My Name is Amooti. (PS blog may be a bit graphic today)
So yes, I have been slacking on my blogging, and I do apologize! I have just really gotten into a book series and I cannot seem to put it down! It definitely makes the time pass by alot faster, and after some of the things I have seen lately, I kind of would just like to escape into the fantasy world for a half hour.
I guess I should start where I last left off - Thursday morning. After waking up, Christy and I got ready and ate breakfast, like any other day, and were of course the first ones ready to go. However, today was a bit different, because instead of doing rounds, Christy, Nicole and I decided to head to the maternity ward ourselves and see if anything was going on over there. We walked into the nurse's room and said "We're here to help! Please put us to work!". The nurses actually seemed bery excited to have us, because they told us that they had 5 mothers who were all in labour, and one would be ready to start pushing anytime now! We were all so excited! The nurses tried to tell us that we could deliver it ourselves if we would like, but none of us have the experience, so we said we would watch and assist if they needed it. The first mother that was brought in was 18 years old and this was her first delivery. We quickly found out that mothers are given no painkillers or epidurals, the hospital is short of sutures, so if a mother tears, there is really nothing they can do about it, and the hospital is also short on saline, so most mothers do not receive saline unless it is a desperate situation. This young mother was having a really difficult time with pushing, and to our disbelief, one of the nurses went up to her and slapped her across her arm, and yelled something at her. Christy, Nicole and I all just looked at one another, as we have never seen anything done like that in Canada. About halfway through her labour, another mother came into the room, saying that she was ready to start pushing. In the birthing room, there are two flat beds, with a slight mattress on them. Also, the mothers are expected to bring their own plastic sheet/garbage bag and blankets/sheets to lay on the bed. The mother that came in midway through was in her 30's, had given birth 5 times before and was TRR(HIV positive). However, our first priority was to deliver the other baby first, as the mother had been trying to push for about 15 minutes already, and was getting tired and we were worried the baby may go into distress. After another 20 minutes of pushing and coaching the young mother, a little baby girl was finally delivered, weighing 3.4 kgs. It was an amazing thing to experience, and what was even more amazing, is that this young mother did not scream even once, and never had a single pain killer! I know I definitely would not be able to do that!
Once that delivery was over, it was on to the next mother. She, however, did not look as healthy as the previous one, and was too weak to push. Therefore the nurses decided that they would have to start an IV and give her some saline to increase her blood pressure and hopefully give her some strength. Because of her TRR status, everyone was told to put on two pairs of gloves. The birth was actually fairly quick, as she had given birth many times before, and she also gave birth to a girl, weighing in at 2.5 kg. However, this baby was born covered in meconium(look it up! haha) and was fairly small. I am not sure if she aspirated the meconium or not, but she did seem to be breathing fairly okay, with the occasional wheeze.
One difference I noted between here and Canada, is that Canada places a pretty big emphasis on post-natal care, whereas here, all that is done is wiping the baby off, making sure it is breathing and weighing the baby. After that, the baby is handed back to the mother. All in all though, the experience we had in the maternity ward was awesome, and I can't wait to go back!
After our maternity ward experience, we headed back to the house to get changed, work on our projects a bit and have lunch. After lunch, we were planned to go to the Catholic church at 3:30, as the priest had invited us especially for Thursday service. At 3, we left our hostel, and started the trek to the church. Once we arrived, I was taken aback. It was HUGE and I had never seen so many people at a church mid day on a Thursday. When we walked into the church, it was packed! And of course, most of the 500 pairs of eyes turned to look at the white people walking in. We all found a spot near the back, but soon afterwards Sister (one of the members of our group) came up to us and said that the priest had made room for us at the very front. Therefore we all got up and walked to the very front, as the entire congregation watched us. I don't think I have ever felt more embarrassed or self-conscious than in that moment right then. However, once the service actually began, I was pleasantly surprised! Seeing that I am not an avid church-goer, and when I have gone to church in Canada, the service are, well, a little dry. However, the church services in Uganda are completely different! Everyone sings every 2 minutes, there are drums and a keyboard, and the priest had a very good sense of humor (from the impression we got anyways, as the entire service was in a different language). There was really never a dull moment during the service, and towards the end of the service, there was yet another surprise. The priest asked us to come onto the stage (in English!) so that he may introduce our entire group the the congregationn and to welcome us to the community. One by one, our group introduced themselves, and when it came turn for us Canadians to introduce ourselves, the entire congregation started laughing! The majority of them could not understand English, and even those who could said that we spoke way too fast for them to be able to understand what we were saying. The prist graciously translated for us though, thank god! (no pun intended hah!) We were then allowed to sit back down, but the priest once again had a little extra in store for us Canadians. He explained to us that it would be his honor to give us each a Ugandan name. I was named "Amooti", meaning "hard working", Christy was named "Akiiki" meaning "beautiful one", Nicole "Atenye" meaning "centre of the family" and Stephan was give the name "Rukundu" which means "love" apparently in their language. Now when we meet people, instead of trying to explain our Canadian names, we can just give them our Ugandan names.
