Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Nurses Have Arrived! By Christine Cassidy After much anticipation and excitement, we have finally arrived in Kenya! We had a great stay at the Fairview in Nairobi to rest up before we headed out on the five hour drive to Kiirua. The further we drove out of town the more apparent the poverty was. It was green and tropical in the areas where there had been a lot of rain. As we continued, areas that haven’t seen rain in months were very dry. The poverty was more apparent in these areas due to the lack of healthy crops. It was definitely a culture shock experience that I will never forget. It really motivated me even more for my work here in Kenya. We headed into Meru (a small town about 20 minutes from Kiirua) to go to the Nakumatt, which is very similar to a Wal-Mart. They literally have everything. At home, in Canada, you could go to the grocery store and not have one person look at you. However, in Kenya, you are the main attraction. Everyone was looking at me like I either had leprosy or I was Jesus. The kids would follow us and run and grab their friends to come see. One of the hardest things has been growing accustomed to the men staring. It is hard to remember that we look extremely foreign to them. Other than the funny looks, the Kenyans have been so welcoming and genuinely happy to see us. We arrived at the guesthouse at St. Theresa’s hospital in Kiirua with a warm welcome from the Sisters. They prepared a delicious Kenyan meal and sang for us throughout the evening. It was a great first evening in our new home! Yesterday we got right to work with our first women’s clinic with the Muchui women. What an experience! Twenty women traveled from their farms to attend the health assessment clinic. Kim, Melanie and I divided a classroom into three stations. Each woman was given a health card with her name on it and we filled it out as they completed each station. Kim was in charge of respiratory assessment and oxygen saturation; Melanie took weight, height, and waist measurements, along with the women’s blood pressure; and I took the women’s blood glucose. We concluded with an information session on high blood sugars since the majority of the had a slightly high blood sugar (around 8.) I took one woman’s blood glucose and the glucometer read 41.7. After I picked my jaw off the floor (remembering my nonverbals), I decided to take it a second time just to make sure. The second reading was 42.5! With the help of another women to translate, Kim and I encouraged the women to head to the dispensary immediately to get some medication. She understood the importance of this and went right away. Other than that one case, the women were all very healthy. They maintain a healthy lifestyle with lots of exercise due to the amount of walking and lifting they do on their farms. We were all very impressed with the women and we look forward to completing another clinic with the Muchui women in August! On Monday we start at the hospital. Melanie and I are both very excited! There will be more updates in the weeks to come!

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