The last few weeks have been pretty rough. I love working on the wards every day, but they can be extremely draining. Some days it feels like I’ve been running around all day and nothing gets done. So, to combat that we all started talking about our “big wins.” A big win is something that you did that made a difference or a positive thing that happened to you. Every day on our walks back from the hospital we all talk about our big wins.  A big win could be a big as a patient being discharged or as small as them actually getting all of their medication on time (actually that’s a pretty big one, too). With that being said, I’m going to tell you about some of my big wins from the last few weeks.

  • Explaining to a patient’s family how HIV is spread. They were afraid that because their HIV+ sister scratched them they would get HIV and die.  Their sister had been HIV+ for over 20 years and no one had ever explained to the family how the virus was spread.
  • Getting an accurate weight on a patient – turns out we had over-estimated her weight and she was getting too high of a dose of some of her medications that were negatively affecting her liver. We adjusted her dose and everything went back to normal.
  • Working with nurses to get a patient’s medication on a daily schedule
  • Teaching nursing students how insulin works
  • Finding the dosing schedule of insulin on the wards, re-copying it, and taping it to my patient’s bed to make sure she got her insulin
  • Explaining how a colonoscopy bowel prep works with the help of two other patients translating for me
  • Discharging one of my 15 year old patients after she spent over a month in the hospital
  • Explaining to a patient’s family what cryptococcal meningitis is and how the medication worked – AND they actually understood me
  • Having a full conversation with a patient who came in two weeks prior extremely confused and so irritable that we could not give her an IV without giving her something to sedate her. We were able to discharge her home before the Easter weekend.
  • Finding all the patient charts (the biggest win of all!!)

Being on the wards is really tough. Watching patients die from things that would 100% be treatable in the US is extremely disheartening. It’s been very important for me to focus on the positive things we are doing here because it can be difficult to see how we are making a difference. But, it’s worth it when you fight for something and it actually happens! Even if it’s as small as making sure a patient gets their medication, we are doing something that matters.

If you haven’t, please check out AMPATH, the program I am here with, and learn about the work they do here. It is SO important.

And to finish up, here are some pictures from our weekend trips. With the intensity of the wards and how frustrating they can be, I am so glad we are fortunate enough to see more of this beautiful country. Who knew Kenya was so cool?? In the last few weeks we have been to Kakamega Rainforest, Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria, hiked around Mount Longonot, walked through the Hell’s Gate to the Devil’s Bedroom, and did a little safari at Lake Nakuru.