Depending on when you are joining us, buenos días ,buenas tardes or buenas noches. Jeff here, once again.
Thanks in large part to Ryan’s internal alarm clock, Habitacion #8 (my room that I share with Ryan, Matt and Vivek) was up and raring to go at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Pretty impressive considering six hours earlier we were knee deep in debate about morals, the legal system and the ramifications of having to choose between your lawn and your children when deciding to use pesticides.
Each night we close our ASB programming with ‘Reflection,’ a two-hour long session from 8 to 10 p.m. where the team writes in their personal journals and we gather again to reflect on our experience through a series of activities and discussions.
Tuesday night’s session led to some heated debates and Reflection carried on well past the official close at 10 p.m.
But six hours later, donning our purple scrubs once again, we were back on the bus heading to Nindiri District for another day of clinic with Dr. Cerrato. The original plan was for the team to move on to a new site but a last minute decision saw the team back in the school at San Joaquin. (Team reports from the clinic are below.)
I wasn’t on the bus for the full ride today because Yuri, Erin, Carly, Sabrina and I were dropped at the regional health clinic in Los Altos. We set out in the back of a pickup truck to the village with Violetta, the nurse practitioner, another nurse, Milta, her son Marco and our translator, Pavel.
Our first stop of the day was to a four-room school where we presented basic health tips to students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. The kids were a lot of fun and I think, no I know, they got a big kick out of their special visitors this day.
One boy decked out in a Spider-man shirt was especially cool as my son Clark is also a big Spidey fan. I couldn’t resist flinging some webs his way.
From the school, we split up into two groups with Sabrina joining Milta and Marco for one set of house visits while the rest of us went with Pavel and Violetta.
The Nicaraguan government is currently conducting a census of all its citizens so our group assisted with the ones for this region. Violetta asked a series of questions and we also had to survey homes for potable water and electricity.
Most of the ones we visited had dirt floors and aluminum roofs, both of which were also recorded in the medical history.
While our most severe case was an elderly man with high blood pressure, Erin and Carly did get to administer tetanus shots while Yuri and I checked blood pressures. (Fear not, my big medical breakthrough comes up later in the blog.)
Once our rounds were complete, we journeyed down to a laguna (lake) situated at the bottom of a series of steps that make the walkway down UC Hill look like a speed bump. It was well worth it because even though the view from on high was amazing, walking down (and up) the stone staircase was an adventure I’ll not soon forget.
A little winded, we enjoyed a chicken dish and some ice cream before we headed back to the clinic to be picked up by the bus. After a tour of the clinic, and back with the full team, we also visited the local hospital (that services 15 communities and more than 300,000 people) before heading back to Hotel El Raizon.
One woman spotted in the hospital was the one the field team saw the day before with HIV/AIDS. She was instructed to go to the hospital right away but many in the region, due to cost and stigma, would not necessarily listen to the nurse. The fact she was there, smiling at the students, was a cause for tears of joy.
After washing up from an already heavy day of activities, we gathered in the classroom for what many had been waiting for all week – suture practice.
And no, we didn’t line up and take turns jabbing each other with fish-hooked needles. Although, considering the confidence with the team, they probably would have been game.
Speaking of game, game was actually our patient for the exercise – chicken breast to be exact.
With the team lined up on both sides of a series of picnic tables, we made eight severely ‘injured’ chicken breasts look as a good as new with a precision that made Dr. Cerrato very proud of his students.
And while I went a tad shallow on my first attempt and a tad wide on my second, I was pretty proud too.
This was no simple task. Can you imagine finding a needle in a chicken breast?
Check out my handiwork here http://www.flickr.com/photos/atwestern/3292215496/
Things I learned today
Wilfrid, my partner and cheerleader during Chicken Stitch 2009, shared this from his Chinese upbringing: “Tough teachers, make good students.” (Although I know he was just looking for an excuse to yell at me while I was sewing up a chicken breast.)
Reports from the Clinic
Team 1: Sara, Janina, Alex
fungal infection, gastritis, eye glasses, viral cough, scabies, headaches, osteoarthritis
Team 2: Matt, Aleshia, Wilfrid and Liz
diabetes, allergies, urinary tract infection, parasites, acid reflux, possible case of prostate cancer, fungal infection
Team 3: Cat, Brynn, Ryan, Lauren
congestive heart failure, sexually transmitted disease, yeast infection, urinary tract infection, gingivitis, parasites, fungal infection, flu, intermittent semi-paralysis, osteoarthritis, pre-menopausal, headaches, dizziness