31 January 2008

A little more...

Good morning.  I'd just like to say that this is now morning #3 that I'm up by 7am!  There's an hour of internet time from 7-8, so that's been my motivation.

Yesterday Jennifer had  encouraged me to take the morning to pray and read and such, so I did.  Then had lunch with Pat, my housemate, and then we both went down to the clinic for an ART (HIV) clinic meeting in which there was a discussion of how to make it run less chaotically.  Scott proposed a plan and everybody seems to think it will help and I'm excited because it's something that I can actually help with (doesn't require language or cultural know how :) it's "just" organizing about 800 charts or so.  We're going to start this afternoon.  The meeting was actually really exciting to me.  It was really cool to hear the Ugandans thinking through the process of the clinic and what the goals and problems are and what kinds of things might help make things run more smoothly (they all speak english so I could understand most of what was going on).

This morning I'm going with Scott to Bundibugyo town to the hospital there, should be interesting. 

Few quick notes:
1. The neighbors who laughed about my dimples are Topi and Biwa (not Tipo like I said before).
2. Nope, didn't dance at the Myhre's.  I told Jennifer Africa will hopefully change my non-dancing-ness.
3. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my email because everybody uses Entourage/Outlook so that they can do most email stuff offline, but I've got like 5500 emails in my inbox and we don't have the internet capacity for me to download all of that...more soon.

30 January 2008

Where to start?

Hello Hello Hello!  This is my first successful internet session from my new home.  I'm sitting in my front room (functions as a mud room for shoes and bikes and such) near the window where the reception seems to be the best.

I have a half hour left of internet time, so instead of writing you all individually, I figured this was the best way to update everyone who wants to know on what's going on.  Maybe next time I'll get an email out, but that may have to wait until tonight or tomorrow. 

I don't even know where to start.  I'm well, I'm here safe and sound, and I'm really enjoying my new home.  I feel shell shocked pretty much with scads of new faces and names and a new language and new home and new bathroom habits to get used to and the list goes on.

I was feeling pretty sick when I left the states, it started midday on saturday and I didn't really feel well again until I woke up from a good sleep on the flight from Heathrow to Entebbe on monday morning.  Philly was good, but I was kinda antsy to just get on with things.  London was okay but I wasn't feeling very well and was totally head bobbing in a cafe trying to read to stay awake for a couple of hours, it was quite embarrassing but what could I do?  Nothing.

Watched only 1 movie in all of the 14-15 hours of flying that we did, I got lots of sleep, and made use of the infamous barf bag on the first flight (I've been known to do this before, but at least this time I made it to the bathroom and no one was in it :)

Kampala was brief (maybe there 2 hours and most of that in airports of various kinds) but fine.  I saw the Entebbe Presbyterian church, a mosque and a Hindu temple on the ride in from Entebbe to Kampala.  I also saw a billboard advocating sexual purity that said "Say no to Sugar Daddies."  Stephanie and I (poor Stephanie, she was a saint, I was not the best traveling partner as you can imagine while being sick and all) flew with Pat Abbott (my housemate), Jennifer and Caleb Myhre and Melen (Jonah's wife) and two of her girls in a little 10 passenger plane flown by Laura the MAF pilot (I have pictures).  One of the little girls tossed her cookies during the flight (I thankfully kept my cookies to myself), but I was very empathetic...no bathroom option for her...

The arrival on the airstrip was everything the pictures you've seen entail.  The kids the jeeps the waves the hugs.  I unpacked (decided not to nap but to try to push through until nighttime so as to actually sleep at night), and then went to dinner with Pat at the Pierce's (David and Annaliese and their children Naomi and Quinn) where we had a very yummy pasta with tomato sauce, breadsticks and avocado dinner with watermelon for dessert.  Then I went home and went to bed and actually slept.  Yep, under my mosquito net tucked in around my mattress after having used the outside latrine called the "Cho."  It's much nicer than I expected.  Very doable.

Oh and I forgot to tell you about meeting my first Ugandans.  Tipo and Biwa and Antonina and Mabel.  You sit down before you're introduced, and then you say "Olio"  (oh-lye-oh) and other things but I only have the Olio down.  Then they all started chuckling and talking and looking at me and then at each other and pointing at their cheeks (I could tell they were laughing about my dimples :)  They were very nice, and Pat translated for me.  Most people do not speak English.

Then Tuesday morning I walked to the Nyahuka health center with Stephanie and she introduced me to a million people it seemed, I remember only a few names...I'm trying but it's going to take me a while I can tell to learn names and connect them with the right faces (and the families!  Ha!  forget it!  that's gonna take years because everybody's somehow related to everybody else and not using terms I'm used to).  Rounds in the clinic was super fun!  Palpated a spleen (very fun), held for an LP which Scott Will (PA) got successfully and was yellowish/cloudy which means meningitis so they isolated the kid who was having seizures (only 1 isolation room, had to move the TB kid out into the main ward), and we think the child died over night, hard to put the story together really from people who weren't there and there's no documentation of anything.  

