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From the Archive: Elizabeth Makous's, MSPT, - An Engaging Journal of Her Recent Trip to Africa

Posted by TheraWand Editorial on
From the Archive: Elizabeth Makous's, MSPT, - An Engaging Journal of Her Recent Trip to Africa

June 14, 2019  

Crystal and I didn’t even get back to the hotel until 11 pm last night. And got up early for Rushing’s Just landed. We had a hard but amazing day in a little tiny church in the slums of Nairobi. It was really hard to see and be there especially for my Daughter. She taught stretches and spent time with kids and walked around a lot with the community.   I spoke a few minutes and showed posters and then just started treating women. I treated them in a small room with no lights or real doors using a wobbly old elementary size school table. I was glad I brought a yoga mat for on top and headlamp to use as a light. Once the word got out the women kept coming. 9 hours straight no breaks and Leah and pastor finally had to stop them because they felt it wouldn’t be safe to stay past 10 pm. Actually 7 pm but we didn’t have the heart to turn them away. We walked through all the slums to leave but I felt very safe with the Pastor. He has obviously earned great respect among the community. Now we are driving to hotel and looking forward to meeting your kids!

 June 17, 2019

Just leaving Rusinga where the Noel school is. We had no internet during that time. We had an amazing experience with the 250 children at this very impoverished school. 40 kids live their in a couple of room because they are orphaned or were being abused. Crystal and the other volunteers spent time trying to solve many problems with the physical structures of the school and painting.

I spent the entire time treating edema ( like from an old femor fracture that was treated by immobilizing with a sheet wrapped around leg) , wounds, injuries, an external ear infection (thank God I brought a lot of donated VMajic honey with me) and to my surprise lots of little boys with bladder problems, testicular hydroceles, as well as penis,  testicular and abdominal pain coming from inguinal and umbilical hernias! My only option was to reach the boys and teachers how to manage these things conservatively. Who knew I would get to use my expertise with the boys of the community. One little boy was sooo very weak and sick and he was unable to urinate. The mother had brought him to the hospital and they basically said nothing wrong. So we walked to the boys house so I could read what reports that had been done- in English thank God. Ultrasounds showed bladder normal and empty so no need to catheterize. Prostate normal. Some minimal suprapubic and testicular swelling so Diagnosis ended up being hydrocele. I performed PT exam and only significant finding was kidneys, bladder, abdominal wall and pelvic floor rectally were painful and guarded to palpate. When I released these regions child was still unable to void. So I gave the boys mother money to get him to the hospital and I wrote the doctor a note to evaluate kidney function and for urethra stricture. Praying it is something solvable!  One of the head masters at the school will give me follow up info. 

It was so hard to leave these children with so many needs!

Today we are in transit to the women of FGM and went on safari and saw giraffes zebras wildebeest cheetahs elephants baboons gazelles and a lion that came so close to my window I closed it. Thought I was going to be a lean white meat lunch.

 June 18, 2019

Started morning out with hot air balloon ride to the middle of the Maasai Mara game reserve for breakfast then safari back to hotel.  Again we were in the middle of Giraffes, elephants, ostriches, zebras, wildebeests, pumbas gazelles baboons

And had the special treat of seeing two different leopards and many lions with two in the tree that within minutes darted out of the tree and took down a gazelle which it proceeded to drag by the neck to the brush to eat in private. Then we hiked a little to the river where we saw hippos and alligators and a spot where hundreds of vultures gather to feed on the alligator leftovers or the wildebeest that just don’t make the river crossing. 

Then met at the Olmalaika Girls school run by Kim. This school is a rescue home for victims of FGM or girls at high risk for being mutililated or just abused in some horrible way. Crystal spent the day with these girls playing games and sports and teaching. I met with 4 Maasai women who are victims of genital mutilation and other abuses. They were brought to me by Joyce Nashipae who runs workshops funded by the Women Like Us Foundation. The workshops empower and educate women and men against FGM and other abuses.  I sat with these women for hours learning from each other so that I can learn how best to approach pelvic floor physical therapy in this very complicated culture. I was able to treat and help one and hopefully open the door to helping many more in the next few days at Nakuru and with future workshops. 

 June 19, 2019

Now off to Nakuru to help victims from a different tribe. 

We drove 5 hours through many African towns and saw a lot of poverty. And the roads are soooo scary. Our driver grew up in Africa and was very good but there are no traffic laws that anyone follows and they all drive sooo crazy!

Spent the night at Lake Naivasha Resort and had a very interesting night. It was gated with guards so we couldn’t leave. While I went for a walk crystal tried to relax and take a nap and she of course opened the window to get fresh air. Well, she heard a loud thump, woke up with a start, and what to her wondering eye, a sweet little monkey in for a visit. Crystal, caught by surprise .. screamed so loud the monkey jumped out!  Lol. 

