Saturday’s are rather slow for us as they often are for the clinic in general. It is a normal schedule here, though, and we are open for business from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, or 2:30 to 10:30 Swahili time. The Swahili clock begins at our 6 am and everything after that is referred to by the hour, such that our 7 am would be 1:00 and so on. It seems to be mostly the Maasai that use this clock, but I’m sure other tribes do as well. The Maasai normally have their cellphones (carried in a pouch around their neck or tucked into their shukas) set to Swahili time and I find Sokoine often telling me our schedule in this manner at well which can draw a quizzical look from me most often.
We attended morning report at 8 am to hear about any new patients in the ward for us to see and for Nan to catch up on her pediatric patients, all of who were doing well at the time. Since the day was rather slow in the morning (it rained again over night) and we had no patients by 8:30, we decided for all of us to continue on rounds and see the inpatients with the rest of the team. Nan had been following a little child with severe asthma who was doing well and ready to be discharged. She was walking up and down the outside corridors later to prove how well she was doing.
Our little Maasai baby who weighs just over 1.5 kg has been doing great and feeding well. We spend some time in the room during rounds to let the family know that we had been contacted by a very generous reader of this blog who had wanted to donate enough money to buy formula for probably 3-4 months and would allow the baby an excellent chance to develop when they otherwise would have fed the baby cow’s milk which lacks all the necessary nutritional elements. Though the Maasai are normally very stoic, it was quite clear that the family was overwhelmed and very appreciative. The woman who has been with the baby the most at this point is a second cousin of the mother (who had passed away three days after delivery) and she would be the one mostly caring for baby “Frank.” The baby’s sodium has been low so they weren’t planning to go home until the first of the week, but we would be setting up a plan for them to bring him back on a regular basis to be checked. They live down in the Lake Manyara region and it is certainly possible for them to make the trip which will be very necessary as the baby is still not out of the woods by a long shot. The mortality rate for Maasai babies is high to begin with, and considering this baby’s size at full-term, it is a miracle that he’s doing as well as he is and probably a testament to the incredible care he’s gotten at FAME and with Nan.
Egbert, our pharmacist, finally confirmed with me that we had the medications necessary to treat our gentlemen with the abnormal CT scan and HIV for toxoplasmosis. As I had mentioned earlier I believe, the government clinics here will treat these patients with the third line recommended therapy for CNS toxoplasmosis and it was our decision to use the primary recommended regimen as we thought that would give him a better chance of success and us a better chance of telling whether it was working successfully. I counted up all the pills we had received, matching them to the regimen we had obtained and there were barely enough to hold him until he would be returning, so we will have to order more that will be sent to him on the bus. Unfortunately, he was unable to get into clinic today as he lives several hours away by bus ride so we arranged to have him come in early on Monday morning to see us before we were to leave on our mobile clinic.
We had out patients throughout the morning, but by lunchtime, things had slowed down and though there were a few patients after lunch, we were able to end clinic rather early which was good as I still had to make a run to town for supplies for our housewarming party that night and the formal introduction of the Raynes House to the community here at FAME. Alex had been slaving in the kitchen all day making a Mexican feast of homemade tortillas, marinated beef filet and chicken, corn salsa, and fried Spanish rice balls. In addition to this, Brad was bringing his special guacamole and Annie was bringing her special retried beans. All that was left for me to do was to run into town for an extra case of beer, a few bottles of wine, and mango juice.
Unfortunately, Joyce and her sister, Terry, were out of town in Usa River visiting friends for the weekend, but we had a great turnout of all the volunteers in addition to ourselves, Frank and Susan (Frank stayed until after his bedtime of 8pm, making quite sure he had had his fill of the beef and chicken tacos), Brad, Annie, Glen, and even Sokoine, though, he did put up some resistance. It was a great time and everyone loved the house as they couldn’t help to do otherwise. Brad even blessed the house with Sage incense making sure each and every room received its smudging in a totally appropriate and spiritual manner. The haven’t had a chance yet to place the Mezuzah on the front door that Stephen and Liz Raynes sent with me, but that will be done shortly as it requires me to enlist the help of Erasmus to drill so mounting holes into the brick or metal door frame.
I do apologize for not having taken any photos of the party, though given the circumstances, they may have been incriminating and I wouldn’t have wanted to be party to shortening anyone’s career in the process. In reality, it was an incredibly wonderful evening with lots of friendship and great conversations amongst such a diverse group of individuals all here for the sole purpose of making this a better world. We had good music (Buena Vista Social Club on our little bluetooth speakers) and amazing food (Thank you Alex!!!) and were all able to celebrate our new home in Tanzania, made possible out of the generosity of the Raynes Family who were willing to place their faith in the work that we are doing here, knowing the impact it will have on so many lives that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. I am forever grateful for the continued opportunity we have to work here at FAME and for those who have made that possible.