Hi everyone –
The other night I was unable to sleep (too much tea at supper) and I began to think about our team and the very interesting individuals I am getting to know. The more I thought about each person, the more I laughed (and the more I stayed awake). I’m sure many of you do not know all of us, so I’m sharing some of my thoughts with you, as an extra blog today…
Dr. Jeff and his wife, Sally, RN
Jeff and Sally are our dynamic team leaders. What an awesome couple! This is their 7th trip to Africa (6 of those with Global Partners). They take care of the complex logistics of a trip like this (along with some great administrative assistance – thank you, Liz and Ashley!) Their attention to details helps to make this a rewarding experience for all of us. Now if we could just get Jeff to zip his lips during Euchre, he might win a game. How many card players tell everyone what is in their hand? (A bit too much table talk, Jeff!) Sally is sweet and soft-spoken and we found out that she is quite flexible. After being locked out of her tukul (house) today, she had to climb in through a rather small window. Feet first? Head first? She figured it out and with a chair and lots of encouragement she made it!
Cheryl, Patient Business Services
Cheryl is our professional seamstress. Her laugh is infectious and she will do anything to help anyone. But she really needs hearing aids! During a recent conversation Sally mentioned that we will see animals on the safari next week. Cheryl said, “Camels? We’ll see camels??” Sally said no, we will see ANIMALS. Cheryl, wide-eyed and in all seriousness, replies “Cannibals? Cannibals??” After our hilarious laughter subsided, we reassured Cheryl that she will not be seeing camels or cannibals on our safari. We all know that Cheryl is quite unique, but stay tuned to a future blog to find out about her “sweating knees”!! (Only Cheryl…)
Mark, Channel 19 Production Photographer
It is amazing to me how a big guy like Mark, who carries a big camera, can sneak around so quickly and so quietly. He shows up where least expected! We know Mark is a talented photographer but we also found out he is a talented dancer – at least according to Ethiopian standards. He was recently taking pictures of a group of basket makers (middle-aged Ethiopian women). They started singing – and Mark started “moving”. Soon they were singing more and Mark was moving more. Amid the clapping, laughter and singing, Mark put on quite a show. The women loved him! Fortunately for us, we have some of his performance on video.
Iyad is on a 24 hour high. No matter how early it is, or how late it is, this guy is happy, full of energy, cracking jokes and always ready to help out with things. I’ve come to the conclusion that he has gotten into some Ethiopian “chat”. Chat is a leaf that the people here chew to “feel good”. It is considered an amphetamine and is illegal in the U.S. but is legal here in Ethiopia. Iyad – you need to share!!! He is so competent, so much fun and so great to work with in surgery.
We are fortunate to have Lori and her expertise on this trip. She works with our pre-op and post op patients and she is so compassionate. The pre-op patients are often scared and anxious – it is usually their first time in a hospital. Lori tries hard to reassure them and calm their fears with her limited Amharic. They respond with big smiles and lots of laughter, sometimes with full blown belly laughs! We’re not sure what they are laughing at. Is it what she is saying or how she is saying it? Are they wondering “who is this white woman and what is she trying to tell me??” Regardless, her efforts to relieve their anxiety are successful.
Amy, Channel 19 Reporter/Anchor
Amy is delightful. She has been very busy interviewing people and getting a great deal of information for an award-winning documentary (we hope!). Her biggest challenge here has been her television partner, Mark. She keeps losing him! Throughout the day we hear, “Where’s Mark? I’m ready to shoot, where is he? Bronson runs on Bronson time! How can I lose a big white guy in Ethiopia?” They are such a great team and we are so very glad they were able to join us for a few days. They are already on their way home and we will miss them. Stay tuned to WXOW/ABC (La Crosse). The plan is to have short 2-3 minute segments on the 6 pm news, starting the last week in April (repeated on the 6am news). This will lead to a 30-minute documentary scheduled for May 3 (6:30 pm??)
