Monday, February 6, 2012

Letter from the Hakes

Dear Ed,
You probably thought the Hake’s were a couple of ingrates.  With utmost delight I send you the news that your box arrived today.  With the Dec 12 postmark that makes it the longest ever to get here but it made for a great treat this afternoon after I finished OPD.  Thanks for all the treats and the teas look great.
Ed, I was thinking of you yesterday and had planned to write you.  The Nursery is empty which is one of the few times there has not been from 1-7 premies in the last 6 months.  The survival rate on all these premies and the terms with sepsis the last 6 months has been well over 90% which I think is at least 3 times higher than what I saw before you came last May.  You deserve a pat on the back.  I think you really got the Nurse’s to believe that they could make a difference and save lives by being observant and reacting when they found something not right.  It got me making daily rounds in Maternity so the Nurses have me see anyone they have questions about.  I know Dr Dabo is relieved not to have the primary responsibility for the wee ones.  Feel good that your visit here continues to produce good fruit.
I will be forwarding the envelope to Germar and Petra.
Hope your new year is going well.  Hi to Mary Lou.
God Bless,
Jim and Terry

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dr. Chase

During my time away, I have been fortunate enough to receive emails from my patients and their parents.
I wanted to share a couple photos from one patient in particular, Chase.  Apparently, he enjoys playing doctor and always insists on being "like Dr. Malphus" in Africa, even pointing out Cameroon on a map.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Last Day in Njinikom

My time here at St. Martin de Porres Hospital in Njinikom, Cameroon is coming to an end.  This has been one of the most memorable months of my life.  I have seen some incredibly interesting diagnoses including malaria, HIV disease, malnutrition and all sorts of parasitic infestations that I had only read about in medical school.  But most of all the people have been the most endearing aspect of my stay.  They are so resilient and appreciative of everything that you do for them.  I discharged a little 15 month old from the hospital today  who had been admitted for malnutrition last week.  I know that a week’s stay can hardly put a dent in his total recovery but the plan was in place and mom could continue to feed him some special formulation that we were able to provide for her.  She was most appreciative and flagged me down in the hallway of the the clinic building to thank me.  This makes it all worth while, and I want to thank all of you who have been supportive of my blog both by your interest and also by your kind and generous donations which has helped me provide specific care to those that otherwise would have not allowed their children to be admitted for financial concerns.

Today, on my last day there was a truly touching ceremony thanking me for my month of work attending to the infants in maternity in addition to caring for the patients on the children’s ward.  The female staff members performed a song and tribal dance commemorating Dr. Edward’s work with the infants and children, WOW  I was so thrilled.  I will miss this special place and all the work that is being done for such patients in a true place of need.  And now I am looking forward to returning to all my wonderful patients and families in Santa Monica...After a bit of R and R!

Here are some pics of my last day.

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


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.