After she recovered from this we walked down to the river bed hoping to see hippos. None out land feeding tonight. However, the security guard asked about my beautiful daughter and wanted to marry her. I told him that so far I had one offer of 20 cows and the next for 40 cow and this man was sad because he worked as a security guard and had no cows. 

The next day we went to the gym which was a gym for hotel guests and locals. We had a great time talking with the local young men and women. I helped one young man with with a knee problem and the women I discussed what Women like Us are doing to educate and help African women. They were very appreciative and I helped on with painful periods and ovulation. I found out more about the fact that even though these women have better life than most they still do not get treated well by their husbands. 

These women are allowed to use birth control and one chooses to not get married, one is choosing to have one child, and one two. I discussed the fact that if you can’t have children you could adopt. They told me that this is not possible. If you adopt you will be rejected by your family and other kids will tease your child. Best you can do it have family take care of family. Also, I met several young women who had children by a man they had to leave because he was abusive and the man just abandoned family. These women will be alone the rest of their lives to raise their child because no man will take on another’s child!  All crazy thinking to us. 

Go through menopause 45 year old and no symptoms

 June 20, 2019

Went for early morning boat ride to see the hippos, flamingos and white pelicans at the island where Out of Africa was filmed. We also saw a lot of the local fisherman walking out into the lake, wearing underwear and fishing while sitting in trees in the water or setting out nets to catch fish. Then bringing catch in. An African man on the docs asked about crystal and once he heard I was offered 60 cows he said he would give me 62 cows!   Each cow worth 800 American dollars. Tempting. Lol

Now off to Nakuru

 June 20-21, 2019

Went on three game drives. Early Morning and evening. 

These are times when we couldn’t make it to women’s center anyway because the women are not allowed to leave the house to early or return to late or they may have to experience DVAW (Domestic Violence Against Women)

Once we got to see rhinos close up and hyena would be eating the carcass of a buffalo one day and the entire horns and bones all gone the next. No waste here!

The most exciting or traumatizing thing that happened on the drive was that our Safari truck was ambushed by a group of baboons. Two big ones jumped on the car opened the back window next to crystal and jumped in. Sending crystal flying to the front seat in horror and David ordered us all out while he beat them out with an umbrella. They stole a bag of my clothes which David had to chase them down to retrieve!  Once we knew crystal was ok it was pretty exciting but she was pretty shaken up so once we got back to resort David gave us all Myers dark rum and coke which we now have named the Baboon Cocktail.  

Most of the time we spent at the Women Like Us Center where Linda got updated about all the wonderful things they are doing their to empower women. This includes education on health, relationships, communication and learning a trade. The trades they learn to support themselves and their children include: raising chickens, farming, sewing and jewelry making. Crystal was busy the entire time we were there for three day helping with exercise, body mechanics education, and whatever else Linda needed.

I spent two days educating and treating women with problems ranging from pelvic and abdominal pain, knee -ankle- foot issues, neck shoulder and arm pain and hand numbness, and lots of thoraco-lumbar and lumbo-sacral pain issues.

The pelvic pain seemed to be driven by the same things as they were in the slums. 

Severe abdominal tightness and cramping by what feels like endometriosis, possibly ovarian cyst issues, several from suffering from complications from the “Coil” IUD.  One lady had a still born birth 6 months ago and she has had some pain every since. She went to the local hospital and they just gave her pain killers and sent her home.when I evaluated her uterus it was very very hard and enlarged. I wrote a note to a hospital doctor telling them that this was an emergency and that she would at least need a DNC. Problem is she can’t afford it so we are trying to get approved quote to see if we can help. She has three young children at home. 

I also significant issues with dropping these young women into menopause very near

With an implantable family planning “ device that stops their period for years. The believe that the complication to this is the loss of bone and joint protection issues. These women have very very horribly physical lives. The men may work then come home and watch TV for the ones who have it. The women now come out to the Women like us center to  learn a trade and sell their wares but then are expected to be home to do everything from taking care of the children, cooking cleaning and carry 20 gallon buckets of water around - one in each hand! While the men stand around and watch them. And, after a woman gives birth she is given a whole 24 hours to recover, then back to work! Despite this, they all want more children. It seems as though you are not a woman unless you have at least three children. The Women Like Us  center is doing its best to break this tradition but it is challenging!

Every second I had anywhere I talked with the local men and women and got to know them. I love them all. 

I spent the last day with Leah for the Hope for women of Africa Foundation. She is the one that brought me to the slums for 9 hours. I am still in communication with the pastor their and his wife just had a women’s health workshop based on what I thought her. Soo exciting. I treated Leah’s brother who had the typical African male issues that I will need to educate them about. 

I did a short video for her to take to a workshop she is giving to men to get them to stop desiring little girls with FGM. 

Next time I come back. I will go specifically to the slums and to help Leah. 

I feel like I was blessed to touch so many lives and teach so many but it is never enough!!!

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