Saturday, May 24, 2014

Kenya clinic day 5 and wrap up

So what's it like when one goes on a medical mission trip? It all depends on one's expectations. Thinking ahead of what you want to experience and accomplish will leave you with regrets and frustration when expectations are not met. What then? How to best prepare? Some simple advice. Have an open mind and an anticipatory attitude. And that is what worked best on this trip. Things changed, plans made anew and canceled and still it all fell into place. 23 US team members and 15 Kenyan healthcare workers with 3 Kenyan leaders came together and saw 1424 patients, all of whom were children except for a hundred.

The stories were many, the interventions many as well. Treating a severe leg burn on a 2 year old, several children sent to the hospital for emergency medical care and identifying several children who had special needs. But there is more. Just because we are there for the children does not mean we neglect the adult to comes to us with a significant problem. A 40 year old mother came to us complaining of a "wound in her womb". Translators were unable to help us sort out what she was saying. She had 11 children, 2 of whom had died, one right after birth and another at the age of 6 years from what sounds like meningitis. This woman, this mother of 11 children had a debilitating complication of her pregnancies and deliveries. We knew what to do and more importantly where to send her for the 15 minute operation that will change her life. We had many similar stories of chronic illnesses in children who simply needed guidance. The beauty behind this is that the healthcare workers were ones who identified those children, knew where to send them and needed our assurance that they were in fact right.

We finished out the week meeting our primary expectation. To serve. Funny how that always winds up being the primary one. I saw a team come together and bring a wondrous attitude of humility and kindness. I couldn't have expected more.

In all things give thanks,

David

Kenya clinic day 4

The fourth day, and 414 children seen on one day. Amazing work by a team of US and Kenyans. Several more children with complex illness, a few sent to the hospital and some who needed extended time to examine. And still we cared for over 400 children.

He was quiet, unwilling to look me in the eye, and withdrawn. Massive lymph nodes seen in places that pointed to a serous chronic illness. I suspected what it was, but how to approach it delicately and with compassion. There's no need to explore the "what". It is the "who" that is important. What we see is not necessarily who we see. His withdrawal was not a reflection of who he was. He was an abandoned child, ill and wanting confirmation of his worth. So, how would you do that? A hand on his shoulder, looking him in the eye and a promise to help. We are doing that.

What we do is minimal perhaps in material worth. I believe that what we do is more than many of the children we see have ever had. And that is the common theme of Medical Mercy. A servant attitude bringing all that matters in heart and soul. Grace.

In all things give thanks,

David

Kenya clinic day 3

(Note: this is a guest blog authored by 3 pre-med students who are on this trip: Taylor, Conley, and Tyler. As they prepare for their vocation in medicine, the experience they've had is priceless)

The two hours of bumpy and treacherous roads, unpredictable weather, and traveling sickness is all worth it once the voices of the children are heard. As the convoy approaches the project of the day, we hear the songs of joy and happiness from the hundreds of children in the project. It is clear that so much work and effort is put into their greeting, which shows their level of gratitude. Hundreds of hands are extended in welcome. Without knowing what is to be expected, their level of trust is astounding.

Throughout the entire day of examining and poking, that level of trust is maintained. A little boy who is examined has jiggers boring holes throughout his feet. Even though he is unsure to what is happening while his painful sores are cleaned and scrubbed, he stays composed, trusting that we are there to help. Even though he leaves crying, he appears a few hours later, playing soccer on his newly healed feet while giving us high fives with a big smile on his face. The second patient is a young woman who complains of stomach pain. She tells us her habit of breaking off pieces of the mud walls of her house and how she consumes them. Her gums and conjunctiva are white. Pica. Something you see in a book but never in a patient. Does she understand her condition? Does she think she is crazy? Her level of comfort with her examiners is prominent, the physician-patient relationship at its finest.

With the team working optimally, we were able to treat all the children as well as the parents. A successful day.


Taylor, Conley, and Tyler

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kenya clinic day 2

It started off like expected. Rain. Lots of it and a dirt road with places washed out. The 3 vans carrying the US team made it to the clinic site in 2 hours and the bus carrying the MEDS and the healthcare workers slide off the road. Big delays now. Finally after several hours all have arrived and clinic starts. No worries, we are a smooth operating medical team.

