Zambia


The ultrasound traveled with Craighton and me to the copper country in remote Zambia.  There we were met with much need and we were able to begin addressing these needs in a more appropriate manner with the added diagnostic capability that ultrasound brings.   You were with me between the hand and the patient.  We imaged around 100 patients and saw many interesting cases.  We had one lady who had not been able to lie down and sleep for over a week.  We were able, with ultrasound guidance, to help her by draining fluid and she said she was able to take a deep breath and sleep peacefully for the first time in ages. Since we ran out of large catheters, the procedure took hours and she sat in the corner of my room while I proceeded with other work and her mother sat on the dirt floor beside her holding coke bottle after coke bottle while the fluid slowly dripped and filled the containers.   Initially she was very uncomfortable and guarded and by the end of our time together she was opening up and wanted to sing to the last few patients while we worked.  And the singing was unbelievable.  It gathered a crowd and the other docs wondered what was going on in that “women’s room”.   The ultrasound drew many women who came to see their babies in utero and some were able to be diagnosed with AIDS and begin anti retroviral treatment so there is now a high probability that the child can be born free of the disease.   We saw thyroid disease like that in text books with most of it relating to the lack of Iodine in the diet.  We were able to help many with diet instruction and sometimes draining the big necks so they would be more comfortable.  One young lady in her twenties came in with a neck mass and she had been told she had lymphoma (after only palpation and no work-up).  She was unable to afford the treatment and so was planning to die.  After an ultrasound we were able to assure her that the diagnosis was highly unlikely and we were able to drain the mass and the absence of the mass  spoke much louder than our words.   The stories go on and on.