Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some "friends" should not be brought home!

Well, I met my first leech recently.
In Nepali, it's called a jewghaa! Aren't you proud of my vocabulary skills??? They now include a specific "bug", rather that the generic term "keerah". :) Personally, though, I could have done without the introduction to that more specific word.

(Spotted sock courtesy of Mrs. Rita and Mr. Eddie)

In typical blond fashion, I spotted one inching across my bedroom floor and wondered where that thing came from. Blondly, I threw it in the toilet. It promptly crawled out of the water (stupid, they live in water, and their grip resists flushing). Someone told me that one can put salt on them to make them drop off when they are attached. I quickly dumped salt on it. It began to spit up blood and fell back in the water to once again begin its crawl upwards. Where did the blood come from? It must have recently fed!! On what??? It was only then that I decided to pull up the cuff of my jeans to look - and there was the bleeding wound.

Leeches use anesthetic (painkiller) and anticoagulant (bloodthinner). That means you do not feel the bite and then you bleed for hours after. Charming. I had carried it back from a medical camp into the house!! I dumped enough salt on it to flush it and then left more salt in the water in case it tried to crawl back. Uuuugghhhh! My coworkers that have to walk miles to work, arrive in the morning to wash the mud (monsoon) off their shoes and check for the leeches. They say that they are picked up most easily when walking through the grass. As a microbiologist, the breach of my personal skin barrier by a wet slug like creature that could have sucked elsewhere seems particularly invasive and repulsive. By the way, salt/soda/flame makes them regurgitate - so I will not be using that method to dislodge them from my skin!!! They say using a fingernail to break the suction is sufficient. Nasty, bloodsucking, slimy things...

Just so you don't think the week was uneventful...

Doctors call off strike in Nepal Kathmandu (PTI): Nepal Medical Association (NMA) has called off its three-day strike in hospitals across the country, after the government assured them of fulfilling their demands. The doctors across the country went on strike on Wednesday after the relatives of a deceased patient vandalised a private nursing home and threatened to kill the doctor who had treated the patient. Doctors had demanded the government to provide security for health workers and health institutions. The medical body withdrew the strike after the Health Ministry assured them of bringing in the Health Protection Bills and investigate into the incident. "Under the new arrangement the local administration will also provide one security personnel each to doctors as per the threat analysis if the government receives such a request," said Dr Senendra Raj Upreti, chief of Public Health Administration, Monitoring and Evaluation Division at the ministry. The government has also assured the doctors to provide security personnel with communications equipment at all private and government hospitals with more than 50 beds, Dr Upreti said. The government decided to allocate Rs five million immediately for Health Practitioners and Health Security Fund until the new act is enforced. The strike had halted all medical services except emergency at all hospitals across the country for last three days.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Devichaur Med Camp: June 28, 2008

(There are some rather good pics to go in this post, but the monsoon cloud cover is...well, interfering with the upload. So, just check back later and see if there has been sufficient break in the clouds for me to insert them. :) Someone was able to rally up enough cash to do another medical camp last Saturday. So, we loaded up a bus with hospital staff, medicines, equipment and volunteers and headed to Devichaur, a small village just a little further south.

