Sunday, June 19, 2011

I have found my new home!

Esslingen, Germany

This is a small town that Ivan's family friend took us to today. It was so quaint and beautiful that I immediately fell in love. I am unable to post pictures at this time but I promise to share with everyone when we get home.

So if you couldn't tell I am no longer in Kenya. Ivan and I met in the Amsterdam airport on Friday morning. Ivan arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday so he had a head start in the city. We spent Friday exploring Amsterdam which included: Anne Frank's home, numerous canal walks, historical muesum, the red light district, and meeting up with our friend Eva for a great dinner. I think we walked over 10 miles exploring the streets. On Saturday morning we experienced Duth pancakes (crepes) which might be my new favorite food. They were AMAZING!

We took the train from Amsterdam to Stuttgart, Germany. We were both a little nervous about the train system...but it went just fine. Tanya, Charles, and Daniel were waiting for us at the train station. We are now enjoying Stuttgart and the surrounding area. It is so great to catch up with Tanya and the Jochims. I especially love Daniel...he is adorable and tons of fun to play with.

We will be in Stuttgart until Tuesday afternoon and then we are heading to Fussen, Germany. Hopefully Ivan will be able to get me home because I am falling in love with small European towns.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kenyan Birthday

Birthday Girl

Birthday cake with sparklers.

Karaoke and dancing

Ryan holding a large plate of goat meat. DELICIOUS!!

Enjoying some goat meat :)

This is our meat took three hours.

The whole crew!

I have to admit even though I am 28 years old I was a little sad to spend my birthday away from my family. But I have to say my friends here in Kenya made this one of my best and most memorable birthdays.

The celebration actually started the evening of June 14th. The plan was to go eat delicious roasted meat and then go to Karaoke night at the club. We spread the word about the party and ended up with over 20 people. Even the Kenyan medical interns came out to join us. We ordered over 20 kilos of roasted goat and chicken. The meat takes 3 hours to cook so we all sat around eating appetizers, drinking, and chatting. It was so much fun.

After we devoured as much delicious meat as our stomachs could hold we headed to the club Spree for Karaoke and dancing. It was quite entertaining watching the Kenyans sing American pop songs. I did get up and sing with Beth - we did not get kicked off the stage.

So you would think this would be the end of an awesome it keeps going. I am telling you my friends here are awesome. On June 15th I woke up to my door being decorated with ballons. All day people were wishing me a Happy Birthday. We went out for our weekly group dinner and when we came back they surprised me with a birthday cake with sparklers in the place of candles (note: we smoked up the dinning room with the sparklers as they are very difficult to blow out). We stayed up playing games and hanging out.

Thanks for all your e-mails and messages on facebook! I had a great birthday.

I am actually all packed and will be headed out in the next hour. I am flying overnight to Amsterdam to meet Ivan. We will be traveling around for the next two weeks. I hope I can keep up the blog while we travel. Thank you for following on this awesome adventure. I am sad to say goodbye to Kenya but very excited for the next part of my trip.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Last Week in Kenya

The Day of the African Child

My time here in Kenya is coming to a close. Part of me is sad, because I have really enjoyed my time here and have learned so much. I have also met some great people and built some awesome friendships. I have to admit I am ready to leave, I am pretty darn ready to see my husband. The last few days I have missed him even more, maybe it is because I will see him so soon.

There was a large group of people that went white water rafting but I decided to stay around Eldoret for my last weekend. It has been a very relaxing weekend. Last night we cooked a great meal which included grilling out :) Today I played soccer for several hours with a large group of Kenyans and few Americans. It was great, but they ran circles around us.

I am done rounding on the wards. I am going to spend this week visiting several different clinics. On Monday I am going to the adult Oncology clinic, Tuesday Cardiology clinic, and Wednesday diabetes clinic. I am looking forward to the clinic environment and a break from the wards.

This past Saturday was The Day of the African Child. It is a day to honor the children and bring attention to the huge problem of homeless children in Eldoret. I joined a parade of street children that went through town and then watched some of the program. It was a fun event but sad to see hundreds of street children.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Extreme Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

Did you know that 1 in 3 people in the world are infected with tuberculosis? I have come to believe in this statistic as we currently have 7 patients on my ward alone with active TB. Multiple patients have pulmonary (lung) TB and we also have two patients with TB meningitis. I have discovered that TB is on par with HIV in Africa.

