Windhoek hospital and the clinic
Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
33Trip End Jul 17, 2013
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Sheila ended up sleeping with me throughout most of the night last night. I didn't imagine that it would be as nice as it was... she put her little head on my lower stomach, near my pelvic bone, and laid her body on the mattress against my hip. She's a little heater, which is fantastic with how cold it gets here.
Had to be up and ready to leave by 6 this morning. Dr. Tim was waiting in the car, and I loaded up all of my stuff. I met Sebine, the other volunteer heading towards the clinic with us, and we were off. We stopped by the San village at the farm to pick up a girl that we were to take to the Windhoek hospital. Her name is Holly, and she looked to be about 10-12 years old. I said hello to her and introduced myself, as she was sitting in the backseat with me. She was so quiet. Dr. Tim had informed us that she had never been to town before, that he was aware of, and who knew if she had even ever ridden in a car before. I tried to chat with her and asked her how old she was. She responded by looking the other way and not reacting to my question at all.
We arrived at the hospital, and Dr. Tim helped Holly out of the car. There had already been a prearrangement made so that Holly could see a doctor before the official doctor's hours. We entered the hospital and continued to the doctors' area. A woman (I'm assuming she was a nurse) told us to leave and wait in the check in line as the doctor wasn't in yet. Dr. Tim, normally a quiet British man, held his ground and was stern and refused to leave while informing the woman about the correspondence between him and the doctor.
Finally the doctor arrived and Holly and Dr. Tim went into the consultation room. Sebine and I waited with other patients waiting for the doctors. About 20 minutes later they came out of the room and it was time for Holly to get blood work done. We waited in yet another line, and people continued to get in front of us. I learned a lot of about the European view on healthcare and that they are die hard supporters of Obamacare. I've also learned why public healthcare can be a very good thing. Dr. Tim gave Holly a piece of candy in order to help the pain from the needles go away (she had to get it in both arms, and with how much it was bleeding it didn't look very pleasant).
We got Holly's blood taken and headed her up to 5B where she was to be admitted. Dr. Tim told her about what an elevator does and that it might be scary, but we would be with her the whole time. We then waited for the nurses to decide where to put Holly. During this time I asked if she was hungry, and she responded she was. I gave her the remainder of my Crusties (my new favorite peanut snack) and Sebine gave her an apple. Dr. Tim said she might not have ever had peanuts before. The nurses finished with their medical history questionnaire, which was quite difficult since the San rarely see doctors let alone keep track of their medical history. Instead of electronic records, in Namibia the people have "medical passports" where doctors and nurses record everything in.
It was time for us to leave Holly. She is going to get an MRI in the next day or so and we will hopefully pick her back up on Friday. Since Dr. Tim saw her last, her status as a lively, animated young girl has regressed into a young woman (about 16 years of age) who can hardly walk, can't balance well, and doesn't have the greatest neurological responses. Leaving her was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
The San are regarded as the least important in society by all other peoples in Africa. They are aware of this which is why they don't seek medical attention very often... They are very self conscious and don't think they are worthy. It's so awful. To put it in perspective Dr. Tim, Sabine, and I are all white. We were the only white people in the hospital. Normally people stare or want pictures with us, etc., but today everyone stared at poor Holly because she was the only San person in the hospital. I don't even think they noticed that we were with her, and if they did I'm sure they were even more confused as to why we would be with someone from what they consider to be a low class. It's hard to leave someone that is so vulnerable and someone who has to be so frightened to people that society has conditioned to treat like an animal.
We were then on our way to Por 3 (the village where the care clinic is located, about 3 1/2 hours from Windhoek). We stopped and got groceries (Sebine is a fantastic cook and baker!) and also stopped to get Holly a dress, because when Dr. Tim asked if she needed anything she said a new dress (he's not sure if that means she needed it or wanted it, but we got one regardless).
I also learned a bit about the San's beliefs. Apparently there is a good god and a bad god. The good god made cows and white men. The bad god made goats and the San.
I was giving one of the children a piggy back ride, Anakee, who I later learned is TB positive, when my shirt rode up a bit and one child saw one of my tattoos. Quickly the child went around and told everyone in the immediate area, and soon I was completely bombarded by both children and women pulling at my cloths and looking at and rubbing my tattoos. I'm sure that they have seen tattoos before, but I'm assuming not as elaborate as the ones I got done professionally.
We said goodbye to everyone in the village and headed back to the house as it was getting dark. Sabine cooked a wonderful dinner consisting of macaroni noodles, ground beef mixture with carrots, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and who knows what else. It was very good.
What I've learned: the San like tattoos. The pads on baboons' fingers work like a person's on an iPad.