He is 9 years old. Nothing abnormal until he turned 1.5 years old. High temperature and what sounds like meningitis. Not good news for a child on the African bush. He survives but with significant deficits. Mental and physical. He is one of our children. 3 to 5 seizures a month on medication. I examined him and we are working on getting him to a school for special needs. I'm committed to caring for all children and giving them the best hope for achieving their God given potential. They deserve no less. Like the child we have who has a syndrome and is teased by others. Loving him is easy to do. I sat with him and validated his personhood. How? A hug and an embrace and love.

The team has gotten its rhythm. All are doing well. We serve.

In all things give thanks,

David

Kenya clinic day 1

40 miles, 2 hours, all dirt roads. Slow going and distant. The sky opened up, rain pouring down and we sought shelter in our mud building  with a tin roof. The noise from the rain beating down drowned out all the breath and heart sounds we were trying to listen to as we examined the children. Malnutrition was the diagnosis of the day. A few children with serious illnesses were identified and set up for referral to the local hospital this week. 

She is 10 years old and complained of fatigue. A history of a high fever that progressed to weakness and shortness of breath. Her heart was pounding so hard, you could see here chest heave with each beat. Clearly an enlarged heart with failure. More than likely rheumatic heart disease needing intervention and care which she will get this week. We left the clinic around 6pm getting back to the hotel after 8pm. Obstacles  overcome one after another. 

So here is the question answered for today: what exactly can we do to make a difference? The answer is simply this: give of ourselves to those who have nothing and leave behind ongoing medical care through our healthcare workers. 
350 children seen today. 

In all things give thanks ,
David

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kenya-the arrival

The dark fell and then later it got darker still. From the edge of night to the beginning of the dawn, we are flying 37,000 feet above the earth, traveling at 580 mph. I feign sleep, and only fool myself. Too many things on my mind. Too many thoughts, too many what ifs, too many how will it all play out, swirled around the tired neurons that long for rest. And just so you know, all those thoughts are not "worries", but simply thoughts of anticipation of what we are going to be doing. A long week ahead with many patients to see. But there is one thing that does gnaw at me and that is the silence we will hold in public, the silence of prayer. These are weary times in the world where open declaration of a faith is targeted if it is contrary to that of those who are self righteous in their own faith leaving little if any room for others to express their personal belief in a God. So, we remain silent. No need to force the issue. No need to cause conflict. And that is what will be different for us this time. Silent prayer.

I'm reminded of an event that occurred recently. At a university, the dictum was that the speakers, including the student valedictorian, could not reference God in their graduation speeches. When the student valedictorian approached the podium to give his speech, he sneezed, and as planned, the whole graduating class yelled out "God bless you!". There. Done. So I'm going to share this with the team and see how we can use it as an example of a subtle, okay, not so subtle, declaration of faith. It's worth a shot. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I'm writing this on the plane with a few hours yet to go before we arrive in Kenya. I have no idea if we will get all our luggage and the medical supplies and loaded onto the truck that will take it all to our final destination. I'll add a paragraph or two at the end of the day and let you know. For now, I sit on the plane watching the little airplane icon on the moving map cross the African continent and silently pray and wonder what lies ahead.

And now the time is later. We've arrived at our destination, with all the suitcases and medical supplies yet 2.5 hours away as they had to come by truck. A little set back. So it all starts tomorrow, 40 miles from where we are now, on ravaged roads leading to an isolated project. When the sun touches the horizon in the morning, yielding a burst of orange light, we'll head out to where we are supposed to be and begin to see those who wait for us. For now, sleep beckons and I wonder if I will oblige. I really should I suppose.

In all things give thanks,

David


Sent with Writer

David H. Beyda, MD
Medical Director
Medical Mercy

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kenya beginning

Sometimes there are things that we don't expect and things that we don't like. And sometimes we move forward, keeping going all the same. It is what we are dong now. You ask the reason why. Simple. There are a few thousand children, many looking for love, caring and comfort who are expecting us. We must go, wouldn't you agree? So we hope for the best, pray to the One who knows the best and give our best. Not one of the team members has stayed back due to the upheaval in Kenya. True servants. So, with that I leave you for now. Be with us as we move from day to day. I'll share the stories and bring you notice of how lives are to touched-ours and those who come to us for help.