We had a fireside chat (there is no fire, but we sit around and discuss an interesting topic) tonight about XDR TB. The distinction of XDR TB is drug resistance to INH, rifampacin, quinolone, and an injectable agent. The thing about TB is that you need to treat with 4-5 drugs to cure the disease. If you are resistant to >4 drugs there is a very low probability of survival. The mortality rate for XDR TB is 50-80%.

The moral issue comes in what do you do with a patient who has XDR TB?? There was a patient that was hospitalized at Moi University for 9 months with XDR TB. She was brought against her will to the hospital and placed in isolation to undergo her treatment. Her family lived 3 hours away and was unable to afford the trip to visit her. She died in isolation after 9 months of therapy.

This situation at first appears shocking and inhumane but you have to think about public health. What if there is an outbreak of XDR TB? It would be devastating. What do you do with these people?

The testing for XDR TB is not readily available in Kenya. So it is highly likely there are many people out there with resistance. If the testing does become available what are we going to do when we find these patients?

If you have any comments on this issue I would love to here them. I don't think there is a right answer to this difficult problem. I think one thing we focus on is PREVENTION! We have to prevent patients from getting TB/XDR TB in the first place.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Interesting Case

We had a 16 year old boy that came in with severe neck pain/stiffness and high fevers. It was assumed he had meningitis and he underwent a lumbar puncture and was started on antibiotics. He continued to decline over the next several days, as his pain worsened and his fevers persisted.

On rounds one day the American medical student took his blood pressure and it was 120/10. She thought she was messing something up so she asked me to take it. I got a reading of 120/0. This is not normal! The lower number should be 40-60 mmHg. The difference between the top and bottom number (systolic and diastolic blood pressure) is called the pulse pressure. This guy had a huge pulse pressure of 120 mmHg.

We quickly moved to a cardiovascular exam, as there are only a few things that can cause such a blood pressure. Just placing your hand on the patient's chest you could feel a thrill (buzzing sensation) of a heart murmur. You could hold your stethoscope off the chest and here a murmur. He had the loudest murmur I think I have ever heard.

On further examination we found that he had all the classic findings of severe aortic regurgitation. He had the pistol shot pulses, dancing carotids, bobbing head, and tender splenomegaly. We ordered a stat echo and found that he had severe aortic valve disease with aortic stenosis and regurgitation. He was also in heart failure secondary to his valvular disease.

Looking back through the chart multiple people had written: Cardiac examination normal with no murmurs. It made me realize how in medicine we can get fixed on a diagnosis and forget to look for anything else. This guy's heart disease was obvious once you took the time to listen, but everyone thought he had meningitis so no one really paid any attention to his heart.

We think the patient has an infection on his heart valve and is throwing small emoli (clots) all over his body. Unfortunately, there is very little to do for people in Kenya with valvular disease. There is no open heart surgery in Eldoret. It is very unlikely that this young boy will survive for very long. We are trying to aggressively treat any infection that might be present to help his odds of survival.

The physical exam findings here are absolutely just have to look for them!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rough Day

So today was probably my worst day in Kenya. I am not sure why it was so bad, but everything seemed to bother me today. I think it was just an overwhelming feeling of helplessness that just overtook me today.

My day started with me arriving on the ward at 9am and no one was there. I waited for about 20 minutes and then decided to start rounding without my interns. I was then yelled at by a Kenyan attending because I "talked to loud." It was pretty awful and I felt he was definately picking out the one white person on the ward. The problem is that I am the American visitor and I can't keep anyone accountable. I just want to shake them and tell them to "work" - to show some interest in the patients, to read about the patients, and fight for the patients. I don't think I am in a place to say these things and I don't think they would listen to me even if I did say something.

On rounds I would try and ask people to help by going to find labs or X-Rays and they all just stand there and stare at me. I have to select a specific person to do the task and even then it does not get done 80% of the time. Nothing gets done on the wards. It feels like we do nothing for these patients. Part of me feels like the patients might be better off not coming to the hospital. At least they would be at home surrounded by their family.

