Friday Night – Tuesday June 22-26
So you know how I said there wasn’t going to be anything else exciting left to do on Friday night? I was wrong. And it happened right after my blog too. Go figure. The exciting thing was….drum roll please….2 kids who came in with organophosphate poisoning! We went down to the clinic (Raymond, Patience, David and I) after someone came up to the dining hall and asked if we could see the kids. In the nurse’s station were two kids, aged around 1-1.5, one who was bawling her face off, and the little boy just sitting on the exam bench super relaxed and calm. Apparently the kids had been playing and had gotten into some plantain pesticides, thought it looked tasty and ate some. The first order of business was to give them charcoal. One of the ladies who came in with the mother of the two had mixed up some charcoal with water (I don’t know where they got the charcoal) and they promptly tried to giving the screaming child some of it. That didn’t really work however. They then gave the mug to the other child who held it and just drank the charcoal down with no complaint. He took it like a champ, literally. Just took a huge sip then swallowed it down and started again. It was awesome! I don’t think I could’ve done that! The father of the two kids was also told to go out and buy charcoal tablets (flavoured like cherry!) seeing as the one child hadn’t consumed and charcoal yet. The charcoal is needed to absorb the poison in the stomach. The second step is to give them an emetic (a vomit inducer) to make them throw up all of the charcoal with the poison attached to it before the poison gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, we did not have an emetic in the clinic so we had to refer the family to another hospital. I will always remember that little boy just sipping down his charcoal like nothing though J.
After all this drama we had supper and applied for visas online so we could go to Rwanda next weekend! I am super excited! We are going to Kigali and looking at the genocide monument and other touristy things I am guessing. We are leaving on Friday, June 29 then coming back either Sunday or Monday. We kind of want to be back in Mbarara for Canada Day but I guess we will see what happens! I had to fill out the form online three times cause I did something wrong twice. I got it down for the third time but then I realized instead of putting my parents last names I just put their first and middle names. Duh. Idiot here. I don`t think they really care though. We get the confirmation via email then pay 30$US when we get to the border. I think we are taking a matatu there (a taxi van thing that people cram onto), but book it for us. We are going with Scott and a few other people that he has met (Dutch and Canadians I think) and I am unsure as to where we will be stayine but I am sure we will find somewhere! Other than that, we didn`t do much Friday night.
Saturday was our lazy day, as per usual. Woke up later than usual, did a work out video with Christy where we were interrupted by Owen, the boy with the wound. He had come back with his brother from Mbarara (where we sent him on Friday) and came to show us the results. The ultrasound found nothing out of place but they did not do an x-ray so they could not see the foreign body along his side. We concluded that the hard portion under the skin was a piece of metal inserted from his last surgery that they weren`t told about. I have a feeling he has some sort of back problem (scoliosis?) or a hip and joint problem. No clue. But we went to go change his wound as no one else would on a Saturday. I got mad at one of the boys, Roy, from Mkarea University, who said he wouldn’t go do it because Owen “wanted the white doctor and you can do it better than I can.” I got mad at him because it seemed as though he wasn’t even willing to try and help us and see what we were doing so that he and others could do it in the future as we are leaving soon. I yelled at him a little. I did apologize later though saying he didn’t deserve to be yelled at and that I was just frustrated with lack of people and supplies and the seeming lack of caring; he did have a point saying that everyone wants the white doctors though. After we cleaned and re-wrapped Owen’s wound, which looked much much better, we finished our work out video (got to love insanity!) and relaxed until lunch. After lunch we relaxed and read; Christy we feel started to get a migraine so she went and rested. Stephen and I watched some Game of Thrones until someone looking for Stephen interrupted us and chatted with him. I went and had a basin bath (first since Wednesday!) by using some of Raymond’s water. Most of the people here were buying water (100 UGX for 3 jerry cans) and keeping it in their room. All of our African friends bath once if not twice a day. Everyday. They make us seem super dirty in comparison when we don’t shower or bathe for 3 days haha. I needed to have a basin bath though because at 5 we were going out for supper! The lady we met in town, our fellow mazungu Marianne who is in the Peace Corp, invited us for supper along with two other ladies who were Peace Corp trainees. Needless to say, we were pumped for some down home food.
