Thursday, August 16, 2007


Sorry that we’ve been lax in communication. It was not intentional. Suffice it to say we are very busy with very full days. By the time we return from our day, have our dinner, and brief time of worship and post-day discussion, we are all ready to fall asleep!

The past 2 days, the medical team has been busy seeing hundreds of patients. Yesterday, half of our team returned from Masai Mara by car so that we could stop by a Masai village and treat patients. We treated about 180-190 people in the 3 hours we were there. The diagnoses ranged from exotic diseases like Brucellosis (an infection contracted from cows), malaria, typhoid, and amoeba to TB, asthma, thyroid disease and musculoskeletal strain. The other half of our team flew back to Brackenhurst to teach another afternoon of medical/health care to 20 nurses and clinical/medical officers. We covered child abuse, epilepsy, addiction medicine, end of life, meningitis, hypertension, asthma, tetanus and EKG interpretation.

Today, we split up and went to three different dispensaries in the Limuru area (Uplands, Murengeti and Ndeiya) and saw hundreds more patients. We had a different population of patients since the people who live in Limuru are mostly Kikuyu. They have very little Brucellosis, but many more with diabetes, asthma, hypertension, thyroid disease, and probably a lot of undiagnosed cardiac disease. We also saw many cases of infectious diseases such as mumps, ringworm, upper respiratory infection and pneumonia. There were many people who benefited from all the donated eyeglasses! We ran low after today’s clinic, but were so thrilled to find another full box of glasses to give out for the next 2 days of clinics!! There were also many patients with cataracts. We referred them to the local hospital where there is a missionary ophthalmologist.

Although we were able help so many people, we were frustrated in the limited resources we had for others. There was a little 1½ year old Down’s Syndrome boy with defects in his heart that needs to be surgically repaired. However, his mother is poor and cannot pay for his surgery. Our mission and medical team will try to work together with the local church to find a way to help her. Please pray for little Ian.

We also had a patient dying of cancer, another boy with developmental delay, an old woman with lower extremity weakness, who most likely has spinal stenosis and progressing to paralysis, and a young lady with premature labor who is most likely miscarrying her baby. It was an emotionally draining day for most of our team members. We all wanted to do more, but we were very limited in our resources, time and energy. Thank God we had our Kenyan brothers and sisters to help us translate for us and teach us how to recognize many of the diseases we either have not seen in a long time or have never treated before. They were so gracious to show us what to do and willing to learn from us as well.

As an emergency physician, I was very happy to be able to do two things well today. One young man was assaulted by someone else the night before and had a scalp laceration (sound familiar?). I was able to clean the wound and suture it closed. The second case of successful treatment was a nine-year-old complaining of hearing loss in one ear. He had an earful of wax. I cleaned the wax out with a curette and he could hear well again! Instant cure. I only made him cry once.

Please continue to pray for us as we treat many more patients and work with the local staff. Pray for our health as some of us are sick with colds and URIs. Pray for our stamina that we don’t get too tired. Pray for our continued harmony in our team.
God bless,
Joanna Chen