Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Count Our Blessings

The days here are so full of many things both wonderful and not so wonderful, but one always looks for the beauty in each encounter.  There is joy, strength, and so often knowledge to access from those around us.  This past week I had two Blessings in my life.  
 
Blessing (that is her name) number one is an 11 yr old girl who was admitted with fever and pneumonia.  She is HIV positive from birth and her mother has passed so she is cared for most lovingly by her grandmother, this not an uncommon scenario here in sub-saharan Africa.  Blessing responded well to her treatment and her immune system is holding strong so far as she was able to go home after a few days.  She so kindly allowed me to take her picture in the sunshine outside the ward.  Her outfit is quite lovely, isn't it?  She is so poor however, that she had no other clothes and wore it 24 hours a day while in hospital.
 
Blessing number two was admitted the day Blessing number one was discharged.  Sweet little Blessing is 1 yr old and was brought to the clinic with a fever by her mom.  She looked like a limp dish rag and was so sad hanging a ride on her mom's back.  She turned out to have malaria and was admitted and treated and was feeling so much better by the next morning.  After she was treated and ready to go home I discussed malaria with mom as she did not know that this illness is exclusively transmitted by mosquitoes,  hopefully she will get a mosquito net and place over the bed she and Blessing share. 
 
We should all count our numerous blessings that we have so many medical problems that we are virtually free from and have access to some of the best care in the world. 
 
Give your little ones an big hug tonight.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Name Game

In all my years in practice I have never been asked to name a child.  Well, I hit the jackpot here in Njinikom, Cameroon.  This is a land of twins, without any help from medicos.  I have never seen so many twin births in all my life.  So, I was asked to name a set of girl twins last week.  The mother had delivered premature girls who had been in one incubator together until big enough to be in an open crib.  

Mom asked me one day if I would give her two English names and write them down for her.  This is a country that has both English and French speaking regions, we are in the English region here in the Northwest area near Nigeria.  I thought it only fair that I pick both an English and a French set of names and let her decide which she actually liked.  My English names, a bit on the Royal side, were Elizabeth and Margaret and the French names I thought were quite catchy: Marie and Cherie.  She chose Marie and Cherie(my favorite too). 

We wish Marie and Cherie long, happy, and healthy lives.  Thanks, mom, for allowing me to play the name game.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Trip to the Big City

I have had a few requests to know what my environs are like.  I had a trip to the big city of Bamenda this past weekend, I had been here 2 weeks and a side excursion was most welcomed.  

The trip through the lovely countryside was absolutely a blessing.  The green mountainsides, small farms of corn, beans, yams, and people walking everywhere along the side of the road.  

In town we went to a "supermarket", and I must use the word loosely, called the Vatican I eyed the goods and bought a couple of packs of biscuits (cookies) to have with my tea.  Then we went to the local open air style market which was fascinating, much like a SOUK in the middle east.  I bought some Cameroonian tea from a nice gent in his little stall and  then toured around looking at sacks of beans, live chickens in baskets.  Certainly not Gelsons or the Safeway but WAY more fun.  
 Lunch was at Dreamland Restaurant (pic of me with Terry and Jim), T and J had a 'hamburger' (a rare treat in a land where they know not of McDonald's), I settled for more local fare of beans and rice.  On the way home we had plenty of rain and the road had a few fallen trees that needed to be maneuvered around.  Hope you enjoy the pics!!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

911

Last night I was called out into the pouring rain to go and see a 2 week old twin girl who was brought here from many miles away on the back of a motorbike(the major means of transport here).  The little thing was barely breathing and was very cold to the touch.  We had grandmother put her against her body to try and warm her up while we drew up some antibiotics and called Maternity to prepare a bed for her.  Antibiotic given, we rushed out into the rain as I was carrying the infant with entourage following behind. 

On arrival at the ward there were no more functional isolettes (incubators) so she was placed in a small crib with hot water bottles to try and warm her.  Blood studies and oxygen were adminstered but she was going downhill rapidly and resources were limited.  She was a very strong infant and rallied for a short while  but the infection and cold and long journey had taken its toll on our little Faith.  She succumbed a few hours later.  Fortunately, her twin sister, Faithful, has survived and we are treating her in time and the family is holding up well. 

When you call 911 don't expect a response here.   How fortunate we are.  Give thanks to our paramedics.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Desmond

Good News, our little Desmond was discharged from the hospital yesterday. 

As you may remember, he was the little infant with the bad staph skin infection that looked like a burn.

