Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Arrival in Eldoret

 Nolan and Abby outside the main entrance of MTRH.
 Again :)
Nolan with his fanny-pack of stethoscope and BP cuff - immediately after this most embarrassing picture was taken, he decided it would go much better over his shoulder :) Oh, and our room!

         Yesterday at approximately 0930 we arrived in Eldoret.  Having slept less than 5 hours the night before, we were exhausted. All throughout the day we just wanted to lay down and sleep. After a quick tour, we took a nap before lunch, but I don't think that helped any. Later we discovered that part of our tiredness was due to the elevation. Since there are no visible mountains, we didn't think we were that high, but came to discover we are actually at about 7,000 feet!   Everyone kept telling us to make it until at least 9 o'clock before succumbing to our exhaustion, to try to adjust to the schedule. Never before has 9 oclock felt sooooo late. I ended up making it until 2030. Nolan lasted until 9. I didn't even see the beginning of the movie we tried to start. Just like old times...
        We arrived in Eldoret after a short plane ride from Nairobi. It took about 45 minutes, while by car, they say it would take 4-5 hours. We saw Mt. Kenya (we think) from the plane, and arrived to beautiful weather. Everyone here thinks it is cold. It was around 80 yesterday, and we seen a baby in a snow suit.  :) I guess it's just what you get used to.
         Since we arrived earlier than all of Nolan's colleagues, we had the day to do as we wished. We took a short walk to town. It only takes about 15 minutes, and everyone reassured us that during the day it is completely safe. It was safe, and no one tried to pick our pockets. Town was eye-opening. They sell everything from mangoes to used clothing on the street. It is very crowded, dirty, and smells like burning motor oil from all the poorly run vehicles.  We went into a store similar to our Walmart. I saw decorated cakes, hard, in plastic baggies. I will try to take a picture. It might make more sense, but you all will appreciate it if you know how much I like decorated cake.
         Lunch was chapati, beef ?, bean ?, some kind of grain mush, fruit salad. Supper was westernized of spinach lasagna, garlic bread, fruit salad, and kale salad. All good, I am eating better than in the states. Chapati is fried bread. I've heard we will eat a lot of it here in Kenya. (Nolan adds that it reminds him of home-made tortilla shells)
       Well, at supper last night, a very kind lady offered to give us a tour of the hospital. Sarah is a nurse at IU Hospital in downtown Indy, and has been coming for several years (around 9, we think) with her husband who is an anesthesiologist, and has been coming even longer than her (perhaps 13 years?). They come every year, and seem very devoted and kind. They didn't tell us, but for their wedding they asked not for gifts, but for money to be given to build an ICU. I will let Nolan describe the ICU to you. For any medical people out there, well just think of the opposite of what you would want in a proper ICU. Not for lack of effort - the people staffing all seemed very devoted, but "resource constrained" would be a mild description. They didn't have ventilators until 2002, which meant if you had surgery or couldn't breathe on your own, you  just died. Basically, they lack what we would consider the necessities of a hospital, such as EKG monitoring, clean water, oximetry  monitoring, and we could go on and on. Mortality rates are high. Families often do not bring their ill loved-ones until they are extremely sick, because of the high expense of treatment. Also, if a patient is healed, he or she still may not leave the hospital until the bill has been paid in full.
        My favorite part was, of course, the Sally Test center. It is a place for the pediatric patients, and abandoned patients to go during the day. Just walking in the door, kids come hug you, breaking your heart. I carried one little cutie around while we were there. He kept asking you to shake his hand, and then decided touching my face and hair were fun. They have three or 4 little babies, all wrapped up like its January. They kids are just SOOOOOO cute! They said I can come help any time, so I plan on taking lots of pictures when they are comfortable with  me. I'm sure the kids will love to have their pictures taken. When we had to leave Sally Test to continue our tour of the hospital, the cute little guy - who had grown so fond of Abby - nearly cried, and nearly made us cry, because he didn't want us to go. So sad.
  Well, I feel like I have written a book, but feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg. So many experiences, so many thoughts, I can't begin to tell you everything. Just know we are safe, having an amazing experience, and grateful to be here.
Love, Abby

Monday, February 27, 2012

We arrived!

