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Showing posts from February, 2011

The pain of powerlessness

Agnes, our beloved nanny, has children the same ages as ours. She started working for us when Isaac was just 5 months old, and her son Clement was just 3 months. Perhaps it's the working-mother thing, but my heart went out to her immediately, knowing how hard it is to do the juggling necessary to make ends meet. Clement was hospitalized several times that first year, for malaria and asthma and double-pneumonia and measles! Every time the phone rang at 4:30 or 5am, I knew he was sick again and she was taking him to the hospital. I didn't even know about the children's ward's 70% mortality rate then, but I still knew enough to start praying! I didn't know if I would survive the stress of that first year of Clement's life, let alone if he would!

But he did, and he's now a healthy, active 2 year old--talking circles around Isaac and already potty-trained! And then, as I was starting to get big with Omara, Agnes tearfully confided that she was unexpectedly pregna…

3 months and still golden

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Omara is 3 months old already! I can hardly believe how quickly time is flying with her baby-days, perhaps because she remains so easy to accomodate. She smiles more, laughs and coos, and is unsuccessfully trying to roll over. We found vaccine for everything except pneumococcal (pneumonia), and she's 5.25kg (11.5 lbs) and ready to start malaria preventative meds this week, if we can find any (of all annoying things to have shortages of!)
Meanwhile, the other kids are doing great also. Anya continues to thrive at ABC Academy, where she's on the swim team, in ballet, and in the choir. Her teacher is great, and her confidence has never been higher (that brings it's own host of challenges, but better that than the alternative!). Ethan has settled into the routine of real homework (yes, in KG) and is reading like a champ, whizing through math, and continuing to charm with his great smile and adorable owl-hair. Isaac is back to hearing English and Chichewa, so he's slowed dow…

Hoofbeats

My professor in Nursing school, affectionately known as "Ma Barker," had a favorite saying: When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebra. The meaning? Common diseases happen commonly. A patient with nasal congestion is much more likely to have a cold than Wegener's granulomatosis. Obviously! But I had a thought yesterday, as I reviewed my textbooks in some clinic down-time. What if you live in Africa???

There is a whole host of diagnoses that aren't even on my radar because they're such 'zebra', and yet here a fever is more likely to be a potentially fatal malaria than a virus. A sore knee is often septic arthritis. I've seen chicken pox for the first time in my career (!), and I have to think about diptheria, measles, and tetnus as possible diagnoses. Stomach "bugs" and coughs could be caused by all sorts of nasty worms that I can hardly think about, lest I get nauseated. (Did you know that one of the common parasitic worms travels thro…