Early in our rounds a patient died, we suspect from disseminated TB. It just made me think about the giant disease burden we are fighting against here. TB and HIV are claiming the lives of so many Kenyans. These diseases are so awful because they are slow, debiliating disease that slowly take lives.

I am sorry this is a depressing blog post but I want to be honest and keep you up to date on the emotional lability of Mackenzie :) Please keep me in your prayers that I would be able to see God's hand working in Kenya.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lake Baringo and Lake Bagoria


The geysers of Lake Bagoria with flamingos in the background.


The gang: Ryan, Felip, Nick, Darion, Elizabeth, Shashona, Beth, Me, and Shephali.

Our boat tour around the island.

Lake Baringo and Lake Bagoria

This was our accommodations - a tent with running water, a flush toilet, and a warm shower.

The African fish eagle, a beautiful bird that posed very nicely for this picture.

Goliath Heron

The sunrise from our tent!

I am sure you have all been impressed by my weekend adventures but I think this past weekend was my favorite. Nine of us from IU house took a trip to Lake Baringo and Bagoria and stayed at a placed called Island Camp. We had to take a 20 minute boat ride to the island and we stayed in these tents that had running water, toilets, and showers. Our tent over-looked Lake Baringo and I was able to sit up in my bed and watch the sunrise over the lake (did I mention they brought me hot chocolate in bed at 6 am for the sunrise).

Our time at the camp included all our meals, and the food was amazing. The first night I had tilapia which was caught in lake. The second night we had an all you can eat meat cookout with goat, lamb, chicken, beef, fish, and pork. I really enjoyed the food - just in case you couldn't tell.

We went on a boat ride around the island and saw crocodiles, hippos, lizards, and tons of amazing birds. We also took a boat ride to an island to watch the sunset and they provided us with drinks. It was acutally very romantic - the only thing missing was Ivan :)

On Sunday we drove about an hour to Lake Bagoria which is located in an extremely dry area. The lake is alkaline and does not support any animals except thousands of flamingos. The only problem at Bagoria was that it was extremely hot and it is the home of the hot springs and geysers. So I was sweating profusely as we walked around on top on the steaming soil and rocks.

Overall this was an awesome weekend. It was an amazing place, absolutely breath taking. The best part of the whole weekend was the people. The group we went with was awesome and we all had so much fun together.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cooking in Eldoret

Lentil soup! It actually tasted just like the lentil soup Ivan and I make at home.

Enjoying our homemade dinner!

I love to cook and you all probably know that I am a picky eater with my strong dislike for both onions and tomatoes. It makes eating here a bit challenging. I have a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - my favorite back up meal.

I did have a chance to cook here last weekend. I made the Lupov's famous lentil soup and it was delicious. I was a happy camper! My friend Beth made Butternut Sqaush Curry and we also had cooked green beans and pineapple. It was a great meal.

My other cooking endeavour was making homemade chocolate chip/chunk cookies. It was a bit challenging as the brown sugar was a large hard square rock and I had to chip off pieces with a knife. I also discovered that you cannot set the oven temperature, the lady told me to turn it about half-way and that should work. I had to watch the cookies very closely. The end result -- DELICIOUS!! They were a huge hit and they were gone very quickly. I already have multiple request to make more, a few people even bought me some more chocolate bars.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Some of you may be aware of my dislike for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the States. I am not a big fan of the high intensity with multiple patients on the brink of death. I have discovered that I probably wouldn't mind the ICU here - it is NOT high intensity.

I had my first real encounter with the ICU team this week when I wanted them to come see a patient on our team. The patient arrived on our team around 10 AM as we were going about our morning rounds. We stopped to assess the new patient because he looked quite sick. After a quick examination we found that his extremities were cold, he had no peripheral pulses, and we were unable to get a blood pressure or oxygen saturation. He was on oxygen and was clearly having difficulty with his breathing.

It was clear that this patient was not adequately perfusing his organs and he would quickly die if we did not get him to the ICU with some type of pressor support. On rounds we discussed this and the plan was to call the ICU and cardiology to come see him. After we saw the patient I noticed that no one was calling the ICU or cardiology. I asked my intern and he said he would call after rounds (rounds are an average of 3 hours long). I told him the patient wouldn't survive that long, so I called both consults myself.