In all things give thanks,

David

Kenya beginning

Sometimes there are things that we don't expect and things that we don't like. And sometimes we move forward, keeping going all the same. It is what we are dong now. You ask the reason why. Simple. There are a few thousand children, many looking for love, caring and comfort who are expecting us. We must go, wouldn't you agree? So we hope for the best, pray to the One who knows the best and give our best. Not one of the team members has stayed back due to the upheaval in Kenya. True servants. So, with that I leave you for now. Be with us as we move from day to day. I'll share the stories and bring you notice of how lives are to touched-ours and those who come to us for help.

In all things give thanks,

David

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Kenya - Medical Mercy

Overcoming obstacles. That is the theme for the upcoming trip to Kenya. We leave next Friday, a team of 23. We will be joined by 15 Kenyan healthcare workers who I trained several years ago and who have been caring for the children since then. Making a difference – sustainable care. So why this theme? We are all faced with obstacles in our life that we try to overcome or sometimes we just can’t and find another way to get to where we want to go. This trip to Kenya has posed several obstacles, but we have prevailed. But just this week, I realized that there is one obstacle that we will face that I pray we are up to the task for. I have been on clinical service in the pediatric critical care unit and have been taking care of children who are on the edge of life. Traumatic brain injuries, cancer, life threatening infections, and more. One child struck me as I wondered how we will deal with the similar situation if we come across it in Kenya. This little boy had a very devastating kidney disease requiring both his kidneys to be removed, living on dialysis for several years. He was on the transplant list for a kidney, but as you know, that list is long and kidneys are hard to come by. Then as a last resort, his mother asked if she could be tested to see if her kidney would be compatible. You would thing that being his mother there would be no question that the kidney would be a match, but what many do not know  is that the compatibility factors are many and that the chances of a mother having a kidney that would be compatible with her son marginal at best. Well, her kidney matched. This little boy received his mother's right kidney, and is on his way to living a normal  life again, gifted by his mother, done in a healthcare system that has the technology and services to make this happen. So here is the question and the obstacle. Could this ever happen in Kenya and what would we do, what will we do, if we come up with something like this there? Sustainable care? Yes, but to a limit. Dialysis in Kenya is marginal and hard to come by. Kidney transplants are rare. And remember, we are talking about a population that is remotely isolated from advanced services of all kinds, if we can even call the services available “advanced”. An obstacle like this, of a Kenyan child who needs a kidney and a mother who would donate her own, will not have the same outcome as what the little boy in Phoenix had. We hope not be faced with something like this, but it can happen all the same. I leave you to think about how you would deal with a scenario like this. The team will be faced with many obstacles as we serve those who come to us; the inability to deliver needed medical care because of lack of resources through no fault of our own for example. If you want, follow us as I blog daily (as much as I can depending on internet service), and see how we face what is given us. I can give you an idea of how we will: faith and trust in God, perseverance, kindness and servitude. 

In all things give thanks,

David

Friday, January 10, 2014

Haiti wrap up

There comes a time when we need to realize that things need to come to an end. And today was that time. We finished up our last day of clinic, seeing 1400 children, building permanent 2 permanent “tippy taps” in each of the 11 projects we went to, did dental hygiene, brought water filtration systems in and taught first aid and left first aid kits in all the projects. But you know that already. But what you may not know, is who really did this all. We had a US team of 27 members and a Haitian/DR team of 11 for at total of 38 people serving the 1400 children and the communities. We had 2 local physicians and 1 local dentist who were with us, working along side, and who will stay and sustain the care we gave. 38 people who gave of their time to serve.

 

But why is that so important to point out? Well because, when the end is here, we look back and wonder if the road we traveled was indeed straight or was it twisty, and if we really arrived at our destination. I pose the question: what was our destination on this medical mission? What were our expectations? The answer was there for me this morning.

