Some of you might be wondering why you haven't heard from us in awhile. And as I'm typing this message on a day when the internet isn't working, you might still not hear from us in awhile (until I'm able to actually post it)! There are things that we need to adjust to as we settle into African/Kenyan culture. Internet seems to be a familiar taste of home, but too often we forget that it's a Western phenomenon in an African setting. What I mean to say by all this is basically that the internet has been extremely unreliable since our arrival. It probably wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't come in with expectations of routinely video-Skyping our family and friends. We have been able to do this sometimes, but with decreasing frequency as the internet has been “upgraded” these past months.
About 2 days out of 7, the internet is just not working at all. No one can connect. We're not sure why this happens. Sometimes as the systems gets “upgraded” a feature gets changed and someone has to physically come to each of our homes and reset some parameter on our computer. Sometimes the Tenwek system can't connect to the larger Internet body, somewhere out there. About 4 days out of 7, the internet is exceedingly slow. We can check our gmail in basic html, maybe update a blog and load a photo if we're willing to wait a few hours. And then about 1 day out of 7, everything is lined up perfectly for good, moderately fast internet...and then this happens:
The power was out last week for over 24 hours, and that brought the network down, too, so no emails. And it's not just that a line went down, but the transformer actually blew up during a storm, and needed to be replaced. All this to say, sorry if you don't hear from us. We're trying! And since the internet continues to get “upgraded” and with each change, gets slower...we might look into other options soon, like the personal McCropder satellite uplink. Details on how to contribute to come. :)
But seriously, I think our internet is an analogy for the issues that we face in the hospital on a daily basis. In order for the internet to work, we usually just think about our own personal connection. Instead, many different things have to happen in order for us to connect. Our computer needs to be functional, the Tenwek server needs to be functional, we need to connect to the server, the server needs to connect to its internet provider, which needs to be working...and then we have to have power to be able to work the system too, which is another matter entirely. There has to be water over the dam, the hydroelectric turbines need to be functional, all the wires need to be working, there's apparently a transformer that needs to work, etc. Many factors we don't even think about.
I was talking to my friend Christina, an OB at a nearby hospital, about a patient recently and all the issues that played into her care. She had lost six babies all at the end of the second trimester, before birth. This is a complicated case, even for the US, but Christina started her on medication and things seemed to be going well. The lady was put into the hospital and given steroids to help the baby's lungs develop in case it came early. But then Christina left for a few weeks and the woman went home, not seen again until she presented to the hospital at her due date with a dead baby. The last hospitalization had cost her too much money, and she was indebted to another family member. She couldn't afford transportation back to the hospital for more care. She said she wasn't told to come back. She had visited another clinic instead where the nurse didn't pick up on warning signs that the baby was not doing well. So many breakdowns in the system. We tend to think about the medical process only, but here there are financial concerns, communication issues, and outside medical systems that we can't count on to be reliable. There is a huge web of exacerbating factors that play into every patient we meet.
So pray for us, that our internet issues would get resolved, but on a larger level that God gives us grace and wisdom and insight into each patient that we treat, uncovering their true needs and giving us guidance on how to meet those needs.