The world is my bathroom...

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

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Flag of Cameroon  , Ouest,
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Travel blog 1-4-2010
    I asked to be in the forest (here they call it "the bush"), and I DEFINITELY got my experience. We haven't had water now for a week, the "source" has apparently run dry. We are EAGERLY anticipating the first rains (maybe "eager" isn't the word. How about I'm just ready to do my very own rain dance and sacrifice a chicken?). It has also been EXCRUCIATINGLY HOT, comparable to an egg (egg = me) frying on a hot pan. I never realized how hard it was to NOT have water, especially going to the toilet and showering. Since there are 7 other girls staying with us for a few days, we were asked to use the natural toilet (a.k.a. use the backyard, preferably a considerable distance away from smelling range. HA!) There was one night, where we didn't have electricity too. I simply accepted the fact of my life currently, and embraced the Cameroonian reality. It is what it is, and wherever you go, there you are. There has been a funny cloud from the Sahara drifting over us, so we too, have not had internet for sometime.
I'm really enjoying working at the hospital. Two months into my job, I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of things. As each week passes, I feel this more and more. This week has been particularly difficult for me, because there have been many serious cases coming into my ward. Today, I was functioning as a dispensary nurse, all the while managing my own ward. A dispensary nurse sees patients, sometimes with/without the doctor, prescribes medications and then dispenses them. There was a line out the door today, as I ferociously tried to fill prescriptions, see patients and handle the patients that were in the ward.  Yesterday, I had a young girl (18 years old) come exactly as I was starting my shift. She was seizing, frothing at the mouth, stiff neck (Meningitis was my first thought?) with a temperature of 39.3,   (in fahrenheit folks, that's like 103 fever, though I've seen patients with 40, equal to 106. Your brain is pretty much like mush then, but somehow, they come back strong and don't even miss a beat) and a blood pressure of 60/40. She had a very poor prognosis, and I decided to put a urinary in-dwelling catheter. As I took her underpants off, I saw a worm coming out of her anus. I felt so cold and my knees wanted to buckle. I took a deep breath, and my shaky hands pulled it out. It must have been a half foot long Ascaris. We placed an NGT in, gave her anti-helminths, anti-malarials, flushed her with a whole spectrum of antibiotics, ran Ringer's Lactate fast, and managed to stabilize her. Her blood pressure creeped up to 100/60, temperature down to 37.3, and her moans quieted down. Fifteen minutes after I took her temperature, a nurse came to get me from the ward rounds and told me to come look at the young girl. She had quietly expired. She had only been sick for two days, and the final diagnosis was Cerebral Malaria, which has a characteristic of, unfortunately, sudden death. I was sad, but I knew that I fought for her with everything I knew how to. Yep, Malaria's a beastly thing.
And..out of desperation, I cut my own hair. There is virtually NO ONE within the radius of 2,000 miles (and probably the whole of Africa) who could possibly cut asian thick hair, unless I wanted to come out with the demi-rasta style.  I cut off 3.5 inches myself...all the meanwhile laughing that I didn't do half a bad job. I mean, it's not GORGEOUS and I'm sure not starting a trend, but it'll do until my stylist can see me. :)
On a brighter note, I hope you all have a happy easter for those who celebrate, and for those who don't, I hope you are enjoying the upcoming spring! This is the first time I've not been in the States for Easter! Here, they have a three hour mass (seriously). When I go to mass (which is more of a formality), I have to walk half an hour in the sweltering heat, uphill on a dusty road. Oh joy.  Please know that every day I think about you all, and wish you were all here with me...without water, without internet and sometimes, without electricity. A big hug.
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