 

I was asked to look at an 11 year old girl who had surgery several years ago to remove a superficial mass on her neck. She was left with nerve damage to her arm and accumulation of lymph that made her arm swell to twice its size. She had a chest xray taken a while back when her mother took her to see a doctor after wondering for many years why her arm looked like this after surgery. The chest xray should 2 masses in her chest. No one bothered to tell the mother what the findings were at the time the xrays were taken, nor did the doctor who did the original surgery tell the mother what the mass was that he took out. The mother and the child were abandonnned by those who took an oath to heal and care. This time it won’t happen. With the local doctors working with me, we examind the child, came up with a plan on what tests are needed now, what the next step in the care would be, sat with the mother and explained to her in detail what we thought was going on, and committed to always be there for them. The desitnation and expectation was simple: to recognize those who come to us for help as persons worthy of dignity no matter their circumstances, and a commitment to relationship that is genuine. I believe we did that. We left behind sustianalbe drinking water, a place to wahs their hands, education and supplies to treat wounds and other minor injuries, toothbrushes and dental education and medical care that will be there for as long as they need it.

 

So as we finish this medical mission in Haiti, I give thanks for those who came to serve: Kelly, Michelle B., Jerry, Deanna, Katy, Beth, Michelle S., John Hbk., Robert, Trisha, Hannah, Deb, Sue, Micki, Mikaela, John Hns., Brittany, Megan, Doreen, Kathryn, Michael, Dave, Brian S., Brian Y., Kyle, Rocky, Onesimo, James, Jose, Robinson, Elias, Michelet, and Mathias.

 

Well-done faithful servants.

 

In all things give thanks,

David

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Haiti day 5

23 kilometers and almost a 2 hour drive on roads that are not roads but want to be. Climbing up through the chain of mountains outside of Cap Haitian, we see a distant part of Haiti that is a speck on the side of an island that is far from the civilization on the east side called the Dominican Republic. The road twists and yields little in the way of comfort. We travel slowly if for only to prevent damage to our bodies and the van. We would be of no good to anyone otherwise.

We were supposed to see children from 3 projects. We arrived at the first and quickly realized that it was not to be. Children were brought from one project to us and we stayed here all day, a 15 minute break for lunch and a constant stream of children. 360 children. Some children with serious illness, acute and chronic. More children who were malnourished and many who were far from the norm. Tippy taps were built, first aid taught and supplies left behind and water filtration. The one we left last time we were here was still being used serving a project of over 500. We left another behind.

I saw him out of the corner of my eye. A tall, clearly elderly lady, unkept, frail and barley able to walk was with him. He came and sat in the chair in front of me waiting to be examined, a stoic face looking at me. A 3 year old, who acted like he was years ahead of his age. Stoicism does that. A few questions asked and I figured it out. His parents had abandoned him and his grandmother had taken him in. And so did One Child Matters. He is a sponsored, abandoned child, cared for by a frail and elderly woman who may not be here tomorrow. He is like many others we care for. I spent some time with him and treated his malnutrition and his chronic pneumonia. He never smiled. Not then. But when I took him in my lap, he cuddled close and showed a soft smile as he laid his head on my chest. Love for him, has been hard to come by it seems.

This has been Haiti. We have one more day of clinic and will see another few hundred children, putting in tippy taps, teaching first aid and dental hygiene and leaving first aid supples behind as well as water filtration.

The sun is setting as we sit on the bus that creeps along the road that is not a road and for a moment there is a pause in the conversation around all the experiences everyone is sharing from today. It as at that moment that it all came together for me. An abandoned 3 year old child is given a chance to be loved and cherished by those who embrace him in the OCM project. And with clean water to drink, a toothbrush, a bandaid for his cuts, a teacher who now knows how to treat a burn, a place to wash his hands and a medical program that came and set up a nutritional rescue program, preventative health exams and illness interventions left behind, this little 3 year old has a chance. Finally.

In all things give thanks,
David

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Haiti day 4

What does one say when there is nothing to say? That's where I'm am right now. Another day, another couple of hundred children, different village communities, same scenario. It exists everywhere we turn. So what needs to be said has been said. Well, not everything.

