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Entries from June 2013

Getting to The Shire (Yesterday's Adventure)

Several of the orphans-no-more have asked to go back to The Shire to see the place, dream, have a picnic... We haven't brought them very often because we are too many to all fit in the 4x4 as the roads are too bad for the van right now.

Yesterday, we decided that Johnny would take the youngest children in the car, and I would take the older ones on foot, on a bus, then on foot again up to The Shire. It would be an adventure, and I like embracing a challenge.

On our way from the house to the highway where we would catch a vehicle going in the right direction, we saw a lovely vervet monkey! The walk was only a few kilometers, but finding a car going far enough on a Sunday was difficult. We kept walking... Finally, we all boarded a public van that wanted to charge us double the price per person! We negotiated and protested until they agreed to the normal price.

We asked them to drop us at the foot path that goes up the mountain. Since I wasn't certain where the path was, I didn't realize they dropped us off over a kilometer from the right place. So we had to walk to the path, then UP the path. Once we got to the railroad, we lost the path! So we ended up walking on cow trails and getting lost. We came out of the woods on the right road but about a half of a kilometer away from The Shire. By then, we were pretty tired.

We had sour dough bread sandwiches for lunch, drank all the water we brought. The kids had a blast stomping in the mud for the hut. I learned a lot about the building and even taught the guys a few things. I got my hands dirty building walls... So much fun.

When it was time to leave, I went down on foot with the older kids as Johnny drove the rest home in the Pajero.

Just as I was reaching the highway, Johnny called saying the Pajero overheated, and he was stuck on the highway with the little kids and no water to put in the radiator.

Just as he was talking my phone battery died. I had no way of communicating with Johnny to help him out. He was stranded, and I was equally stranded since I was on foot with 6 kids.

We waited ages on the side of the highway for a vehicle to pick us up so we could get to Nakuru. The one that stopped was a huge bus with standing room only. We piled in, and I convinced the driver to stop at the first sign of our car on the side of the highway (since I couldn't see out of the windows because the bus was so crowded).

We stopped, but keep in mind, all public vehicles are in a mad rush to pick passengers for more cash... the driver didn't have patience as we sorted out piling in the other children from Johnny's lot. The bus started moving just as the last daughter of mine stepped on to the bus with the door still open! I was expecting to get some money from Johnny to pay the fare, but they pulled out so quickly. I was 50 shillings short, but the tout didn't mind. All eleven of us were hanging on to the poles trying not to fall over with each aggressive stop. It was a difficult 40 minutes to our stop as passengers kept getting off and on while most of my family was standing in the aisle!

We got off the bus too soon, and had to walk quite a distance with ALL the kids in tow. That's a lot of kids to manage, but after a long climb (40 minutes) UP hill to our house, we finally made it home... Keep in mind, this adventure was sandwiched among loads of cooking, prepping of a picnic for 17 people, and a fantastic supper of home made pizzas and potatoes, etc... It was just a busy adventurous day indeed.



 


Who needs an Appendix anyway?

Eowyn has been complaining of a tummy ache for a couple of days. She had no signs of disturbance a part from her usual aversion to quality food. We thought perhaps she just wanted the 'sweet medicine' and didn't think more of it until last night.

She woke up with her knees pulled to her chest writhing in pain complaining of a tummy ache. She sleeps in our family bed and drew close to me to nurse. She pulled and scratched me with her hands and nursed violently because of the pain. I took her to the toilet, and she complained even more that it hurt to be upright, and she didn't need to poo. I knew it wasn't constipation because she had a decent BM the day before on the Shire. I asked her to show me where it hurt, and she pointed to her umbilicus area. I realize a person's appendix is on their right side, so I assumed she just needed to potty.

After giving her a small dose of fever reducer for the pain and a little gas tablet, she finally went back to sleep... until the meds wore off. Then it was the same- fetal position, pain to move, and serious discomfort. I phoned my friend from the UK who is a pediatrician by profession, and she said that in small children, appendicitis can present itself with pain in the middle at first and move to the right later. I decided it best to take Ewoyn to see a doctor. THIS I rarely do. In fact, this was Eowyn's FIRST doctor visit in her entire life.

After visiting one doctor's office where he didn't show up, we decided to take her to Valley Hospital to find a doctor there. The female Doc was VERY nice. She listened and understood and had compassion and sent me off with Eowyn to the Ultrasound clinic for a scan on the other side of town. There, the traffic is crazy, and there is no parking. Our locks don't work on the Pajero so Johnny just sat in the car waiting.... and waiting... and waiting...

I thought it would be a quick thing, but it took 3 1/2 hours to get in to see the doctor. He's a round, jovial man whom I've seen before for various scans in the past.... always laughing and making people feel comfortable while they are lying vulnerable on the table. Eowyn's fever was so high by this point, (meds had worn off) she was asleep through it all. He snapped photos of her liver, pancreas, gall bladder, and even her appendix which had no inflammation; however her peritoneal cavity (abdomen) had pockets of fluid all in it and a swollen lymph node. He suggested that she contracted typhoid, but he wasn't sure; however, he really thought her appendix was fine.

After the scan, it was another hour or so before I got the results in hand so we could take them back to the hospital. Keep in mind, we have very little cash by this point. Oh, and did I mention our friend & cook was not available today to help with my other children? Needless to say, it was a crazy day...

Ok, scan and results in hand, we went back to the hospital where the real fun begins.

So they have to draw blood from Eowyn's arm. She didn't like it one bit, but she definitely handled it well. I kept wanting to give her fever meds, but Johnny insisted we wait on the docs.

The lab results for typhoid and salmonella were negative. (But they say a stool sample may provide different results).