I was pleasantly surprised when cardiology showed up 20 minutes later to see the patient. They agreed that he needed to be transfered but thought it might be too late to help him. I continued to wait for the ICU team to arrive. The patient died at 1pm and the ICU team showed up to see him around 3pm.

I was extremely frustrated with this but I learned that the ICU works a bit differently here. They take all the consults they recieve and go around seeing the patients. They may have 1-2 beds available so they try to find the patients they feel might have a chance at surviving. The others they turn down and the patients remain on the wards to be managed.

I guess my patient did not fit into their "possible recovery" category as he was unable to survive long enough for them to come see him. There is absolutely no urgency here in patient care.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Street Children of Eldoret

There is a large population of street children living in Eldoret. The total number is unknown because they are very difficult to track, but the estimation is over 2,000 children. Some of the children live on the streets during the day and go home at night but many live completely on the street with no home to return to at night. These children are often forced to leave their homes because of lack of food or violence toward them in the home. On the streets they can make their own money and have freedom from those who may harm them at home. They form communities on the streets with the older children assuming leadership over the younger children. The age range is broad with some of the younger children being 4-5 years old. Many of the older children living the streets are killed by police.

On Saturday morning several of us went to an outreach for the street children. The outreach is put on by Tumanini House (with means Hope in Swahilli). This home is a day center for the street children where they can come and shower, eat, and participate in different types of education. The people at Tumanini are working hard to help the children find a way to get off the streets by teaching them a trade and getting them back into schools.

There is a huge problem with substance abuse among the street children. Nearly all of the children are addicted to sniffing glue. It was hard to watch as we played soccer with them on Saturday because as they played they would have the glue bottle in their mouth sniffing.

It was a neat experience but overwhelming to see the needs of these children. Tumanini is definetly a place that is trying to make a difference in their lives. If you want to read more about the Tumanini center check out their website:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Neema House

Neema house is a home for children located in Eldoret, only a five minute drive from where I am living. Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to spend several hours playing with the children. It was so much fun!

Neema house is home to 39 children at this time, 29 of them are HIV positive. It was started by an amazing couple who wanted to provide a home for abandoned children. They have also built a primary school on their property for the children to attend. It is a amazing place and I am eager to go back and play with the kids some more. I think I will stop by on Saturday for a few hours! I am sure to have more adorable pictures :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Sorry if my pictures gross you out, but I wanted to share this amazing case with you. This man has a disease called Pellagra. Pellagra is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin B3 (Niacin). Patients with pellagra usually have a diet that is rich in unprocessed corn. It can also occur in alcoholics due to malnutrition. The treatment is very simple, you just have to give the patients a vitamin. Ofcourse we ran out of oral Vitamin B Complex today in the hospital so my patient has not been recieving his mediations.

If Pellagra is left untreated it will result in progressive dementia and ultimately death. Pellagra is a very preventable and treatable disease.

Lack of Supervision

The day to day routine at the hospital is alway different depending on who shows up. Some days we have a huge crowd with 10 medical students, two interns, 1 registrar, 1 attending, and myself. Other days it has been only me and the intern rounding on 50 patients. It is actually more fun and interesting the fewer number of people because it allows me to be more involved in patient care.

Today I was a little more involved in patient care than I prefered. Last month the intern I worked with was awesome. She knew what she was doing and just asked me for my opinion on certain issues. We have two new interns this week, one who is very strong and one who is extremely weak. Somehow today about half way through the rounds the registrar and good intern had to go to a meeting and I was instructed to "take over rounds." It was me, the weak intern, and 2 third year medical students. Talk about overhwelming. We had at least 40 patients on our service, about 10 of them were new admissions from the night before.

In the first 15 minutes of being the "attending" on my rounds today we had 4 patient that were completely unresponsive and one man with an acute abdomen. One unresponsive patient has cryptococcal meningitis and was actively seizing during rounds. Another man was in clear respiratory distress with an oxygen saturation of 68% (normal is 98%). Another patient I am concerned has TB meningitis (which I have seen twice in my life). The guy with the acute abdomen had severe rebound tenderness, guarding, and peritoneal signs.