We got all ready, Christy was feeling better too, and we stopped on the way there to pick up some wine. We got to her cute little abode which was in town, right next to the market. It must have only been 250 sq feet, maybe even smaller. She had a cute little living room area, a small bedroom and an even smaller kitchen with two gas hotplates, like a camping stove. In one pot there was spaghetti, the other sauce for the spaghetti. SO EXCITING!! We also saw broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce (I can’t remember the last time I had lettuce) and a spicy Chinese turnip thingy that kind of tasted like a radish. Soon after we got there, the two other trainees arrived, Mary and Michelle. Mary was a lady in her middle years with red curly hair and always willing to tell a story. Michelle was a girl of about our age who had just finished getting her degree. All three of them were American, a necessary requirement for being in the Peace Corp apparently. We had a most wonderful time eating food (my plate was filled with salad and a little spaghetti with the delicious sauce), drinking wine and chatting back and forth. We described what we were doing here and they said they were there for aiding in economic growth and development, or something like that. They are here for 2 years and are currently learning the local language. They are billeted with families in the different villages as well. I couldn’t believe they were going to be here for 2 years without any previous exposure. I don’t know if I could have done that!
We traded stories back and forth about Canada and the US and from them, we really realized how little they know about Canada. Even Michelle, who lived 30 min from the border in Wisconsin, didn’t know anything about Canada. We found it quite hilarious and frustrating all at the same time. We also shared our difficulties we were having here and the differences back home as well as debated back and forth about our favourite things here. We learned about the Peace Corp and were taught some phrases in the local language which I promptly forgot. All in all, it was a fabulous evening. Marianne invited us back for brunch on Sunday morning which we quickly accepted. She mentioned something along the lines of eggs and French toast so of course we were on board. Stephanie even brought maple syrup so we could have that with our French toast too!
We came back late and snacked on leftovers of the supper here. Some of the people were astonished by our faces. All of us girls had put on make up to go out for supper (to make us feel like girls again and feel pretty) and they had either forgotten what Christy and Stephanie looked like with make up in Mbarara and they had never seen me with makeup on. Their reactions were quite hilarious I must say. Most Africans do not wear makeup I have noticed. Then we went to bed!
I woke up early this morning so I could skype my family, and when I say early I mean 6:30 which actually is early thank you very much! We had to do this earlier as we were going back to Marianne’s place for breakfast at 9ish. We were super pumped when we got to her house. She had a fruit salad ready for us (bananas, pineapple, mango = delicious) and was getting started on the French toast. Mary and Michelle were still there as they stayed the night before going back to their billets later that day. We dined on French toast with maple syrup or nutella or peanut butter or jam. We also had tea and hot chocolate. Marianne also made us some fried eggs if we wanted some. It was delicious. Definitely the best breakfast I have had while being here. I am drooling just thinking about it! Christy and Stephen had to leave at around 10 for church as their group was doing a presentation. Stephanie and I stayed and chatted with them and took multiple opportunities to use Marianne’s commode. It was an outhouse with a lock on it about 20 feet away from the house and it was gorgeous compared to some pits I have seen (like the ones at Rugazi). It even had little pedestals on the side of the hole to raise up your feet so they wouldn’t, er, well, get wet I guess. There were no bugs in it and she even had a toilet paper hanger. But I must say that I have gotten the squatting technique down I think.
Stephanie and I left at around 12 to go buy some peanut butter and other goodies at the super market (I didn’t buy anything) then headed back home. We read a little before lunch then went out into the community to give more presentations. We went to three different houses where different groups of people had gathered and gave our presentations to them. The first one was simple, we didn’t use any posters as there weren’t many people and Raymond and Patience had to talk as no one really understood English. The second house we went to had about 10 people and here Raymond and Patience of course talked again but we utilized our posters and also gave a condom demonstration using a banana. We had to specifically tell them to use the condom on the penis rather than on the banana and putting the condom and banana combo by their bed as that was apparently a problem when giving these demonstrations in the first place. They kind of laughed about that. The third group we presented to was in a building with just a tin roof. Right when we got there rain started to fall hard and fast. We had to wait in order to talk to them as it was too loud from the rain hitting the tin roof for them to hear us. The rain kept going and going. Finally, after much deliberation, Stephanie and I were like “screw this, we want to wash our hair,” so we stepped out into the pouring rain with our rain jackets on and soaked/washed our hai8r in the rain. It was fab-u-lous! We were a little wet and clammy after but at least we washed our hair to the best of our ability! We got many odd looks from the people we were to be presenting to when we did this. Oh well!
