Updated: Sep 18, 2018
It was another eventful day at Chidamoyo for us! After a pancake breakfast, we started the day at the hospital’s daily devotional service. Our favorite Shona hymn (for Christians and non-Christians alike) had a verse that translated to “soar like eagles”, while patients and staff all danced with their arms like eagles’ wings. Feeling energized, we began the day in the rehab room with Mr. Kamuhka. While Ben and Sam started with the CI’s treating children, the Nicole, Ellee, Elisa, and Brian observed a Cesarean section operation with Dr. Mudzingwa. The operation went smoothly and produced a healthy, crying 4.4 kg girl, “Princess”. It was an amazing experience to watch the procedure.
Meanwhile, we had a lot of success (and some challenges) treating children in our clinic today. Brian and Ben teamed up with Kendra to work with a 3-year-old girl with spastic cerebral palsy who had not yet started walking. She had high tone in her lower legs and was uncomfortable getting into standing, but with the help of a safari-themed puzzle and some of Ben’s enthusiasm, she was up and taking steps with only minimal support from her mother.
Lisa, Ellee, and Elisa helped a 7-year-old child with Cerebral Palsy receive AFO’s to help her walking. She was very eager to walk but was unable to for very long due to severe spasticity in both of her legs. We modified some AFOs that a prior UW group had donated. We showed her mother how to put them on and take them off and how to help her walk by supporting her from behind.
Sara, Sam, and Nicole experienced difficulties with two of their afternoon patients. One was a 2-year-old boy with Down Syndrome and another was a 3-year-old boy with CP. Neither were interested in working with us and being away from their mothers because they both cried incessantly and were not cooperating. We knew that both families travelled from far away villages in order to receive guidance and education at the clinic, so we felt guilty that we were not able to deliver the outcome to the extent they expected. To overcome this obstacle, we instead demonstrated to the parents and the village health workers the therapeutic activities we had in mind for the kids so that they could reproduce it. It was a very teachable moment in that it reinforced the notion of adapting to the child’s needs and level of engagement in order to be successful.
The end of the day found us splitting into teams to see some hospital inpatients:
Ellee, Brian, Sam, Kendra, and Sara worked with a boy who had been in bed for the past two months recovering from skin grafts to both his heels. He burned his heels after his epilepsy was triggered by a fire, an interestingly common mechanism for burns here in Zimbabwe. We started introducing weight bearing through his feet doing bridging exercises in his bed and then progressed to standing using a walker to offload some weight. The poor boy was not necessarily enjoying the discomfort, but his family was happy to see him up out of bed and on his way to recovery.
Elisa, Ben, Nicole, and Lisa returned to the L CVA patient from yesterday to follow up on her progress. Although she was still having issues communicating, she demonstrated definite improvements from yesterday. She had more tone in her muscles and required less assistance in sitting. We felt confident in standing her up and she did very well. Again, we reviewed how to position her in bed and how to perform bed mobility and transfers to her family members.
We left the hospital to embark on a sunset walk to the nearby primary school. We even ran into nurse Eunice on the way and got a personal tour of her house, including the chickens and roosters wandering around her front yard. The finale to another great day at Chidamoyo was a dinner featuring all of the Thanksgiving staples. We will be well-nourished for tomorrow’s excitement, especially Brian who not only went for seconds, but also thirds (and possibly fourths but we lost track.)