I felt very helpless and overwhelmed today, but I was definately participating in patient care. None of the patients died during rounds or before I left for the day, which I thought was an accomplishment. I know I am getting use to the wards but I would prefer a little more supervision.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Giraffes, The Rift Valley, and The Rainforest

Our rainforest guide taking a break on the river.

Gillian and I enjoying the view of the rainforest.

Beth, Jaime, Sarah, and I overlooking the Great Rift Valley.

My buddy giraffe at Kruger Farms.

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, the internet has not been working ver well at the IU house. It has been working on and off for the past hour so I am trying to get some pictures and stories up for you to read. There is so much to write about it is hard to put these experiences into words on a blog. I am trying the best I can and hope you enjoy it. Hopefully, the internet will cooperate better with me and I can write more.

This past weekend we took two day trips which were both a lot of fun. On Saturday we went to a place called Kruger farm. This is a large farm owned by a South African family. When Eldoret was expanding the giraffes in the area were being killed for their meat and hides. They transported a family of giraffes over to Kruger farm to protect them from poachers. So you can walk the farm and look for family of giraffes. We found them after about an hour hike. There was a family of about 15 and they let us get within 10-15 feet and take lots of pictures.

After our visit to Kruger farms we drove to The Great Rift Valley where we ate at an awesome restaurant that overlooked the valley. We had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the view.

On Sunday we took a group for a hike in the Rainforest. Kakamega forest is the only remaining rainforest in Kenya. We hired a guide who took us on a four hour hike through the rainforest. It was beautiful! We were very glad to have the guide because we would have been lost in about 5 minutes. Plus he pointed out all the cool birds, monkeys, butterflies, and plant life.

Another weekend full of adventure. My plan was to just stay at IU house and relax but I couldn't pass it up when people asked me if I wanted to join them. I hope you enjoy the pictures!!


For all of you who know me you know I have an interest and passion for end of life/palliative care. It is something I feel very strongly about and work hard to make sure my patients and families are comfortable at the end of life.

Due to my interest in end of life care I have had many frustration on the wards. I have discovered that as a patient dies here very little attention is given to the patient. There is one patient on our team who was admitted last Monday with altered mental status. He quickly declined and now is completely unresponsive, has bed sores from being unable to move, and started having seizures. On Wed, Thurs, and Fri of last week I was the only person to see this patient. The rest of the team skipped over him during rounds despite my reminding them. This patient is still alive, which is truly amazing, and recieves very little attention if any at all. Nothing is being done to make him comfortable.

A similar situation occured last week. We had a patient that presented with an intestinal obstruction and was found to have a large mass in his abdomen. We were planning on doing a CT scan of his abdomen but he quickly went downhill, we were not sure why. On our morning rounds the patient had agonal respirations (a sign of immiment death) and there was nothing else for us to do. The attending physican (head doctor) and I had the following conversation....

"Dr. Lupov, do you think there is anything else we can do for this patient?" Attending

"No. I think our focus should be to keep him comfortable." Me

"I agree. Our plan should be to keep him comfortable." Attending. After saying this he walks away and moves on to the next patient.

" you have IV Morphine or Ativan? What can we give this patient to make him comfortable? He clearly looks like he is in pain and has a lot of air hunger." Me

"Giving those drugs is euthanasia and that is illegal in Kenya." Attending

"I disagree. We can keep patients comfortable without expediating there death." Me

"If you give that man Morphine and he dies, the family will say you killed him." Attending. At this point he stopped talking to me and moved on to the next patient.

How incredibly frustrating and sad. It has been so hard for me to watch numerous people on the wards die with absolutley no effort to keep them comfortable. I have not given morphine to a single patient since I have been here (and I have seen a lot of people die).

After talk about this with several people I have calmed down a little (not all the way) and realized that the Kenyan doctors' attitudes is likely a defense mechanism. Due to limited resources there is little to nothing to do for these patients. It is easier to avoid the patient then face the reality that the patient is dying and there is nothing you can do.

I hope palliative care/hospice can take hold here in Kenyan and change this attitude. Every person deserves dignity at the end of life and I believe it the physicans duty to make sure that happens. It has been hard to me to keep my mouth shut, because I don't think it is something I can change now. It will take time and many people to implement this changes. Maybe I can be a part of it in the future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Living Room

HIV clinic in Turbo.