Once we got back to our hostel, some of us worked on our project a little more, I read some more, and ate supper then headed to bed. Thursday was a pretty good day overall actually and I hope we have many more days like that!
Friday, on the other hand, was probably one of the most draining and emotionally taxing days I have had here so far. We started Friday off by doing rounds in the wards, like most other days. However, it seemed like everyone in the main ward(which are just children) was not happy that day. There were 2 children who needed IVs started, but no one could find a vein to start them. Therefore one little boy had to get an IV inserted into his neck, after trying his arms and even his scalp. I cannot imagine how painful that would be, and how uncomfortable he is all the time. However, he badly needed a blood transfusion, so it was the only option. Another girl's case was actually pretty heart wrenching. She was 11 years old, but she had severe muscle wasting, so much so that you could see every bone in her body, she had severe edema(swelling) on her face and legs, and she had unclerations in her mouth and on her tongue. Once we read her chart, we found out that she was HIV positive, and that her mother had died of HIV related illnesses 8 years earlier. Therefore, all of her previously mentioned symptoms were most likely due to HIV related complications, and it was very sad to know that this little girl most likely had been born with HIV. At one point or another, almost all of us, including the Ugandan students, all had to go outside, just to collect ourselves and take a breather. However, this was not the most heart-breaking thing that we would see that morning.
Patience and I were in the middle of doing rounds, when Christy (who had gone to find another senior student) all of a sudden rushed up to us and said "Guys, I think we need to go see a patient in the male ward. Now." Sensing the urgency in her voice, Patience and I told another student to finish the patient we were seeing, and headed to the male ward. When I walked into the room, I was overwhelmed by the sight, and also the smell. I am not going to lie, I was a little frightened too at first. We found a man, sitting on the ground with a jacket over his head. His entire body was cracked and skin was peelind off. There were flies on him and flying everywhere around him. There was pus coming out of basically every orifice, especially his eyes, so that he could barely see. We grabbed this patient's book/chart, and saw that he had been admitted on Wednesday, and since then no one had bothered to check on him or clean him at all. He was an HIV positive male, who was having an allergic reaction to one of the medications he had been given, and that was what was causing his skin to flake off. Due to this reaction, and his immunosuppressed state, he had developed a secondary infection, which was causing him to secrete exudate/pus and become septic. What was even more heart wrenching, was the fact that he had even brought his own gloves for the nurses to wear while examining/cleaning him, yet nobody had even come to see him. After asking the patient, and his caregiver a few questions, we headed to the nurses' office to ask if someone could attend to the man ASAP. Once we got there, the nurses pretended not to know who or what we were talking about, so we finally just had to tell them that someone needed to clean the man up right away, and that he needed to be given the antibiotics he was prescribed, since no one had done that since he was admitted. After being confronted, the head nurse said that she would attend to him right away. When we returned to the room, and explained what was going on to the caregiver, it was all I could do not to cry in front of the patient. It was honestly the most heartbreaking scene I have ever experienced to date.
Once Christy and I returned to our rooms to change, the floodgates opened, and both of us could no longer contain our frustrations. I am extremely glad to have a roommate who understands and feel the same way I do, and who I can vent my thought too. I think she feels the same, and after having a talk, we both felt a little bit better. It was around this time that our supervisor from Canada, Dr. Adil Nazarali, and a MUST supervisor, Dennis, came to check up on us and see how things were going. What timing!
We were very grateful for their visit, as they were very kind and brought us bananas, bread and bottled water. We then had a group meeting and explained how far along we were on our project, expressed any concerns we may have and if there was anything they could do for us to make us more comfortable. One of the students, who I must say is very persistent, tried very hard to get us a vehicle for the group, but it was to no avail. Oh well, more walking and sunshine for us! :) We then got a few group photos, had lunch, and they were off to another site.
Due to our emotionally draining morning, most of us did not really have energy to do much in the afternoon. Again some of us worked on our progects, and finishes some parts up, while others read in the sunshine, or just hung out in their rooms. I worked on my group project, and then just hung out and read for the majority of the remaining night. At about 9, Christy, Nicole and I borrowed someones version of "The Hunger Games" movie, and watched it before heading to bed. I am not going to lie, I fell asleep through most of it - the days here are exhausting!
This morning I got to sleep in till 7:30, when I was, well, kind of rudely awakened by people screaming (yes screaming) and knocking on other's doors. That is also another difference I have noticed here lately - people do not have the same kind of consideration for other people who are sleeping. People will have their music blaring on their laptops until 1 in the morning, and others will wake up at 6 and start yelling, and knocking on your door, whether you need/want to be up or not. I then had breakfast, and decided to do my laundry right in the morning, thinking that it would then be dry by tonight. However, today has turned out to be kind of a nasty, cloudy day, and it actually just finished raining, so I guess so much for dry clothes! We were going to head to a pool this afternoon that is fairly close, but since it isn't very nice out, and it costs 10000 Ugx to go, I am not sure if that will be happening today or not.
Anyways, lunch is ready so I should probably get some while I can! I will try my darndest to write a blog tomorrow, if I can peel myself away from 50 Shades Darker! :)
Miss you all! xoxo