Ebola. Compassion. And the lack thereof.

Today was the first day in a while that “Ebola!”  was not at the top of my Facebook trending arrows.

As has been noted before….Most Americans really only started to give any concern to Ebola once it arrived in the country.

Sadly we have gotten now to a point where most people can not even learn about the disease and what to do about it because they are in full on panic mode.  Most do not want to learn facts they just want to practice wild speculation.

I’ve come to realize too that there are several persons that are also in general unhappy with their lives, and rather than addressing that, they are grabbing onto each new news item and using that to express their anger/unhappiness.

In response to this, a video has been made by physicians from Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins.

One of the most frustrating things to me is that instead of thinking logically through the questions and concerns we have, we rush to throw a blanket on them and push them away.

People are saying they feel unsafe now that there is an “Ebola risk”  but in reality, we are always at risk for “Ebola”  or some new disease that may threaten us or our families.

Leaving you with a beautiful music on the compassion of the Savior.  And wondering why so many of these “right wing Christians” are so keen to do exactly the opposite of what their main book, the Bible teaches in these situations.

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In the Time of Ebola Part two

I’m having a hard time writing any post about this project.  I’m not sure why.  In part, I think I am just really really tired.  In the week or so leading up to the trip, I had to run around like a crazy woman.  Then there was all the travel…and now home, I admit I am still tired.  I’ve been having that sleep that is sort of like a coma….you wake realizing you Really REALLY need to use the bathroom, but can barely move your legs to get you to the right place.

So today I think I’ll write simply about the “Isolation Centre”.  On the first day of our trip, we were met by the Permanent Secretary for the Minister of Health in Rivers state, Nigeria.

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(Yes this is Nigeria.  The red part is Rivers state- it’s in the Delta, so warm, and wet and full of oil.)

Port Harcourt is a large city, but wow the airport… Well here’s the PH international airport…Dana air provided some great snackies on the flight, but I was mightily disappointed to find my peanuts not to be “Burger” flavored.  (When I was in Sudan we used to get Kenyan Pringles chips in all sorts of bizarre flavors, so I did consider it a possibility when I saw the bag…)

noname-11 noname-7 noname-8Anyway the tent, they white one, was where we picked our luggage.

We then progressed to the hotel under, as always in Nigeria it seems, armed police guard.  I think it bothered some of my travel companions.  To me, it was Nigeria.

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Has not changed much since I was there last.

We then sat around a bit with the Ministry of Health People, had a few Fantas and then we went out to the center that they wanted to convert to an isolation center.

With the current events as they are, (the news is not entirely accurate here), I fear the center is not quite large enough.

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This was a community health center that was in the process of being converted. We strode about, trying to make suggestions.  I tend to always do a very quiet look through before making a lot of suggestions.  The other members of my team were very different and started to make a lot of recommendations and also odd statements.  One of the other nurses was asking about a blueprint, and our team leader snapped, “Oh they build organically here…” I should just say, I really think the word ORGANIC really belongs in the produce section.  I also knew differently, so I went very quietly to the Permanent Secretary and requested the blueprints.  They showed up.  (this is why I like to observe and hold back).  At any rate.  The center to me was actually pretty nice.

noname-15 noname-14 IMG_1770 noname-8I failed to take enough photos.  I was trying to absorb how the centre would work.

The Government had done a fairly good job planning how to build a few separate entrances and exits and create a clean and dirty room for entry for work. Our team lead made some suggestions, most somewhat impractical, but some very useful.

After that trip, we were whisked back to the hotel for some swimming (yes…) and dinner and time to think about how to convert the centre.  As it was, we never actually had time to get back to the center before it was needed….

 

 

 

Progress

Wow, I learned so much in one day of International Travel.  I am Still in Florida, but headed to Atlanta.  In Atlanta…I will step off the plane, go to Baggage Claim and meet Marvelous Valeria, and she will hand me my much needed Passport.  Whew.

I can not describe how hard it is to board for Atlanta when your final destination is Lagos, Nigeria.  it has a reputation. 

Luckily, I do not look like a dangerous sort.  I had a letter from the Elizabeth R. Griffin Foundation describing the work we want to undertake.

