Jambo/Supa on this my LAST day at the Maasai Dental Clinic! I had a pretty good last day, and I cannot believe that the month is already over.
I saw 16 total patients today: 12 extractions, 1 root canal referral (to come back on Monday when the next two docs are here), 1 filling, 2 cleanings, 1 non-compliant kiddo, and 1 consult. We didn’t seem to have anything too crazy today, and we actually had one patient who was extremely interested in learning how to take better care of his teeth! Those are always good as you don’t feel like you’re talking to a brick wall—-he had lots of good questions, and was genuinely interested in what we were telling him. Thankfully his teeth were in pretty good shape, and all he needed was to have his lower third molars extracted so that they didn’t lead to problems with his second molars from the angulation they have erupted. Our root canal was one I probably could have done, but it was just Eunice and I as William was helping the electrician that was here, and we had a stack full of patients waiting (probably 7-8 of the total 16), so I didn’t really feel like it was feasible to get the root canal done today. I’m pretty slow at them and with only one assistant, it’s almost impossible. So overall the numbers for the week look like this: 54 total patients: 44 extractions, 4 fillings, 1 root canal, 6 cleanings, and 7 consults/miscellaneous. Not quite as busy as last week, but still a pretty good load for a 4 day week.
My final stats for my entire month here are:
Total Patients: 269
Root canals: 5
Misc/Consults: 39 (jaw fractures, whitening, crowding, partial dentures, etc)
I forgot to mention yesterday that Eunice showed me what the locals use for a toothbrush. Well, she started off with “Have you seen the Maasai toothbrush?” to which I had to say no as I had not. She then said “Ohhhhh well it would be a crime if you go home without having brushed your teeth with a Maasai toothbrush”. Hahaha, ok then, let’s not commit any crimes. What they use is essentially a branch of the Osokonoi tree. They snap off a branch, peel the bark back from one end, bite the end of it until it”s softer and “bristled” out, then they brush their teeth. It was indeed interesting, but I can now see why so many of them have bombed out back teeth as it’s almost impossible to get this thing angled correctly to adequately brush your molars. Also, this branch has a very peppery-spicy flavor to it. Like my mouth was on fire for a good hour after using it. Eunice did warn me about that aspect before I tried it, but I had no idea it would be that intense and that long-lasting. She said the locals also boil the root of the tree and use it as medicine for various things. She said the boiled root broth will stop a toothache. Interesting. So, I can now say I brushed my teeth in Kenya with a traditional Maasai toothbrush.
Another thing that was apparently going to be a crime if I went home without doing this was consuming ogali. This is apparently Kenya’s staple dish. It’s what makes the runners fast……so they say. I’m pretty sure it did nothing for my overall speed. And Eunice said 80% of the households eat this for dinner every night. Me not having had it came about when Eunice said she was ready for lunch. I had said “Yeah, probably because you haven’t eaten anything since lunch yesterday”. She kind of laughed, but then said she had a cousin over to her house last night so she cooked ugali. She asked if I’d had any and I told her no. She then called William over and told him I hadn’t eaten any. He said “WHAAAATTTTTT? Ok, I cook for you tonight.” I said ok, but better call the camp and let them know I won’t be there for dinner. So at about 7:30 I venture over to the teaching center where William is cooking. So, ugali is basically corn flour and water. Yep, that’s it. You boil the water, add the corn flour, stir until it’s a paste, and then let it cool about 5-7 minutes. Then you essentially have a very dense “cake” of ugali. William also made a kale/tomato/beef “stew” (he calls it a stew but other than vegetable fat, there’s no liquid/sauce component). He sits me down and says “Ok, here’s what you do. You take a slice of ugali, pinch a piece off, roll it up, then mush it with the stew and eat it.” I did not eat it quite in that manner—I used a spoon as I discovered that the ugali really sticks to your fingers and then makes it difficult to do anything. I can’t say it was a 5 star meal, but it was very Kenyan/African, so it once again added to the experience. The kale was picked fresh from Dennis’ garden. They do not grow tomatoes in his garden, but even they were alright. The beef was just like most meat I’ve had—very tough/chewy, and not really trimmed/cut in any specific way. Their livestock just aren’t as well maintained as ours are back home and I think that really has something to do with the quality of the meat. But regardless, it was very nice of William to make sure I experience ugali before going home. John joined us, but had apparently already eaten his ugali at Siana Springs, so he just had some of my left over potato chips.
Lunch was actually ndengu and rice—-I feel like this is another Kenyan staple, so I guess you can say I left Kenya having consumed two of their common dishes as my “last” meals. I’m probably not going to eat rice again until 2020. Actually, you know, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I think I will make that my 2019 resolution—no more rice.
After clinic, I went over to Siana Springs camp to give Mary Ann (who has been serving me all month) a tip, leave another tip for the rest of the staff, pay my drink/water bill, and say goodbye to everyone. It was kind of bittersweet to say goodbye to all of them as they have really been wonderful people and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them. After the goodbyes there, I came back to the clinic to try to finalize what packing I could do. I then spent the rest of the time before dinner out on the porch for one last evening relaxation. After dinner, I showered and shaved my legs for the last time in that impossible shower. The reason it’s impossible to shave ones legs is because the shower is 2.5 feet x 2.5 feet, and the shower head extends out from the wall to spray dead center of that space. And it’s a WIDE shower head, so unless you’re Christina Ricci skinny (which I clearly am not), there’s no way you can get out of the water spray to keep from just washing the shaving cream off immediately after application. Sigh. Anyway, after I showered I thought “Hmm, I actually think I’ll want to shower in the morning as it’ll be like 32 hours before I’ll get to shower again.” Oh well, double showering never hurt…especially when you’re constantly sweating.
We’re going to leave at 8:45 am in the morning to begin the trek back home. I’ve said all my goodbyes except to Eunice and William as they are both taking me to Narok to meet Harrison. I said goodbye to John tonight after dinner and even though our communication only consists of tuonane kesho/lala salam/supa/let’s go, I’m going to miss trying to have a conversation with him. He tried to convince me tonight that the painting of a lion in the teaching center was actually a buffalo, but I said “I may not be from Africa, but I know that’s a lion” (all of this translated through William. The goodbyes have been hard, which I take to be a sign that I’ve had a good time. Otherwise, it’s wouldn’t be that difficult.
I plan to do one more blog post once I get back home (Saturday night—actual CST!) to kind of reflect/summarize my month long adventure, as well as provide any pertinent travel details (hopefully no disaster/nightmare stories—I’m hoping for smooth flying, quick customs/security clearance, and no annoying seat neighbors). So please do come back one more time, and be sure to keep an eye out for videos and photos on Facebook (again, if we’re not FB friends and you want to see these things, shoot me a friend request!).
For the last time in Kenya: Asante sana and lala salamo!