Becca in Kenya: the Saikeri Series, Pt. 3
First Weekend at the Saikeri Dispensary in Kenya
by Rebecca Fortney (dated June 6, 2014)
In traveling to Kenya, I’ve had three days of nonstop travel by almost every mode of transportation (except boats), and severe jet lag has definitely caught up with me. Last night I was ready to collapse into my “bed” and fall into a deep sleep. EVERY time I came close to falling asleep, I kept hearing “Nashipei!” (This is my Maasai name—it means “the happy one.”) I have had so many visitors come to welcome me back. They’ve ranged from boarding house school girls to teachers, community leaders, and even old patients. (And to think I was worried some might not remember me!) Around midnight everyone left… finally some sleep!
Oh I am so full from drinking copious amounts of chai. Today was my first day back at the clinic and also a market day. So, I was up bright and early awaiting the patients. As I recalled from last year, the clinic is always packed by 9am. Alas, the patients must have been running on “Kenyan time” since I didn’t see any patients until about 2pm. From 2pm on, the day was steady. Many people came just to say “hello.” I saw total of about 17 patients whose aliments varied from pulled muscles to wounds and colds. One case that was especially challenging for me was a 5-month-old baby boy who had a temperature of 103.2°F. He had a very bad cough and was burning up. I ran a test for malaria that came back negative. Whew! Lungs were clear, but the throat was very red, his glands so swollen that I feared scarlet fever… but he had no rash. Our stores for medicine were running very low and the only thing I was able to give him was a limited supply of paracetamol (basically children’s Motrin) and a penicillin injection. I told the family to come back tomorrow so I can check on him. I really hope his fever will break tonight. I felt so nervous letting him leave, but there was no place where he could stay here. So, I just have to play the waiting game and hope for the best.
June 7th, 2014
This weekend has been very eventful. It all started when the family brought their baby boy back in the AM. His fever had broken and was only running a 99°F temperature. But, as I feared, I started to see the rash evolving on his neck. We had no way of treating this with our limited supplies, so I had our interpreter tell the baby’s family that they needed to take their son to the hospital in Ngong. The family told me they are unable to pay. I told them I have money set aside for this exact reason and paid for a cab to the city as well as for the medical fees they would encounter at the hospital. THANK YOU ALL WHO HAVE DONATED! YOU MADE THIS POSSIBLE. After the baby left for the hospital with his family, it was an easy day of unpacking and organizing the supplies I brought with me for the clinic.
June 8th, 2014
At around 3AM, a patient arrived with severe vaginal bleeding. I knew something fishy was going on because I couldn’t get a consistent or reasonable story from her about what had happened. First, she told me that she’d hit herself. Then she told me that she didn’t know what had happened. Next she went as far as saying it was a tampon that did it. My colleague and I were perplexed, and it took the two of us a lot of time to even convince the woman to let us exam her. When we finally examined her, her cervix was dilated and bleeding. We asked her once again what had happened. This time, she finally came clean and explained she had tried multiple things over the past two weeks to abort a 6-week pregnancy. I knew immediately that both my colleague and I would be in over our heads. But our patient refused to go to the hospital in Ngong. So, I did the only thing I could think of: called home in Montana to talk with our OB nurse. Once I had our home OB nurse on the line, I told her about the situation and described everything in detail. She advised us to administer 10ml of IM oxytocin and give a very hard uterine massage because she believed our patient had multiple clots that the body was unable to expel. My co-worker and I followed all of her instructions… and waited. After about 10 minutes, we began the massage, and I tell you what: the clots that came out were enormous and had the distinct odour of old blood. It is definitely one of “those” odours that when you smell it for the first time, you’re never going to forget it. Afterwards, we helped wash up our patient and cleaned up the clinic. We gave her some ibuprofen for the pain and amoxicillin for any infection she might be susceptible to post-abortion. I told her I would be visiting her every day until she was better since she lives in the Saikeri village (rather than a far, outlying village). By roughly 7AM, I was so ready to have a rest, but I was woken up by people saying that the Korean drillers “hit water at 150 meters down!” So of course it was time for celebration: a goat slaughter and a tusker! All the county officials came to see the water. It was great! Even though I had to play the role of a Maasai girl and wash the hands of the elders and officials and then serve them before eating, I’m sure my parents would have gotten a kick out of seeing me do all of this!
Learn more about Montana Maasai Outreach here and stay tuned because Becca plans to keep SCIWHF updated on her work in Kenya with videos, photographs, and journal entries. We’ll be sharing it all with you, too.
Fortney, Rebecca. 2013. One view of the store room at the Saikeri Dispensary. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/montanamaasai*