Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baby Steps

This post may be a bit all over the place because I've been a bit out of it, so I apologize in advance. This week has definitely slowed me down a bit. Unfortunately, a virus tore through IU house sometime on Monday, and I found myself up all night throwing up. I was one of about fifteen people affected by the virus, and one of about five who were hit pretty hard. Tuesday, I didn't leave my bed and wasn't able to eat anything at all. Wednesday, I mustered up enough strength to shower and force down two pieces of toast, though it didn't go down without a fight. Today has been a lot better, and I'm hoping it will be my turning point. A group of us were scheduled to work at a farm this morning instead of at the hospital, so inspite of my illness, I decided to stick to the schedule and give that a go. The job was all manual labor, which might not have been the best idea seeing as how my only food intake for the last three days at that point had been 4 pieces of toast, but I thought that throwing myself back into things wouldn't be a bad approach. So I did, and I succeeded---though I will not deny that I was completely worn out after lunch. Speaking of lunch, I was able to eat some rice and fruit without problems, which was encouraging. Dinner was pretty similar. I'm still extremely weak and my energy level is low, but I'm getting there. Baby steps I tell you, baby steps...

Since I've missed the last three days of working in the hospital, the highlight of my week definitely has to be working at the farm. I worked with two local Kenyans--Carol and Joseph--who have both worked at the farm for 3-4 years. In a previous post, I made reference to the AMPATH program and how they feed ~30,000 patients infected with HIV to help nurture them back to health. The farm that I worked on today was an AMPATH farm that harvests crops responsible for feeding the patients. It was really interesting to work with Carol and Joseph, as we found ourselves lost in conversation while planting spinach out in the fields. They taught me a lot about Kenyan culture, giving me vivid descriptions of how tribal customs have shaped the atmosphere here. They also talked a lot about last year's political election and how corrupt it was. Hearing stories of the violence and clashes that went on during that time was enough to make me cringe, but I'm glad that Carol and Joseph were willing to share them with me. Working on the farm today was time well spent--not just because I was able to lend a hand to AMPATH, but because it was a great opportunity to learn from local Kenyans and get firsthand accounts of how they perceive their country. I'm really happy that I was able to bounce back from my illness for a few hours in order to take in this experience.

Well, tomorrow I hope to head back to the hospital to finish off the week. It will actually be my last day on the medicine wards, as I'll be switching over to the pediatrics side on Monday (yay!). As all of you know, pediatrics is where my heart truly lies, so I'm sure I will have many great stories for you once I make the switch. I hope everyone is doing well back home. Much love to all of you from Africa! God bless you always.

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