We arrived safely in Nairobi at 8pm their time, which Nolan says is about noon in Indiana. It was a long day of sitting. Who would have thought sitting could make you so tired! Summary of plane rides:
         2 times through security
         1 time through Customs (which was a bit of a joke as when she asked what we had Nolan replied medical supplies, PT/INR cartriges, and she pretty much just let us through because she didn't know what we were talking about)
         4 airline meals, 4 snacks, and probably 10 drinks each. My favorite: caramel waffle cookies; I think Nolan's was onion salad, but he says its a good thing he didn't know where the flight attendants kept the supply of cheese and crackers. "Can anyone say medium-sharp cheddar? Mmmmm" :)
         1 trip to McDonald's in Amsterdam. We are trying to go to a McDonald's in every country we visit. So far, London, France, Germany, Italy, Amsterdam, Switzerland. No McDonald's in Nicaragua or Grand Cayman to visit. We ordered Shrimp, which evidently is "Prawns" in Dutch; a McKroket (look it up... very interesting); and a weird flavored McFlurry... Stroop Wafel, if memory serves. Most will be disgusted by the fact that the McKroket was basically a deep fried patty of mashed potatoes, some unidentifiable meat, and cheese. We liked it :) (Nolan questions whether Abby really liked it...)
       2 movies: The help and In Time. For "In Time", don't waste your time, as I regret not watching something else.
      2 Kenyan Sodas: for Abby: Sparkling Rubicon Lychee; for Nolan: Barr Cherryade; as is typical, we each claim our own as superior - at least we know what we like :)
Nolan adds that it was the Longest day ever. Having worked night shift I would disagree, but I suppose we haven't had any "real" sleep for about 30 hours, as poor uncomfortable neck aching sleep on a plane cannot possible count.
         I suppose the coolest thing we saw today was flying over the Alps, the Mediterranean, and the Sahara Dessert. On the first flight it was cloudy, then night, so we weren't able to see anything, but today thankfully it cleared up. I can say I have seen Eygpt and the Sudan now. very very barren. We might have seen the Nile, but need to do some research.
  Well, I love you all. Thanks for caring!
Love, Abby
Addendum from Nolan:
The Story of a Grouchy Customs Lady: or, Who Did You Have in Mind to Carry the Medical Equipment?So... we're going through customs in Nairobi. The lovely lady at the customs booth, upon looking at the approximately 350 lbs of cargo we're laboring beneath, says: "So... what's in the luggage?" I reply, "Medical supplies for USAID, headed to Eldoret." Blank look. "These supplies are for the AMPATH/USAID programs. The program is a cooperation between the IU School of Medicine and Moi Hospital in Eldoret." She says, "Are you a doctor?" Thinking it best not to ask what type of doctor she means, I say "No, I'm a pharmacy student." And then came the tilted head and the eye-roll. "What kind of supplies?" "Mostly PT/INR Cartridges - they're used to perform medical tests." Long pause... "Uh... okay, go ahead." My un-asked question: do only doctors carry medical supplies? :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

3 days !!!

This is a picture of the Eiffel Tower that Nolan took in March.  
Obviously, not where we are heading to now. 
So, yesterday I started packing. I was all giddy, because it was my last night of work. I decided to make a cake to share with everyone. Well, little did I know, that would just be one of about 20 desserts in my SURPRISE PARTY! 
I was in shock! Everyone snuck behind my back to plan a pitch-in/pizza party. They had cake, desserts, punch! One girl even came in to work when it wasn't her shift. I was happy, embarrassed, excited, and truly honored! No one has ever thrown a surprise party for me! I felt like crying happy tears, but I was too nervous! So in short, it was one of the best shifts ever. I will truly miss all my fellow baby rockers while I am gone. 
So, today we found out fantastic news! I had been worrying about the money.  We have been saving up for a long time, but unforeseen expenses had depleted much of what I would have liked in our emergency fund. It was still ok to go, I had just been stressed. I kept telling myself, and Nolan too, that I needed to have faith, and not worry, as the Bible tells us. Well, we got an email with the invoice, stating that because I was the first pharmacy spouse to go they reduced my fees. It was about 1/3 of what we had been expecting! God is Good! Every time I doubt him, he proves his power. 
So, the short summary... An amazing day! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kenya Adventure

Hi, Abby here. I was told by everyone we should start a blog for our trip to Kenya. I will try to send the emails too, but this will be my attempt at blogging.
First of all, Noab comes from Nolan and mine's combined couple name. haha
Secondly, since starting this blog we have been to NYC, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New Orleans, and Florida. Nolan has been to Jacksonville and Fort Worth Texas. sniff sniff, I had to work.
Ok, I will attempt a post. It is 1 week until depature date. I am excited, but nervous. Nolan is too busy with rotations to feel anything I think.
Love you all, and feel very blessed that other's care about our adventures!
Love, Abby