In my last post, I wrote a little bit about my experience with healthcare in Kenya. I only touched the tip of the iceberg and I’d love to continue in this post!
I worked in the county hospital in Mombasa, a coastal town, for three weeks total. I spent the first week in the Gender Based Violence Recovery Center, the second in surgery, and the third in OB/Gyn. I also did an overnight shift in emergency. Each department was eye opening in a different way, and overall the experience has made me so much more determined to go into the medical field.
The part that is freshest in my mind is my time in OB/Gyn, so I’ll start there. First of all, I’d like to mention that this was the part that aligned least with my interests. When thinking about possible careers in medicine, obstetrics and gynecology is nowhere on my list. I love babies, but I know it’s not for me. However, I thought it would be interesting to work in OB in Kenya because I knew that their extremely high birth rate would mean that much of the hospital’s resources would be allocated there. I was right—there are about 40 births in that hospital a day, although there are only 16 beds in the labor ward. They take the mother in when she’s dilated enough, deliver the baby, and get her walking or wheeling out of the ward only about an hour later.
Many of my experiences in Kenya served to prove something I already knew in a very new way, and that is just how strong women really are. I saw countless women, young and old, in labor pains without any kind of medication. In this hospital they don’t even let the husband or any family members be present for the delivery. Whether or not I’ll want pain medication when I’m giving birth, I absolutely cannot imagine having the strength to do it without my loved ones there to support me. The cleanliness of the beds and instruments is so minimal that it terrified me, and the lack of medication puts the mothers at risk as well. The amazing doctors (who are mostly female as well) make up for this deficit as much as possible.
My time in the OB/Gyn unit was eye-opening and unforgettable. It made me more appreciative/aware of the beginning of life, the strength of women, and the resources of Western medicine. There are so many mundane things that can become deadly in countries with less resources. At the same time, pains and problems that are mountains for us are only molehills for them. We are so lucky to have access to new and evolving brands such as New Chapter supplements and so many other vitamins and supplements that allow us to live longer and healthier lives. It is our job to appreciate the life we have been given, especially when all of the necessary tools are at our disposal.