And One Hour and a half later, due much to hard work of Valeria, again, I was rewarded with a boarding pass to Atlanta.

And an introduction to the man in the middle, who apparently like me…is…. still single.

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I’m in the orange.  I sincerely hope that my teeth really aren’t that yellow looking in person.

Delta Airlines Rocks and Rolls.  I am thrilled with the service, though exhausted.

Now we hope and pray for the passport exchange in Atlanta to go very well and for me to make my 11pm night flight out to Lagos.

Reassurring- I got FB communication from Iko Ibanga the Wonderful MD I worked with in Nigeria last time I was there.  We may be meeting up. I feel a bit safer and cared for.

It is amazing how many times this trip should have been cancelled and wasn’t.  As I told a friend, this is when a belief in God really helps.  I’m forging ahead, assuming this is a completely blessed trip.

We will see.  I am also remembering my past Nigerian experiences, and well.. I feel slightly cautious.

Plug problems and other…

Tough day today.  I awoke to the email announcing my plane tickets.

I did note that I am taking essentially a tour of North America on the way home.

Our trip leader texted me:  “Did you see the tickets”

Me: Yes, I am touring the USA on the way home”

TL:  sorry it was the way the budget did it

Me; It’s ok, it was kind of funny.

TL: It’s just stupid.

ME: well, ok, it is stupid.

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I did my regular Wednesday workout.  Swim, run swim, getting out for my second run, I realized I had once again been a late Lucy and didn’t really have time for the run. I devised a plan to do it this afternoon and then ran smack into Coach.

He is all excited about my project.  I am churning through the things to worry about.  He is poo-pooing them all.  And eventually towards the end we actually had an interaction that resembled an argument.  So unpleasant.  He was displeased too that I had failed to execute the workout.

Work went pretty well.  I took care of business.  I was essentially focused on the external business of the trip, but…I did take care of the hospital’s business.

People are really responding with mixed emotions.  Most of them do not really have an understanding of how difficult the work will be, and thus are looking at this as a holiday trip for me or something. So they are either jealous, or just annoyed.  My Boss…really has been wonderful in bending over backwards to get things done for me and allowing me to go.

So I just kind of muddled through the day.

At exactly 5 pm, as I was chatting with the boss, my phone went off.  I had an email from my coach.  he was telling me he was super excited for me.  All the situation of the morning came back and I felt the immediate need to rush over there.  Which is essentially what I did. After stopping for a few things.

When I got there, I rushed into Physical Therapy still in my work clothes.  He looked a bit alarmed, and then immediately cut me the thera bands.

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I went and changed and was putting on my shoes when he started to gesture to me.  I walked over and he had 4 sheets of exercises for me.  Yeah..Going to be a fun trip..working out with the therabands.

I told him I needed to run my 2 miles…and he added, “which you failed to do this morning”  and I hit the treadmill. My legs are tired.

After..I went to say goodbye and we both relaxed a bit.  Started to talk and talk about things.  His wife showed up and he and his wife prayed over me.  He was very specific even praying for my QL strain. She prays in a different style, but the gesture was so real and genuine that I appreciated it.  She and I chatted a bit for real for the first time, probably EVER.  She told me that “He can’t shut up about your trip”…I for the first time asked about the upcoming baby.  It was a good moment.

I left the gym and my phone beeped…coach sending me another message.  Good people in ones corner.

As we prayed, I received a message from the foundation’s board president.  The email was so welcoming and loving that I really started to feel good about this trip.

Of course, small problem…

I have not packed yet, and I can’t find my Nigerian plugs.  I really need to get organized, I am probably overrelaxed.

Now just Hurry up

The project is on.  I fly out Thursday night.

Admit I’m a bit nervous as I have not been in Nigeria for about 10 years.  (Man, I am old..I actually feel old.) In addition, I travel alone for most of the first part of the journey. Not so thrilled about hitting Lagos all by myself lonesome, but having done it before I can do it again.

This is particularly good timing, as my coach examined my back last night. He poked and prodded and threw me up on the table and pulled and pushed on it and said, Yes, you have strained your QL.