Deb, RN, VP & Chief Information Officer
Watch out for Deb! She likes to wear other peoples’ clothes. Wednesday was laundry day and the clean clothes were returned to us in one big pile. Deb pulled out a pair of black pants she thought were hers. The next morning as she put them on, she realized they were NOT hers. However, she also realized that they fit her quite nicely and she actually looked quite good in them – so she wore them all day! Meanwhile, poor Megan, another volunteer here, is wondering what happened to her black pants that she put in the laundry. Eventually, owner and pants were reunited. Deb is our team “fashionista” and she has set very high standards for the rest of us – make up, hair, clothing, etc. She has never had a bad hair day here. I just look in the mirror and give up!
Dr. Abe, surgical resident
Have you taken a picture of your feet today? Abe has a precious 3-yr old daughter named Isabelle “Izzy”. She thinks her daddy “walked” to Ethiopia so Abe has been taking different pictures of his feet to show her when he gets home. Most of us with children/grandchildren will be bringing them stuffed animals, toys or African souvenirs. But lucky Izzy will be getting pictures of her daddy’s feet! Now that is a very special father-daughter bond. Abe has been involved with the surgeries we have done here and there has certainly been a variety (goiters, hydroceles, lipomas, open cholecystectomies, hernias, skin grafts, C-section, etc.) He has been a gem to work with and is well on his way to being an awesome surgeon!
Dr. Sig, Surgeon, and Jean Ann, his wife
Sig and Jean Ann are a very compassionate, faith-filled couple. They have been married for over 35 years and thanks to not having HIPPA laws here, Jean Ann was finally able to watch Sig in the operating room. She had heard he is a surgeon and now she was able to see him in action!! She stayed upright and did such a good job of observing that she scrubbed in the next day and assisted with a lipoma removal. She has now seen for herself what a fantastic surgeon he is! Sig is a gentle man – always patient, always taking an opportunity to teach and answer questions. He is highly respected for his surgical expertise by those who know him and by many who know of him. In addition, Sig is known among our team as the man who brought his own “Half & Half” to Ethiopia. Dairy products are rare here – no butter, no cheese, and rarely we will have a bit of milk to put over some cereal. Sig knew this so he came prepared with a supply of the small Half & Half containers for his coffee. I’m not sure how many he brought (a lot!) but he is generously sharing with all of us. Having him and Jean Ann as part of this team has been fun – and a privilege.
Ellen loves to talk – and she is very good at teaching and explaining things. She recently gave a first aid class to the 7th graders here. She was telling the students how to stabilize a fracture by applying pressure to it and she explained that the pressure can’t be too light or too hard – it has to be just right. To make her point, she brought up the story of the 3 bears. Immediately the students’ faces went blank. They may have understood her class but they could not relate to the story of the 3 bears and what that had to do with stabilizing a fracture!
Jackie, without a doubt, is a gentleman in all aspects of the word. All the men on our team are helpful and respectful but Jackie is so very humble. He is always last getting on/off the bus, making sure everyone else goes first. He is reluctant to get in the meal line until everyone else has gone first and he is so very thoughtful – always thinking of others first. Besides all that, he is awesome at his job (anesthesia) and is a joy to work with. Tomorrow he will be preaching at a nearby church and we are looking forward to hearing him. By the way, Jackie still blushes when we mention “big breaths”.
As mentioned in other blogs, Rosie is our Euchre master. She is also one of our “senior” team members (along with me). Nothing flusters Rosie – she is competent, down to earth, and it is my delight to work with her in surgery. Rosie went to Tanzania with Global Partners in 2011. She had a wonderful time but said she was too old to go again. In 2012 Rosie went to Tanzania, had a wonderful time, but said she was too old to go again. In 2014 Rosie is here with us in Ethiopia, having a wonderful time and telling us she is too old to do this again. We don’t believe her any more. She and Arnold Schwarzenegger have one thing in common: I’LL BE BACK!!!!!!!
That’s me. As the writer of this blog, I have nothing funny or embarrassing that I want to admit to. I am so thrilled to be working in surgery with Dr. Abe and Dr. Sig. The cases are fascinating and they are so very patient with my lack of surgical expertise – especially when they ask for a specific instrument and I look at them and say “I don’t think I have one of those!”
