...you might get on your husbands phone to download vacation shots and end up with an eye full of autopsy photos. This really happened. I'm grateful for that human biology degree. It helps when I'm sitting with a bunch of doctors at a table to at least have some idea of what they might be gabbing on about. Dr. J is in his last week of working on the peds ward before we head home. It started out pretty rough. The mortality rates on all the wards are shockingly high but in the first week he was working on the peds ward he had eight children die. It was more patients then he's seen die in three years of residency so far. It is difficult as a physician to face those kinds of odds and I often think of how the Kenyan physicians see it every day of their training, how mentally strong they have to be to see that and still come back everyday. Every month they hold a mortality conference with the peds department where they discuss the patients they've lost, go over statistics, individuals cases and try and suss out if there is anything they have the power to do to keep more patients alive. They don't have the ability to bring in more money, more staff, more equipment, more medications but they are still trying. Dr. J told me the statistics are staggering. There is a 25% infant mortality rate at the mother and babies hospital. The preemie statistics are horrendous. When Cheetah was born I was given an over 90% chance she'd live. In MOI referral hospital babies born at her weight have an 80% mortality rate. Most of them die of RDS (respiratory distress syndrome). There are no ventilators and there is no cpap so if you've ever had a child who needed that, here you probably wouldn't have that child anymore. We wouldn't have Cheetah. I feel fairly confident in saying that she would not have survived had she been born here. When I first got here it drove me nuts how often people were trying to get me to put more clothes on Cheetah. She likes being naked and getting her into coats and shoes is a battle. I have read the studies that show that being cold does not make you ill and I want to scream it from the house tops, "People get your babies out of snowsuits, it is only 68 degrees," but when you think of the consequences of illness here, the fact that a bout of pneumonia can actual be a death sentence to a child here you start to forgive them for being uber sensitive about diseases, because they have good reason to be.
That fact has not changed since being on the wards but Dr. J really has enjoyed his time with the ped patients and with their parents and with the other physicians, nurses, and clinical officers (the Kenya equivalent to physician assistants) who have devoted their lives to serving children. It actually came at a most opportune time. When we got here we were in the midst of trying to get everything sent in for fellowship, but the fellowship Dr. J was applying for would really limit his interactions with children. We did a lot of soul searching, prayed a lot, spoke with a lot of the different physicians here as well as ones back home. In the end we decided to put off that fellowship. Instead we will be looking for jobs this year. Dr. J has decided he'll give himself two years to decide if he made the right choice, but I'm super excited because I think he'll get to do exactly what he was hoping for and do it much sooner. Wish us luck and keep all these little babies, children, and their families in your prayers.