Let's talk about "purpose", "mission" and "priorities". How different are those three things for us as compared to those who live in Haiti. I'll leave you to identify yours and let me share with you what I've learned are for the Haitians.

"Purpose": to live another day.
"Mission": to find the next meal.
"Priorities": to fend for themselves individually.

The children we care for are learning differently what those categories mean: to purposely live a life with Christ; to serve others as a mission; to put God first as the priority. So even though they live in squalor and poverty, we trust that with what they learn and experience, they will see beyond the "have not" and relish on the "have" of a life filled with grace and love, surrounded by a community of dedicated OCM workers.

In all things give thanks,
David

Haiti day 4

What does one say when there is nothing to say? That's where I'm am right now. Another day, another couple of hundred children, different village communities, same scenario. It exists everywhere we turn. So what needs to be said has been said. Well, not everything.

Let's talk about "purpose", "mission" and "priorities". How different are those three things for us as compared to those who live in Haiti. I'll leave you to identify yours and let me share with you what I've learned are for the Haitians.

"Purpose": to live another day.
"Mission": to find the next meal.
"Priorities": to fend for themselves individually.

The children we care for are learning differently what those categories mean: to purposely live a life with Christ; to serve others as a mission; to put God first as the priority. So even though they live in squalor and poverty, we trust that with what they learn and experience, they will see beyond the "have not" and relish on the "have" of a life filled with grace and love, surrounded by a community of dedicated OCM workers.

In all things give thanks,
David

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Haiti day 3

"Why are you so sad?" Dr. Jerry asked the child. "Because I'm hungry" the young boy said. There's not much one can say after that. And it is one of those times when one wished they never asked the question. Dr. Jerry felt the emotion. It is a commonly felt emotion. I leave it to you to find your own emotion to what that young boy said.

A good day all the same. 2 projects and several hundred children seen. And here is the neat part. We again did water filtration that we left behind and "tippy taps" were built for hand washing. Simple to do and effective. We are making and leaving 2 of them in each of the 12 projects that we will have visited.

It is part of the ministry of OCM to feed children the best we can.  Today the children were given spaghetti with tomato sauce, a hard boiled egg and a banana. It may very well be the best meal they'll have until they come back to the project for more.

So once again we left something behind. We identified several children who needed advanced medical care which we will provide. The children we saw today were sicker than those children we've seen so far tomorrow we go to 3 projects. Hard to believe, but we will. I leave you to reflect on some of this as you look at the pictures. For me, I look for rest tonight. It is hard to come by. The mind races with thoughts of things to come for the children that we see and perhaps you are doing the same right now. Good thoughts for blessings and all things good are all that I can allow. They deserve it.

In all things give thanks,
David

Monday, January 06, 2014

Haiti day 2

Could it be? 2 separate clinics in 2 different communities, almost 2 hours from our hotel, remote villages, dirt roads, pigs in the way, and 300 children seen. We left at 7am this morning and got hack to the hotel at 8 pm. How could it be I say again. God is good. That is how it could be. I saw it in the midst of a place left to others more brave than I.

I looked around the community that we were in this afternoon and you can see the pictures. And the beauty of it all is that despite the poverty, the door on the house says to all. So I ask you. Could you live here, no electricity, toilets, and all that we are used to and still say "God is good?" Honest answer now please.

We were cramped in a room, seeing children and doing pharmacy. We saw more of the same and less of the healthy ones. We caught a few serious illnesses and prevented one child from going blind due to a serious eye infection. And what about the team? We caught the "fever" of caring and compassion. Smiles all around and a willingness to serve. We did nutritional assessments, put in place water filtration systems, left behind comprehensive first oaf kits and trained the staff, did dental hygiene, did psychological interventions, and treated patients. We left something behind that they could use and benefit from.

So tomorrow we go again and we will find ourselves in a community of poverty and physical demise. But no worries. Because it is only us who look around and say to ourselves "how can they live like this?" And those who we serve say "we'd like it to be better, but it is what it is. So we trust in God and He is good." True story. At least that is what a kind, old crippled Haitian man said when he came up to me when I stepped out into their world to take these pictures. When I looked at the children we took care of today, I prayed that they felt the same way.

In all things give thanks,

David