Day 5. Already?! Time had flown by since we arrived in Masindi, I couldn’t believe it. Walking to breakfast that morning, some vervet monkeys were making a racket behind the hotel. They were obviously just as excited about breakfast and coffee as I was 😉
After breakfast we did a little stretching to start out our day. This wasn’t you’re usual morning stretching routine – Emily called it the COCONUT stretch. Pretty much, you spell out the word coconut with your arms and body. Just imagine 42 people still somewhat asleep attempting this. It was comical for sure.
We all piled into the vans to depart for our final village of Mihembero on our final day of clinic. My emotions were mixed. My excitement for our Safari trip was building, literally being a day away, yet I felt sad that Mihembero would be the last village we would visit. Pushing the sadness aside, my goal was to make it the best day yet. The van ride started out epically with another jam session courtesy of Dr. Bryan and his iPod speakers (definitely a necessity for the next trip).
For the final time that week, we arrived to a long line winding around the school building. The back drop was a beautiful view of the mountains. It couldn’t have been a more perfect morning. Everyone jumped out of the vans and just went for it. My role on the last clinic day was an undefined one, if you will. I went where I was needed and it was so much FUN!
As few of us were gathered in front of the building helping to unload some of the bins and distribute them to the proper room, we noticed an elderly woman sitting on the curb. Her hands in a prayer, she was bowing her head to us as a sign of thanks. When we went over to her she motioned us in for a hug. One by one, each of us bent down for an embrace. It was one of the best hugs I have ever gotten. So wonderful that I went back for another. Truly a priceless moment.
While setting up the therapy room, some of us also took the opportunity to do some additional stretches and yoga postures. Every chance that we had, we made our experience fun and memorable.
Jill and I started out in registration. Clipboards in hand, we went right down the line with our translator, Jimmy, at our side. I took the time to shake peoples hands, give out hugs and say hello. Two hundred and forty people later, we were done registering. Just like that.
Wandering down to the beginning of the line, I grabbed a patient and escorted them into the triage room, trying to be of help wherever I was. Then I realized that I had forgotten my name tag for the day. Way to go, K. I found our fearless leader, Hope, corralling some of the translators into their correct rooms and handing out name tags. Oh, Oh! Me, Me! And this is what I was known as on our final clinic day…
Hope also gave me the go ahead to return as Dr. K’s sidekick until I was needed elsewhere. YES! Since this was our final day in the field, Claire and the surgery team had joined the provider team. That room was HOPPIN’! When I sat next to Dr. Kristen, she looked at me, handed me the clipboard with a patient sheet on it and said, “Here you go!”
Really!? She was letting me take the reigns. Whoop! Whoop! Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity and got right down to business. We saw all kinds of crazy ailments. One woman had a HUGE goiter on her neck. Let’s see… constipation, rashes, joint pain and Malaria. One woman came in and Dr. Kristen immediately suspected diabetes. The patient had never had her blood sugar tested so I stepped up to the plate. This was a normal course of action in the children’s hospital back at work in the USA. We also had up to date glucometers and lancets. In Uganda? Not so much. So I worked with what we had and managed to hunt down a working glucometer and test strips that matched the model. The lancets? I might hasnu well used a thumb tack. Talk about the danger of a needle stick! Very carefully I managed to stick the woman’s finger and get a blood sample. Dr. K was right, her blood sugar was pushing 300. She prescribed what she could and sent the woman to get educated on her condition.
The next patient, a middle aged woman, sat down and began complaining of fatigue. Dr. K was asking a question when I noticed something incredible. On her right had she had polydactyly; six fingers. You don’t see that everyday! As Kristen was examining her she noticed a very irregular heartbeat. Lucky for us, the ambulance accompanied us to Mihembero that day. In the ambulance the had telemetry 🙂 So we took a little field trip outside. With our patient laying on the stretcher, Dr. K and I attempted to figure out how to use the tele there in Uganda. You’d think from doing EKG’s all the time, it’d be a breeze Not so much. I’m pretty sure our patient thought we were crazy. After 15 minutes or so, we got a reading (whether or not it was truly accurate was beyond us) and went back to the exam room. Dr. K prescribed her some aspirin for her heart as there wasn’t much else we could do besides referring her to Masindi Kitara Medical Center.
At one point during a patient consult, one of the providers walked up to me and asked if I could give an injection to their patient. That’s right kids, my services we now being requested. Hey-o!
Then it happened: I met the cutest nugget in all the land. One minute I was ‘paying attention’ to a patient explaining their situation and the next thing I know, there is the most adorable baby I had ever laid my eyes on sitting in the lap of a woman talking to one of our providers, Anna. This baby, her name was Brenda, was 2 months old and sitting up, waving at me. In two shakes of a money’s banana I was sitting beside them, hoisting the baby into my lap. I think I may have scared the crap out of mom. Brenda and I hung out for too short of a time period before I had to give her back to mom. When I asked if I could take her home with me, mom laughed and said no. Oh well, I tried.
After we had seen our last patient of the day, we began to see the members of the prayer team, family planning and our translators. We were nearing the end of the day and it was so very bittersweet. The fun, however, was just beginning. Someone hooked an ipod up to the speakers in the ambulance and everyone just stated running around acting crazy like little kids on a sugar high.
What a day. It wasn’t even over yet. As we departed Mihembero for our hotel in Masindi, waving good-bye to the villagers, I knew that I would be back again.
Back at the hotel, it was party time. Local vendors had set up shop and had a ton of goodies for us to buy. We invited Isaac and Susan (from the orphanage), all of our drivers and the MKMC staff to have dinner with us. After dinner came the dancing. Yes, PLEASE! A local dance group came to perform for us and they were awesome. At one point during the show, one of the dancers came over and practically lassoed me with her grass skirt. “Put me in coach!” We danced for a loooong time and by then end of it, I was beyond wiped out.
Before folding in for the night, I went back to my room and gathered a large bag of clothes and my pink Merrills that I had worn all weak. Before Isaac and Susan left to return to the orphanage, I wanted to give it all to them, for the kids. With huge tears welling in my eyes, I handed the bag over. They both looked at me and with the most sincere gratitude, thanked me – it was sealed with a three way hug. That was, by far, one of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced in my entire life.
My heart was over flowing that night in Masindi.