When the rain finally stopped, we gave our presentation and it was very similar to the second one. They seemed to enjoy themselves , I thought. We walked home and tried not to slip and slide our way down the hill that was turned into mud. We had tea and tried to scrape the mud off of our shoes when we got back, a challenge all by itself. After procuring some tea, most of us went to the liquor store and bought some items for the pig roast that we were having tonight. I bought a bottle of red wine (they were out of the white I had had last time and I had this red on Saturday night) and was happy with my purchase. We came back and got ready for said pig roast and were starving by the time the pig came. Roy and Liz were our MCs for the night and they made us all stand up state or name, status and hobbies. Patience did a Canadian accent and through her arms around like I usually do when I talk (I blushed). They mixed up the tables so there were men and women at each table too. After many people saying they were hungry (by this time it was 9) they caved in on the games and let us eat. The pork was delicious, like pulled pork, but with different sauce and bones, skin and cartilage in it. It was a good thing that I had some alcohol in me cause otherwise I don’t think I could have done it to be honest.
After supper we had speakers playing some music and we danced in the dining hall. Most of the people left to go watch soccer but us Canadian girls were having a fabulous time dancing around and showing the Africans our moves. I had a blast J. I just wish the music had been louder! Christy and I even two-stepped, with me being the guy and leading because she kept trying to polka haha. We couldn’t seem to get the octopus down though. We danced and partied till 12 and then went to bed which was probably a good idea after that point as my bottle of wine was empty. All in all, an awesome night!
Today I woke up a little hungover, but I guess that is kind of expected. We all slept in late and then went to wards after a shower and some laundry as the water came back on for the first time since Wednesday, yay! Raymond rushed through all of the patients but we didn’t mind. There was a lady with a deep abscess that we decided to drain later. After that we went into our groups and worked, hard. In our group, we sat and listened to each person as they read out their part they were to complete. That was a touch boring and a little frustrating as some members didn’t do their part very well, but c’est la vie with group work. I offered to put everything together and format it so once we were finished going over everything after lunch, Stephanie and I spent the rest of the afternoon (until 6) formatting and making it look awesome. But we didn’t edit. That can be done by someone else I think as I feel as though I have put a lot of work into this project compared to my African counterparts. And they happened to agree so someone else is editing. Yay!
I am not going to lie though, this project has brought out the best and worst of me. I have become super frustrated, angry and upset with it but at the same time I have become a leader, have learned to say no and know my limits. I also realize that I am a controller as I wanted everything to go smoothly, my way and get done. Oh well. I am learning to control that too haha. It has been a learning and growing experience for sure.
Before supper, Stephanie, Raymond and I went to wards to see the lady with the abscess on her foot. We found out that the reason she had an abscess was due to her stepping on a fish bone and it lodging in her foot over a week ago. The abscess took up the entire back of her foot and some of the bottom, a radius similar to the size of my fist. We could no longer see the fish bone but upon palpation it hurt the lady more near the closed entrance of the fishbone. The abscess was hard and very deep. We wouldn’t be able to drain it without surgery we figured so of course we had to refer her. I felt really bad for her as she was having trouble walking and had just been sitting and waiting for us in the ward all day, wondering if we could fix her. I feel as though we wasted her time and confused her. I wish we were able to do minor surgeries here, but we don’t have sterile equipment nor diagnostic equipment which again, is a little frustrating. I know we should be getting used to the lack of stuff by now but I know for a fact that every time we have a case where we could do it and not refer the patient if we had the materials, we get this feeling of uselessness and depression that we can’t do anything about. It also makes us feel as though we are giving this health center a bad reputation because we can’t do big things by ourselves and the other health centers are getting our cast offs.
