Summarizing…

Whew, I have been MIA for quite a while – laziness and power outages got to me. Sorry! To make up for it, I’ll give you a quick summary of my last week via short stories/comments:

  • Power outages have become normal here, which means no wifi and no light after about 6:30pm. It’s been rough getting up in the morning without power as well, since I get up before the sun rises and getting ready in the dark is not something I’m necessarily proficient with (although I have improved immensely).
  • I stitched someone up on my own yesterday! He had a motorcycle accident and had a really deep wound on his chin (bloody, gory, all that good stuff). 5 stitches later, he was good to go! I’m hoping the next wound will be easier to stitch – this one was not a fresh, clean cut, so it was a little harder than normal. I can’t wait for my next time! And word to the wise, if you ever need stitches, please go to the doctor ASAP to make their stitching job easy! It’s much easier to stitch when the wound hasn’t tried to heal itself.
  • I’ve been getting into a routine now at the clinic and have even started seeing (some) patients on my own. I always get a nurse or the doctor to check my diagnosis and prescriptions, but most surprisingly I have been doing pretty well. The hardest part for me is giving correct doses, but I’m getting better with more practice.
  • We’ve had some interesting overnight patients lately: Patient 1 had a bad case of typhoid fever, which is something I thankfully got vaccinated against before I left. Typhoid fever is essentially sepsis, caused by Salmonella enterica typhi and it is not a pretty picture. However, after some fluids and antibiotics, she was well enough to be discharged with a long course of antibiotics prescribed. Patient 2 came in when I wasn’t around (about 8pm). He was young (20s-30s) and had shortness of breath. He was wheezing and coughing, but it was episodic. The doctor gave him some drugs and his heart stopped and he stopped breathing! After some cardiac massage, he came back but was delirious and tried to fight the doctor/nurses and kept saying there was blood flowing on the ground like a river, etc. Anyway, I heard all this the next morning when I came in. Obviously, my first question was: what was the diagnosis? The doctor didn’t really know and he wanted to refer to the district hospital, where they have imaging and further diagnostic tests, but the family wanted to take him home and pray for “the devils inside him” instead. It was really sad to see the patient leaving the clinic, knowing that he could get better care at the hospital, but patient (family) autonomy wins all.
  • Funny story: I was talking to Gladys, one of the nurses, and she asked me, “what is American food? Here, we eat rice and beans and avocados a lot, but what is American food?” Now, I want you to take a second and think about what your response would be. I had a really hard time thinking of an answer: in a given week, I could eat burritos, pasta, pizza, sushi, biriyani, etc. – none of which constitutes American food. I explained to her that we import a lot of foods, so for example, we eat avocados even though we don’t have avocado trees in our backyards like many Tanzanians do. She was incredulous at the thought and I promised her I would give her a better answer later. So, readers, throw some suggestions my way!

Now, for some pictures!

Each morning begins with a cleaning!

I’ve seen a little piece of home around the clinic!

A patient’s chart – see left for pricing. $1 = 2000 shillings. 

New lunch ritual – I come sit at this big open field, read, and collect my thoughts during my break. Sometimes I can even see Mt. Kilimanjaro’s snowy peak above the clouds!  

​​Trying to survive power outages! 😦

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