Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 4: Village of Armenia

We started the day with Beth getting sick. Audry volunteered to go back to our resort keep an eye on Beth. We had to stop an wait while some of the staff took them back to where we were staying. Meanwhile, it gave the rest of us a chance to run to the local pharmacia to get some medications for the day. We were looking at getting some antibiotics, anti-anxiety, and other medications for the day. I asked the woman, "oh, but we need a prescription for those, right?" She said, "No, I see you are in the medical field, I make exception." Can you imagine walking into Walgreens wearing scrubs an a stethascope needing some prescriptions and just having the pharmacist say, "okay, that's fine your in scrubs?"... not in America! Still having some time to blow, PZ and I did the real "Jitterbug" in the pharmacy parking lot. It was a hoot!


We arrived a bit late into the village of Armenia. Our slow start was no indication of the type of busy day we would have to come. By the end of the day we had seen about 100 patients amid the 90 degree weather and we were down two of our nurses. The types of cases we were getting were pretty intense as well: several cases of hoof and mouth disease, a little boy with pneumonia, chicken pox, a man with a nystigmus, fungus infections, a man who goes temporarily blind after he reads for about 3 minutes, colds, flus, rotten teeth, and a woman we suspect may have been having a heart attack.

Cute story, the woman who's child had chicken pox was concerned because her chickens because some of them were dying. It just goes to show there is still a lot of education many of these villagers need when it comes to their health.


My highlight of the day included listening to a man's heartbeat. I put on my stethascope, laid it on his chest, an as I listened to the beating of his heart, the sounds of the jungle... baboon in the distance, the laughter of children on the playground, and general buzz reverberating through the walls of our small little clinic all blended together for the perfect symphony... lub... dub... lub... dub steadily setting the pace. I smiled knowing we were making a difference and that we were doing it in perfect harmony.

Staying so busy, none of us barely had time to even go to the bathroom. However, when I finally surrendered to the primitive toilet, I picked the nastiest one. I could have used the teachers stall, but I opted to use the one where the kids go. I want this experience to be raw and organic. My bathroom experience was both :-) By the way, none of the bathrooms there have toilet paper, so you have to find things to improvise. On my walk back to our clinic, I picked up a glass bottle of sprite that was incredibly quenching. Glass bottles are pretty common for all the soft drinks around here. Side note: Apparently, Pepsi had tried to move in on the CocaCola monopoly around here and after they had their first batch of soda prepared, someone came in and smashed all of their bottles so they had no where to put it- they pulled out. Interesting, huh?

I was thinking about a few things today... One, the huge responsibility that we actually have right now. People are coming to us with the uttmost trust. They are letting a dozen foreigners in scrubs poke them, and prod them, an taking the advice that we give. Not that I haven't been focused throughout my nursing education thus far, but it makes me wish so badly I had paid a little more attention on certain things. While this is a huge learning experience for us all, often times getting to see "worst case scenarios" of common ailments, I think it is more of a growing experience as human beings.

The children here were wonderful as ever. I coaxed about 60 kids into making the biggest Ring Around the Rosy circle they had ever seen. We all circled the entire playground then did the silly dance a few times in each direction... kids laughing, smiling, and loving the attention. Two of the kids came over with me later to help me find Buket seeds. They come from what locals call the "stinky toe tree", but these seeds are beautiful. They are often used as beads to make a lot of the local jewelry. Throughout the day, 4 year old David and his little brother kept popping into the clinic giving me new handfuls of Buket seeds. I will save them for some special project.

There is often little we can give these people except for being present with them in their moments of pain an grief. We can clean a wound, dress a sore, apply ointments, listen to their lungs, and so forth, but I think that pales in comparison with how we truly touch these people's hearts. Their eyes just light up when they come into the clinic, they light up with hope and joy that someone cared enough to be there in their little part of the world and reach out a helping hand. Many of them come right up to us and give big hugs. The children especially want to show their love. You walk into their playfield and they nearly tackle you with hugs. Steph O tried giving pencils away today and was like a total rockstar. You would have thought she was giving out Nintendo Wiis. Funny thing is that some of the kids kept getting back in line until we ran outan realized the pencils were getting hoarded. One of the staff did a pat down on the kids and was turning up with 5 and 6 pencils in some of their pockets. They got a lesson in sharing.

Not only are the patients offering up their affection, we as nurses are continually making deposits in each other's emotional bank accounts. We are coming together as a team and getting the job done like a well oiled machine. I must say though, we are led by an amazing leader and instructor from CSS, as we call PZ. She is our fearless leader who daily teaches us about resoucefulness, compassion, caring, technique, and plenty more. She's opening up the doors to a side of nursing many of us had no idea existed.

1 Comments:

At January 8, 2009 at 7:38 PM , Blogger nemadji said...

I love your narrative and those photos are breathtaking!

 

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