The Living Room Hospice Center

When I visited the small clinic last week I met a lady named Juli. She has lived in Kenya for 7 years. She initally came with an NGO and decided to stay on to open a Hospice center for dying patients in rural Kenya. She has been doing Hospice for several years out of a small home that could hold only 10 patients. She was able to raise the funds and opened a new Hospice center two weeks ago. I had the chance to visit the center today and was amazed at what she is doing.

The patients she cares for are the ones that everyone else gives up on. They are the patients with no family, no home, and no place to go. They have a beautiful facility with 14 acres of land. If you want to learn more about what Juli is doing check out her website -

I have a very strong interest in palliative/hospice care and it was encouraging to see that someone is aggressively trying to implement end of life care here in Kenya. It has been one of my biggest frustrations to see dying patients on the wards recieve little to no care. Part of this is due to resources (lack of pain medications) and partly due to lack of education as doctors and nurses do not know how to care for the dying patient.

There was a young girl at Juli's center named Chepchumba who is 8 years old and weighs 13 pounds (there is a picture of Chepchumba on Juli's website). She showed up to Juli's center 8 weeks ago and they were not sure if she would survive if they attempted to feed her. She is currently doing well and has gained two pounds. There was another young girl who arrived yesterday who is 5 years old and weighs 10 lbs. The degree of malnutrition was unbelievable.

p.s. Katherine - Juli is opening up a school to train better quality Kenyan nurses....I see a future trip for you :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

My pale skin does not get along with the hot Kenyan sun!!

Do you see that giraffe behind me? AWESOME!!

The hippos can actually be pretty dangerous, but they were all sleeping when we drove by.

Beth and Jody at our "rustic" campsite.

Hiking the gorge at Hell's Gate.

I had a very adventurous weekend which including biking, camping, hiking, and boating. We started the weekend biking through Hell's Gate which is a national park with a variety of wildlife. We biked to a gorge and hiked down into the gorge, it was beautiful. We spent the night at a rather "rustic" campsite.

The next day we took a boat trip out on Lake Navasha and saw the hippos and lots of different birds which inhabit the lake. The boat took us out to an island where the movie Out of Africa was filmed. When the movie was made they shipped in all the animals. They shipped out all the dangerous animals after the movie was filmed (for example lions) and now people are allowed to walk around the island and get pretty darn close to the animals. My favorite part was getting about 10 feet from a giraffe enjoying his lunch.

Our final destination of the weekend was Mount Logonot. This mountain was an old volcano that has a large crater in the middle that you can hike around. I found out I am quite out of shape. The top of the moutain was 9,180 ft, my lungs protested the whole way up. It was beautiful but it was HOT!! The combination of hiking up the moutain at the peak heat of the day, my pale white skin, and walking on black lava rocks results in a pretty nasty sunburn despite copious amounts of sunscreen. My skin and the Kenyan sun do not get along well. The humorous part is always to see where you missed putting sunscreen - the back of my hands, my toes, my hair line, and the back of my knees. Lets just say I have some funny sunburn lines!

So the adventure did not end there....On the way home we ran out of gas on the side of the road and had to call for some help. When we arrived home to the IU house they were roasting a goat to celebrate the IU students graduation from medical school.

Overall, a very adventurous weekend. I slept very well last night. My skin and muscles are still recovering from the hike up the mountain. I hope you enjoy the pictures!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Clinic Experience

The market! It is packed with thousands of people selling anything you can think of. It is a little overwhelming because people are all around you and it is hard to move.

This guy sold us some fruit and he was super eager to be in a picture - he even posed.

This is how they fill in pot holes in Kenya - with dirt. The problem is that the cars drive over the newly filled holes and the dirt becomes a cloud of dust and the hole remains.

This is my foot covered in the dust of Kenya. All the "sidewalks" here are dirt paths and it is so dry there is a lways a cloud of dust in the air. By the end of the day you have to shower and wash off the layer of Kenyan dust that has accumulated on your skin.

Today I had the chance to go out to a smaller HIV clinic with one of the American doctors who has been here for 12 years. It was a great experience. AMPATH has set up 55 clinics around Western Kenya to provide HIV care. The clinic I went to today was about 1 hour from Eldoret in a town called Turbo.

