Wednesday was Kenya’s Independence Day (they apparently celebrate 2 of these?) So I had the day off and went on hospital rounds with two of the younger doctors I met here. Mackenzie led me to the men’s ward. Unbelievable. All my senses hit at once, the smell of a poorly ventilated cement corridor with open bathrooms and emaciated patients with nausea and diarrhea. The sound of moans and screams of those suffering. The sight of 3 adult men emaciated (they say wasted) sleeping on one single hospital bed. 8 of the beds in a room. The touch of a man’s frail hand as he reaches for my arm thinking I am a doctor. I am usually OK in these situations, but something must have been off because one of the other physicians there told me to go outside if I was going to get sick or felt light headed. I insisted I was fine and shadowed Mackenzie as she evaluated and diagnosed 35 patients. HIV, AIDS, TB, TB Meningitis, malaria cancer, psychosis; you name it, I probably saw it. That was just the beginning.
After an hour in the men’s ward, I walked over to meet Beth. She is a pediatric physician. As if the men’s ward wasn’t enough, the pediatric ward reminded me exactly why I could never be a doctor. In the 45 minutes I followed her she treated and diagnosed patients all under the age of 2. Beautiful, innocent children that are going to die because treatments aren’t available in Kenya. Congenital heart failure, malnutrition, malaria, TB. All treatable or eradicated in the US. This is a senseless loss of life. I don’t want to dwell on this because there are many positive things that are happening at the hospital but what I witnessed today will certainly stay with me for the rest of my life.