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Exactly “how” I did it is a bit of a mystery.  It really isn’t that bad a strain but it is noticable when I do certain things, like sit-ups.  He did actually work on it a bit and this morning it feels a bit better.

That said. I will be resting and not doing a ton of running while over there.  Or Maybe I will be doing treadmill running.  The hotel states we will have access to the “Triple A fitness center”  but what that is, is always a bit of a mystery.  Chances are, given the location, that it will possibly be nicer than my home gym.

There has been some criticism of the entire project…of all projects, People stating that there are “too many people on the ground”  but in reality, there really are not that many people on the ground doing this work, and in my defense, we are going as a pre-emptive measure to teach the proper use of this protective gear.  I myself did not think I was very knowledgable, until i spent monday on a hospital systems wide conference call and realized that I do know a few things.  And well…maybe there are too many people.  Some times good intentions are just that.

So we will see…

Hurry up and WAIT

I can not believe that at 9 pm on a Monday night, I am still waiting to hear about our trip to Nigeria on Wednesday being a go or a no.

I gotta admit the trip organizer is quite the entrepreneur and a hustler.

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He really is working on getting things done for this.

Unfortunately it also means that at 9:15 pm on a Monday night, I have no idea what I will be doing on Wednesday.

I am a bit peeved.   I am trying to be patient and all but I’m not sure it becomes me.

I will update in the morning.  Perhaps by 10:00 pm…it 2 am in Nigeria, so unlikely they are neogtiating still but…one never knows.

Admit, I want to go back to W. Africa.  Apparently more than I thought I did.

So I feel as if I have completed the total amazing race challenges to get all this stuff done…

So where is my prize?

9th anual HammerHead Ocean Marathon, Report

On Saturday I swam the 2.5 mile even at the Hammer Head Ocean Marathon at Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

I signed up for this after seeing it advertised on our Lake swim page.  I recruited a few others and we made some plans for fun.  My coach of course, as he always is about open water, was enthusiastic and got me set up for the 2.5 miler.

My week, unfortunately turned into a bit of an “ultimate race”  for items I will need for my trip to Nigeria. On Monday, I had the usual ugly passaport photos taken. Apparently we are no longer allowed to smile with teeth, SO, my pics look really hideous, oh well.

Tuesday and Wednesday were taken up by workouts and stressing, and organizing things so that work functions without me.

On Thursday, I drove to Miami (4 hours) and explained my damaged passport, and was thankfully, issued a new one for the full 10 years.  I did do some running in Miami, and then I drove home.

I had to get up the next morning at 4 am for training, and then put in a full work day.  During that day I spent time applying for the Nigerian Visa, and trying to keep things under control at work.

Friday afternoon, I ran around, boarding the dog, and packing and at 6:30 pm I was on the road to Jacksonville.

a1So yeah.  Thursday, extreme south of Florida.  Friday, extreme North.

By the time we got to my friend’s friends house, I was fully exhausted. I don’t know that I slept super well. The house we were staying at did not get any kind of data reception on the phone, so I felt a bit uneasy all night as I am of course awaiting a “all programs are go”  phone call.

We arose and had coffee and enjoyed a few moments of “getting ready to go”

Then drove over to the beach.  We had a few moments of panic because we couldn’t find the beach parking area easily.  We did find it and rushed over to get our stuff and check in.

I missed the entire “orientation” chat which really really is a bad idea folks….if one is not an experienced open water swimmer, or familiar with the area where the swim is…one should attend this chat.  So I had no idea about the buoys, the landmarks, anything.  Did that deter me?  Well…not really.

My friend was doing the 1.25 swim and hopped on a bus for that, I spotted one of the other swimmers from Lucky’s and hopped on a bus with him.  He and I chatted about different events coming up that we are both signed up for. Having someone familiar helped calm my nerves.

We then hit the beach.

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Yes it was beautiful.  I chatted with some more experienced swimmers.  They were crowing about how awesome the water was.  It was not choppy and was actually pretty calm.

