We have settled in to life here in Mbingo. Work is steady, at times hectic, challenging, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding. We are seeing a much broader scope of infectious diseases here than we did back home, but we are also seeing first hand just how remarkable a recovery a child can make - even when we do not specifically know what we are treating. We have had a handful of children who presented altered, somnolent, and in status epilepticus - likely secondary to a viral meningoencephalitis - who have made remarkable recoveries and walked out of the ward. We currently have a 13 yo with cryptococcal meningitis (despite being HIV negative) who presented comatose and is now asking for his older brother. God is the healer and we have seen His miraculous hand at work over and over.
Boris: 2 weeks post-operative Boris: heading home
The most poignant example that comes to mind is Boris. Boris is a 5 yo who came in after being hit in the head with a piece of rebar. He progressed rapidly to mental status changes and signs of increased intracranial pressure, and was rushed to surgery where they found a frontal lobe abscess. The surgeons were able to debride the area but in doing so had to resect the entire right frontal lobe. 2 weeks later, he is being discharged home looking and acting for all the world as if nothing ever happened (other than a nice surgical scar). God is good!
The recoveries like Boris' and the teaching keep our spirits up. However, the constant nagging of not truly knowing the diagnoses, of not having access to the studies and tests we would like, and feeling inadequate for the task make it hard. In the absence of cultures we are simply treating all of these patients empirically - what are the common bugs, and what are the bugs that could rapidly kill them, and what can we give to cover those processes. However, we are reminded that it isn't the medicine that matters. We don't have to have the right answer or the cure with each patient, and in fact, we cannot. Our role here is just as much to show these patients and their families that we care, to give our best effort, and to let God intervene where we clearly fall short. Thankfully, He is a great God, and He succeeds where we cannot.
On another note (and to give room for some more photos) Cathen is now a little over 9 months old. She is growing like a weed, and is active as a bunny rabbit. We are ever-thankful for the health and safety that she has been provided. Here are some new pictures that we took in our friends' garden: