Might as well be the Rose Bowl

In my bright athletic apparel and white skin, I am a neon parade float rolling through the villages of the Kenyan countryside. Mothers and babies wave at me as I run. Barefoot children run after me - often quickly outpacing me. Absolutely everyone has something to say about the mzungu passing by the shanty houses and storefronts.

I may be a slow runner, but I am a world-class spectacle. The sweating, slogging white jogger. On display now in sub-Saharan Africa.

run any where shoes

run any where shoes

I never thought I would enjoy running, and yet I find this perfect release of stress and thought as I make my way across the golden fields and wind through these little villages. I am grateful to my now-filthy new trail shoes and my strong legs for this much-needed hour of daily rest. It is worth being a spectacle to gain this hour.

It has been a week where the running escapes are particularly needed. Sick kids in the HIV clinic, including a baby that I watched die much too soon. (There are some patients that still break your heart.) Finalizing all the descriptions and documents that go into the "dossier" that the university uses to decide whether I will be promoted and get tenure. Frustrations with the broken, error-prone infrastructure of the hospital. And then days of training our new study staff.

Training the study staff has actually been pretty great; we are preparing them to revitalize how we care for HIV-infected children at 8 of our biggest clinics. They will work with families to support them through one of their biggest challenges - telling their children that they have HIV. Parents think about this challenge from the first day that they know their child has HIV, and yet they are so afraid to tell their children. They are afraid that others might find out and stigmatize their family. They are afraid of the child blaming them for this virus in their body. They are afraid the child will become depressed and lose hope.

And yet, their children are desperate for answers and guidance and support as they transition into adulthood. We are trying to give these children and their families that support, in all sorts of areas. Training my new team to go out and do this important work was an exciting step to offering better care to families living with HIV. (I'm just tired after all of the preparation and the hours of lecturing that it took to do it!)

I am thankful, therefore, to have some of life's best things to help me recuperate: a long run across the countryside, a lovely glass of wine, a laughing and loud dinner with friends... Gather strength. Keep going. You can do hard things.

training my team to use videos with patient stories for HIV disclosure counseling
training my team to use videos with patient stories for HIV disclosure counseling
my team will change the world of children's HIV care!
my team will change the world of children's HIV care!
Posted at 08:31

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