I Live For a Good Book!
So yesterday I got kind of side tracked from my blog because my room mate lent me the book "50 Shades of Grey". My goodness is it an addictive book! I am really regretting not buying it for myself before leaving Canada now. Oh well I suppose.
Anyways, onto yesterdays events. After eating breakfast and getting everyone ready and organized, we were off to meet the Community Leaders and the Mayor of the villages we will be surveying. However, one of our fellow Canadians, Nicole, could not join us as she was feeling very ill. She had a fever, stomach ache and very fatigued. It was actually kind of scary, as those are all the same symptoms of malaria. However, we didn't think that it would be malaria because malaria usually has a very long incubation period of around 3 weeks, and we had only been here for a week and a half. We told her to take some Gravol and Immodium and drink lots of fluids. So as we went off to meet some community members, she stayed back and slept. We went on a fairly long walk to meet the mayor, and when we got there, he actually was not in the office. Therefore our group leaders met with the town treasurer, but did not get very far, as we had been told that handwritten letters would be fine to give to the community leaders. The town treasurer, however, told us that we needed an official letter from the university outlining our objectives and purpose in the community in order to be considered "legal" in the community. So that was somewhat of a setback in our progress, but he said that we could still continue on "illegally" as long as we got a letter from the university sometime soon. After that meeting, we headed into one of the villages we would be covering in order to survey the people about what they thought some of the health challenges were in their community. After speaking with a few different families, the main concerns were malaria, especially in their children and the lack of mosquito nets provided, STI's and HIV prevalence, cost of water(the people here must pay 50 Ugx to fill a jerry can, and that is not even clean water), and also complications during delivery and deliveries being seen by Traditional Birth Attendants vs. physicians or nurses. When our group got back to our hostel, we had a group meeting about what we had heard, and to decide which challenge we would be addressing in the villages. After some discussion, our group decided to target HIV and increasing the community's awareness and knowledge about it, and to try and eliminate some stigma associated with a positive test, as this is a huge hindrance for people even coming in to be tested. I am actually super excited to do this, as I think we may actually be able to have some impact, and its something I feel very strongly about! Our group actually works surprisingly well! We all let each other have a turn to talk, we have very minimal arguing, and even when there are disagreements, they are very quickly resolved in a respectful manner.
This morning was a bit of a frustrating start to the day. Wednesday's are HIV clinic days all day long, and the clinic gets over 200 patients on this day, so the in-charge had told us that she would really appreciate our help if we can spare it on Wednesdays. Therefore, being given this information, Christy and I got ready and ate breakfast and were ready to go in our scrubs and white coats by 8 am. However, some of our group was not even showered by this time, and this would cause our group to not be ready to go to work until 9:30. Christy and I tried to take initiative by reading admitted patient history's until then, but we were still frustrated that we should be helping at the clinic, instead of just standing around. I think that the lack of urgency here is one of my biggest frustrations, and I am continuously trying to get used to it. although I don't think I ever will.
Once everyone was ready, we did rounds in the wards (which, by the way, only the students do, no attending to show us the way!). After rounds, we could finally go to the clinic. I have never seen so many people lined up to receive care! People had apparently been lining up since 6:30 in the morning in order to get into line. There were people of every age - from under 1 years of age to over 40 (not many people live to be over 50 in this country). Because we took so long to get to the clinic, a few of us couldn't get in to work in the actual HIV clinic, but instead we worked in the pre-natal care clinic that was also going on. There we saw mothers of every typre - young, old, HIV positive, HIV negative, first timers, 7th timers - you name it! It was actually pretty interesting! We got to learn how to feel for the fetus' head, detect what position the baby is lying in, find the fetal heartbeat, and even date the pregnancy - all without an ultrasound!! Sounds impossible, I know! It is actually pretty amazing what people here can do with very minimal resources. And I got to feel my first fetus head! Yay! :)
Our work in the clinic ran all the way up until lunch, and then after lunch we had some down time until the VHT (Village Health Team) came to have a meeting with us to discuss some of the issues they face in the villages. Although we did not speak the language, some of our team members translated for us, and it actually turned out to be a very informational session. They described challenges such as malaria, people not wanting to address HIV as an issue, cardiac problems, diabetes, and typhoid. They are also going to an invaluable resource when we go back into the communities to survey, as they can perhaps show us around, and gain the communities trust even more.
After the meeting we came back to our hostel, had evening tea, and then worked on our group projects. Patience(a girl in my group) and I are the ones writing the community diagnosis paper, so that took a little bit of planning. We wrote a skeleton draft, then had supper, and then we had a group meeting to compile all of our efforts. We seem to be moving fairly fast with our project and I am confident that we will be able to do a good job!
I should probably head to bed though, as my roomie is already in bed with ear plugs and all! haha
So until next time! <3