Today has been very informative and interesting so far. I went to the pediatrics ward at the municipal hospital again. Some of the same kids from yesterday were there, and I was able to see how they had progressed from the day before. There were 4 patients in the ward: Perfect, a 9 year old girl who has sickle cell disease, a girl with a leg wound, a girl with malaria, a boy with really severe malaria and possibly typhoid, and the premature newbie with malnutrition. There were also several other kids who had been discharged but were still in the hospital because they did not have money to pay.
Although it’s extremely interesting to witness the symptoms of these different diseases first hand and to see how they are treated in the hospital, it’s still really hard to get used to the lack of resources there.
The majority of the staff are student nurses who are doing their 5 week practical at the municipal hospital. I talked to one of them, Joy (age 20), a lot and learned about her life as a nursing student. There was one male nurse, Djzohm, who has been working in the ward for awhile and was extremely knowledgable about all the different diseases. Exhibiting much patience, he explained the different symptoms of malaria and sickle cell disease to me and Alicia.
Here is what I’ve learned so far:
Malaria: Characterized by high fevers and vomiting. If very severe can go to the brain, causing cerebral malaria. The nine year old boy with severe malaria (i think his name was Abukar) had a consistently really high fever that did not respond to malaria medication. After 2 weeks of a high temperature and malaria medications, the doctor prescribed him with cipro and another antibiotic, thinking that the fever was caused by a bacterial infection such as typhoid. We watched the nurse, Dzijom, give him the antibiotics intraveneously, which was really interesting. The boy was so sweet and so strong. Even when he was shaking from the fever and obviously in pain he never cried.
Sickle cell disease: Characterized by joint pain because the blood cells get stuck in the joints and then cause severe pain. Fatigue. The only way to treat it is to get a bone marrow transplant because the bone marrow is creating defective sickle shaped red blood cells. It’s very expensive and not feasible so they just manage the crises situations by giving medication to relieve the pain and by thinning the blood with IV fluids.
I really enjoy going to the hospital and getting informed. It’s made me realize that I do really want to become a doctor. Hopefully I can get over my squeamishness of blood and needles!