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My biggest concern had been the ocean entry.  Back in the day, off the coast of Africa, I got SLAMMED by a wave and really came a little close to drowning.   So every time I have to think about an ocean entry, I get the heebie-jeebies.  My coach, however, had given me some tips….and thus…I was also reminded that Jacksonville Beach is not known for a crazy powerful rip current.

We didn’t have a ton of time on the beach. I chatted with some other swimmers and then suddenly we all were going!

I took my coaches tips and dove under the waves.  To my surprise I had no issue with getting into the ocean.  The water was super calm and I got out there, turned left and started to swim.

And Swim

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And swim.

The water wasn’t really clear and was pretty murky.

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I had a few sharky thoughts and then realized that I wasn’t going to see one and I’d only know it was present if I got bitten, so oddly because of that I kind of relaxed and stopped looking/worrying.

The ocean while very calm did have waves and swells in it.

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Sooo…I discovered a few things about Ocean OWS.  When I had my head down in some of the swells, I really felt a bit “shook” up by the larger ones.  It seemed to make my equilibrium off a bit and I found myself slightly nauseous.  WOW.  I solved the problem by sticking my head out of the water and sighting off some of the hotels along the beach.  I also had not really had enough breakfast, so I wondered if that might be part of it.

After I swam past the first buoy, I stopped seeing lots of other swimmers.  I’m still a slow swimmer.  I did see one or two people in front of me.  I tried to keep them in sight and just continue swimming.  My main goal was to finish and not too far behind everyone else.

At a certain point, I popped up and looked around and could see nothing…it was all just water, waves and the beach to the left.  I saw no paddle boarders, no kayakers and no other swimmers.  It was a bit odd.  But what was I to do….I put my head back down and started swimming again…

I did get Stung by something under my left arm.  I think it was a Sea Nettle or a piece of a sea nettle.  All of a sudden I had a lot of pain in my arm.  I ignored it, and then it got worse and worse and worse and I wondered if I would be “OK”  THis was of course at the same time that I had realized that I really didn’t see anyone out near me. I swam some more and then another person terrified me by grabbing accidently my thigh…the stinging sensation did go away and left only a rash, so no big deal.

Swam some more, and wished that I had some clue about where I was on the course.  I did start to see the pier and had a vague memory that the finish was before the pier.  Then I saw one of the enormous square buoys and I felt that must be the “turn left” point.  It was as I made for shore I saw two lines of yellow cones.  Apparently I was supposed to hit the beach running.  Yeah, being not a veteran of ocean races, I casually walked through the cones…Yes that was me.

We all met up after and enjoyed the spread put out by the race committee.  It really had everything!  As a person allergic to bananas, I so enjoyed the water melon, and the other fruit they had.  I wanted a bagel and peanut butter, but I knew we were going to eat pancakes.  One of the Lucky’s Crew had won an award so we waited for her to receive it.  My friend hung around hoping she had also won an award, but alas she came in second in her age group.  The awards were handpainted little wooden plaques and I really liked them. (But coming in 7th..well…I got to like the awards from afar!)10439354_10152421798762772_6651500510737469021_n

Not the best photo of us ever but we were a happy bunch!  “Living the Florida Lifestyle” for certain.

So…for my first time in an ocean I think I did alright. I learned a lot about swimming in the ocean and I definitely got in a great workout.  Will I do it again?  possibly.

We hit the metro diner.

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I couldn’t actually finish the huge pancake, but I put a nice large dent into it.

And then….3 hours later I hit home…

back to the “Where’s waldo”  search for all the crap I need for the Overseas trip. I sincerely am excite,d but I also am reminded why I chose not to do this as a “forever” career.  It’s not bad, but it’s stressful and I gotta admit, chaotic and dramatic at times.

So Kudos to the Ocean “Marathon”  It was organized and I think safe (though I have to admit, I felt safer during the non-race non paid Bridge to Bridge swim as we had more kayakers in the water.) The t shirt was cute.  Volunteers were super friendly and pleasant and I felt welcomed.  After race food was plentiful and it was in general, like all the other OWS events I’ve attended, a very relaxed affair.

So that’s what I did on Saturday!!!!

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