Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not yet finished

P.S. my Ugandan name is officially Namusoke. It means rainbow. I am still primarily called Peggy, but it is cool to have a name in Lugandan. I was given the name by the anesthesiologist during the last surgery. He was a really cool guy and apparently I am named after him. He called me his white twin. Yeah, sure thing.

Busy days

So much is happening everyday. Last week during my hospital day, I saw an ovarian cyst removed. It was huge! It was the size of a softball!!! I couldn't believe it. They also removed one of her fallopian tubes and appendix while they were there. It was a great operation. On Thursday, we played soccer with orphans and street kids. They were amazing and kicked our butts even though we had a few extra people on our team. These kids are part of the Youth Outreach Programme. HELP donated game jerseys and ball for these kids. I can't wait to see one of their games. This last weekend, we went rafting on the River Nile. It was soooooooo awesome but not the best place to start learning how to raft. Most of the rapids were class 5. One time we were going over a waterfall (yes, a stinkin waterfall) and I slid all the way from the back of the raft to the front. Of course, we got stuck underneath the waterfall too. We were being pelted with the water and our raft was starting to tip so we all scurried to one side to try and paddle. It was ridiculous. Overall, I only fell out two times. This was because our raft flipped or because or raft nearly flipped and my spot of the raft was completely washed out. The last rapid flipped every raft that came through. It wouldn't have been bad if I didn't get sucked down by a boil and stuck under water for a good 20 seconds. I am so glad that I had a helmet on. I also got burnt by the sun really badly. I put on sunscreen but it did absolutely nothing for me. I am burnt so badly that I have blisters on my knees, shoulders, and upper arms. I cannot sleep at night because of the pain, but it was totally worth it. I went to the hospital yesterday to meet with the head doctor about our research and we ran into Jospephine, the head public health nurse who we work with on several projects, and she gave me a big hug. I felt like crying and told her that I was burnt by the sun. Being black, she didn't understand what a sun burn was and kept slapping her hand on my burns saying that I had a fever. She didn't understand that she was killing me each time that she touched me and popping blisters in the process. The work here is going well. We are making great strides with our HIV research project. Also, we taught our first HIV lesson to a secondary school last week. It went well, but I am surprised at how much the kids do not know. We had to go back to the drawing board to change our lesson so we could address the kids questions better. HIV screening is going well as usual. In the next couple weeks, we want to open up new areas for the testing.We are trying to get our handwashing stations/sanitation lesson off the ground. We are struggling with those a little bit due to a lack of time, but I found a great rural school up in Najja that would be a perfect beneficiary. They have built this school out of nothing. About half of the students are orphans because their parents died of AIDS. The HIV/AIDS rate in this area is out of control. Hopefully, I will be able to do something to change this. As a team, we are creating an agricultural school, constructing a nursery garden, creating a mushroom house, constructing many stoves, creating disability physical therapy and support groups, conducting business training, training teachers, planning for eye camp, and expanding a school house. I love being able to jump onto a stove project, visit an orphanage, plan eye camp, work on the AIDS extravaganza coming up in July, or work with partners to improve their small projects. The days seem to fly by because we are doing so much. Today, we went up to Najja to talk to the ag school there. We were packed into a tiny taxi. These taxis are the size of a normal mini van. We had 22-23 people in the taxi. I had an adult man sitting on my sun burnt knees while a chicken was pecking my poor sun burnt arm. The ride was miserable but the meeting was great. As it turns out, the church just donated a huge water tank to the school. We also met an elderlyLDS couple who are serving their mission in the area. They just happened to be at the school. It was so great because we are the only members in the area. What a coincidence running into this couple in the middle of nowhere. I love it here and am so grateful for this opportunity and my health. I have been blessed with a very privileged life and the opportunity to serve these great people.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wednesday=hospital days

