My last 10 days in Kijabe were in the intensive care unit. . . it’s a five bed unit that is shared between the adults and the children with 3 nurses to five patients – and it is always full. For the last two weeks, it has been mostly pediatric patients.
The nurses on this ward are fantastic – they reminded me so much of our nurses in the ER at home. They know how to set up the ancient vents, how to maneuver and manipulate the pulse-ox probes and temperamental oxygen, but most importantly the subtle moments in medicine where a patient goes from bad to worse or worse to better. They care for their patients with compassion and develop relationships with their patients and their families. They witness miracles of medicine and miracles that defy medicine daily and they approach their work with a deliberate joy. I loved working alongside them.
They had early chai and mandazi for me yesterday morning to say goodbye – with nurses on shift and those that had come in or stayed late for that moment. It was a time of friendship and laughter, of joking and learning more about each other even as we said goodbye. And they prayed for me and our family – that God would bless us and multiply our joy and that He would bring us back to Kenya- and that I would remember to bring more pens when I returned (apparently my ability to lose pens spans continents). I loved every minute.
Then I rounded on my ward patients one more time. I collected email addresses to follow the carers of the sweet residents who have taught me so much and work so tirelessly – taking call for surgery, OB, and peds in the midst of their busy rotations. I said goodbye to the sweet moms with their babies – some who have been at the hospital the entire time I have been in Kenya. Smiling at the ones who are better because I have played some role in their journey – and puzzling one more day over the ones who are still mysteries. I feel like we have been here so much longer than three weeks.
And then we said good bye to Mardi and her kids as they headed to the duka, and cleaned the house to have 20 people over for dinner ( Because that’s what normal people do the night before they leave for America, right? ) We asked them to bring plates and forks, because we didn’t have enough, and people arrived one by one. David’s friends came over – Jeremiah and Robert and Zech and William. And all the visiting doctor’s we knew came as well- the neonatologist from Montgomery, the visiting radiologist and his wife with the newly arrived short term internal medicine doctor, and the 3 kids the girls have spent so much time with in the past three weeks with their parents, and Abigail, the Kenyan girl who comes most afternoons after school. And we ate spaghetti with sauce David made from scratch from the market with chocolate cookies and curry that someone brought. And we laughed and watched worlds collide. And it was good. A bit crazy, a little loud, but overall very good.
Today we pack up, with a few more trinkets and a few less medical supplies in our bags – we begin our journey back home with anticipation and excitement. But knowing that we leave a bit of our heart here , and will be anxious to return.
Asante sana (thank you so very much) for taking part of this journey with us. Stay tuned for the next chapter 🙂