After supper I just crashed. I was super tired from Sunday night and I just wanted to be by myself and read before going to bed early. I had been a little grumpy for the entire day and was kind of homesick and frustrated with life. But with a good sleep, everything passes!
Today I slept in a little (7:45, yay!) and there was still water (double yay!) for a shower. Second shower in two days, I don’t know what is going on! I have to say though that the last four days or so have been chilly and having a cold shower in the morning doesn’t help. Even now my hands are clammy and cold from outside; they have turned a nice blue color. But, focusing. Christy and I went into wards to dress two wounds (the girl who had picked at her leg and Owen) then left. The Makare boys were actually doing wards for once so we left them to it. We left early because we had organized a disclosure meeting with all of the members of the community who had helped us along our journey. There were VHTs, the in-charge, leaders from the community, priests, school teachers and our site supervisors from MUST including Dr. Malling. Each group presented their projects and their findings; Stephanie and I said the results of our findings. It was a long and tiresome affair, but it needed to be done and felt good to be almost done. We had recommendations for the program and I have a feeling that we may have attacked the in-charge a bit as she responded very defensively to some of our comments such as the drugs being locked up, low supplies and such. She said that the drugs aren’t locked up, but in our experience here that is a lie. Nurses usually walk off with the key as they put it in their pocket and forget, leaving the medicines and supplies locked up for when we need them, especially at night. I wanted to fire back what about the blood situation and the lab being locked as those keys are supposed to be here as well, I was so frustrated. But again, there is nothing I can do about that.
At the end of the presentation we thanked everyone and we were thanked by the community members. That felt pretty awesome to see that we had left an impression with these people and our work was recognized. I am glad all of the work is over though! The report is done except for a couple of changes and additions I need to make and we have one more presentation tomorrow at a school, then we are done! We did do a community thing today in that we went to Ndekye Secondary School (the second school we visited) while other members of our group went to St. Maria’s School (the first school we visited) to oversee and advise peer groups that we formed among the children so they can continue on our work. We had a nice conversation with ours at Ndekye (pronounced ne-dech-ee) with three boys and seven girls forming the group. We asked them if they had any concerns and questions and were asked a couple. One was what should they do when they recommend friends to get tested and they don’t. Another one was really funny as the boy was only about 12 and somehow brought up porn and HIV. I am still not quite sure what he was asking, but porn came out of no where and I just laughed my head off. We took a group picture and left, taking their contact information with us.
We got back in time for tea at which time two people from MUST came by to talk to us, out of the blue, about different teaching techniques for next year’s LCP course. We tried to give as much input as we could on the module she showed us (ways to increase/how to involve the community and increase their participation). It was different. After, a group of us went to go play/watch soccer. Christy and a couple of guys were already there and the rest of us arrived just at half time. The teams were composed of boda-boda drivers and they had uniforms and everything. The team that some of our members were on lost L. But it was great to watch! I can only aspire to have skills like theirs. All around the field there were kids; they would come up behind us muzungos (I realize that I keep changing the spelling, my bad) and touch our leg or elbow and run off. I was getting a little annoyed until Christy said it was because she and Raymond were chasing the kids when they did that and they wanted to be chased by us too. We took pictures of the kids who absolutely loved been shown their photo and having their pictures being taken. We were kind of bad and made them do funny poses but they loved it. They kept pushing people forward in their eagerness to get into the picture. I never got a chance to play soccer and I was kind of glad cause they kind of got intense at the end and fights were breaking out.
We came back to Rugazi and chilled and ate supper. That was about it. I can’t believe we are leaving in two days to go back to Mbarara. This time has gone so fast it is kind of unbelievable. It feels like it was just the other day that we got here and I was nervous to be in the clinic. I hope that we actually did make a difference here, and not just amused the villagers and community with our rambling. HIV is super important and I hope that what we started will be propagated throughout this parish and reduce those who are infected with HIV.