Saturday, June 4, 2011

Clinic begins!

Our first day of clinic was here! I would like to say I bounded out of bed. But it definitely took some stretching, yawning, and a," can't I just hit my snooze for 5 more minutes?" to get up. I will say though, it felt great to put scrubs back on. We organized everything we would need for the day than headed up to the big guest house for breakfast. ( ok, and some much needed coffee!) Once again we were spoiled by the ladies in the kitchen with a breakfast feast! The vans were packed and we were off!
( Please note in this picture the helmet was totally necessary. If you sat in that seat as a man you were guaranteed a head injury. Earl learned the hard way on the drive to Atemo.)
There was something I had forgotten about the last trip. The drives. As we road through Atemo than on to the dirt roads leading to the clinic, kids lined the streets shouting, "Mazungos! Mazungos!" You would hear squeals as they first looked at the vans coming down the road and than saw they were filled with Americans. Out in the fields men and women would stop their plowing or planting to stand up straight and watch us drive by. We were constantly waving and I don't think you could wipe the smiles off our faces as we waved to these little ones.

As we pulled into the clinic compound our eyes grew wide as we saw there was a crowd waiting for us. The word was out: American doctors are in town! Most of the kids stared right back with wide eyes as the strange white people unloaded the vans. Surprisingly, clinic was set up rather quickly and before I knew it I had my first patient!
Yes, it was a child. I knew right than it was going to be a great day because I already was able to snuggle a sweet Kenyan. We moved at a fast pace. The triage station was right outside my room and I often would grab patients to triage myself to help the flow and also, if you recall from my post here, I was slightly timid prescribing and diagnosing on my first day. There was a good amount of women that came through my door that day, all complaining of back pain, headaches, inability to sleep, and pain "everywhere." I prescribed them pain meds but I wanted to say, " Let me give you a day off. How about you just go rest and relax. I'll walk the miles and get your water for you today." Think about that. How often to you find yourself saying," I'm tired. It's been one of those days and I need a break. To just get away and have time to myself." I do it all the time which is comical because I am unemployed, no longer a student, and I don't have children. These women don't know what time to themselves or simply relaxing for a day is. I would give anything to have taken their workload for a day so they could rest. But, instead, along with their pain meds, they were given a warm smile, a casual hug, or a gentle rub on their back.

Above are pictures of patients waiting outside the pharmacy for their meds as well as the inside of the pharmacy in Tala. Let me tell you, these ladies worked hard! For each person who came to the window there were 2-3 prescriptions that needed to be filled for each member of the family of 4-5. They stood on their feet all day and never once complained. They were quite the pair!
Joel and Brenton were hard at work treating patients all day. Sharing their room was a Kenyan doctor as well. I could hear them talking from where I was in my room and I would listen in as Joel explained everything in great detail to Brenton, who being pre-med soaked it all up. Joel is great with all who come through the door but he is especially great with the kids. I could hear the slaps of high fives and the compliments on "princess" dresses. The kids loved him just as much!
It amazes me also how there was a constant patient flow all day. Never a lull or a lag. Just one after the other from start to finish. And they all waited so long. I get beyond impatient if I have a doctors appointment and they do not call me back on time. Yet these people come early in the morning and hang out all day long until it is their turn. Some even get sent away, unseen, when clinic is over.

I had to sneak away at times to check on the kids outside. Sometimes I wondered why they were staring at me so weird because I forgot that my white skin stuck out to them. I look back at the pictures I have with the kids and I can't help but see the absolute beauty of our skin colors next to each other.
Taking pictures of all the kids was a hoot because they all love seeing themselves on the screen afterward. They would squeal and shriek, some even were a little shy, as they picked each other out of the pictures. Even the moms and grandmas liked to see them too! 

Our first day of clinic was a great success. ( Well, minus my ooops incident but I will write about that in a different post!) Driving home was similar to the drive to clinic as we all waved to kids the whole way home. Dinner was once again a feast and we were so spoiled by our chefs! The night ended with starting a game of "Phase 10" that would later be known as "Skip Larry" only to be played every night until usually midnight. Who needs sleep, right?

After a great first day we were ready for another day of clinic, another day to be God's hands there in Kenya, to love on His precious people, and another day to let His light shine through us.


  1. a) Is a Mazungo an American or a white person? b) can I start calling you that?

    Your reflections on skin color reminded me of a moment in India. I was talking to Jansee, a darker-skinned college-age girl, and she pointed at my arm and said she wanted skin as light as mine. I pointed at her arm and said I wanted skin as dark as hers. She didn't believe me so I told her about tanning beds and tanning lotions and she laughed and told me how she buys lotion to make her skin lighter. When her friend took a picture of us together, the friend said, "black and white- what a beautiful sight" and we all started laughing.

    That was in 2004 but I remember it like it was yesterday- just as I'm sure you will never forget these experiences in Kenya. Love you, Mazungo!

  2. It is white person :-) And I can't remember if it is spelled "mazungo" or "mzungo". Google search on swahili spelling didn't gave me both options.

    I like that story. It's funny how both cultures want to change their skin color. I can't believe she tried lotions to make her skin lighter!

  3. Can't wait to hear your oops moment:)