It’s been another full week here at Soddo.

On the home front, we have a newly painted house. Our neon walls have been replaced with a nice adobe look. Becca has transformed the place into a home! One of the local carpenters finished a new crib for Nathan. Unlike the one we were using initially, this one has four sides. Since he is pulling to standing quite well now and our floors are concrete, we wanted to make sure he can’t get out. Becca gave the dimensions and the crib arrived. We have the infant equivalent of Alcatraz! He may be three years old before he can reach the top rail. It looks great, though. As my computer’s data card reader doesn’t work (see virus story below), I can’t add pictures at this time, but Becca will later this week.

On the work front, it was an emotionally challenging week with young patients. I have been taking care of three little guys, all of which with big problems. The first is a three year old boy with a big mass in his abdomen. I operated on him Monday and removed a soft-ball sized tumor from his lower abdomen. I won’t know for sure what it is until I get the pathology report but I’m very worried it is malignant. Two days later I was asked to biopsy a large tumor on a six year old boy’s face. It involved the cheek bone on the left side and caused his eye to be deviated upwards and was eating into the roots of his upper teeth. All we can hope to do is get a biopsy report that shows something treatable by medicine. The last little boy, only two and half years old, came in as an emergency with a very distended abdomen and a bowel obstruction. We took him to the operating room that night and I was surprised to find the most difficult and terrifying abdomen I’ve ever seen, due to incredible inflammation. Our working diagnosis is now tuberculosis. Forgive me, I need to use a little “surgeonese”. After opening the fascia, I was amazed to find the peritoneum to be over a centimeter thick and clearly caseating. Every bit of the bowel was firmly sealed in dense, inflammatory adhesions and two areas of the bowel were deserosalized just getting in. We lost about 200 ml of blood just getting this far, maybe a fifth of his blood volume. OK, translation for those who need it: it was very bad and if I had proceeded with the operation, especially in an environment without a real ICU and only one unit of blood, he would not have survive. We have since started him on tuberculosis medication and he is slowly improving. He is still in our prayers and needs your prayers as well!

Two days before coming to Ethiopia, I stupidly erased some important files on my computer and had to reformat my hard drive. In the struggle, I just forgot (again, stupidly) to redownload our anti-virus software. After getting to Ethiopia and to a 52 KB/sec dial-up connection, I have not yet downloaded the software. I’ve now contracted my first computer virus here and nearly lost everything on the computer. Thanks to a good friend back home (thanks, Kelly!!), and the grace of God, the computer is now working and (not as stupidly) has anti-virus software firmly installed. It only took the entire weekend to do…

Finally, to add a little excitement, we experienced a small electrical fire in the operating room building today. It seems the fuse box burst into flames. Praise be to the Lord, the fire did not damage the building structurally. As both the OR building and the ICU building have power coming through this box, we had no power to either building for most of the day. Again, thanks to the Lord, the guys were able to fix it and we have power now. One more prayer request… many of the buildings need some electrical work to prevent this from happening again.

OK, it’s bedtime here in Ethiopia. Another week awaits. We miss you all.

Paul

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