Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In Which I Play Nurse....

So by now you've probably figured out that I live in Africa. Let's just say that medical things here are really relaxed. That, coupled with a shortage of medical staff leads to situations like the one I will shortly describe.

Tuesdays are our days off here at OOH. Usually they're spent just hanging out, going into town, sleeping, etc. But Jess, Derek, Anna, and I spent Tuesday a few weeks ago a bit differently.
Jessica and Derek had stayed previously with a woman in town who was involved with some medical programs in the village. They had gone once before, and were invited back whenever they wanted to help out. They, in turn, invited Anna and myself, and thus began our grand medical adventure.

Let me first say that I love the village (a term referring to any little, um, village in the country. So really, there's not one, but we just say it like it is). I love pretty much everything about it. So I was doubly happy to go.

We took a matatu (taxi) into the village, and arrived there just as the women were trickling in. It was the pre-natal and infant immunization day. Fun stuff! We were thrown into the mix, starting with taking the ladies' blood pressure (we were instructed on that), and writing down their basic information.

Then Christine came.

Christine is probably THE funniest person I've ever met. She made jokes that weren't entirely funny, but then laughed SO HARD that you couldn't not laugh. And everything was funny to her: us asking for help (aHAHAHAHAHAHAAA), not being able to find the baby's head (aHAHAHAHAHAAA), questions (aHAHAHAHAAA). She was the midwife at the clinic, and taught us girls (Derek went to immunize babies) how to do a proper pre-natal exam... with only a tape measure, a pen, and a fetal heart listening thingy. Fun stuff.

So that's how we spent the morning.. the women would come in, we would ask them a few questions about themselves (as well as we could depending on the language situation), examine them, write down the details, and say bye-bye. For some of the women it was their first time at the clinic, so we took them to get blood tests as well. After we got the hang of things, we were able to tootle along at a chipper pace with our patients. Made me feel like a real midwife! We were also given the option to give injections as well, but I couldn't quite stomach that... maybe next time! :)

Our ride home, though, was easily WAAAAYYY more eventful than our morning. In order to flag down a matatu, we had to stand on the side of the hot, dusty, dusty, dusty, hot road waving a thumbs-up sign in the air. When one finally stopped, we were crammed 5 to a seat in the very back... which wasn't even the worst part...

We were tootling along at a chipper pace when our matatu slowed, threw a quick u-turn, and started going back the way we came. We barely had time to glance at each other in consternation before it pulled off onto a little dirt road and stopped. Four of the guys got out and began to push it down the road, causing us further confusion and worry. We stopped again a little way down the road and sat for about 30 seconds. All of a sudden, everyone in the matatu started making a MADDASHSCRAMBLE to get out, and running away from the van. We got out too and ran a little way down the road before we noticed that everyone else had stopped running. We stopped too. Very confused. The men started pushing the matatu down the road again, a bit faster.

By this time we were no longer scared, but were all very shaky and worried. None of us had a clue what was going on, so we asked a lady standing next to us. "Police patrol down the road. The driver does not have a license for this many people."

We were given the scare of our lives because our matatu had to many people in it.

TIA, after all.

We eventually got back in the matatu and set off for Jinja town again and arrived there with no further complications, thank goodness.

It was, overall, a quite extraordinary day.

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