His father thanked me for all the care we had given him and his mother was beaming to take her little infant home recovered from his infection. 


I would also like to share with those following this blog some of the other sites I have enjoyed.  The land is full of life and newborn animals along the countryside.  I cannot help but enjoy the beauty of Cameroon and in particular this area.  After my work in the hospital and clinic I often get to take hikes nearby both on the grounds of the hospital and in the village and area beyond.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who but YOU can stand up for children's needs?

I was called from the children's ward yesterday morning to go to the Maternity ward where I had admitted the 12 day old male infant with the severe staph skin infection that looks like scalded skin.  The father had arrived and was wanting to take the child out of the hospital and seek the care of a 'Traditional Healer' ( a local healer who treats with herbs and other tribal remedies).  The staff was quite upset and very negative about this whole issue, but best to get the story first.  Dr. Jim asked if I wanted him to go with me to speak to the dad as I had only been local for a few days, but I said if I can be ok in South Central L.A. then I could probably handle this.   
 
In the end the man was quite complimentary towards the care but was concerned about the bill he might receive (after all it is about $2 a day for the room fee about equivalent to the average daily wage in Cameroon).  The infant might well have had the infection become more severe without the proper treatment, especially returning to the environment that had fostered the infection.
 
I was able to allay both the father's concerns and the mother's worries supported by all you who have so kindly donated to my mission through this web site.  I am happy to report that little Desmond is continuing with his treatment and all seems to be on track.

Friday, May 13, 2011

We are not in Kansas Anymore, Toto

It has now been 3 work days under my belt in Njinikom and I must say it is even more interesting than I could ever have imagined.  I am truly trying to 'work from my head' which makes the cases I am seeing so rewarding, yet my heart keeps pulling me too and this is good as I try to help my interesting charges here.  

The case of the 2 yr old girl who is about the size of a 1 yr old with severe malnutrition and skin lesions that was near death when her grandmother brought her to the hospital from a very far distance last nite, and the 12 day old with a severe staph skin infection that looks like someone dropped him in boiling water, and the 14 yr old girl who presents with weakness, unable to stand up without support who most likely has a brain tumor but the family cannot afford to take her to the 'City' for the CAT scan to make a diagnosis, let alone the treatment.  It is a different world where you cannot always make things perfect again, like we are so often expected to do at home but trying and providing the best one can is rewarding and goes far. 

Thanks for all your support and well wishes.  This is a wonderful experience and opportunity for me and the people I am privileged to help.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Arrival

I have arrived after an almost 48 hour trip and am now in a remote area of Cameroon in West Africa.  This has been such an incredible trip and now I am on site at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Mission Hospital in Njinikom.  It is in a beautiful green mountain region with beautiful flowers and singing birds and my hosts, Jim and Terry Hake along with the nuns here at the hospital, have extended a warm invitation and quick orientation to life and activities here.  I rounded with Dr. Hake at the hospital and have seen some unbelievably interesting patients along with their families.   Some very sad cases, such as cerebral malaria, and some happy little patients that are showing quick responses to their treatments for pneumonia and simple malaria. 
 
It can be a very far distance for some of the patients to reach the hospital,  one young man came comatose on the back of a motorcycle...what an ambulance that made but no sirens like the ones along Santa Monica Blvd down from the office.  Thank you all for reading this blog and stay tuned. 
 
Best to All

Monday, May 9, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thanksgiving

This is my final posting before I actually depart on my mission and adventure.  As I leave Los Angeles I would like to thank all the folks that have been so wonderful in allowing me to make this trip.  I of course want to thank my dear wife, Mary Lou, for all her support and understanding that makes me free to go and assist in Njinikom, Cameroon.  My associate, Dr. Sheila Phillips, for holding down the fort at the office while I jet away to distant lands.  Elise Frederick at Mission Doctors Association (MDA) and the Board for their support.  And all the fantastic individuals who have contributed to my mission, which is allowing me to take some much needed medicines and medical supplies.  And of course to all my dear friends who have wished me well and hosted and toasted me before I depart.    

On the other end of my journey I wish to thank Dr. Jim Hake and his wife Terry for hosting me at the Mission Hospital and Sister Xaveria for extending the invitation for my mission.

And thank you to all my patients and their families for their enthusiastic interest and encouragement. Patients, Sophia and Stevie share a parting song below.
video

And thanks, Jessica, in the MDA office for establishing and maintaining this blog site
 
Next Stop...Cameroon!!