I began the day stuck in my room. Literally.
It was 6:30am, I had just gotten out of the shower, I had a long
early morning to-do list, and I discovered that something had gone
horribly wrong with the doorknob to my bedroom. It would not
open, and I could not get out. What began with subtle attempts to
wrest the door open without waking my housemates soon disintegrated
into me desperately pulling against the doorknob and making a
terrible racket. Soon enough, my housemates living on my floor woke
up and began to attempt to get the door to open from the other
side. After an hour of futile attempts, banging, prying with
credit cards and screwdrivers, and the congregation of more and
more people on the other side of the door, one of the guards
finally kicked the door in! At last, I was freed from the
confines of my bedroom. This was a new one for me. A bit of a crazy
start to a day that already promised to be very full.
In my own personal ranking, being stuck inside my bedroom until
the door was kicked in was definitely worse than being locked outside of
said-bedroom and having to fish out the keys from the
2nd story window using a 12-foot pole and a coat
hanger. On the other hand, it was definitely better than
being locked outside of
my room in the open air wearing only a towel and better than
inside of a stinky, foul pit latrine. In my humble opinion.
Imprisonment in my bedroom was not the saddest part of my day.
That came when the grandmother of the 8-year-old orphaned boy I was
seeing in the HIV clinic looked across the desk at me and asked if
I was the one who took orphans. "Will you please take this boy?"
she said. "I cannot care for him any more." Oh, Grandmother, I
would adopt your boy if I could.
The day was full of lots of successes - even if they were not
quite as dramatic as the moment when the door was finally broken
open with the powerful kick of our favorite guard, Eli. We
officially launched my new research study on disclosure of HIV
status to children. At one of the rural HIV clinics, 10 adolescents
gathered for a focus group to discuss what it was like for them to
learn that they have HIV and to advise us on guiding families
through this complicated process. The children were lively and
talkative, and I cannot wait to analyze the transcripts of their
discussion. How I love to learn from their stories!
My study measuring children's adherence to HIV medicines was
also very busy today. They evaluated 10 children at 2 different
clinics, following up on all of the issues they have with taking
their medicines. Working out of a small, hot tent, my team
downloaded information from the special electronic bottle caps that
record the exact time the bottle was opened and took blood samples
to see how the drug is working in the child's body. I so appreciate
their hard work and how diligently they follow and care for these
In between the study activities, I kept busy seeing children in
one of the AMPATH HIV clinics. A 6-year-old girl with big eyes
smiled at me shyly as I talked to her mother, then proceeded to
decorate herself and her younger sister with the butterfly stickers
I gave her. I found the right antibiotics for a little one with
pneumonia and argued with the lab about missing results for a child
who needed to start on HIV medicines and altogether felt pretty
productive in taking care of the dozen children who came through my
A good day. Even if there is a hole in my door and I no longer
have a functional doorknob.
Also, I made these to thank my housemates.