Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Here. To There.

Salut Lome!
Last walk down the hall to the laundry. Last report given at shift change.  Last singing in the ward with the Patient Life Team (wish I could play you the sound file).  Last trip to the market. Last ride on a Zemidjan (motorbike) in Lome.  Last time I will tuck my patients Fati and Kossiwa into bed : )  So many last times in the last few day.
I'm excited to be going home. I'm sad to leave another phase of life. I now hope I can one day go back someday to be part of  Mercy Ships again.  I'm excited to keep practicing my French now! I was so pleased to know the West African day workers.  I will miss them the most.  I'm excited for non-buffet food.  I'm excited for open spaces!  I'm excited to see Mercy Shippers again in other places around the world!
I'm in Ethiopia, on my way to London to catch a flight to Sweden! where I will have a reunion with my previous South America travel buddies! and eventually home again.
See you all soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Feeeeel it

When I first arrived on the ship I LOVED all the artwork that was hung onboard the ship (All hung by magnets of course). Now it's like walking the halls of my own home and I hardly notice it.  But I want to enjoy it afresh here today! Hope you do too : )


"Africa Will Not be The Same..."

"The only bad part about Mercy Ships is that people leave..."

I know I can't actually bring them to you, and a picture can only speak 'a thousand' words ; ) but I wish you could know everything about these 2 ladies. I got to share my bunk space with each of them.  I'd say I truly lucked out with such amazing gals to get to know.  Roomies become some of the most special people on the ship.

Anjali Hamilton (Left)

Anjali.... 27, Comox, BC, Canada. Labour & Delivery nurse. Writes sweet notes. Has figured out a cool balance in life. Could I say humbly adventurous... Her mission was to get off the ship everyday, and.. she did it! You're my inspiration Anjali. Missing you already!

Amy Cleary (right)

Amy.... 24, New Zealand, plays cool music - on speakers of course.  Is creative and kind. Carefree. Watches out for her mates. Has a wild side ; ) Inspires people with her spontenaeity and happiness.

These are the kind of girls you do want to see again!
I hope my dreams of that come true.
Love you ladies : )

Artwork by one of my constantly creative current roomies Andrea Humphrey!
Used without permission! ; )

Monday, May 14, 2012

Amber from Dennis

Yep, I got Amber from Dennis tonight. Follow me here....!

There's a Lithuanian Dude named Dennis on board the ship. The other night he says you know what Amber is right? Ya, a colour.  No he says and it's a stone aswell.  Right.. yes, that too.  'Do you have any?? Well, a pair of earrings I think, that's about it. 

Tonight he shows up on B-Ward and gives me a beautiful Baltic Amber bracelet!! THANK YOU Dennis!
Ship is full of special thoughtful people.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dress Ceremony!

Tuesday May 8, 2012

Dress Ceremony Celebration!

Where: B Ward, Mercy Ship, Lome, Africa
Time: 10:30 am

I got to be the official photographer at this week's Dress Ceremony Celebration!  We have a ceremony at least once a week, sometimes twice lately, with all the women being discharged. 

Believe it or not VVF surgeries have already come to a close on the Africa Mercy 2012.  That doesn't mean our work is done tho, as the recovery period is around 2 weeks in hospital, sometimes more.  Dr. Romanzi left this past weekend after 3-4 weeks of surgeries.

I hope you enjoy the photos as we have enjoyed these ladies.  These are literally the patients that I have gotten to care for this week and last week.  It always brings tears when I see them walk in all spiffed up! Since moments before they were in hospital gown, and likely a few days prior with catheters and other hospital paraphernalia.One or two of them have already moved on to the Hope Centre awaiting their final discharge. 

Please hang with me through the first few photos as I give some cool stats! from Dr. Romazi's recent presentation on board the ship. 

