Last Saturday afternoon I was planning on walking into Kibaale Village to buy some airtime so I could call Canada and the USA. I was going to walk with Namuliika, (nam-oo-leak-a) the comprehensive nurse I hired a few months ago. It would give me an opportunity to talk with her about various things happening in the clinic…..

My house is under construction and Dominic came to the clinic to ask for my keys……. he had taken down a half wall which had no purpose to made more space. He wanted to look at the hole and measure for new tiles…. So, we walked to my house, I dropped off my clinic keys and handed over my house keys…. I was off to town and would be back in 30 to 60 minutes.

The clinic closes at noon but we usually have a few patients whose treatment take them past noon and maybe up to 2 pm. The staff take turns staying behind and “keeping the guard” as I think of it. Susanne was suppose to “keep the guard” but she had made plans and asked Namuliika to stay…. So I decided to stay and talk with Namuliika. The first hour was busy as 5 of the 7 patients were quickly ready for discharged. There was a little girl of about 5 or 6 years of age and a beautiful pregnant lady both finishing the treatment for Malaria. We were talking when the father informed us his daughter was ready…… I thought the little girl still look very weak…… but the father insisted she was fine. That left the lovely lady…. she was only a few weeks pregnant and had Malaria as well. Her Quinine treatment was almost finished……… We were sitting waiting outside the front of the building when the young girl and her father left…..they had not even reached the clinic gate when the father was screaming something and running back…. his daughter was having a seizure. WHY??????? Namuliika nor I could understand the rationale….. but we had our own problems. The keys to the pharmacy went home with one nurse and the keys to the treatment room went home with another nurse….. I have not been aware of this being a problem in the past but it was a BIG PROBLEM today. I grabbed for my keys only to remember they were at home….. as I ran quickly across the field I saw my door was closed and wonder where Dominic was…… as I approached the door calling out his name, Dominic came around the corner.

With clinic keys in hand…. I ran back across the field and into the clinic…. the only keys I had were to the store room and we were hoping that the supplies we needed were available… and everything was there.

After a few minutes, the seizures stopped but her temperature was rising…. so further medications were needed….. as the race from the store room to the child’s bedside continued, the pregnant lady called out to let us know her drip was completed. I took out her intervenous…. and she told Namuliika her husband would be coming soon and she would wait for him at the gate….

We watched her leave and as she reached the clinic gate she fainted…. I looked at Namuliika and she looked at me and we both said…. what is happening? These two patients kept us busy for the rest of the afternoon….

At 4:45 we were discussing the fact that neither one of these patients could travel home safely….. they were both very weak and would need more time to recover but it was going to get dark soon. Namuliika spoke with the lady and the father about this problem….. unfortunately, they lived in opposite directions. Regardless of the situation……. I went for the land cruiser and by the time I returned, the husband had arrived and was ready to take his wife home.

There was no way the little girl could possibly sit on the back of a motorcycle. The father informed Namuliika that they only lived a short distance away………. so at 5:15 with Namuliika sitting in the back seat holding the young sleepy girl we departed following the father’s motorcycle. As we passed the only gas station in town, I commented that I had less that a 1/4 tank left but Namuliika stated…. “he told us it was only a short distance…” we followed the motorcycle up and down some good, bad and terrible roads and finally at 6 pm… we stopped. We had not yet reached his house but the road in front of me was not wide enough for my vehicle….it was truly a foot path. We could go no further…. the place where we stopped had a few people and they knew the father. So we felt O.K. to leave them there.

On our travels up and down the mountain roads…. we passed Asaph (Ass-off), one of the nurses enjoying the afternoon on his motorcycle…. his home town was somewhere on this road. It was after 6:30 when we reached Kibaale and saw Asaph walking towards us with a small bottle of fuel. We stopped and asked him where his bike was and he told us ……..” it was only a short distance up the road…..only a couple of kilometers.” I believed him and once again I traveled back up and down the mountains roads for more than ten kilometers before arriving at his bike……

Namuliika and I were hungry…. our stomachs were growling. We had not eaten since tea at 10 am… and it was after 7 pm. There is no McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or White Spot in Kibaale……we went to the only acceptable restaurant, to be told that their food was over….. it was all gone……. there was no matooke, no posho, no potatoes, no pumpkin, only some rice ……one piece of chicken and one piece of fish. The food was ready and the price was right…. only $3.50 for all the rice and chicken we could eat.

……. it was only a short distance home and this time it truly was.