Had lunch at the Myhre's (Ugandan sweet potatoes and G-nut sauce (like peanuts), and a leaf of some sort that I can remember the name of that was prepared like spinach (casava I think).  It was fine.  I read in the afternoon and then we had dinner for Stephanie's birthday at the girls' house next door which was good (cous cous, stirfry, greenbeans, bread, cabbage salad and wine :) and then home made ice cream and a dance party for Steph's bday at the Myhre's.

Then to bed and then this morning to rounds again at the Health Center, then HIV clinic which was fun too, although I can't do anything there yet, just watching.  

Beautiful people, huge smiles, great hugs.  They wave with both hands here, I think it's fun :)  

I've seen lots of lizzards (one with a bright blue head) and goats and chickens.

Okay, I've gotta get off, more later!  Greetings from Uganda!

Oh and Skype isn't going to work from here, so sorry for getting all of your hopes up.

15 January 2008

? Demise of Ebola ?

I just read this evening, from a reputable source (the PA working with the Myhre's in Bundi throughout this whole epidemic), that there is talk of the epidemic being declared over!  MSF is evidently leaving the district and the isolation wards are being taken down.  I wonder what they do with all of the stuff used to build/run the wards?  I wonder how long it will take for people in Bundi to start shaking hands or hugging each other again when they greet one another?  I wonder how Dr. Jonah's wife and girls are?  I wonder what my entry into this new place to call home is going to be like?  I wonder if I've got what it takes?  I wonder what it's going to be like when I don't have what it takes in any given situation? oh, geez. (I wonder...do you wonder?... he he he :)

08 January 2008


Margaret and I had brunch on Saturday in downtown Seattle at a place called the Library Bistro (or something like that) and they had white paper covering the tables with colored pencils to keep the customers entertained, so we doodled. Margaret's were artistic (of course) and here's her doodle on the top, with the subject of the doodle below it :) Mine were super boring and geometric as always. And just so you know, these are posted with the artist's permission (recommendation in fact).

Flying the Friendly Skies

I thought this article was hilarious and maybe those of you who travel a lot, or did over the holidays or will in upcoming weeks or months, or hope to in upcoming weeks or months, or are petrified of airplanes and would never step foot in one even if your life depended on it, might find it worth your time.  The best part is about the tray table.  I hate airplane cups for that EXACT reason, and they're right, the little pretzel/snack mix bags, AHhhhh, that drives me crazy!  BUT, all things considered, I really love flying - because it means I'm going somewhere, and that's exciting!

04 January 2008


lots of them, every time I watch this scene in the most recent version of Little Women (Susan Sarandon, Winona Rider, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst).  I watched it on New Year's Day night and it was just as wonderful as it always is, and I cried even more than usual this time for obvious reasons I think...Beth is dying, Jo is kneeling at her bedside, and Beth smiles and then says: 

"Why does everyone want to go away?  I love being home.  But I don't like being left behind.  Now I'm the one going ahead.  I am not afraid.  I can be brave like you.  But I know I will be homesick for you, even in Heaven." 

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I am very pleased but very hesitant (beacause I don't actually have a ticket officially confirmed yet) to tell you that I will (God willing) be leaving the USofA on the 26th of this month (January). The rest of the team is back in Bundi or making their way there this month. Ebola, from all appearances, seems to be on it's way out and please pray that it continues to move in that direction.

I'm also very pleased to tell you that I'm going to be traveling with another woman who knows the ropes and is returning to Bundi after being here in the States for several weeks. Her name is Stephanie Jilcott and she has her PhD in nutrition and has been directing the nutritional work in Bundi while she's been there. I believe we'll be traveling with a couple of peanut grinders on our journey. I talked to her on the phone today (the first member of the team I've actually spoken to!) and I'm really excited to meet and travel with her. She was very kind and gave me answers to some of the silly and not so silly questions I've had about this impending journey.

I'm writing from a coffeehouse in Seattle where my dear friend Margaret and I are sitting with our computers and hot beverages and getting things of varying importance accomplished. Since she left St. Louis after becoming a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy....so smart she is...) I haven't seen her in a year and a half (it's hard to believe it's been that long), and I wanted to make sure to have the chance to say goodbye to her before leaving the country, so here I am for less than 72 hours, but it's WELL worth it! We have been friends for 10 years now and met on our hall freshman year of college. Here's a few photos from the day including Lake Washington, my very tasty cup of hot cocoa and Swedish Fish to accompany it, Miss Margaret herself enjoying her latte, and the coffeehouse we're sitting in. Take note of the easily read signage displayed telling all of the customers (old AND NEW) what they serve. Meshuggah patrons, this is how it should be done for those of us newbies to feel at home.