Monday, January 28, 2013

Trip to Kindia

So the weekend of Jan 19-20, a group of 11 of us went to Kindia, the 3rd largest town in Guinea, which took us about 3.5 hours to get to (140 km away).  As we started driving out of Conakry, you could start to see mountains (YAY!!), so you know I was pretty happy.

We stayed near the farm where Mercy Ships help teach sustainable agriculture practices, like using animal dung and compost as fertilizer, crop rotation, etc.  It was very pretty.  We also got to try some of the "Miracle Tree" tea that comes from the Moringa tree that is supposed to be helpful for treating malaria (it was neat because one of my day workers had just mentioned it to me the week before) and has a lot of good things in it!  
We got to see a pretty awesome waterfall as well - here's a shot of the ladies!
And the waterfall up close and personal!

So I can't figure out how to make it right side up currently and I'm trying to hurry to get in bed, so that will do for now...  :)
We also got to do a little hiking of Mt. Gangan - so YAY for hiking as well!!  :) 

And of course I have to take a 'back' picture (well, I didn't actually take it since I'm in it, but anyways!)
It's very hazy because of the dust.  It has not rained the entire time I've been here (a month tomorrow!), so it is indeed the dry season (and we got our first batch of mangos on board this week - yay!!)  Anyways, I'm off to bed!  Running at 6:10 am tomorrow and hospital wide devotions at 7:30 make for an early morning!!!  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Some real heroes

So work in the rehab test wouldn't really work without the assistance of our dayworkers - Jeremy, Anama, and Faya.  Jeremy and Anama both started working for Mercy Ships when it was in Togo, their home country in 2010.  Faya is a Guinea native. 

Last Saturday I got to go play basketball with Anama, and along the way we passed where he lives.  It was about a half hour walk from the ship, and he had found a patient from Togo who had a brother living in Conakry, so he shares the room with him.  Likewise, Jeremy had to find a place to live in Conakry, so he sleeps in a nearby church with about 8 other Mercy Ships dayworkers.  For the first few weeks he just slept on a pew, now however, he's got a mattress that gets hidden during the day, and a mosquito net (I think). 

Without the translation help, plus the 100's of other things our dayworkers do throughout the course of a day, the rehab department would not exist like it does.  We would probably see 1/2 the number of patients and spend a lot more time cleaning and running up/down to the ship.  And all while loving and hugging on the kids that we make scream in terror, making balloons out of gloves, wearing hair nets to look silly, and playing pretend games.

So if you think the people that come and stay on the boat are cool, there's just as many awesome people staying off the ship getting paid very low amounts to serve God in their home continent, often still very far from home.  Our dayworkers rock!  :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My first cool patient story...

Things have been going very well - I think getting here right before the new year was great because I had a few "holiday" days to transition in more slowly... this Wednesday I started seeing some patients with Nick (PT, my boss) and Emily (OT) and our dayworker Jeremy.  I got to practice putting on a cast with a baby with Nick doing most of the work and instructing what to do as he went along, and then Friday I got to cast Jeremy's leg, cut it off of him and off the cast on myself...

Casting Jeremy's leg

Nick and Emily casting the other leg

Cutting the cast off my leg

Cool story about how God works - one patient was down for a long time b/c he had a back surgery to improve the 'pouch' on his back due to spina bifida.  He had a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak that would not heal up afterwards (a bad thing...basically he couldn't sit up or stand up without fluid kinda draining away from his brain), so he had to lie in bed.  Then he developed meningitis and was really sick - they didn't know if he was going to make it.  I met him Thursday for the first time, his mother stays with him as well.  (Most children have a caregiver with them - usually there's a mattress under the patient's bed that the caregiver sleeps on, but because the wards are relatively empty right now, I believe mama has her own bed.  But when Emily explained (partially in French and partially with the aid of a translator) that I would be helping care for her son from here on out, she gave me a big hug.  We stood with him a little to work on his standing balance - after a while his knees get tired and look like they'll give out from weakness of being bedridden so long.

On Friday, I got to help him walk (short distances 4x with 2 of us holding onto a gait belt, a hemi walker, and a chair following behind) with Emily for the first time in a month or more - and it turns out that the body's reaction to the meningitis was what jump started the healing process to actually allow the CSF leak to close up.  Sometimes our bodies need to actually be able to respond to a bad stimulus to improve healing (think Prolo therapy for those medical people out there...)  How cool is that!?  Just goes to show how awesome God is in allowing bad things to work out for good.  :)  Yay God!

This weekend I got to go out to a restaurant on Friday night with some live music by crowding into a taxi (actually it wasn't that bad, it was 10 people in a small minivan of sorts, did a tiny bit of dancing, ate some baraccuda (it was quite tasty!).  Since Conakry is a port city, obviously there is a lot of fish!!  In fact, on Saturday, I got to walk through the fish market again (there were about 8 of us...which was a little more obvious than the 2 of us last time I went), but there's just something awesome about seeing people making these large wooden boats by hand, mending nets by hand in long rows...  I have to say it's pretty neat to see.  There is a lot of fish for sale obviously, too - snapper, some kind of large stingray type fish, and tons more that I don't know (dorado?  I think I heard that mentioned.)  There are of course many smells to accompany these fish lying on dirty tarps, concrete or just plain 'ole dirt.
Notice the pigs in the trash in the bottom right...

