Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Arrival in Eldoret
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.