A partial strike at the hospital this afternoon again. Yes, I’m serious. A strike. Nurses and translators want to invest their pensions without the government doing it for them. But I wouldn’t know what was going on for the last couple days because Jim has been treating me for malaria. My head still swimming in artesunate, I will attempt to blog.
For the last few days Jim has suggested the kids not come with him to peds, because there’s just too much illness going on there…and too many people not covering their mouths. How he has made it through so many years without frequent illness, I will never understand. He says he washes his hands. Like a surgeon. Religiously.
The kiddos and I have had an interesting crash course in hospital care and tropical medicine over the last three weeks. An education that we aren’t allowed to experience in Canada, unless we’re in nursing or medical practicums. Perhaps some of us one day will, and some of us won’t. I’ll bet you can decide what they think…
I got to sit on dad’s chair in pediatrics. Dad was sitting too. Women were lined up with their babies. The worst thing I saw was this little baby who was pale white and her arms were in the air. But then she sat like this in her mother’s lap and somehow when she was born she had white skin instead. She was one year old and the size of my heads and arms together.
Dad was so concentrating because he really doesn’t have time to tell me what’s going on. Some of them are old but mostly they’re new people that came in to the hospital. There’s more and more and more people that came into the hospital today.
It wasn’t very fun. The smell was bad. I’m not allowed to touch anything. It was kind of disgusting.
I saw this guy who had fillings that looked like mustard and ketchup. It goes on his arms and places because he got hurt really a lot. Here, here, here and here and a little on his chest (the man with burns–the ‘ketchup’ was blood, the ‘mustard’ was iodine).
One of the different people I saw couldn’t breathe.
And two people couldn’t walk. But we didn’t do one of them because one person was sleeping, but one of the people we did wake up.
Some of the people couldn’t walk or breathe. That’s really all I saw.
I thought it was scary at the last person. The last person was the bloody one. The one with the fillings. (aka burn dressings)
So what’s pediatrics like?
It’s essentially like clinic but it’s more to the details and people waiting on the side.
A couple people on the back wall, babies crying. Waiting for Tim (another Samaritan’s Purse doctor) to come around and check them and you keep walking and go to the right. There’s a couple seats and a table where the African people do something with the folders. There are many people waiting for dad to come.
There’s nothing I really like about it. I get to learn what illnesses people have.
What do you not like about it?
I don’t like the smell. There’s a fan except in the back room, but it wasn’t on.
Do you like dad’s work?
No. It’s not very cleanly.
Some of the people asked what my name is and what my age is. They asked if I was related to dad.
So that’s pretty much it, you’re going to go into medicine.
No. I never want to go into medicine. Sorry. Probably cause it’s not very cleanly and it’s not very fun. I would love to get paid to watch him though.
We got through four patients, that’s all.
One of the ladies took us a long time because the guy couldn’t find scissors. Dad was trying to cut a bandage off this ladies foot and it hurt her too much so he admitted her to the ward. Dad also saw a lady. She was in the female ward. Big blisters on her lips.
What was it?
They think that one of the drugs she was taking was the cause.
I also saw a guy that had blood all over his finger and forearm and he said that he fell on the road. So dad got him to get some bandages.
So why didn’t you stay?
I just got tired and dad will probably be there till dusk. It was really busy. Dad let me look through another patient’s ear. Her left ear was fine, literally white, which dad said was white. And her right ear had plaque. She said it was hurting.
It was a little gross sometimes. Different. When dad prescribed a medicine, he wouldn’t just say ‘Give it to him’. He would say, ‘Give it to him if we have it’. That was different than what we do in Canada.
How is clinic different than Canada? different illnesses?
Three doctors in a 7×7 room. Nine or ten people, counting me, in that room.
I would say it is sad, but it’s very interesting at the same time. Some things are also disgusting. Other kids you see that are sad and you just feel sad for them. But to wrap it up in three words, I would say “Interesting. Depressing. Compassion”.
You walk into a huge rectangular room. There are beds all along the edges, filled with sick kids and their moms who are either sleeping or watching the little TV in the far corner of the room. You are directed to sit on a wooden chair in the middle of the room. You share this seat with your Dad’s medical bag. You are sitting beside your Dad and beside your Dad is a nurse and then there’s another nurse beside the first one, but this one looks like he doesn’t need to be there, he’s just interested in the girl nurse. And then, of course, sitting beside him is the translator.
The translator’s name is Veronica, old and has a mean edge to her. Now all the people that I just described are in a semi-circle in front of us in a small desk, and before that is a line of stools that goes horizontally through half the room. About 20 adults are sitting on the stools and their sick children are sitting on their laps.
The next child’s mom puts her son’s folder on the table. My father looks at it and asks if the child has been vomiting, a common question. The lady says something in Mamprulli and the translator says “Yes, the child vomited three times yesterday”. My father asks the translator if the child has a fever. The answer again is “yes” and then the questions continue until my father is absolutely sure that the child has malaria.
The people move up the stool methodically and my dad is presented with the next case. This goes on for about 30 minutes when I get bored and start to look around. I look behind me and see a bed with a child laying still, a man with white gloves is applying CPR to the boy. Doctor Tim, a doctor from the US, is watching. There are about three other nurses–one is pumping air into the boy and the other two are just watching.
I hope that the boy lives, but it’s pretty clear he’s dead. When I turn back, I see almost all the parents on the stools watching the resuscitation. I decide to turn back again. One of the male nurses is wrapping the dead body in the sheet that was covering the mattress. The body is stiff.
You turn around again to see a lady with a boy on her lap shielding his bum while he pees on the ground, and also her feet. She’s looking in all directions trying to act innocent. But you know she doesn’t want to have to leave the line so her child can go to the bathroom. The room has been gradually getting hotter, but now it’s unbearably hot. Luckily my Dad asks if I want to leave–I do. He wants to stretch for two minutes and to top it off, I don’t know how to get out of the hospital without getting lost.
It’s nice to go to pediatrics, for the experience. If I had a big list of jobs I would check “Doctor” off the list right away.