About Me

My name is Jen Hathorn. I'm a family medicine physician. Since January 2015 I have been living in Egbe Nigeria, which is in Kogi State. I am serving at a bush hospital practicing full spectrum family medicine. I am working with an organization called World Medical Mission which is a part of Samaritan's Purse. This blog is my place to stay connected with you through stories, meditations and pictures. I hope that you enjoy reading the posts!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Today...

Today I woke up to the sound of rain gently hitting my tin roof. What a lovely sound! Alas, the rain only lasted a few minutes but it was a much nicer way to wake up than the dreaded buzzing of my alarm clock. Pulling back the mosquito net, I slowly climb out of bed and sit on the edge for a minute to gather my thoughts….

I’m running a little late for morning devotions at the hospital (as usual) so I take the rest of my peanut butter toast with me as I hurry out my door and start down the short road leading from the housing compound to the hospital. “Akarro Ma!” “Good-morning my docta!” All greetings I acknowledge as I stuff the last of the toast into my mouth. I’m finally at the hospital gate and “tall” David, one of my favorite security guards, is on duty so he opens the gate for me. Our greeting is predictable, “Docta JEN!”   “David!”    “Docta JEN!”    “David!”   “Docta Jen!”  “Goodmoring David!” I’m still not sure why he says my name 3 times whenever he greets me, but it makes me smile every time so I go along with it….

It’s only 730AM and already sweat is starting to drip down my back. The doctors lounge is really hot this morning with no electricity to run the fans. I am listening to one of the resident doctors present the case of a patient that he admitted last night. A young man who was attacked on his farm sustaining major machete wounds to his head, face and chest. He’s in our ICU and will most likely need to go back to the OR for the surgical team to make a small hole in his skull to relieve some of the pressure on his brain. I’ll see him in the ICU first before I make my rounds on the other wards…

I’m greeted by many exclamations in the women’s ward when I finally make my way there to see the medical patients. They’ve been waiting for me! I had decided to go to the men’s ward first today as they were the sicker group and it had taken a little longer than I expected, so the women were anxiously awaiting their turn to see the doctor. Many just want to go home and can’t wait to tell me how much better they are this morning.  Juliana, however, is still really sick. Her lungs are finally giving out after 80+ years of fighting chronic lung disease now made worse by the added burden of fluid from a heart that is also getting too weak to function well. I spend extra time with her family trying to help them process the reality of her poor prognosis…

Unless they are acutely ill, I always save the babies for last. They are my favorite! I love getting to visit them all bundled up (most have more clothes on than babies do in New York in the winter time) with bibles resting open in the cribs and little pieces of white string placed on their black curly hair to ward off hiccups. I only have one “incubator baby” today, and she is looking great. She came to the hospital at 8 days old about as yellow as can be with a bilirubin in the dangerously high range. After 3 days of intense phototherapy (we decided to defer the exchange transfusion since she was doing so well), she is looking much better and is breastfeeding good. Her mother is very happy to learn that she’ll go home today or tomorrow…

Lunch was late today since rounding took so long, and the bean soup is still churning around in my stomach as I attend to a few more patient’s in the OPD (out patient department). This is the last scheduled part of my day — the remainder of today will be determined by how busy my call is. As I finish writing refills of medication for a middle aged man with high blood pressure, I hear a lot of commotion coming from the Emergency Room.  A young lady is being carried in by two family members, she is clearly seizing. A resident doctor and I both run into the ED, he immediately helps the nurses situate the patient on the bed, then he places an IV and gives verbal orders to administer the medication needed to stop the seizure. Meanwhile I am quizzing the family about her story and learn that she just delivered a baby 4 hours ago and started having seizures immediately thereafter. Eclampsia!  Sure enough her blood pressure is sky high so we get her started on IM & IV magnesium sulfate, draw her blood for lab tests and rush her to the maternity ward where they are better situated to care for her…

I’m looking forward to a cool shower! I trudge back home and stretch out with a quick yoga routine then eat a light dinner — I’m ready to settle down for the night. The shower at the end of the day is always so refreshing! It’s the great washing away of all the sweat and grim that accumulate on you from living in a hot and humid climate. The smell of the lavender charcoal soap (my favorite self-indulgent luxury — brought over from the states) brings a certain calm, I take a deep breath and relax…


My phone is ringing again, no rest for the weary this night, there are two patients in the ED with injuries from a road traffic accident. And so today goes on….







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