Now you know our team members. We are all unique. We all have a purpose. We are compassionate, faith-filled people here to make a difference. Thank you for your love and prayers. The adventure continues. Stay tuned…
So several of the boys that live on Project Mercy site offered to take our group up the mountain today since there was no medical work in the hospital for us. Several folks wanted to get just a taste of the mountain and walk about an hour up to a lovely little local church. A few more wanted to add another hour or two and get up to a knoll that had a gorgeous view of the valley and Project Mercy. One other person wanted to go to the very top of the mountain. This option became known as Ellen’s Hike. Today we set off at 6:30 before breakfast. We hiked as a group to the church where we had a breakfast of granola bars and rested. A few of our group went back here to work on projects; the rest went on to the knoll. It was a steep narrow trail that we had to share several times with groups of goats, donkeys or cows. The view from the flat knoll was phenomenal-mountains above and the valley below. Jean Ann sang songs from the “The Sound of Music” in honor of the view. We had a lunch of PB&J. We bid Amy and Mark adieu. Most folks went back at this point but a few were willing to join me in the trek to the top – Iyad, Abe & Jeff as well as a couple of the long term staff and our local guides. Iyad brought along his SaO2 monitor to see at which point Ellen was ready to die. The trail was super steep, full of rocks and went literally into thin air. At one point my SaO2 was 87% with a HR of 130. I was dizzy, nauseated and had a headache but I was NOT going to admit that ELLENS HIKE was too hard for Ellen so I struggled to the top. The view was incredibly beautiful and worth every huff and puff. The trek down was equally difficult-very steep and rocky. We all slipped and slid down but Jeff managed to make it to the ground, scraping his hand. With our full medical staff, it was the volunteer with us that were the ones to provide antiseptic wipes and band aids. We did make it down past a lush landscape to the drier valley and back to PM. We were ecstatic to find a couple tukals with hot showers to rinse off the sweat and dirt from our 8 hour hike. We barely made it into clean clothes before Dr. Fekadu came to ask Dr. Sig and Abe if they would be willing to help him with an emergency appy – on his brother-in-law no less. So those relationships must be building!! Iyad provided anesthesia and surgery was a success! We got back in time for a yummy supper complete with a layered cake! A great end to a great day!!
Iyad’s Adendums – and remember when you read these comments, according to Kathy, Iyad is on Ethiopian Chat!!
It was half day on Friday for surgery, so we went to market in afternoon. It is like a flea mart on steroids. Lots of spices and dust. We eat what is in season at PM and there is no fruit in season here. We have been craving fruit so we went in search of some. We found some mango and spent a long time looking for papaya, each shop referring us “just around the corner” to the next …. At least two hot, dusty hours later we found two pitiful papaya – only to find one overripe the next morning. The other was quite tasty and worth the walk.
Saturday: The events unfolded this way: three-stage hike, the woosies dropped first at the church, and then at the 2nd stage those that did not have Deb’s fashion sense and had the nerve to get their clothes sweaty, and the 3rd stage for those who continued and were the strongest and best looking.
On a serious note, it was majestic, as Ellen put it, which brought us closer to God. We picked an inspirational verse—Psalm 6:1, and even Ellen approved.
The emergency appendectomy did go well, probably because he was one of the few who got pain medication during surgery. The anesthesia nurse was reluctant to give him anything. Finally she agreed that he could have 50 mg of Demerol. I said he should have 100mg because he was a VIP!! I gave everyone a hard time, including the poor patient. I know you guys are having a hard time believing that.
And as for you Schiedt, they have been trying to leave me here from the first day, but even the Ethiopians don’t want me. But there is still hope for you at the airport in the U.S. The only problem is, what to do with me, no country in the world wants me.
Now we cannot write without mentioning Rosie. The name cheetah was not random, it was chosen because it rhymes with another word that explain how she always wins. Just like me always randomly selected to be searched at the airports.
We switched to 2-man teams after Mark left. It was strange not having a handful of 7s, 8s, and 9s! Abe and I played Rosie and Cheryl. The cheetah that was lurking in the grass (Rosie) came out of the grass and pounced on Abe and me. After being trounced on twice by Rosie and Cheryl, Abe and I called it a night.