Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lice, Scabies, and Ringworm.... Oh My!

Our trip to Ethiopia was filled with many overwhelming experiences.... spending time with our second son (joyful), meeting Tedi's birth family (so emotional), soaking in the sights and sounds of our children's birth country.  One of the most reward moments of the trip was getting to use my medical knowledge and talents to help the children.  I did not bring antibiotics but I brought the basics for checking ears, ointments of skin, stickers as rewards....suckers as bribes (don't tell the dentists) 

Here in America, we take medical care for granted.  People bring their children to the emergency room for ear infections, strep throat, bug bites.....  we expect to be seen immediately.  We let our children act like fools if they are getting shots or even better, we threaten their bad behavior with shots....or my favorite, we choose NOT to give vaccines when so many countries are literally having their children die because of diseases that in American we can protect our children from....

As I sat up a makeshift clinic in the West Sands Primary School, I was answering questions from the teachers and school workers.  The basic question: how do we get rid of ring worm in the scalp?  So simple, right?  You take griseofulvin, an anti fungal, by mouth two times per day.  You get rid of the hats and use new clippers.... wash all of the bedding and throw away all brushes (similar to lice, minus the 6 weeks of medicine)  As I said this, I could read the looks I was receiving.  I then realized....if you saved to buy one hat, it is difficult to throw it away.  If you only have one set of clippers, how can you justify throwing them out.  A medicine that you must take for 6 weeks is just a little too expensive when paying for food is difficult.  My heart broke... think about those tough decisions being made... when here, we run to the ER and demand answers and a quick fix...  I am an American pediatrician and now I have a new appreciation for "sick"....a new understanding of what a little education can do for a family...  and maybe a little more impatience for parents who don't hold their kids for ear exams (just wait till you see the pics) because these kids, without their parents present, sat overly cooperatively for the exam. 

I won't lie....on the drive home, I convinced myself that I had taken with me the lice, ringworm, and maybe a little scabies or molluscum.  Our second day home I even had my friend (who also happens to do my hair) get out of bed and drive to our house in the rain to check my head for lice.... I did not have it then but still carry a little paranoia.... I would have taken lice, molluscum, ringworm....the sinus infection (which I do have).... I would have taken it all on myself for the experience of serving the children... I would have taken it all and more if it meant I could remove it from their little bodies....

Below are the highlights from the school medical clinic (my husband was a great photographer and medical assistant and another adoptive mom was the fav with stickers and suckers)....


  1. Watching you in action just makes my heart smile. I came home from Congo with ringworm and Miles had scabies. Here in America it took FOREVER to fully get rid of that stuff. I can't even imagine getting rid of it in country. I just love your servant's heart.

  2. I agree that we do take for granted what we have, here in the states. We adopted our son from ET and we are forever changed by the beauty and rawness of such a beautiful country. We are the ones who have CHOSEN not to vaccinate one (of our 6)of our children because of autistic tendencies. This decision did not come lightly. It was not an "overnight" decision and it was made with intense prayer. Our decision was guided with the guidance from the Ultimate Physician and we rest in that. Please be mindful that some parents do not make these decisions flippantly. We do so through prayer. If I could take back all the vaccines that my children have had, over the years, and give to those who are dying from those same diseases, I would, in a heartbeat. No question in my mind. If I could afford to help these children or if I was equipped to help them, as you did...I would. No question asked. For now, we pray, we support financially, we trust that God is in control and we move and do as He directs. Blessings to you and your journey. May God richly continue to bless your family, your home and your hands, as you work with the "least of these".

  3. You guys are just awesome :) We are really looking forward to getting together once all our stuff calms down. Glad your home safe. Blessings.

  4. have to agree with Megan... love watching you in action! you are awesome! and seriously... the mention of the word lice... and my head is itching all over!
    Following your story close since our timelines are so close together! Maybe we will be at embassy around the same time!!!