Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back to Work - Blessings You Forget About - Medicine & AIDS in Kenya

Medicine in the States

A week ago I had carpal tunnel surgery. Many of you know what that is like. Until surgery, your fingers go numb, your hand aches, and pain shoots up your arm.

The surgery is simple. I was in the doctor's office for about 2 hours, which included pre-op, a 15 minute surgery, and an hour post op. I woke up in post-op and already the pain was gone, the fingers stopped tingling or going numb.

Before surgery, I couldn't even fill out my name and address on a form without taking a break because of numbness and pain. After surgery, that very night, I had no problems writing. The worse of it was the cut on the skin and 8 days later, that has completely subsided.

So it is back to work, so much of which is typing. It is so easy to forget how incredibly blessed we are in the states.

Medicine in Kenya

On the other hand, I couldn't stop recalling my experience when I assisted medical trips in Kenya with LCMS World Relief. Our trips often over-lap with them.

Hundreds of people lined up outside to see a doctor or nurse in a makeshift clinic. Last fall, over 800 people were cared for in a week and just about every day the volunteer staff closed registration at about 1pm because there were too many to care for.

For the most part, they waited for simple medicines that are very cheap and inexpensive here in the states. Anti-histamines, decongestants, malaria medicine (#1 killer in the world), HIV/AIDs testing, etc.

Kenyan doctors explain how operations are done with equipment cleaned in soap and water,
surgery after surgery. There is no sterilization equipment. From surgery to water to the next surgery is how it works. Often, only a quick rinse of equipment is done. Hospital equipment is old and not very safe. This is in the good hospitals.

So, next time you go to the hospital, doctor, or have outpatient surgery, say a prayer of thanks-giving for the incredible wealth of medical services we have in the U.S. The medical community of Kenya hope and pray for the medical equipment we throw out on a monthly basis.