Today has been such an amazing day! It started out with the best breakfast that consisted of toast, avocados, mangos and hard boiled eggs. I loved having fresh fruit. After breakfast, Sarah (my awesome roommate) and I went to the municipal hospital to the out patient department (OPD). We took people’s blood pressure and entered their vitals into the computer. At first I was pretty nervous and had trouble with the blood pressure device, but after taking a few people’s BP, I started getting the hang of it.
The outpatient clinic is the first place people go to when they arrive at the hospital. People, old and young, visibly sick and apparently healthy, fill up rows and rows of benches in an outdoor patio. They get called for the temperature, weight and blood pressure to be taken and then go back to their seat and wait again, this time to be seen by a doctor in a consulting room. I personally have yet to see a doctor at the hospital; the majority of staff are nurses or student nurses. Apparently there are usually 1-2 doctors in the consulting rooms and 6 doctors in total at the hospital. Very different than most hospitals in the US…
I sat with a student nurse, Josephine, and took people’s blood pressure while she entered it in the computer. After about an hour, she disappeared and I took over both for a bit before Sarah came to help me. Once I had mastered the blood pressure device, the trickiest part was calling out people’s names.
One of the student nurses, Newlove, helped me out with the pronunciations. (Her name is pretty fitting because she really is my new love; she so sweet). Not only was she helpful in explaining the names and different hospital procedures, but she is also extremely friendly. As Sarah and I were leaving the hospital, we ran into her and exchanged phone numbers. Newlove and I decided to meet up at the market today and are getting our hair done and going dancing tomorrow night. I’m so excited!
I was at OPD from about 8:30-11:30am. It was definitely interesting, and I’m glad I got to experience it. After OPD, we went to pediatrics. My nurse buddy, Dzjohm, was there and it was great to see another friendly and familiar face. He was the one that was really helpful in explaining the different diseases to me last time. He also jokingly proposed to me today, which apparently is very common here.
In the ward today, there was another boy with sickle cell disease, a baby with two different kinds of malnutrition (kwashiorkor and marasmus—protein-energy malnutrition) and lots of kids with malaria.
Rita, the child with protein-energy malnutrition, was especially heartbreaking to see. She was covered in skin lesions and had a big, distended belly. Protruding from her swollen tummy, she had what Dzjohm called an umbilical hernia. Apparently Rita’s energy malnutrition had weakened her muscles to the point where her abdominal muscle tore a bit and her intestines came through it. Apart from her enlarged tummy, Rita was extraordinarily skinny. Dzjohm was saying that her younger brother had taken over breast feeding and so Rita hadn’t gotten enough nutrients. Sara and I were a bit confused by this explanation because Rita was old enough to have stopped breast feeding completely.
After going through the pediatrics ward, Djzohm took me and Sara to the maternity and labor ward. I got to see, and even hold (!), the cutest newborn babies! It made me definitely want to go back the maternity ward and hopefully help with a delivery. That would be such an incredible, unbeatable experience.
Around 1pm, we left the hospital and returned to the hostel where we had lunch and got ready for the market. The market was absolutely insane. Since it was market day, it much larger and more crowded than usual. There were stands everywhere with things from dried fish contorted in a circle with their tail in their mouth, to skirts for $1, to live crabs skuttling around, to cell phone chargers, to fruit. People with water bags, nail polish, tomatoes ect. weave in an out of the crowds yelling the price of their goods and trying to entice bystanders to buy them. It was really cool but definitely overwhelming after awhile.
At the market, I bought some fake hair (for my braids that I’m getting with Newlove, Teresa—the cook at the hostel—and Sara soon!), some mangos, a skirt and some carrots.