The lady doctor wanted to admit Eowyn immediately to the hospital, put her on IV, etc... (I mentioned that she's not vomiting, she's nursing just fine, and that I can administer any meds at home). She insists with a 102.5 fever, she needs to be at the hospital. Since we disagree, she calls in a pediatrician (another opinion, more $, too).

The pediatrician thought it was early onset typhoid, but it was too early to show in her blood tests. He thought that the breast milk might upset her intestines where the infection was, and since it was in her abdomen, she needed to see a surgeon. He called in a surgeon (another opinion, more $).

The surgeon took 30 minutes to arrive, he walked in wearing his fancy suit, and when he spoke, he closed his eyes. He didn't even look at her paper work. He asked me why I brought her in. I wanted him to see that I have some knowledge and wits about me, so I told him how I thought she might have appendicitis, but that now they thought it was typhoid.

He jumped on that opportunity and immediately tried convincing us she needed surgery. "She doesn't need her appendix anyway, and the infection in her abdomen could be a sign of early onset appendicitis. You should just have it removed-- just in case."

My jaw hit the floor, and mommy anger arose, "You MEAN to tell me I should just have her cut open and her appendix removed because it MIGHT be infected even though I saw it was perfectly fine on the scan?!"

He continued going on about how it couldn't be typhoid because typhoid symptoms are... ABCD.... (which were EXACTLY the symptoms Ewoyn was having)! Keep in mind that I understood he was partially right about the potential of it being early appendicitis, but that I wasn't willing to have her cut open until we were sure.

AND keep in mind, all the while they were discussing her treatment explaining how urgent it was that she get meds in her system through IV, they COULD have given her oral meds and they would have been effective by the time all this talking was done!

They decided to go ahead and put an IV line in to give her meds while we were deciding what action we were going to take.

So according to the doctors, our options were to:

  1. have her perfect looking appendix removed for an exorbitant price just in case it gets infected, or
  2. admit her to hospital where they'll give her antibiotics through the IV for typhoid, or
  3. take her home, and give her oral antibiotics myself for typhoid and apendecitis.

I chose number 3. I explained to them that I'll monitor and bring her in if she shows any signs of appendicitis.

 

As the surgeon tried tearing our bill for his services out of the book, he ripped it to bits along the edge. My thoughts were on my little daughter's beautiful belly and how if that man couldn't even rip the receipt out properly, HOW could he cut her open neatly? Oddly, Johnny thought the same thing!

 

So now Eowyn is home, and she's playing (thanks to a high dose of pain meds injected in her IV line that the doctors insisted on putting in, and then ultimately removed before this crazy mom (and Pa, Johnny was in agreement) took our child home).

 

*PS: I could not have handled all this drama sanely without the support of my friend Madeleine! She kept phoning me and talking to me encouraging through each decision throughout the day. As well as Johnny & Andrew who waited in the car for hours and also helped in the decision process. And my friend Redempta who popped by the hospital to check on Eowyn, and Madeleine also dropped some home made chocolate centered croissants off for me to munch after a very long day w/out food. She was even going to cook supper for my family! Our cook showed up and helped out later, so thanks goes to her, too!


Time to Start The Hut

It is 2:32 p.m. on this Monday. Not so bad, up till now. I have had worse Mondays, so not complaining. I did wake up two minutes before it was time to drive the girls to school. It has been a struggle to get up these past few mornings. The girls made it to school more or less on time, so that worked out.

Ali met with a local fundi (sort of craftsman) to talk about building The Hut. The Hut will be small, twelve fut in diameter, and essentially just be walls and a roof. This fundi will charge us 10,000 KES to do it, not including the door, windows, and roofing materials. Besides the wood for the door and windows everything will be taken from The Shire, so part of that price is walking around collecting the materials. (The door and windows will be another 3,500 KES or so.)Ali thinks it is a good idea, and so we are poised to start building The Hut.

Altogether we need approximately $200 U.S. dollars to build The Hut. Not bad for our very first building on The Shire. If you would like to help you can:

Write a check out to A Future and a Hope and mail to:

A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843

Or use PayPal and send to back2kenya@yahoo.com or afutureandahope@gmail.com

Western Union and MoneyGram are options as well, just contact me beforehand to make the arrangements.

Now let us see if the rest of this Monday can be as o.k. as the first half has been.


Heavy Rocks

Yesterday we began to gather up rocks from around The Shire to use in the foundation for The Hut. The entire piece of property is on a hill side, with a few exceptions you are either walking up or down the incline. Rocks of course roll down hill, which means we had to carry them up. Not that big of a deal except that the previous owners had planted maize where The Hut is to be built. Ruts, lots of ruts plagued our wheelbarrow. 

Pushing, pulling, lifting, and struggling to get the wheelbarrow up that small incline was a bit discouraging. Plus the place has really become overgrown with weeds since we did not plant. (Giving the land a rest.) In other words carrying those rocks was a real pain.

Painful until I remembered why I was carrying those rocks. 

There are too many children in this world who have no hope in their futures. They do not have mom's to make sure they eat healthy food, nor dads to make sure they partake of the delicious but nutritiously suspect foods. No aunts to help with homework, nor uncles to scrutinize their would be love interests. Too many children fighting the whole day just to get something to eat. Too many girls forced to sell their bodies for pennies. Pennies. Too many.

The Shire is a way we can help more. This land will help us secure a future for the girls we already care for. They will have a home, a place they can grow food to eat, come and visit on holidays, and call their own. Our plans will enable us to feed, clothe, and even perhaps house more children. It will help us give them A Future and a Hope.

Now let me go and carry some more rocks up the hill.