Monday, December 22, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Just to give you an idea of cost of living, the average household makes about 35000 Kenyan shillings a year which is about the equivalent of $470. You can see why we Americans are rich here ... I can tell you I've withdrawn more than that already from my bank account to cover the cost of travel and other incidentals in the almost 4 weeks i've been here.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Check out the link below and follow the links to the segment called "Compassion for Kenya"
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Will update more soon (internet access has been a little tricky lately).
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We drove yesterday through the countryside to spend the day and night at Lake Baringo in the Rift Valley. Lake Baringo is a fresh-water lake known for its population of hippopotamuses (hippopotami?). We were staying at a sort of camping resort where there were tents set up on an island for visitors to come use. Really, it was more like a hotel. Yesterday we got a ton of rain at Lake Baringo which was a little disappointing but had a nice relaxing day anyways. Interestingly, the Rift Valley has a river that winds through it and it routinely floods and dries up as it drains into Lake Baringo. On the way to the resort, we had to drive our van through this area of flooding on the road where the water was moving fast and was probably 1-2 feet deep. The above was taken by me reaching my camera out of the passenger side window (steering wheels are on the right in Kenya) However today, since we had gotten so much rain throughout the day before, we were questioning if we may even be trapped! We were in communication with our driver who was watching the level of the water earlier in the day and matatus (Kenyan word for big passenger vans) were not able to make it across. Finally mid afternoon, the driver said, let’s just give it a chance to see if we can make it, otherwise we’d probably be trapped for a few more days especially if it continued to rain! So, we were all pretty nervous about this wondering if our matatu may get washed away in the current with us in it. Some of my fellow passengers even went so far as to get out their utility knives in case we needed to crack the windows to escape. The back of a ten passenger van is not the easiest thing to get out of even in good circumstances. Needless to say since I’m posting this, I made it without too much difficulty and I think we entertained the 30 or so Kenyans loitering around this crossing watching people attempt to get across. We even got a round of applause at the end :)
I am always amazed in 3rd world countries at the intersection of poverty and the modern world (globalization as some of the other people I’m with seem to call it). We drove past huts made of plywood or mud probably about the size of my living room or smaller with no glass in their windows, certainly with no indoor plumbing and their inhabitants standing outside watching us drive by while talking on their cell phones. Practically every other commercial building is painted lime green (for safari.com) or hot pink (for zain) representing competing cell phone companies in the area despite that they also don’t have the basic things we would expect to be able to run a business. We drove through the mountains and tiny villages and would still see Coke machines. Many times children would be walking down the side of the road up in the mountains wearing dirty, battered sweatshirts displaying American brand names such as GAP or MUDD jeans. I can only imagine these were acquired as people back in the U.S. cast them off as donations and somehow, these ended up in rural western Kenya. We also drove past a training center where many of the Kenyan runners train to compete professionally. These areas look no less impoverished and no more modern than anything else I’ve seen here yet turns out some of the best athletes in the world. One of the best things about running is that it really doesn’t take any special equipment. The Kenyans happen to have the unique combination of a temperate climate, a high altitude and some inborn talent and they are world-class athletes.
I am particularly struck here by the weird divide that I feel between my experience here and what Kenya is actually like. Indiana University has carved out its own little piece of the world here. Its built a compound where things are very comfortable with modern amenities including wireless internet! The buildings themselves are maintained by a full staff. They have a host of people hired to clean bathrooms, prepare meals, make sure we always have safe drinking water available and even transport us around town if we need it. When you factor in that my mom is accessing my bank account and actually paying my bills for me (thanks mom!) in the U.S, my life is even easier here than in the U.S., since most of my basic needs are taken care. It certainly hasn’t been anything close to “roughing” it. And so the existence I live here is one more akin to a boarding school or my freshman year at college. And is completely unlike the way the average Kenyan lives. I have this strange feeling I’m cheating or something. Though I have to say it is a little bit of a relief. I was worried that it would be so unlike my normal life that I might be miserable. I just feel so rich being here. Since I’m a pretty economical person I don’t like wasting money and have been known to pinch pennies on a regular basis. For instance, I haven’t been letting people help me with my luggage here because I don’t want to have to tip them. But then I see how people live here and start feeling maybe I should just do it because I obviously have so much more than they do.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
One thing I’ve been struck by here is the rampant discussion of Obama. As the election happened last night (Kenya time) multiple people stayed up through the night to watch the election results come in on CNN. I asked one of the Kenyans watching the election results what would be the benefit for Kenyans if Obama was elected and he answered, “we’d get a national holiday.” And he was right, Kenyans today are so happy that they have actually declared tomorrow a national holiday. That’s right, election of someone not actually from Kenya, not in their country has had that effect. One of the other Kenyans thought that it would be easier for Kenyans to get VISAs into the U.S. I’m not so sure that will be the case but I didn’t tell him that. People are so excited, there is even a reggae type song getting a lot of radio play called “Barack Obama.” If you’re into that sort of thing, you should google it and check it out, it’s pretty funny. The irony of this whole situation is the people of this country seem to be so proud that both a Kenyan and an African American is going to be president of the united states. However, if you look at the record, you see that Obama’s Kenyan father abandoned his family leaving a single white American lady and her white parents to raise him in the United States. So essentially, other than some sperm donation, how much did Kenya really have to do with him??? Just some thoughts (that I’ve kept to myself while here) …
