Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well Child Exams

Last month I was so very excited when a British family decided to include us on their holiday plans. Olivia, the mom, grew up in Zambia and she was introducing Zambia to her husband and two teenage children. We love having families come out to volunteer.
 I got even more excited when I found out that her husband, Alisdair, is a doctor! He is a neurologist, and hasn't practiced general medicine in many years, but he graciously agreed to step out of his comfort zone and help us.

We usually do a well-child exam every six months or so, and often a member of the local clinic staff will come out to help us give immunizations to whoever needs them. Most of the time it is simply weighing and measuring and doling out worm medicine (that's gross, I know--but so necessary), because there is no local doctor available to do anything more extensive than that.

Now, with Dr. Ali available, we'd be able to get a full exam done. I sat down with him the day before and went over what we'd be doing and then I created a form for each child. This would help to streamline our efforts.

I also spoke with Dr. Ali about a few of our concerns with some of the children. He promised to spend extra time with them. 

Next I prepped all the children's records. We have a notebook for each child that goes with them to any clinic or hospital visits. The front page has their weight & height record, and then any doctor's notes go on subsequent pages. I would record their weight and height as usual and then later staple this form into their books.

We were given a pediatric vision chart (it has shapes instead of letters) a few years ago and Sarah had been preparing the children all week by teaching them what those shapes were called. We began the 'clinic' visit out in the corridor with Gillian giving an eye exam to all children 3 years and older. 

Peter covering one eye while 'reading' the shapes

Next they came to me and I weighed and measured them. We have a real doctors' scale which makes it so easy. For the babies who might have wiggled a bunch, we weighed the nanny and then weighed nanny plus baby and then subtracted the first weight. Voila!

After heights and weights were taken, the kids sat on the examining 'table' to chat with Dr. Ali. I was so impressed with how well he handled the kids and made them feel comfortable as he looked them over. 

Jennifer (4) showing Dr. Ali where her heart is

Once the doctor was done with them, they got to go see his daughter, Kana, who gave them their worm medicine pill and then, for a reward, a new toothbrush and a lollipop!

Thankfully, all the kids are very healthy. Even the ones who have come to us with in such poor health have recovered beautifully. There was no sign of rickets in Denny's legs despite his advanced state of malnourishment when he first came to live with us.

Ernest saying "Ahhhh"

There were a few health concerns. One little boy has a heart murmur, but since he seems to be in perfect health we don't have to worry about it at the moment. Peter (4) has fibrosis on his lungs--probably due to the severe lung infection he had when he was first brought to us at 2 weeks old. We'll have to watch him carefully when he gets coughs and colds since they could develop into pneumonia.

Another little girl has had seizures and Dr. Ali feels that she has temporal lobe epilepsy. She struggled to follow multiple commands and so most likely will need extra help in school. We had noticed this and it was a relief to have confirmation and to know that we're on the right track for helping her.

Jack (3) has also had some health issues and his eyes look very odd. We were worried that there was liver involvement, but it turns out that it is some sort of deposit around his iris. The doctor thought perhaps some type of metal deposit--possibly related to his inability to absorb nutrients for a time. We are going to be doing more research on this--and will probably be taking him to an ophthalmologist at some point. 

Lastly, Joseph (2) walks with a limp. He's happy as a clam, and can even run, but it is a pronounced limp.  Dr. Ali spent a long time looking over his legs and watching him walk. He doesn't feel it's an emergency case, but this is another case that will need to be taken to Lusaka for further treatment at some point.

Overall, Dr. Ali was very happy with all the kids and how well they are doing. It was so rewarding to get his feedback and to know that we are doing well in their care.

I enjoyed playing nurse for a day. It's one of the most enjoyable parts of being a missionary: Getting to wear so many hats. When I was growing up I wanted to be a nurse, and a mom, and a teacher, and a secretary, and the list went on.... and now I get to do all of those things--sometimes all in one day!

What an adventure!

Exactly One Year Ago: Denny's Growing Up
Exactly Two Years Ago: Birthdays, Birthdays, and More Birthdays


  1. Heather EslingerAugust 14, 2013

    I'm glad to hear that, for the most part, everyone is doing very well. Hoorah for Dr. Ali!!! And, I just have to say that Ernest dirty legs are just adorable!! I love it when kids can play outside and get dirty :)

  2. This was aa lovely blog post


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