Saturday, August 18, 2012


Ya ya’ve heard this before. I’m an OB doctor. I’m not a man’s doctor. Well, half of the time.

Writhing flank pain. Severe. Tinge of blood in his urine. Vomiting some. Abdomen soft. No chest pain.

The diagnosis is clear.

Give tons of iv fluids, order a non-contrast abdominal pelvic CT scan. Oh, wait....scratch that last one, ha! Back to giving tons of fluid.

Um...order consult from my ER husband.

Concur on diagnosis. My DAD has a kidney stone.

My dad is a worker. When he was little he walked up hill both ways in the snow to school like 20 miles each way. No seriously, he grew up on a farm in Missouri and then Oklahoma... Back when the boys were tough and milked cows every morning at 5am...just to get STARTED with their day.

And think college is tough now? He worked 40-60 hours per week in college. None of this study while you work job either....a real job. Tough work.

He’s been here since Feb and hasn’t taken a sick day off. He worked every day even when he had malaria. The OR team used to insist that we take a small break for lunch every day. I was fine with that. I need food. When my dad got here he refused to take a break and worked right through lunch, sometimes switching off with me, or sometimes not. He’s making his daughter look bad. (he he...just kidding).

He blows everything off. When I was growing up, we would have never thought of going to the emergency room. “ cut your finger off? Put a bandaid on it!” Maybe that’s every doctor’s kid’s experience. Unless you’re dying, you don’t seek urgent medical help. Unless you’re dying, you go to school. You go to work.

So when I found my dad writhing in pain laying in his bed, it was significant. He’s certainly no faker.

He hasn’t felt this bad since he had hepatitis and had to leave Nigeria, 41 years ago.

Tuesday he started feeling some twinges of pain. Of course he didn’t tell anyone. Jonathan took Mom and Dad to Moundou in the plane so Dad could help James with a hip surgery.

When they came back that evening he vomited, but was feeling better.

Wednesday Dad did a couple of cases in the OR. During the second case, a prostate, his pain became so severe, that he had to scrub out early. He quickly went home to bed, a 2 minute walk away.

Olen and I assessed him. We decided our plan of tons of fluids.

I asked the nurses who was going to put in my dad’s IV. (We are certainly keeping them busy this year with sick nasaras). Simeon came and got an IV on the first try.

Olen and I searched our medicine stashes for any strong pain killer that we could find. Hmmm...”Here’s one that says Adam Hernandez, Hydrocodone.” Yes, we believe in sharing medicines here, but it is definitely against all policies in the US.

Hydrocodone will work. So thanks Adam!

Our hospital has NO IV pain medications. This has been for months and months. It’s nothing new. We don’t have any oral narcotics either. We never have since we’ve been here. We give ibuprofen and tylenol pills for huge laparotomies and, well everything that hurts.

Got run over by a car? Tylenol. (No ibuprofen for fear of bleeding in your head)

Femur bone broken in two? Tylenol and ibuprofen.

Huge incision in your belly from your pubic bone to your sternum? Tylenol and ibuprofen.

Hey, it’s simple here. We are basic.

Some time goes by. Still Dad has severe pain. Olen scrounges up some morphine from some hidden place and gives dad 10mg in an IV perfusion. Finally dad gets a little relief.

He’s missed 2 days of work just laying in bed....writhing.



olen and danae

Olen phone: +235 62 16 04 93

Danae phone: +235 62 17 04 80

Olen et Danae Netteburg

Hopital Adventiste de Bere

52 Boite Postale

Kelo, Tchad


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