There are 4 types of fistulas:
  • Vesicouterine Fistulas
  • Vesicovaginal Fistulas
  • Urethrovaginal Fistulas
  • Rectovaginal Fistulas

Majority of maternal deaths due to five principle causes
  • Hemorrhage
  • Unsafe abortion
  • Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy
  • Sepsis
  • Obstructed labor

In wealthy nations, “failure to progress” = obstructed labor
- one of most common indications for cesarean delivery.
Cesarean delivery rates USA: ~ 30%
Most fistulas are related to obstructed labor

Fistulas most prevalent in areas where maternal mortality is high and especially where obstructed labor is a major contributor to maternal death

Overall world maternal mortality ratio approx
400 deaths/100,000 live births

Developed world maternal mortality ratio is
20 deaths/100,000 live births

Sub-Saharan Africa worst statistics à
920 deaths/100,000 live births
= Estimated nearly 1% of all pregnant women can
expect to die in any given pregnancy

As of year 2000 the top 10 countries
with the highest maternal mortality ratios are:
Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Malawi, Angola,
Niger, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mali, Somalia, Zimbabwe
Niger maternal mortality 1:7
USA maternal mortality 1:4000
Togo maternal mortality 1:285 (2008)

Credits to the above information taken from
Dr. Romanzi's presentation on board the Africa Mercy 2012

I wish we could have recorded each woman as they told their
stories this week... well, every week for that matter.

The hospital experiences for these women has included
around 2 weeks of catheters

Some stories were not stories of entire healing.
The hospital was a place of friendships built! I love these 2 : )

Knowing there is other women out there like them,
was HUGE for these women. 

Being in the wards is one of their first steps out of isolation
Each one has a story of their own
HOPE... they all came to the ship because they had hope of a future, hope of healing.

Each woman had a hope, some 'hopes' were realized here. I got to be a part of that. Believe me it was special.  Others came here, and their hopes were not realized.  Believe me, those ladies were extra special.

Last week, one of the patients called me over cause the lady next to her was crying. After questioning her about what was wrong, she told me she was worried for the other lady a few beds over. She's so sweet.  Her friend's catheter had come out and she was not having great success with trials of voiding.  We were spending lots of time with here friend so she figured something must be wrong, that surgery didn't work. It wasn't the case, so I was glad to tell here we need time and just have to wait and see how it will go.

We celebrated the life of each woman, no matter what the outcome.
I really wish I could say every VVF surgery is successful, but the truth is bladders etc are just a bit complicated, and it's not always a quick fix.
Although, we had several successful 'quick fixs' too! Praise the Lord
There were in fact a lot of HAPPY women this day!

Coming to receive their gifts.
Gifts include...
A bar of soap... representing how Christ cleanses us from all sin
A mirror... to show
A jar of lotion... as the balm

My! MY! Stunner!
Look at these ladies!

Love these precious ladies!

The only bad part about discharges... is that my friends leave : /
That's actually the only bad part about all of Mercy Ships in general...
is that our friends leave.... : /

A very special lady. Ramatou.
A lady who has a story of her own.
Once a patient on the Mercy Ship, now our only Tchokossi translator!
Debriefing after all the fun! : )

The ladies and our Patient Life Team
Patient Life takes on a counseling and supportive role.  They are present when delivering bad news, they round the wards every morning for singing and devotions, they attend to any other spiritual/emotional etc needs that may have otherwise gotten overlooked. Thank you PATIENT LIFE TEAM!
The beautiful ladies and just some of the beautiful nurses!
Enjoy some of the following pics with my colleagues!

Best of buds : )

These 2 were my special friends the last 2 weeks : )
Gotta love em!
Everyone has made friends.
Tres belle!

Fatima came as a patient but got to stick around extra long as a 'caregiver' to her aunt.
Basically they came together and would travel home together so she got to sleep
under her aunt's bed, which was a huge delight to all of us.  She is 15 but very young at heart.  
Happy for them, sad for us, they were discharged to the Hope Centre yesterday. 
Lalle, Fatima's Aunt. Yes... that is a smile from Lalle : )

I wish I could communicate to you more of their direct stories as each one is so precious.

"They are precious in His sight"