Grandmother Masai

A old woman camp in to the medical camp yesterday. We called her “Grandmother Masai”. I have no idea how old she was, most likely, she didn’t know how old she was either, but I would guess her age at somewhere between 95 and 100. She was a tiny woman just over 4 feet tall and her body looked like one of the Masai “stick figures” that you can buy in the local market. She walked into the camp but could barely stand and she was incoherent. Dr. Cadera quickly determined that she was critically dehydrated and on the verge of death, so he rigged a field IV and began to give her fluids. We hung the IV from the rafters and had the woman sit down. After about a half an hour she rallied a bit and called one of our staff (Lucy Kamau) over for a chat. She said “This thing that the Dr. has put into my arm pains me and makes me afraid”. Then she said, “Where is the water going? I keep looking under my arm for swelling!. Lucy explained to the old woman who apparently had never had or seen an IV that the water was going through the veins in her arm and was now refreshing her whole body, even her brain and her legs. As the second IV was dripping she perked up and began to feel a whole lot better. She called Lucy over and said “You know, I was alive, but I felt like I was dead! Now I am beginning to feel alive again! If you would like to see her face you can go to Ben Sterciuc’s Facebook page (, because he made a little video of Grandmother Masai and the Mzungu (white man). It was such a blessing to see this woman walking home with her strength restored.

About mid-day a man came into the camp with a large tumor on his side. Normally we don’t do minor surgeries in the camp, but Dr. Cadera, being a man from the bush, told him to come back at the end of the day and he would remove the tumor. For some reason all the nurses were very excited about this. They all wanted to watch! So sure enough, at the end of the day, we laid the man out on a table and the surgery began. All the nurses and dozens of Masai men and women crowded around the widows and doors of the room to watch the procedure and they all cheered when Dr. Cadera removed the tumor whole out of the man’s side. One of our Nurses, Amber Collins, stepped up and asked if she could do the stitching. Nurses are not allowed to do minor surgery, but they are allowed to attend to wounds and do stitching. So with a huge crowd of people around her watching, she did the first stitching of her life. I admire her confidence as she just ignored the crowd and did an excellent job. The man rose from the table smiling and it was a great way to end the day.