| Oct 21, 2009
He pushed open the door, shuffled across the room to the chair and put a sheet of paper on my desk. He wore a ragged suit jacket over a clean white shirt. I glanced at the paper on my desk, his medical chart, and noticed he was from the Congo; his occupation a Pastor.
“Bonjour. Qu’est-ce qui est arrive,” I suspected he might speak French.
He did, but the rapid stream of french sounding words were far beyond my comprehension. I nodded and smiled as he spoke then turned to Joey, my translator. His problem was his eyes, when he read his bible the words jumped around the page.
Fortunately the other two members of my team, Deanna and Janey, had brought a selection of reading glasses with them. As I reached into the box to pull out a pair of glasses for him to try, he pulled a bible out of his pocket. He read several scriptures out loud as he tried different glasses. Finally he was happy.
His white teeth gleamed as he shook my hand. He told me that God would bless me.
Shortly after the pastor left the clinic I was called out to talk to a man who had come running into the clinic asking for help for his wife. She had delivered a baby at their home. For certain their home was a tiny mud hut with a dirt floor, perhaps it was only a tent. She could have been delivered by one of our two midwives in our clinic. I don’t know why she stayed at home, maybe it was her choice or very possibly the baby came to0 fast. Most of the women have had six or more babies.
The husband told us the baby was fine but the placenta wouldn’t deliver and she was bleeding. We dispatched our ambulance to bring her into the clinic. I was busy when she returned so the midwife assessed the woman. She probably had placenta accreta, a condition in which the placenta grows into the wall of the uterus. This was going to require surgery so our ambulance took her to the camp hospital (called GTZ) for transport into Mbarara. This was a trip of at least two hours over an extremely rough road.
A young mother brought in the last patient of my day wrapped in a shawl. I pulled back the cloth covering the baby’s face and immediately saw that the child was critically ill. He was breathing rapidly, almost panting. His eyes were closed and sunken into his face. I reached into the shawl to feel the child’s arm and assess the degree of dehydration. The arm was limp, in fact the whole child was limp. I couldn’t wake him up. I slipped my stethoscope onto his chest and heard the crepitations of pneumonia over both sides of the chest.
This was a child who would go directly to pediatric intensive care in Canada. Here in Nakivale we were going to have to resuscitate and treat this child in our clinic. I ordered intravenous fluids and antibiotics and sent the mother to the nurse in our treatment tent. The child would be on intravenous treatment overnight and would go home in the morning if he was looking better.
These are some pictures of our clinic and some typical patients we see everyday.