Hello Runners! When you read this, I’ll be in Rwanda. Yes, warm, sunny Rwanda. I’m traveling to Kigali, Rwanda with the organization TeamHeart with a team of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers to take care of patients recovering from Valve Replacements secondary to Rheumatic Heart Disease. The surgeons will be performing 16 cases in the 2 weeks I’ll be there, and I am so fortunate to be a part of this wonderful experience. By the time this blog is posted, I’ll have been in Rwanda for about 4 days.
As my fellow runners understand I’m going to have to run while in Rwanda. I mean, I can’t just take the 2 weeks off, right? I’ve packed my running sneakers, running gear, though I opted to leave my ipod shuffle at home so I can take in the sights and sounds. It’ll be strange not wearing long underwear, Darn Tough socks, and my jacket…though I’m sure I can manage. And Mom, no I won’t run alone in Rwanda.
As the marathon grows nearer, I can’t really contain my excitement. I know qualifying for Boston is quite the feat, but I also know I am capable. After talking to running Coach Sam Davis; one of the amazing perks of being “the KBVCM Boston Hopeful,” he reassured me that my insecurities with pacing, and nutrition during the race can be worked out- I feel so much better. When I return from Rwanda I will be purchasing a basic GPS watch (suggestions, please!) I recently realized that my 6 mile run, was actually 7.2 miles…sheesh. With Sam’s help I believe I can do this. Thanks everyone for your support.
Now a little about the trip:
The 16 patients are often very young (16-40′s). Their hearts are damaged because they had Rheumatic Heart Disease, and now require a valve replacement. These patients will die without surgery, but must be well enough to survive the surgery. Each patient will stay 2 nights in the ICU (1 day longer than here in the US), and then come to the step-down unit, where I will be working. We are told the families of patients stay with their loved ones in the hospital and help with their care (very different than here). Many will try to give us gifts and bring food even though they are very poor.
On days off we will be visiting the Kigali orphanage. I think it will be hard for me to leave the babies there. I’ll be working 8 shifts, 2 of those are night shifts. I’ve got all my food to bring while working. I Brought some Asian noodles, instant mac and cheese, granola, almonds, bars. I’m attempting to pack everything as carry-on–scrubs, stethoscope, food, toiletries, hand sanitizer, alcohol swabs, gloves, etc. It will be quite a feat.
Temperature should be in the 60s-80s, and the days will most definitely be humid. The group is very cohesive sounding. We just received our travel insurance (which they covered), and all of our travel documents to get through customs in Rwanda (apparently pretty strict).
I’ve been vaccinated for yellow fever, typhoid, Hep A, updated Tetanus, and have my anti-malaria pills (gross), and antibiotics in the case of severe diarrhea. There is an internet cafe across from the hotel.
We were able to raise the entire cost of our flights making this trip a lot easier to finance. Once the flights were covered, we only had to pay out of pocket for vaccines, trip supplies, and spending money while there—we are so very lucky.
Stay tuned for my next post about running in Rwanda! And please visit TeamHeart’s website to learn more information.