Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Born House

We returned to Mbingo almost 3 weeks ago.  It was good to get back to see friends and get back to work at the hospital.  Everyone here at Mbingo was happy to see us, but they were REALLY excited to see Benjamin.  They can not believe how "fat" he is ... that is a compliment here!

This photo was from our first "Born House".  In Cameroon, the celebration of a new baby occurs a few weeks after they are born and people come to your house.  At the celebration, the visitors ask the baby's name and each person gets a chance to hold the new baby.  The group sings a traditional Cameroonian song, a few gifts are given, and then the group prays for the baby.  This Born House was done by some of the  resident physicians that we are training.  They gave us some diapers and soap/detergent to wash all of the dirty baby clothes - very typical Born House gifts.  We were thankful to be included in this Cameroonian tradition.  There will be another Born House soon with many of the women around Mbingo, so Ben is looking forward to that as well.

We recently accepted a new group of residents into the internal medicine and pediatrics residency program here at Mbingo.  From the left, Dr. Christelle, Dr. Albert, and Dr. Helmine are their names and they are all Cameroonian.  Christelle did her medical school in Russia and worked with us for about 6 months before joining the program.  Albert did medical school in Nigeria and had been working at another hospital in Cameroon for a few months.  Finally, Helmine will officially join the program at the end of the year when she completes her houseman year here at Mbingo and she also did medical school in Nigeria.  We are happy to have these new residents and look forward to working with them for years to come.  Being Cameroonian, they each take pride in the service they are able to offer their fellow Cameroonians by working here at Mbingo.

Pastor Ephesians Nfor has been the head chaplain at Mbingo for years.  He was recently accepted to continue studying theology at a seminary in Nigeria.  We were sad to see him go, but happy for him and the opportunity further study will provide.  He was a close friend and a real asset to the hospital.  He spent time at countless patient's bedsides, helped lead and arrange our morning chapel and other conferences, and truly cared about and gave to those at Mbingo who had nothing to give him in return.  We hope to see him at Mbingo again in the future, but in the meantime, Godspeed Pastor Ephesians.

Access to healthcare is a problem everywhere, but is especially difficult here in West Africa.  People tolerate pain, horrible symptoms, enlarging masses for many weeks, months, or even years longer than we can imagine.  This patient has had this mass growing from his jaw and neck for over 9 months, but did not come to be seen anywhere until a couple weeks ago.  He was quickly referred to Mbingo and we diagnosed a salivary gland tumor.  Giving the extent and size, there is little that we will be able to offer him.  Unfortunately this situation is a common one we see everyday - extremely late presentations of disease that leave us little options for treatment. 

This chest x-ray shows diffuse metastatic cancer from the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma).  This is from a young man with hepatitis B who has had a mass in his abdomen for months and finally made it to Mbingo.  The diagnosis was made by fine needle aspiration of the liver mass, but the chest x-ray shows why he is having shortness of breath.  Medically it is interesting because this is an atypical metastatic pattern for hepatocellular carcinoma.  Sadly, this is another example of someone presenting with their disease late and again we will not have anything to offer him except symptomatic relief.

This photo is from one of the plane rides from the US to Cameroon.  Ben actually did great on the flights.  Angela managed him and Chuck took care of Isaac.  The main trouble we ran into was that because we bought our tickets late, we were never able to all sit together.  This led to it truly being one-on-one childcare.

We really are happy to be back at Mbingo and we have enjoyed adjusting our routines to having two kids.  This photo is after bath time for the boys when Chuck reads to Isaac with Ben resting on Isaac's toddler bed.  We are blessed to have these boys.

Benjamin is liking it here too, can't you tell?  This was him showing off one of his first smiles.  He turned 2 months old just a few days ago!

A few months ago, a photographer and writer from Samaritan's Purse came to Cameroon to do a story about us working at Mbingo.  Samaritan's Purse has a quarterly medical missions newsletter and we are the main story for the summer 2013 issue.  You can see the part about us at Mbingo by clicking this link - Newsletter.  You can also see the entire newsletter by going to the Samaritan's Purse / World Medical Mission website and looking for the "On Call Newsletter".

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