But...let me back up a little to tell the story properly. Friday afternoon at 4pm, when the hospital offices close, I looked out from the lab to see a group of buhdeshies (foreigners) walk by the windows. Apparently some group had come by unexpected again for a tour. It is a very common occurrence. Imagine what would happen in your country if people just walked into the hospital main office and asked for a tour of the hospital?? It happens alot here. Anytime. So, I went out to see who this particular group was. Americans!! One was working as a short term volunteer for a year in KTM, while the others were friends that had come to Nepal for a ~2wk visit (Indiana and Alabama people). The group had met one of our short term volunteers at church. So, late on a Friday afternoon, they show up for a tour to see what happens at a leprosy hospital. I gave them a tour of the lab. They asked what was happening on Saturday, and I told them that alot of us would be going to do a free med camp in a village. They wanted to come. I made a phone call and arrangements for the 7 extra people to go with us. One was nurse and another was an engineer/doctor/dentist. Of course, on vacation, he was without tools. The other 5 were non-med people. By the way...a frozen shipment arrived minutes later for the lab containing some interesting packing materials. I had to find some children!! The kids here, not to mention the adults, had not seen anything like it before. The kids at home will know what this pic means!!! The next morning the hospital staff hurried about to find some dentistry tools and sterilization fluids, just in case there was opportunity for the dentist to do something. If God had sent a dentist, it was probably on purpose. There must be some"one" who needed a dentist that day. Well, within minutes of setting up inside the community school, the dentist had his first patient...and then another, and another... While we saw altogether roughly 310 patients that day, the dentist was the busiest of them all. The other doctors had to wait for him to finish before we could leave!! Another amazing fact was that the people were so happy to have their teeth pulled. And that dentist pulled teeth all day. The lady on the far right was the first. Seth Chandler's flashlight has now been used in two camps. It is a tremondously bright, engineer-approved flashlight that serves doctors and nurses here very well!! I keep it in my backpack. Thanks so much, Seth!!

What about the other extra five people that also came at the last minute to help? Do you know that we had a post for each one of them to work? We had not one person too few nor one person too many. We had exactly the right number of people for the camp to run very smoothly. Most did door patrol like me, and we had just the right number to cover every door!! God is good. The malnutrition was not as bad in this community, so most of the little ones had the right color hair. But there were several people identified that needed surgery. It is absolutely amazing to watch patients who have to be in tremedous, unbelievable pain walk distances to come. One woman had fractured her shin bone with a huge visible lump from 15 days ago. She walked there. A 20yr old girl came. she was 9 months pregnant with pre-eclampsia and very high blood pressure. Her husband had left her for another wife or woman. Her inlaws were not really taking care of her - which, in this culture, they are supposed to. In this culture women can't/don't remarry. They typically aren't educated. What prospects would she have for living? How? She was in a pretty bad situation, and only 20. She needed to be admitted to a hospital. Both she and the baby were at risk of dying. We sent her to the city hospital, which could perform a ceasarean if necessary, with a letter to bill us for all of her needs. From the dentist room, I could hear a child screaming and screaming and screaming. Nepalis flocked to stare in the windows. The dentist pulled an infected tooth, and fluids came draining out. Afterwards, a doctor commented that bad infections like that can often turn into meningitis. They said the child could have died without the treatment. This is no lie. The poverty is very bad and people are very uneducated. Therefore, they often do not seek medical care until late. Especially, if it is just a girl... So, today is Wednesday and we went to Patan hospital in Kathmandu to perform the weekly leprosy clinic. We went up to the maternity ward to see the 20yr abandoned girl. We held the so tiny one which was born Sunday. The mother's slightly older brother was there. Someone asked when she would be going home. She could not answer. She will leave the hospital in a few days, but it is a difficult situation. There is so much desparate need here. But in the midst of that, God does very good things. He arranged people to go to her village and put her in a place so she and her baby would not die. The doctor said that we came at just the right time. It had been critical. God did that. He sent a dentist to an area. There were so many there who needed it that day. Now that Dr. Indra, the surgeon, has come to Anandaban - we see many who need surgery in the camps. And he loves to do surgery. :) There is so much that goes on here at Anandaban. These camps only happen once every couple of months when some missionaries scrounge some donations together for us to go. But every day, the people at this hospital treat so many people. I will have to post some pictures and stories from them sometime. It's just that I get to go to the med camps; while on regular work days, I'm back in the lab doing behind the scenes work. :) Those last minute volunteers just showed up. They weren't altogether sure what they would do on Saturday. Maybe go to Nepali church or shopping. Instead God drafted them to the unexpected and employed them. During lunch break at the med camp, I overheard the dentist comment, "This is alot more fun that spending the day shopping..."