Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sick Bay, Party Day

For a number of reasons, I’ve worked at maintaining a well-defined scope of nursing practice here in the African bush. For one thing, I knew that if I jumped into all the health tasks that came my way, I’d end up being the local dentist, vet, etc. and that would make getting other work done more difficult.

You see, in the past my husband has rescued and taken in a wide assortment of creatures. Some were cute and warm blooded like orphaned duiker

bush rabbits and mongoose. But then there were the snakes, both the constrictors

and the poisonous. And there was even a crocodile once too. The day we were bandaging a neck wound on one of Africa’s protected and most poisonous snakes

(“Gabby", the Gaboon Viper)

I decided it was time to put my foot down and define the boundaries of my role as nurse/missionary/mom/wife! (By the way, the wound healed and the snake was eventually released to lead a fat, happy, productive life.)

One of the other creatures to be rescued several years ago was a female sheep (named “Andreas” after the guy who brought her condition to our attention). She was destined for the staff celebration stew pot until the original Andreas discovered that she was pregnant. Lucky her! She gave birth to “Adam” and thus begat the mission’s current herd (I refer to them as a rabble) of 180 rapidly multiplying sheep. Some cattle have also been bought over the years. The sheep and cattle now form vital elements of the mission farm’s sustainable agriculture and animal traction program. And although in the past I have brought premature or sick lambs to my home to be cared for, for the most part, I have maintained my nursing practice boundaries and let the men and herdsmen do the “vet-ing”. But there are always the exceptions.

This week we had several busy sick bays—both for animals and machines. First, a bull got sick on our shepherd/vet’s day off. So out came the medicine vials, needles and syringes, and the “Merck Veterinary Manual” (not as helpful as the human Merck Manual). I gave my input on possible treatment and dosages for antibiotics on hand, then Keren graciously and willingly stepped in to prepare and give the shot.

Sterilizing and preparing the our kitchen. Where else?

Samuel rounding the herd to get the bull in the squeeze (sick bay).

Keren giving the bull his shot. (Check out her account of the event here.)

We had a few sick dogs this week too, one of which had a nasty allergic reaction to something and proceeded to swell greatly and get wheals just about everywhere except on his tail! Keren and I had just sat down to discuss progress on the health manual when we got the urgent call. So out came the medicine vials, needles and syringes, and the “Merck Veterinary Manual” again, and off we went to make our house call. All ended well and by the next day Magnum was down to normal proportions again.

Evidence of the chaos.

Also in the sick bay this week were the health bikes. First, Keren’s motorbike “The General” had a few hiccups that had it laid up for several weeks. Thankfully, after replacing/repairing a few parts, it seems to be back up and running again. Secondly, the new health bike’s pedal broke when on its maiden voyage! All the bolts had been tightened and it was deemed ready for use, but I guess there was a defect in manufacturing. Let’s hope it won’t sit stationary for too long!

Here Keren peels away its new-bike wrapper before heading to her meeting with local birth attendants.

And last but by far not least this week, we had the annual Christmas Party Day for the orphans and widows in the mission program.

There was lots of fun to be had, but first order of the event: food!

Here, the Christmas story is told.

Dancing in a circle and singing to express joy. And in my opinion, there is no finer time for a joyous celebration than Christmas!

Widowed grannies, who care for orphans, get to hang out together for awhile.

There was face painting...

For everyone

The limbo

And many other fun activities, finally, the gift opening!

And with all this happening, my Christmas baking and tree decorating have taken a back seat.

Hoping to tackle those today though with a little help from my friends!

I better run for now. Blessings on you all as we celebrate our saviour’s birth and all this means to us! And in the words of Simon, one of the health care workers, “Celebrate, but stay healthy!”

1 comment:

Karen said...

Where would you begin if you were ever to write a resume? Thanks for the real-life stories (animal health and otherwise) of your life and times. Have a blessed Christmas!