Friday, May 11, 2007

Power and PD

Okay, so every blogger with a bit of humanitarianism in them writes posts about how lucky we are to be Americans, and how bad the rest of the world has it, and how we should all do our part to help the rest of the world. They write these posts because they believe it! Don't you like how I write "they" as if I'm not one of "them?" Bare with me. ;-)


Tonight Eric is having a bad night. We aren't through with dialysis training yet, but his kidney function continues to go down, down, down. He's now showing signs of acute kidney failure (metallic taste in his mouth, extremely exhausted, bad gas, feels like he's going to throw up). He called the PD (peritoneal dialysis) nurse today and explained his symptoms. She said that when/if he throws up that she'll meet us at the dialysis unit and give us some fluid so that he can start mini-exchanges (exchange=PD treatment). Our shipment of supplies doesn't arrive until Monday.

So all night I've felt like lots of husbands must feel when their wife is in labor with contractions that aren't quite close enough apart to head to the hospital. You KNOW that there is going to be a baby, and the time is going to come, but you have to wait for that right moment. I've got to sit here and watch my husband go downhill all weekend until he throws up so that we can go get the dialysis fluid.

But you know what (here comes the "lucky American" portion of this post)....Thank God that we live in America! What percentage of Ghanaians with kidney failure do you think get to go on dialysis at all? And of that percentage, what percentage get to go on HOME dialysis? And of that percentage, how many can call their health care person 24 hours a day who will meet them 24 hours a day to GIVE them (very expensive) dialysis fluid to make it through the weekend? I would venture a guess of 0%.

So...Eric and I are blessed. We know what's going on with him. We know what to do if things get worse. And we know we have a team of medical professionals there to support us through the entire dialysis and transplant "ride."

On to power....

I'm sitting on my couch tonight, listening to hubby snore next to me, when the air conditioner kicks on. In my mind I had this fleeting thought of "That stupid thing is so loud that I can't hear the TV!" And then I laughed (and admonished) myself. How dare I complain about my air conditioner and the volume on my flat screen digital television!!!

For those that don't know, there is a very serious energy crisis in Ghana. Just to get you up to speed, when I was there in March there were planned electrical outages every 5 days for 12 hours (in addition to the unplanned ones that happened several times a week for a few hours at a time). Now, just two months later, people in Accra are without power for 12 hours every other day. Next month, it will be 15 hours every other day. By August they are projecting that power could be out for 2-3 days at a time, or only on for a few hours each day.

Accra, Ghana is a fairly developed city. We're not talking New York City (or even Tulsa), but there are tons of businesses and schools and restaurants and hotels and hospitals that need electricity to make money and to care for people. Just think of the internet cafes alone! Can you imagine if Microsoft in Seattle was completely closed 15 hours out of ever 48? Can you imagine how that would impact that company's income? Can you imagine your local hospital going completely dark for 15 hours straight? No respirators. No heart monitors.

Now transfer it to the entire country of Ghana. The entire country is being stunted by this energy crisis. Tourism. Small businesses. Healthcare. And yes, even fledgling adoption programs that could really use some Ghana-US email time!
There is no viable solution in sight. Those that are VERY fortunate have generators. But guess what? Gas is almost $4 a gallon there. Yup. How long could you afford to fill your generator up with gas at $4 a gallon if you made $200 a month and you weren't actually making that $200 a month right now because everytime the power goes out your boss sends you home? Right.

So now I've done the "lucky American" post thing again. Minus one thing. I've told you how lucky we are in America. I've told you how bad things are in Ghana. But I don't have a way to ask you to help. There's no easy solution. I don't know of any campaigns to provide one Ghanaian family energy for a day, or to deliver free dialysis solution to Ghanaians in remote villages.

So tonight before you go to bed please thank God that we have abundant energy and accessible health care in America. And ask Him to provide a solution for Ghana.