Saturday, September 5, 2015

Interview with a Parker Part III: Bob

What has been your favorite thing about moving to Kenya?
Moving to Kenya has been a goal for a long time. I have really enjoyed experiencing it with family and through fresh eyes. Being here together trying to accomplish all these tasks set before us has been challenging, but very rewarding.

What is the funniest thing you’ve seen?

We have made good memories laughing together at our mistakes, our misunderstandings, and our surroundings. At language school, we had fun with the fact that our house was built for a giant. Poor Madison couldn't reach much.


What is the coolest thing you have seen?

There have been some remarkable stories that come with taking care of patients at Tenwek. The opportunity to be a small part of that has been really cool.

What is your favorite part of living at Tenwek?

I think the answers to some of my other questions also answer this question. Tenwek allows me to live out the faith that I believe. And I get to enjoy it. I'm given the privilege of taking care of patients in need. I'm able to work alongside great doctors and staff. I have my wife and daughter here alongside me. And we are allowed to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Lake Nakuru National Park

What new foods do you eat?

I explored Kenyan cuisine during my previous visits here, and still appreciate it. But this time around I am eating much healthier than when I cooked my own food - no more rice with ketchup for me.

Do you miss any foods?

Cookies. And some of our favorite restaurants in Providence.

What do you do during the day?

A typical day means waking up just in time to get ready, grab some coffee, and walk up the hill to the hospital. Andrea and I arrive around 7:05 for 7AM start (any earlier and I've wasted precious sleep). Throughout the week, there are various starts to the day including walk rounds seeing patients with the other faculty and the residents, various conferences, or meetings.

My first case at Tenwek. (Photo credit: Travis Geraci)
After the morning activity, the operating rooms start around 9. Cases vary from the routine to the very strange. In only a few months, we have taken care of so many things that are technically outside of our training in the States, but we can honestly tell the patients that we are providing the best care possible. There is always room for improvement, but it is nice to stop and focus on the great things happening here.

Andrea with Blasto (chief resident)

During most days, I get to break away for lunch with Madison and sometimes Andrea. One day a week is clinic, a surreal experience, where we see outpatients who may be either pre-op, post-op, or no one else can figure out their problem. There are roughly 100 patients a day that numerous residents and interns see. Our job is to supervise and help direct care, but there is quite a bit of head scratching. Throughout the days, there are other activities that go along with working at a mission hospital - directing the interns, fundraising, building relationships, grading math homework, managing life, and hopefully working on some research projects. The pace of the clinical work is slower than the States, but all of these other things seem to make up for lost time. After all of the work is finished, there is usually enough time to either respond to emails, play a game, or enjoy dinner with family. At night, we have family devotions and process the day together. When not on call, we usually head to bed around 10 to get some sleep before starting it all again.

What do you miss most about the United States?

Family and friends. And cookies.

What do you want people to know about Kenya?

Kenya is made up of Kenyans who are like anyone else. They value family and friendship, hope to provide for their loved ones, have dreams for their children, and wish to restore health to those who are sick. But Kenya offers a unique place with so much potential. The nation is emerging and it is fun to be a part of watching it grow, hopefully into a great place. If these surgery residents go on to lead their communities, it will no doubt be an impressive place.