Days seem to be flying already with work busy as ever. A typical day here:
Zac wakes at about 5:30am, before the birds (urrrg), wanting milk and cudddles. We put off getting up as long as possible but being jumped on and getting tangled in the mossie nets by an active 2 year old is worse than getting up. There's usually no power so we put on a big pot of water to boil on the little gas cylinder outside. Once its boiled we scoop out a few cups for coffees and porridge and the rest gets poured into a 50cm plastic bowl that gets mixed with cold water for our sponge baths. This 1 bowl usually serves 3 or 4 of us so being first is a BIG advantage!!! You just never know which little ones have had a tinkle in the water!!! Left over water is used to wash our clothes, hence we arent looking too sharp! A good day is when the fridge shelf doesnt fall out along with all our food!
Weather here has been lovely and warm. During the day the humidity and clouds build and then there's often a torrential downpour for an hour or so. After that, its clear skies and sunshine again!
We tear about getting everyone dressed and fed and into the car in time for work. Our car is a squealing "chaser" sedan that makes such an awful sound in first gear that kids we pass have started putting their hands over their ears! The timing belt is hopefully being changed tomorrow! It overheated today causing it to stall 4 times!
We are farewelled by the guard at the gate of our 10 foot fence and off we go. One of the guards, smiley Adamo, looks like a cross between a DJ and Robin Hood as he wears large ear muffs (as the temperature drops to a "chilly" 20 overnight), a tracksuit and carries a bow and arrow as his weapon of choice! The other guard is the opposite extreme being older, scarily stony faced and in army camoflague. Driving to work we pass the brilliant orange flowering flame trees (affectionately known as Christmas trees) and all the bustling colourful activity of Tanzanian life....women in bright kangas (wraps) balance baskets of bananas and fruit, water or grass on their heads, motor cycles dart between the traffic loaded with all sorts- towering stacks of bread loaves, sofas, building materials etc. Men sweat it out dragging huge wagons. The local tro tros (minivans that serve as buses) drive crazily, flashing their lights and honking to invite more customers to squash in. There's the occassional traffic jam caused by a herd of goats or cows and the ever-present police check points. Police in crisp, pristinely white uniforms stop us almost daily to check licences, papers and for what they like to call a "christmas gift".
When I go to work at the hospital, our car is stopped for a rountine bomb check (!!) at the gate. Not sure if this makes us feel more or less at ease! Work is completely different every day and I never know what to expect. Yesterday was particularly eventful. The day started with an assessment with my patient with the spinal cord injury who is doing really well and is now wanting to be set up for discharge home after 7 months in hospital.
I then got introduced to a poor little 7 year old with burns to 32% of her body. Her clothes caught fire in the kitchen. It was so heartbreaking to see. She was sitting unclothed on the bed with a patch work of skin grafts all over her torso, neck, arms and face. She does not have enough unburnt skin for all of her skin grafts so there are many areas still open despite the burns being back from July! They have chosen to leave the wounds undressed. Contractures have set in already with her little neck being pulled down towards her chest and pulling her mouth open. Her arms and fingers no longer straighten. She was crying as her mum helped her with her stretches. Very sad. She was discharged later that day to Plaster House despite her pain and infection risks as there is no more money to treat her at the hospital and it is the only other option for her other than going home! I will be seeing her regualrly but its hard to know where to start!
Later, I did a homevisit for my spinals patient. She was hauled into a ute by the driver and a maintenance man like a sack of potates before I even had a chance to discuss our manual handling strategies. We then all squashed in- 4 "full figured" women in the back seat and the wheelchair and frame in the tray of the ute. We bumped our way out to her home. It was an emotional trip for her- the first time she'd left the hosptial in 7 months, first time in a car since her accident, first time to see her home. She was great and whilst there are many, many challenges, we're hoping to have her home for christmas.
Adam has meetings with teachers to organise his conference. Sometimes they rock up, and other times they don't. Its very frustrating for him. Zoe and Zac make the most of any school playgrounds whilst he's there.
Zoe and Zac love visiting and playing with the kids at Plaster House. Zoe played with a little baby girl with hydrocephalus for about 40 mins today and managed to get her smiling and holding toys. "Zacharia" attracts no end of attention from the kids who all want to pick him up. Today they all drummed together!
Whenever we can, we head down to "the club". I hate it as it is like an elitist rich haven but we go mainly for Zoe and Zac. There is a beautiful green oval for them to run on, a playground, gym and pool. They have kids classes like "music makers" and swimming lessons.... and Zumba and a treadmill for us! Need to burn off those Italian kilos!!!
The day ends with a one-pot dinner on our verandah whilst watching for any signs of the monkeys playing in the trees. Before we know it, its books and bedtime for the kids and were tucking them in under their mossie nets. We have done a book swap with a friend and loving having some new reading material! I can recite our books with my eyes shut after 11 months with the same ones! Adam and I then collapse onto our red tartan maasai arm chairs in our lime green lounge room and catch up on the day. Adam prays to the electricity gods so that he can watch his beloved TV. However, even if his prayers are answered, he then curses at the TV for continually loosing signal at key points in a show! Otherwise, we email or study till the batteries run out and then its bedtime for us too!