Author: Kubacki’s I Angola

About Kubacki’s I Angola

Missionary Physician in rural Angola

eTeam, Understanding, Oxygen, His Body…

We had a delightful visit from several people from our home church (VCDC) in Ohio who are passionate about improving how we might serve the people of the Cavango region and about improving the lives of these rural people.

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Ken, Merle and Scott worked hard during their stay, their expertise invaluable. Michael joined them and he also was an encouraging presence with me in the clinic, while Helen brought many smiles to little ones staying at the hospital and all around the area.  The team and VCDC purchased and set up an internet connection for the clinic, connected to our home WiFi system, almost a km away; they purchased and set up a 15kVA diesel generator; they installed two beautiful, 5kVA solar systems to power our soon-to-be-opened hospital addition with the 15kVA generator as backup; they brought two portable, 2kVA gasoline generators for our oxygen concentrators and they set up a new, battery-operated x-ray unit, also purchased by a beautiful group of people from VCDC.  So much in two weeks.  And they shared laughter, fireside/riverside picnics, jogs/walks to the river at dawn and touches from home for two weary Kubackis!  So many will benefit from their efforts and hearts for a long time…

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The team traveled out of Cavango by air with MAF with three patients needing urgent surgery, one a ten year-old boy who survived surgical repair the same day of four intestinal perforations from Typhoid (photo – sleeping on Ken).  This extra flight was arranged because Ken, Merle and Scott requested transport, otherwise the boy would not have survived…  Understanding?! The Wind…

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What a Saturday.  As I rounded on about 30 of our 120+ inpatients this morning, only those very ill, it was a long half-day.  So many improved and so many remain critical.  Typhoid is peaking and we now have six inpatients with this hideous disease.  Several may need surgery (like the boy who traveled with the team) and coming days will determine the same.  We had two traumatic deliveries yesterday, with both baby and mom surviving the first and only mom surviving the other, with her baby born dead.  Both had endured labor for 3+ days at home (!) before their arrival.  Holding dead babies is so common here and always unpleasant.  Childhood and infant death continues to haunt this rural culture, with about one in three children not surviving until age five.   We ask each expecting mother how many live children and dead children they have had and, from this, we derive our statistics.  It’s extremely rare to meet an expecting mom who hasn’t lost several children… I can’t imagine. I live here but I don’t live here…

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Some joys…

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We haven’t had a positive malaria test for over a week.  It’s like the spigot turned off.  It’s a welcome change, though it hasn’t reduced our volume.  We will typically have a reprieve from this illness for the next couple of months as the winter provides cloudless nights in the 30s – 40s and days in the 70s – 80s, inactivating the parasite transmitters.

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I gave four girls a ride to the river after clinic one day this week (photo). They had never been in a car and their giggles and exclamations for ten minutes made my day…

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Two year old Elias arrived with eyes swollen shut, huge neck swelling causing stridor and difficulty breathing, with oxygen levels in the 60s. (normal >93%). He endured incisions and drains in his neck several times (he kept pulling out the drains) to drain pockets of pus, his swelling decreased and he nursed well, but his oxygen levels remained low. In searching for a reason, we discovered on ultrasound that both sides of his chest were full of pus, as well. This required several large needle drains and, after about two weeks of violating, painful trauma with scalpels, large needles and drains (in the simplest of environments), he arrived this morning with a big smile, no oxygen tubes and an outstretched hand ready for a sucker. I hope he remembers the treats more than the painful needles and drains! With so many deaths from far lesser illnesses, his survival is also difficult to understand… The Wind… We are grateful and wonder what his story will be…

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Forty five year old Armindo arrived yesterday writhing with abdominal pain, vomiting, and hobbling in on his crude, wooden prosthesis where he had lost his leg during the war stepping on a mine.  Pain was not unfamiliar to this man.  He was soaked in sweat and groaning.  We made the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis and treated his pain (without narcotics) and hydrated him intravenously.  He yelled a greeting of gratitude to me as I entered his room this morning, coming off the bed to embrace me while telling me that his pain had dissipated during the night.  Some people and outcomes are a real pleasure…

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Domingas is 22y/o and she smiled as she entered the room, the first emotion I’ve seen from her in two weeks.  She arrived with both eyes swollen shut and huge abscesses along both sides of her mandible and below her chin.  She had difficulty breathing, couldn’t open her mouth and was in horrendous pain from, what had begun two weeks prior as a toothache.  She had to endure multiple incisions and placed drains and was almost unresponsive for several days.  Today her swelling is almost gone and she is pain-free and beautiful!

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Sixty-two year old, Florinda, couldn’t walk two steps without completely losing her breath.  We laid her on the bed for an ultrasound and she couldn’t tolerate lying down.  Her diagnosis was straightforward and her failing heart was almost still.  We put her on oxygen, began medical treatment and prayed for her.  This morning she sat up in bed (from a supine position) at my arrival with an ear-ear grin (grins are not common in this hard culture), saying she had slept through the night for the first time in months.

We currently have four people on our three oxygen concentrators (a fourth concentrator purchased in South Africa arrived broken and we are waiting on a part), two babies critical with severe pneumonia.  When I arrived at the hospital yesterday, our small portable, Angolan generator had failed (again) and the batteries on our concentrators were dead.  Our ability to charge the concentrators with our solar batteries failed as someone had tinkered with the in-line fuse and it was smoking.  Our two critical babies on oxygen were gasping, with oxygen levels in the 70s (normal > 93%).  We rounded up the two generators brought by our team, covered with spray paint and duct tape residue (another story) and we fired them up and within an hour our two babies were breathing easily, each with an American generator purring quietly outside their hospital window (photo).  Two generators purchased on the other side of the world, carted all the way to Angola and, already, two precious lives saved…

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Many think they must be a doctor to save lives…  Not so in Jesus’ Kingdom, where any and all fingers, elbows, feet and other various parts of His body – from all over the world – get to participate!  We are all conduits (vessels) of various shapes, sizes, skills and talents, transporting Light into the dark places of illness, hunger, confusion, nakedness and need…

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