Today at the hospital was interesting to say the least … there are about 48-60 Pediatric patients in 8 bed wards with beds being about 2 feet apart. There are no monitors, minimal medical equipment and disorganized or absent charting. The intern and the resident pretty much run things with attending physicians showing up a day at a time or not at all. I’ve been assigned to a team with a Kenyan intern (someone who’s had 6 years of medical school after highschool), a Kenyan Resident (someone who’s had training up through Intern year, then practiced for a number of years but is back to specialize), and a 4th year medical student from IU who seems vastly more knowledgeable than the Kenyan Intern. I did feel like the Kenyan resident was pretty competent, however. We cover 12-15 patients on our team. After we were done rounding today, one of the babies on the other unit stopped breathing and required some basic resuscitation. As we watched the infant required bag mask ventilation, became minimally responsive and started having some extensor posturing. The infant started breathing on her own again but with shallow breaths. They have minimal ICU beds here and really only intubate people that they feel very confident will be able to come off the ventilator because, culturally, they don’t withdraw support once they’ve given it. I believe this infant probably is septic, if not encephalitic (blood stream infection and infection in the brain) but so little was able to be done for her. We left her in a state such that I will be surprised if she lives until tomorrow. Its just such a different system and I’ve been encouraged by both people who have gone and people who work here currently to watch and observe initially and then try to contribute as I understand the system better. But ultimately, this system functions with or without us and there are many, many limitation which will not change by my presence here. I have to look at it as anything I can contribute with my limited knowledge is a bonus but not get too involved in taking ultimate responsibility. I sure have a lot of thinking and learning to do and will try to update this once per week to tell you what I’ve seen!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Tonight I went to see Jack Johnson, one of my favorite singers, in concert. I've seen him once before about 5 years ago and he lived up to everything I remembered. It's just a really laid back show and he sounds every bit as good in person as he does on CDs only he added in some new music and some fun improvisation. It reminded me of the concert I saw years ago with all my friends from med school and I wish they could have been there to see him again! One very cool part at the end was that he announced that all proceeds of the concert were being donated to the Red Cross because of all the flooding in Indianapolis.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
There was a severe storm with some high winds, hails, and apparently some tornadoes the other night. I was at the hospital which wasn't really affected during the storm but the next day I was trying to drive home and found this tree blocking my way home. It's amazing to me that this gi-normous tree managed to split in two and fall over where just a block away, yard signs were still in place. Fortunately, there wasn't much damage in general but I thought this was pretty impressive!
Monday, May 26, 2008
It's been a great month for traveling for me! After a busy Neonatal Intensive Care month in April (hence, no blogging) I'm now on my elective in Dermatology which includes a week of vacation. Additionally, earlier in the month, I was able to attend the Pediatric Academic Societies conference in Hawaii where I presented a poster of a project I completed earlier this year. I spent a couple days at the conference and ... a couple days not at the conference :) Those days I spent snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, hiking up Diamond Head and not really working too hard.
Then, this past week I spent 6 days in New York City where my friend Cari got married in Manhattan. It was the first time in NYC for me and it was a busy few days since I was in the wedding but I did happen across some of the famous things and places such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Herald Square, Empire State Building, Central Park, Madison Square Garden among other things. One of the neat things for me since I read a lot and have seen a lot of shows and movies based in New York City, I now have at least a basic knowledge of the geography and layout of the city and neighborhoods. Otherwise, I spent the time with about 6 friend from med school, many of whom I haven't seen since I graduated so that was great too.
I'm going to try a new thing where I upload my pictures to some web albums and I'll include a link here so you can take a look if you'd like. Most of the pictures of people, less of the sites ...
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
For the month of December I was working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit taking care of some pretty sick kids. I enjoyed the challenges related to treating very complicated illnesses and children but stressed out a little bit over the on-call problems which tended to be more in depth and serious than my previous months. I learned a ton, however, and by the end of the month felt a whole lot more confident about managing complicated medical problems. Overall, I liked it better than a lot of months I've been on. Not enough to want to take care of intensive care patients for the rest of my life, but it sort of reaffirmed my interest in taking care of sick (vs. well) children. It will be nice to take care of sick kids but to know that if they get really out of control, there's a place to send them where they can be managed (i.e. an intensive care unit).
After working all month, I finally got back to Iowa for Christmas on Dec. 30! My parents were generous enough to hold off on most of their Christmas until I got back and that's where I still am enjoying both a holiday break and a week of vacation at the same time.
The part of my month not spent working was nice too. I did some gift exchanges with some friends from Indy and even got out to our Christmas Holiday party and to see the play, A Christmas Carol which is done by the local theater every year.
Finally, some New Year's resolutions! I hope that by putting them on here, you all can periodically check in on me and see if I'm actually following them.
1. Exercise, eat well, yada, yada, yada. Okay, no originality here but it's always a good thought after the holidays, right?
2. Continue my new budget! I started it about 4 months ago and have had some ups and downs with it. The first couple months went great, but the second couple months got significantly side-tracked when I had that little hit and run experience I talked about earlier. Turns out the police can't/won't do anything more and since the damage was at my deductible + the cost of a rental car when I got my car fixed, the whole $600 fell to my expenses. I guess the good news is, if I hadn't been doing the budget, I would have been in a whole lot worse shape. Anyways, so aside from that setback it's going well. And last night, I finally put the whole thing to an Excel spreadsheet so I'm going to be able to keep track of things more accurately!
3. Umm, get Christmas cards out next year!
4. Try to focus less on myself, and more on other people. I feel like in residency, it's really easy to get wrapped up in everything that's going on in my life and forget to give my tine and attention to other people, which is really what's most important. So in short, be less selfish.
there you have it, that's my last month in a nut shell. Drop me a line if you get a chance!