Trip Start Jan 28, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Cameroon  , Ouest,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I've started working already as a senior nurse in the Medical ward - and so far, I've had a lot of gory experiences. I thought that I had a stomach of steel, but apparently not. This week was challenging - it still is - but it's challenging me to live in the present moment, to not be down and to see each day as a new opportunity. I've definitely started missing home, and there are many moments where I'm just so tired and I'd like nothing more than the comforts of my home and my home country.

Anyway, I had several interesting cases to share; I had a patient with a criminal abortion - this is illegal in Cameroon. She had conducted the abortion in a sketchy place, and was left unable to walk. Her prognosis was not good, but we are doing what we can for her.

Sometimes, when the patients come to the hospital, they are already at deaths door. This is true for Cameroon more than the US, where people cannot afford and wait until it is too late. In the new ward alone, (which opened a day before I started working), three patients have died. One, was a preventable and a severe case of malaria. Another note to mention is the stigma that many patients have against some treatments. I had to fight tooth and nail with a family to allow me to put in an NG-tube, and finally, they complied when I threatened them that the Chief (he was really a Chief) would die. They believed that putting in an NGT would be a death sentence. I spend a lot of time trying to educate patients in my horrible Pidgin.

And there are some cases where you wonder how this patient is even still alive. There is a patient with MULTIPLE unstageable ulcers (I can put my fist LITERALLY into one of them). I nearly lost my breakfast and my knees when I saw them. He had a HGB of 4.7 (normal is anything over 11.0). HOW IN THE WORLD ARE YOU EVEN TALKING, AND FUNCTIONING? The body is an amazing, intelligent creature, where it is able to compensate in even the most harshest conditions...

Speaking of having a stomach of steel - I have been sick with diarrhea for four days. (There is a point, I am not just being disgusting). At any rate, I started to eat a diet of papayas, ginger tea, and garlic because they all have antibiotic properties. One day, I felt so sick that I only ate papayas. I was nearly about to walk myself into the hospital when a kind native informed me that papayas are natural laxatives. We both had a good laugh, and the next day I was healed. My doctor colleague informed me that that was the best thing I could've done. More than one way to skin a cat, I suppose...

I included pictures from the Cameroon Day of Independence that we put together for the youth.
Hope everyone is well. Sorry to hear about the snow storms. Please be safe and take care.
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