March 4, 2013 § 8 Comments
“Laura, you should gain some weight.” – Pastor Z.
This is what my pastor once said to me at a dinner at his house. In Zambia, being fat does not necessarily have the same connotations that it does in America. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment
Today, I gave a presentation to the Special Hope Network staff about seizure disorders. Although I don’t have specific data to back me up (yet), the prevalence of seizure disorders amongst the Special Hope children is incredibly high. This is mainly due simply to the kinds of disabilities we see – cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, global developmental delays, autism, metabolic disorders, etc.
A seizure is a disturbance of the normal electrical activity in the brain. There are two kinds of seizures: generalized tonic-clonic (affecting the entire brain) and complex partial (affecting only a portion of the brain). These can generally be distinguished in the clinical setting by observing or hearing a report the symptoms of the seizure activity. Although only further clinical testing (i.e. EEG) can determine exactly what the brain’s electrical activity is doing, if it can be caught at just the right moment.
There is limited access to neurological specialists in Zambia – it may take 3-4 months to even get an appointment at the large government teaching hospital (UTH). This combined with poor health care education of the parents, limited access to anti-seizure drugs (there are frequent shortages), and the politics of poverty can make managing seizures very difficult.
A common scenario is that a mother will say that her child is having “fits” (seizures). When you question her further, you find:
1) that she stopped giving her child the medication because it made the child too sleepy
2) they ran out of medication 2 weeks ago because the government clinic/hospital was out
3) The dose is given at various times of the day rather than on a strict schedule
4) The child is taking the dose as prescribed and the drug is not therapeutic (meaning the child still has seizures)
It is unfortunate that many of these situations could be prevented by patient teaching and better medical management. Special Hope is working on providing such resources to the families we serve to help bridge the gap to these parents.
Contrasting true seizure disorders, we find that often times muscle spasms are diagnosed as seizures at local clinics and treated accordingly. Perhaps this accounts for some of the drug shortages?
In case you’re unfamiliar, the reason why it’s important to treat seizures is to prevent further brain damage and increased developmental delays. For some of these children, the continuous seizure activity is devastating to their development and great hinders their progress in school and therapy.
One of the many things that Special Hope Network does is provide medication when the family has run out and education to the families. They rely on donors like you and me to support the critical work they are doing for children with intellectual disabilities in Zambia. I see the work they are doing every day and donate both my time and money. For me, every child is just like Nathaniel but without the money, resources, and education that I have received so freely. I have to fight for their cause.
If you know of anyone with any kind of disability (which you do, because you’re reading this blog and know our son Nathaniel), click over to Special Hope Network’s donation page. Even a small donation of $5.00 would help.The general fund includes the purchase of medications for these precious kiddos. Better yet, become a monthly donor. Monthly donors are the most critical to the ministry because of the regular support they provide. Do it now and know that you really are helping the least of these.
On behalf of these precious and vulnerable little ones, I say thank you.
February 13, 2013 § 3 Comments
February 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
I updated our adoption pages and added some information about accommodation in Lusaka, as that is the most frequent question I get about adopting in Lusaka. I also added an adoption timeline for Nathaniel. Since we had such a difficult time at the end, it was encouraging to see how we made it through to the other side.
Check them out!
February 7, 2013 § 2 Comments
Last weekend, I got to steal away a few hours for a photography class. I had taken one when I first got my camera but at the time it wasn’t very helpful. At that class, I went from full-automatic to using shutter-priority and aperture-priority mode. I also learned about white balance and ISO. I couldn’t quite figure out how to put it all together though and get my pictures the way I wanted them.
When Nathaniel came home, I set down my big camera for a while. Some of this was because of frustration with my photography skills. Other parts were parental exhaustion with a new child in the house. I shot with my iPod for a while just for fun (Instagram, etc.).
Last Thursday night, I got to meet Marisa Findlay and 3 other fantastic photographers at a Bongo Hive event. It was great to connect with other techies and photographers in Lusaka. After hearing her speak and her photos, I determined that I needed to be there on Saturday for the workshop and I’m so glad I did.
It was Marisa’s first time teaching photography workshops but you would never know by the way she presented herself! The content was laid out in a very organized fashion with great photo examples to show as well. She lives in the UK but plans to come back to Zambia for more workshops – jump at the chance if you can!
I committed to practice with my camera at least every week entirely on manual settings and to only keep the photos I absolutely love. I also want to learn more about and better utilize my Photoshop Elements Software (thus the strange-looking watermarks on this set).
Here is my first set of photos, shot with my Nikon D40 and 35mm/1.8 lens, ISO 200, WB Auto (Ok, I cheated there! Next time, manual…):
Week 1 – “my” boys