I saw about 8 patients with Dr. Mamalin, and it was an eye opening experience. First, it was amazing how many patients were at the clinic. It made me realize that HIV is a pandemic in Kenya. The small clinic that I visited is currently serving 7,000 HIV positive patients. They come in every 1-6 months depending on how good they are doing and are able to get their medications, see the doctor, and get labs drawn for free.

My eyes were also opened to the devastation of tuberculosis in Africa. Of the 8 HIV patient we saw 3 of them has tuberculosis. I was shocked to meet one lady that was dying from TB, she was probably my height and weighed 60-70 lbs. She was the most emanciated person I have ever seen.

The wonderful thing was to see how the doctors and support staff are fighting for the patients. They are not giving up on them and they are working to try and get them the care they need to survive these awful illnesses. I was just blown away by what AMPATH has established here. Even though there is still a long way to go it was neat to see how the organization is making a difference in the lives of individual people.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Short Supply

We ran out of Potassium today - so they wrote an order for two bananas with every meal!

A husband feeding his sick wife.

The entrance to the Hospital.

Jody and I standing at the entrace to Moi Hospital.

I have quickly discovered that they run out of medications here and it varies day to day what is available. They do not inform the team when the antibiotics run out they just put N/A on the treatment sheet or sometimes they keep checking that the patient is getting the medication. So you can think your patient is getting antibiotics when in reality they are not.

Today they ran out of potassium replacement. One of the patients on Beth's team had a very low potassium and really need replacement. So the above picture shows and order they wrote for the patient to have two ripe bananas with every meal. We thought this was pretty humerous.

One thing I am learning is that if you want to make sure a patient is getting a medication you need to physically walk to the pharmacy and ask them if that medication is in stock. We are constantly changing patient's antibiotics around based on what is available. It is really hard to keep up with the treatment plan.

The other interesting thing I observed today is that patient's hang around for several days after they have been discharged. I think this is due to a combination of factors. Number one is the patients can't leave until they pay their bill. Number two they have to wait for someone to come get them. We have patients that have been discharged and just sit there for days/weeks. We just walk by them on rounds and say "they are discharged" and no further discussion.

Tonight is dinner out for everyone. We go to a restaurant in town every Wednesday night. The food here is good but it is nice to go out and get some more variety. Last week we went to a delicious Indian restaurant. I think tonight is Chinese or Italian!

I hope all is well back in States. I miss you all very much. Thanks for following along on my blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Over the weekend two patients on the male ward died with severe anemia. Just to give you a reference range the normal hemoglobin is >14 in men. In residency the lowest hemoglobin I have seen is 4.5. The two patients that died over the weekend had hemoglobins of 2.5. My roommate Beth had a patient today that presented with a hemoglobin of 1.8. How is that compatible with life? The sad thing was the two men that died over weekend were only 16 and 18 years old.

So I discovered last Friday that there is a massive blood shortage in Kenya right now. The country gets most of its blood from school aged children and they were on vacation for the month of April. So currently in the hospial you cannot get blood unless you have a family member that can donate for you. To top it off last week the blood bank ran out of agents to cross match the blood and had to send all the blood (even the family donated blood) to Nairobi for cross matching. So even if the family donated it would take 2-3 days to get a unit of blood. This explains why my two patients died from severe anemia over the weekend.

It is hard because you just feel helpless. I went to the blood bank and provided them with the names of my patients and asked how quickly they could get blood. They told me it probably wouldn't be until Monday due to the lack of reagents. I asked if there was any way to speed it up and they said no. So that is where it ended. There was nothing else I could do.

I think there will be a lot more helpless moments to come over the course of the next six weeks. I am trying to focus on the things I can do and the ways I can help.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More pictures!!!

Half my body is in the northern hemisphere and half my body is in the southern hemisphere...kind of crazy!!

I was about 10 ft from this guy. (I was in the car)

This is a hyena - I thought they were pretty ugly.

This giraffe walked right in front of our car, stopped, and looked at us to pose for a nice picture.

It is baby season and there were little animals all over the place. The cutest of these being the baby monkeys.