Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do You Know...Schisto?

A big part of my job is welcoming new people to the Health Unit and waving goodbye to folks as they leave. This job is full of people transitioning in and out and in and out. When people are leaving Rwanda, they are supposed to check out of the Health Unit. This gives us a chance to review their chart and make copies of their medical record for the person to take with them to their next posting.

Part of our check out includes offering the person a screening for Shistosomiasis. Before joining the State Department I had vaguely heard of Schisto. Whatever I learned went in one ear and out the other as it wasn't something I ever saw in my prior work. Boy, has that changed!

Schisto is a worm that you get from swimming in infected fresh water. The worms are found in the snails that are in the water. The crazy thing is you don't have to ingest the water, the worms don't swim up any can get schisto by just touching contaminated water. YIKES! Ex-pat folklore will have you believe any number of things about contracting schisto. "the water is too warm (or too cold)", "there are no reeds in the lake", "local folks don't have it", "see the white ring on the rocks - that means this water is clean" and on and on and on. Honestly, I have heard at least 15 rationalizations about why folks have gotten in the water. It doesn't really matter to me, schisto is easy to treat and you can diagnosis it with a blood test.

What kind of freaks me out is how hard it is to avoid the fresh water here. If you have seen my past blog pictures - the fresh water lakes here are amazing and beautiful and clean. It makes it really difficult to "just say no". I am not sure in my two years here I will always say "no" to swimming and splashing in the water but I will definitely get tested for my friend schisto upon leaving Rwanda. If you want to read more about schisto - check out the CDC website.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Love a Little Late

Our Valentines Day was not all it was cracked up to be. Eric had made reservations at this place up the road called New Cactus - which has great food, is close enough to walk to and which has these crazy amazing views of the city. When we go there we always talk about having a "date night" and going by ourselves to make out on one of the couches with the great view - something about making out with your two year old running around just doesn't sound right. I digress but anyways...we had a babysitter lined up for Sunday and all was set until O developed a fever of 103 and until the skies opened up and the rain poured down! Needless to say we cancelled dinner and Eric got take out goat brochettes that were outta this world and I made heart shaped brownies! So in the end it was a sweet day anyways.

One of my favorite quotes from a movie has to do with love - double gold star if you know the movie...

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrival's gate at Heathrow airport. General opinion started to make out that we're living in a world of hatred and greed. But I don't see that, seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the plane hit the Twin Tower, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They are all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


More pictures of our time in South Africa. These are the simple kind of pictures I love to take and look at. Most people would go to South Africa and take pictures of animals, art, scenes...not this girl. The Ali Family found hours worth of entertainment at a park up the road. It was an old kinda broke down park but was a park! We ran into a little 3 year old boy and his dad at the same park. If you take a 2 year old boy + 3 year old boy + 2 dads = a great time! That's me!

O Boy from above this big crazy scary metal thing you could climb up...

Here are the big metal scary steps that O climbed without a backward glance. YIKES!

Raise your hands in the air like you just don't care!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Medical Evacuation

Most of the time when someone gets sick here, it's something that I can handle. Working on the Navajo Nation for 5 years really taught me a lot about medicine and patient care and horses and zebras. When a zebra comes along or something pops up that needs a higher level of care than I can provide (or a higher level of care then Rwanda can provide) these folks are medevac'ed out - a medical evacuation. My medevac point is Pretoria, South Africa (Pretoria is to Johannesburg what Auburn is to Seattle) Having utilized these folks in South Africa numerous times - they decided it was time for me to medevac myself down to see how the system works from their end.

What a great experience this trip was! I learned so much about the process of a medevac and got to meet several of the folks that Pretoria uses for referrals. Orion and Eric came along to experience some of what South Africa had to offer. The trip was quick but we had time to check out the zoo, a couple of parks, some fab places to eat, amazing cheese, great drinks and even a little clothes shopping for O.

We enjoyed ourselves enough to consider another trip down South. I would love to fly into Johannesburg and take road trip to Cape Town. We'll see if we have enough money or vacation time to do something like that.

Yogurt cups make the best water toys

Pool time with the boys

This is what O calles his "nice smile"

Nothing beats a cold drink in the pool