I woke up in the middle of the night and habitually checked my little converter, which glows red when it’s plugged in and working. It unfortunately wasn’t red, which meant there was no power. UGH. I fell back asleep dreading getting ready in the dark, but it was a mark of good luck that I woke up to my alarm with power! It’s funny, but I swear the best days I have are when I wake up with power and the bad days are when I wake up in the dark. I never thought my days would be so dictated by something completely out of my control – it’s pretty funny thinking about it.
Anyway, as promised I tried to get more pictures of my daily life. Here’s the van that picks me up in the morning. You can kinda see the four rows of seats in the picture. This is similar to a dala dala, which is a converted van of this size so it has 5 rows and an extra bench. At some point, I’ll get a picture of one for you! It’s proven to be difficult so far.
Here’s an inside look at the inside of the van. It can fit about 13-14 people if we squish in, which is something pretty common in Tanzania.
It was a great day from the beginning. I hopped off the van (have yet to do it gracefully) and Gladys greeted me. She had been on the night shift (ends at 8am). Usually, I just sit and read my Kindle until 9am, when clinic really gets started. But today, Gladys sat and talked with me! She speaks good English and is the one that asks the most interesting questions about my life. We talked about the weather, school, her family, my family, etc. I pulled out my phone and showed her pictures of my life back home. It was fun! The time flew by and two of my other favorite nurses (Linas and Rhoda) showed up to relieve Gladys.
Linas is the one in charge of the MCH clinic, which I was looking forward to today. But in a surprise twist of events, I ended up tagging along with Rhoda as she took a trip to the district hospital. She needed to pick up some medicine for the clinic and Dr. Koshuma asked her to help set me up for 2 days next week observing surgeries.
We took a dala dala from the clinic to the main Usa River spot (I hesitate to call it a station because it’s not really what we would call a station) and then another dala dala from that spot to the hospital. It took a good 45 minutes to travel, but we finally got there! The hospital was very different than what I expected. It’s a compound with multiple small buildings sparsed throughout the property, instead of the continuous giant building/skyscraper-esque thing that UNC is. Rhoda and I went into all 6 offices that were in the administration office (each one sent us to another one until we had gone into all of them) and we waited around a lot, but got told that we would need to come back on Monday for morning report and then they would orient me to the hospital and set me up with a surgeon. I still need to figure out how I’ll get to the hospital on Monday morning – morning report starts at 7:30am, which is the time I get to the clinic so I’ll need to figure something out for that. Anyway, as we were walking around trying to find someone that would help me out, we walked by this which gave me instant butterflies and excitement! I can’t wait for Monday (hoping I can find transportation and figure it out)!
Operating theater = operating room, where I’ll hopefully be spending Monday and Tuesday!
Rhoda and I got back to clinic and it was 11:30am (we left at 8:30am – gasp) and there were plenty of patients and plenty of moms/babies in the MCH. I got right to work stabbing children with needles (aka vaccinating them) when I was interrupted by Rhoda, who said she needed a doctor to stitch up a wound in the minor theater.
Apparently, Dr. Koshuma had left around 1pm and this man came in with a gaping wound from a motorcycle accident that just happened. So I left Linas to run the MCH and scrubbed in to the minor theater. P.S. putting on sterile gloves feels so official.
I wish I had taken a picture of the wound before and after – it was fresh, so still gushing blood and messed up from the accident. It was also wide and deep, so I stitched it up internally with catgut sutures (which dissolve on their own) to pull the two edges closer together and then stitched externally with silk suture (which will need to be removed after a week). This made the gaping wound turn into a single line, which hopefully heals nicely. Then, I cleaned and dressed and patted myself figuratively on the back for a job well done!
It felt so good to stitch with just me and Rhoda in the theater with the patient. Last time, which was my first time ever stitching someone up, Dr. Koshuma and a nurse were with me so Dr. Koshuma could guide me on where to do what. This time, he wasn’t around and I felt obligated (and excited) to stitch on my own since the patient obviously needed help. I felt comfortable doing it because I had done it once and Rhoda is the head nurse (and I feel super comfortable asking her for help), so she could guide me if and when I needed it. It was so fun – I ended up missing lunch and didn’t even realize how late it was/how hungry I was. Time flies when you’re having fun!
What surprised you today? On the van ride home, I usually just sit quietly as the other passengers speak in Swahili to each other. I can understand/speak a few words, but not enough to follow a conversation that native speakers are having. Today, I heard the words Trump and Clinton, which caught my attention. They were talking about the upcoming American election. I couldn’t decipher what they were saying, but it isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed Tanzanians being super aware of American politics. It’s pretty cool!
What touched you today? Rhoda spent her whole day helping me. First, with taking me to the hospital and waiting/talking/chasing people to help me spend a few days in the operating theater. A few hours after we got back, she helped me in the minor theater with stitching up the wound. She’s so patient and kind – she’s exactly the kind of teacher I hope to be one day.
What inspired you today? Stitching on my own was epic. I’m starting to feel sad that I am leaving soon when I am just starting to feel good about being in clinic and able to really do things that I wouldn’t get to do at home. Hmph. I guess it just means I’ll be that much more excited when it’s my turn to work hands-on in America!