May the fourth be with you.
I can honestly say I have never felt holier than standing on an alter handing out medications to those in need. That was definitely a first. We were working out of a very small Catholic Church that made for tight quarters for registering, triaging patients, seeing the doctor and then handing out medications all in one space. But we adapt, we are nurses don’t you know. It’s what we do best.
We had a couple of moments that particularly stood out from today. First off, we saw a child with an incredibly high temperature, rigors (a sudden attack of severe shivering and feeling of coldness) who had an increased heart rate and looked bad. He tested positive for malaria and was sent immediately to hospital for IV therapy and closer monitoring. Next, was a child with spina bifida. His mother carried him in to the clinic, and he had incredible wounds on his knees from dragging himself around at home.
His mother told us that he is attending school and has a wheelchair to get himself around while there, but does not have the means at home, so he just ends up dragging his legs. He was another patient that we were looking in to alternative means of assistance for.
Erica and I were also fortunate enough to accompany Johnstone on another home jigger visit. We arrived at the home to find 6 kids, mom, dad and grandma all living under one roof. Four out of 9 of them had made it to the clinic today, and had been treated for a variety of ailments. We brought clothes and blankets, as well as the cleaner to assist in doing a clean of the home.
The 6 children sleep on a mixture of burlap sacks and random sheets on the floor in one room, while mom and dad share a single bed in another. Bed bugs were also present in the home.
We were unclear as to where the grandmother slept. To clean a house, they spray disinfectant and insecticide throughout the home and leave some for the family with education. It is also recommended that cow dung be used to seal the cracks in the floor and prevent jiggers from laying eggs in the floors where there are spaces. We also provided the potassium permanganate treatment for some of the other kids and the grandmother who hadn’t made it to clinic to treat the jiggers. Johnstone told us that he would end up following up with them the next week to check their progress and see if the jiggers had resurfaced.
As much as the work that we are doing can be overwhelming, and mentally and physically exhausting, seeing how people really live is always such an eye opener. You realize that people are living off of so little, yet they are so grateful for everything that they have and any assistance they recieve. We never get such a positive response from the people we treat back home. Where people come to the clinic the next day in a different village just to thank us and tell us whatever we had done had positively affected their lives.
Overall, we saw 806 patients today. It was one of our busiest clinics to date. We did this with a smile on our face, a song on our lips and a dance in our hips. Maybe a little too much song and dance. But the patients seemed to love it 🙂