Down on the dock after walking through the fish market
Mending nets by hand

I did laundry for the first time this weekend as well - 1st load and I already lost a sock.  Sadness ;)  It is a little funny to carry laundry through the ship - I live 3 decks away from the laundry...and I'm still learning which staircases do what, so I end up skirting through the hospital wards briefly.  The VVF (vasovaginal fistula) ladies are doing their hallway dance down and back with singing.  (Walking is good for them, so since dancing and singing is much easier to convince them to do, that's what happens instead ;) )  Most of these ladies have had a childbirth that they have been unable to recover from (I won't go into too many details because you know how much I dislike this subject ;) ) and most become outcasts in their area due to the inability to hold in bodily fluids, so this is their chance at a new start.  At the end of their time there is a 'dress ceremony' where the ladies are given a new dress to celebrate the start to a new life.  Pretty cool - I hope to attend a dress ceremony.  :)

Sunday I went to a local church, got to do a little dancing up front - think conga line...  :)  Still learning my way around town (of course, the part here by the port is tiny in comparison to the rest of the city, but I think it would be hard to get to via walking...)
Sunset from Deck 7

A little sight seeing

Since the first few days were fairly chill due to the New Year's holidays, I got to go on a boat ride to the islands across the way - maybe a 45 minute ride on a wooden boat with 20 some other Mercy Shippers.  I made such a graceful disembarkment as well once we got there by jumping off the end of the boat into shallow water, losing my footing and landing on my butt.  So much for staying dry!!

It was quite lovely though - beautiful sand, black rocks, greenery...  Steven and I managed to hike up onto a hill on the other side of the island and see all around.  And get nose is still recovering...

It cost 50,000 guinea francs (~$7) to go spend the day over there, though they like you to buy a drink or something to "use" the beach for about $1.40. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


So the trip over was fairly uneventful, I just figured I'd put up a few pictures from there and catch up from there.  All of my planes were delayed, which works out fine.  The cooler of medicines sent to me from Mercy Ships made it as well, though turning over a few times (which they'd said to try to keep upright due to cultures in petri dishes).

It was nice to have one last glimpse of some "snowy" mountains...

My 2 layovers were in DC and Brussels.  I was super thrilled to get to see Kara in DC for a few hours and catch up (as well as break up the monotony of traveling!).  Got back in through security in plenty of time, and then my plane actually got delayed due to something being wrong with the engine - so we got a new plane.  I actually did one of those 15 minute manicures in the airport (it really wasn't that  expensive I thought...of course, I've only had 1 manicure before) because my hands seemed really torn up.  So then I made it across the ocean, sitting next to a couple who were traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to adopt a son who was about 1 year old.  So cool! 
Then I arrived in Brussels about dawn, which I thought was kinda pretty.

I had my obligatory "Belgian" waffle - it seemed like there were granules of sugar inside of it, no wonder they're so tasty!  ;) 
So then I went to the Africa terminal (I spent most of my time in the main terminal after a good tip from a prior Mercy Shipper) and waited on my 2nd late flight.  I ended up standing in line behind another Mercy Shipper, Steven, and our seats were actually next to each other, so we were able to talk during the flight.  I had a window seat, so it was very neat to be able to see the random buildings in France and Spain (well, actually most of the time clouds covered it up, who am I fooling), but it cleared up some over Africa, so we could see very mountainous areas (probably over Morocco) and we pretty much hugged the coast most of the way to Guinea.  Once we got to the airport, we got to customs fairly quickly (it was not like Kenya's massive line), Steven went first and appeared to have no problem, so then I went and apparently was not giving them the correct 'visa waiver' sheet - and they were calling it a visa, so I was a little perturbed that something was wrong, and then I looked through my stuff and still couldn't find the right paper...  The insides got a little shaky about 5-10 minutes into this, because I didn't want to be deported when I had just arrived!!!  ;)  Thankfully the correct form was just stapled onto an English version and I just didn't see it at first.  Shew.
Proceeded onto the luggage...took a while for my stuff, but there was no going through customs with your luggage, looking at stuff, so that was nice (all my lovely snacks made it ;) )  We arrived with 7 total MS people on that flight, so 2 MS Land Rovers picked us up.  (Saturday 40 some people arrive, so they're going to have to take a ridiculous amount of vehicles to get all that luggage and people!!)   We had a small little inservice that night with some cookies, and I was able to unpack most of my stuff.  I am in a 6 woman berth with the bottom middle bunk, which I'm glad for.  It's a little hard adjusting to try to keep everything as quiet and as dark as I can in the night/morning...I feel like it makes me take 2x as long to get ready!  :)  But I'm sure it will improve as I get a little more organized!!!

Thanks for all your support!