Monday, December 31, 2012

Winner trunks!

My cellphone rang as I was doing the last echocardiogram in clinic today. It was Sharlene Hayton excited to tell us that she saw on her "It's Monday" email that one of Darryl's submissions to the Robin Pope Safari annual photo contest had won! His shot of 3 baby elephants with only their trunks in the air above the water swimming across the Shire River won 2012 Best in Wildlife category!

Over the course of the past 2 years, we have taken some wonderful pictures in Malawi, and this picture wasn't our favorite all-time picture, but was one of our favorites out of those that met the qualifications for entry into this contest (along with his shot of the flying white-faced whistling ducks that got selected for special mention). I would like to note that the pictures I submitted to the contest aren't even on the website at all!

Congratulations Darryl! And for our prize, we will get 1 night free on safari!!

Click to see his pictures on their site (they have copyright of the pictures now).

For those who are curious, here is the series of shots showing the elephants starting on the Island in the Shire River and then swimming across to the other shore taken from the Robin Pope Safari boat at Majete National Park in September 2012.

I also took a short video clip of the crossing:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas card

"It’s been nearly 2 years since we moved to Malawi as medical missionaries at Blantyre Adventist Hospital. We can see God leading in the work at the hospital and in the community. As the only cardiologist in Malawi, Tiffany keeps busy working daily at our hospital, and volunteering time at 3 other hospitals: consultations, echos, ECGs, PFTs & stress tests. The ICU has been open a year and has had more than 100 patients. We are grateful to have a second intensivist this year, Dr. Saunders. Darryl serves on the housing & building committee and mentors when he’s not responding to help with whatever may be the crisis of the day. While there are days when our lives seem like a scene from the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy," we are content to be where God has sent us."

We didn't actually write the paragraph that we wanted to put on the back of our Christmas card until AFTER they went out in the mail. But, still, even if it's late, we did try to summarize our lives (for those 120 people who are on our mailing list) in a small enough paragraph to print at a reasonable font size on a standard shipping label and also hold the attention of distant relatives and acquaintances with whom we communicate only once per year...of course now that I'm publishing it on the blog with no particular shipping label size it seems we could have expanded somewhat on the year's events....oh well. Guess you'll have to read the whole year's worth of blog entries if you want more!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nyika and December travels

We have been doing an outreach clinic to Adventist Health Clinic Lilongwe to try to help out up there. So, Sunday morning early (6am) we drove the 4 hours to Lilongwe. Dr Varona (peds), Dr Maranan (obgyn), and Dr Araujo (surgeon) with his wife (nurse) also joined this trip. After a quick lunch, we set up the ultrasound and stress testing machine while the others got set up in different rooms too: Araujo did endoscopies, Maranan PAP smears, and Varona saw the kids. Afterwords we all enjoyed a nice Italian dinner before bed. Then up early for another 1/2 day clinic doing consultations, echos, and ECGs. 

Monday afternoon, while the others headed south to return to Blantyre, Darryl & I headed north to take 4 days off for our Christmas Holiday (make-up days for other Holidays I have worked throughout the year). The first part of the journey took 4 hours on good roads: Lilongwe to Chinteche Inn. 

We arrived just after dark, but the trusty GPS got us there safely! 

We stayed at a very nice little bungalow just a few meters from the beach and enjoyed relaxing in the sun and snorkeling in the water: some shells and a few fishes, though nothing like the World Heritage area in Cape MacClear further south.

And we again saw the famous "lake flies" of Lake Malawi...known as "the lake that smokes" from prior explorers because when these flies swarm up out of the water it looks like smoke rising from the lake itself...

Then we continued our drive up to the Nyika Plateau in northern Malawi. The GPS said it would take 9 hours to drive the 260km (120 miles), we soon discovered why: the pavement ended and we were on a dirt road only able to go about 30mph weaving between potholes and ridges. We have found another road less travelled! Many things in my life have led me down a road less travelled, today was not an exception.

And we enjoyed the drive through the Malawian countryside! I captured a few images of local villages/houses/people.

The drive took 7 hours from Chinteche Inn through Mzuzu where we stopped for something to eat at Pine Tree B&B and then on to Chelinda Camp. This is a completely different area than the rest of Malawi. Full of antelope and big skies with big rain clouds! Some of the most amazing landscape pictures and rainbows! 

And you could hardly take a picture without getting a Roan or Eland in the picture!

We stayed at Chelinda camp in one of the self-catering Chalets, but did hire a cook who made 3 wonderful vegetarian meals for us each day! He also kept the fire going as it was only about 50 degrees F there...a pleasant change compared to the 90 degree weather in Blantyre...

On the game drives we saw many birds, a jackal, lots of roan / eland / reedbuck / bushbuck antelope, zebra, blue monkeys, bush pig, owls, serval, and hyena. While there are reports of leopards in the area, we didn't see any.

hyena scat - white from the bones they consume
3 hyena in the dark
south end of a north-bound bushpig 

We recommend this as a destination if you have both the time and petrol/fuel for the 1600km roundtrip from Blantyre to Chelinda. The overnight stay at Chinetche Inn, while expensive, was also wonderful and relaxing. It was truly a restful time for us before returning back to the hospital to be on call for the week between Christmas and New Years. And we had lots of opportunities for taking pictures, one of our favorite things!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Working in the Warm Heart of Africa

An article in the Loma Linda Univesrity School of Medicine Alumni Journal about some of the LLU Alumni doctors at our hospitals here in Malawi.

Ryan Hayton, Cristy Shank, Tiffany Priester

Monday, October 1, 2012

**Boring Medical Pictures**

You have been warned. Skip this one if you don't like medical images. Of course, none has information that would identify a patient. Just some interesting pictures. No blood or guts. Mostly x-rays and a few echos actually.

Severe pneumonia:

Brain CT in a child with seizures:

MRI of a person who became suddenly unconscious

Brain CT showing masses/bleeding in someone with multiple focal neurologic signs, we've had several similar cases over the past 2 years. Here multiple brain lesions can be from infection such as toxoplasmosis & tuberculosis, hemorrhagic strokes, or tumors such as metastasis from elsewhere or primary CNS lymphoma:

How NOT TO put the leads on for an ECG:

 Trisomy 21: AV canal plus cleft mitral valve

Rhuematic mitral stenosis:

Severe TR:

Large aortic aneurysm:


Avariety of different presentations of TB:

 Pulmonary Kaposi Sarcoma with pericardial effusion and tamponade:

And a ruptured ulcer (note the air under the diaphragm):