Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s Blog

January 11, 2011

Katie Wilcoxson: Missionary to Tanzania IN NURSE MODE

Even though I haven’t started working as a nurse at Resurrection Hospital here in Bukoba, I have had the opportunity to use my nursing skills.

My first opportunity was when the majority of priests from the Archdiocese came to Bukoba to have a seminar. Many different topics were addressed including the recent economy. Father Spyridon knew I was just itching to use my nursing skills, and he told me, after one of the Liturgies during the seminary, that one of the priests had come down with malaria. I looked up the medicine he was on, and he was being treated for one of the more complicated malarial parasites. I did worry about him and prayed for his recovery knowing that he could easily need to go to the hospital if he was not able to stay hydrated.

The next morning, Fr. Spyridon informed me that Father Evangelos was unable to stay hydrated. He was now in the hospital in Bukoba. I was able to walk to one of the small convenient stores and find some juice, water, and straws to help Father keep hydrated. In the hospital, family and friends are expected to do comfort care (i.e., bring food to patient and take care of their needs). Medications are given by the nurse, and a doctor comes to see the patient once a day (and more often if necessary), but friends and family have to provide all the personal care. I was surprised how security conscience the hospital was about visitation and who can enter and see the patients. Father had a private room because the other bed in the room was broken. What I could see from his room was that most of the other rooms were semi-private. Father looked very weak, but he was awake and speaking, so I was happy about that. I gave him instructions on how to use the juice and water. That was translated in to Kiswahili, and we chatted with him. Not long after, four or five of the priests from the seminar arrived, and we all prayed and left Father so he could rest.

We came back that night, and I was happy to see that Father had finished a liter and a half of the juice/water mix. He said he was feeling better ,and he looked stronger than when I first met him. The following day, we came to the hospital to see him with some food. We had bought it from a local restaurant. Most restaurants in Bukoba all serve the same food (mashed and cooked bananas, rice, beans, chicken/goat/beef/fish, cooked spinach). I knew, from having malaria back in September, that Father would not want to eat a lot ,and that it was most important to keep him hydrated. It was difficult to explain this information, but, thank goodness, they trusted me, and, in fact , Father was only able to take a few bites before he became nauseated. We returned that evening and were able to speak with the doctor taking care of Father. He was a very kind man and was very knowledgeable. I knew Father was in good hands. Malaria is regarded as the common cold here. Yes, it is taken very seriously, but if the patient is able to stay hydrated, then there is no need to go to the hospital. It is wonderful to know that we can go to the government hospital here in Bukoba for malaria and that we will be taken care of properly.

A few weeks ago, Father Spyridon’s children (Sophia (4) and Simeone (9 months)) were diagnosed with malaria. Father was in a village doing Liturgy for one of four of the parishes for which he is responsible. I received a text from him asking for my help going to the pharmacy to pick up the children’s medicine. I saw the children before we went to the hospital, and I knew they didn’t feel well. We got the medicines and instructions and came back to the house. I explained the different medicines that each child needed to take. Michael translated for me. I was very impressed how Papazia (Father Spyridon’s wife) gave Simeone his medicine. Most nine month olds don’t like to take medicines . As a nurse I sometimes see parents have a hard time giving their child the medicines. Papazia did a great job, and Simeone was fine after the trauma of taking the medicine was over. Later in the day, I checked on the children, and I could tell they were feeling better. Sophia grabbed my hand and started clapping her hand and mine together, like she always does. A week later, Sophia and Simeone were doing great and not having any problems.

It was wonderful to be able to help Fr. Evangelos, Sophia, and Simeone. I am grateful that they are doing better and also for God giving me this chance to be a nurse again.


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