Ruth and Ursina, in D ward where I work.

Please pray for my continued healing, so I can get back to work. I miss the patients.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a taste of perspective

Working on the max-fax ward involves giving a lot of tube feedings. Many of our patients are unable to eat for a week after their surgery, since they've had their jaws and faces operated on, and they come back from the operating room with an NG (nasogastric) tube in place and require feedings every 3 hours. We usually use Ensure for our tube feedings - that's a milkshake-like nutrition drink that comes in cans. About a week after I started working in the ward, we ran out of liquid Ensure and had to start using powder instead. That meant that for every tube feeding, instead of just calculating the total amount based on the patient's weight, we first had to calculate how much water and how much powder to use, then mix it up really well to get all the lumps out so it wouldn't clog the tubes. Kind of annoying, right? At least, it seemed annoying until we ran out of Ensure powder too. I was working night shift, and we were down to one can - enough for our 2100 feedings, but there wouldn't be any left for the next day. We hunted in all the other wards and the pharmacy, but to no avail - there was no Ensure left in the hospital. So we paged the dietician, and she got to spend her Saturday night inventing a substitute. A couple hours later she showed up in the ward with a recipe that included milk, peanut butter, sugar, liquid multivitamin, and fiber powder. Yummy! We're glad our patients won't starve, but this new concoction is kind of tricky. The fiber powder doesn't exactly dissolve, and it tends to settle to the bottom of the feeding bags and get clogged in the tubes. That means that while the feedings are going, they need to be checked very often. We asked our ward supervisor how long it would be before we'd get more Ensure. She replied that apparently, there's some in a shipment container sitting on the ship that's docked in front of us. So near, and yet so far away.

All this makes me very thankful for creativity, God's provision, and coworkers who make the best of difficult situations instead of complaining about inconveniences.