So much has been going on. I can hardly believe that I have been here for a month already. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go into the nile. We went to the source of the nile. This is the point where Lake Victoria turns into the river. It was pretty cool. We saw cute little White African Monkeys. It takes 4 months for the water to get from this point to the mediterranean sea. So Sophie, in about three months the water that I was standing in will be passing by you. It was a fun day and we got chocolate milkshakes. It wasn't anything close to what we have in america but it was better than nothing. We all crave american food so badly. Matoka, rice, and beans every night for dinner just doesn't cut it anymore.
Last week, we went on an outreach to Buikwe with chairman Livingstone. He is the equivilent of a senetor. We went to rural villages and taught about HIV/AIDS, tested for HIV, performed Physical Therapy, and gave out perscription drugs. These people live so far away from Kawolo hospital here in Lugazi that they do not have access to any treatment. They can't even afford the 6,000 shillings for travel. That is the equivalent of 3 dollars. We were excited to do this work, but also a little disappointed that the chairman was using us as part of his campaign. Each village we went to he gave a little speech and then left volunteers to work while he went on to the next village to give another speech.
This last wednesday, I had the opportunity to work in the hospital all day. I seperated from the rest of the group so I could get more hands on learning. I was placed into the antenatal unit. I was examining pregnant mothers. Josephine, the public health nurse, showed me how to do it on one patient and then let me go. I was a little overwhelmed because I did not have any of the equipment that doctors have in the United States, nor did I have the proper medical training to be examining these patients on my own. Although, I do have to say that I am now a pro. I would check their eyelids for proper color, eyes for jaundice, neck lymph nodes for swelling, feet for edema, breast for cancer, and then I would check the baby. I could tell them exactly how far along they were just by examining their stomach. By this, I told them when their next check-up is and what their due date is. I had to feel around their stomach to find the babies head and back. I had to make sure that the head wasn't engaged into the mother's pelvis prematurely. By finding the back of the baby, I could determine it's position and use that to find the babies haertbeat. I did not have a stethoscope for this. I used a funnel looking device to listen. I compared the babies heartbeat to the mother's radial pulse. It was such a rush to hear my first little baby's heart racing away. They do not do ultrasounds here unless there are complications because the ultrasounds cost too much. About 1/3 of the mothers that I examined were HIV positive. I dispensed their Anti-retro virals (ARVs) to them and counseled them on the disease and how to keep their baby from being affected. Most of these mothers were younger than me. There was one who was 19 or 20 who didn't want to take the FREE drug because she was afraid of some of the side effects. Her main concern was that she might get rashes on her body. I feel like this is a small price to pay for having a health non-infected baby. This absolutely broke my heart. Hopefully, I was able to get through to her. Once I finished with my patients, I was able to observe two surgeries. I got all scrubbed up and dressed in my surgery scrubs, cap, and face mask. I was able to just wander around the Main Theatre (Operating Room) as I pleased. The The first surgery was on a 16 year old boy, Abraham. He had gang green in his left foot pointer toe. The surgeon, Dr. Joshua, was chit chatting with me the whole time. He was able to keep the toe and not amputate it. As he took out the dead bone, he held it up in my face to see. Gee thanks. But it was really cool. He asked me if I had medical training; I think that he wanted me to close the cut up. I told him no even though I wanted to so badly. The next surgery was cleaning out an abcess on an elderly man. I asked Dr. Joshua if it would smell. He said no. He lied. Nicole, the girl who was with me in the Main Theatre had to leave before she passed out. It was quite disgusting but also fascinating. At least a gallon, but probably more, of puss came gushing out of the incision. I gagged a little bit but I could look away. The man's thigh was half as big as it was before after the surgery. The next surgeon, Dr. Julius, invited us to the vesectomy that he was doing next. He said that it is very rare for a man to do this. Usually, they make their wives come in to get their tubes tied. Unfortunately, it was our curfew so we had to go home. It was such a great opportunity. I look forward to wednesdays at the hospital. I would never be able to do this kind of stuff in America. I love the hospital here even though it is not the cleanest. While we were scrubbing in for the surgery, there were geckos climbing along the walls and in the sink. It is definitely a third world hospital, but I guess it is better than nothing.
On Thursday, all of our appointments were canceled because of Martyr's day. It is a huge country wide celebration. People walk on foot from all over central Africa to a small town outside of Kampala to celebrate this day. Being mzungus, we drove. The holiday comes from the late 1880s. The first mzungu came to Uganda and introduced christianity. The king endorsed this and petitioned the Queen of England to send missionaries. This King's son came into power after his death and didn't like the fact that the people praised and worshipped God instead of him. He gathered up all the believers in his court which were 12 catholics and 13 angelicans and tortured them until they denied Christ. They didn't give in, so he made them march 37 miles in chains to the small village outside of Kampala to be tortured more. The man in charge of the torturing was the uncle of one of the captives. He killed his nephew without even blinking. When they remained true to the faith, they were forced to gather their own firewood to be burned alive with. As they were burning, they sung hymns. To this day, every June 3rd martyrs day is celebrated. To celebrate we first went to the Catholic church. They had priests there from all over Africa and the Vatican to lead the services. It was really neat. I shook their hands as they walked to the front stage. There were millions of Catholics there. We had to link arms and push our way through the crowd to leave, but it was easy to find the group if we got unlinked because we were the only white ones. Next, we went to the Angelican church which was the actual site of martyrdom. The gathering was still quite big but not as big as the Catholic church. Being white, we are celebrities here. They invited us to sit up front on the stage with all of the church officials. We politely declined. This was such a great experience. It is hard to imagine the kind of faith that these individuals had. I hope that I can develop this kind of faith in my life.
We have some really big projects coming up. We are going to introduce our awesome hands free hand washing station into the rural villages this week. Also, we are teaching an HIV lesson to our first school this week. We are starting a HIV/AIDS research project this next week as well. We have so much going on and it will be great!