This morning was quite interesting. We were originally planning on going to Saku Bita with two of the new interns, Sophie and Caleb. As we were getting out there, our driver, Benny, explained that some doctors were bringing medication to the village, so it was going to be difficult to do anything out there. Well, as we got there, we noticed a massive line outside of the primary school. When we finally found our caregiver, he explained that nobody was going to be home, because everyone was going to be getting medications. So we ended up going to Maramba instead. This was very sad to me. I know the doctors mean well, but giving medications to a bunch of people is only putting a band-aid on a lot of the problems going on here. I’m sure they gave advice to people besides just giving them medication, but most of the people have a hard time following through with that advice. It’s an interesting dilemma. Yes, medication helps, but for how long?
Maramba was pretty great though! We didn’t see anyone with wounds, but we did meet with a lot of people with hypertension (high BP). It was cool, because Caleb introduced something we hadn’t thought of yet. Deep breathing. He taught the patients to take two minutes a day for deep breathing. It was pretty funny to watch the people struggle with it for a minute, but once they were finally able to get into a rhythm, it was cool to see how much they relaxed. We met with one man who had a stroke last year, and is now blind in one eye. It was interesting, because he described the pain he experienced during the stroke. It went from his occipital lobe, all the way up to his eye over the course of a few days. Now he is blind in that eye. Another patient is 93 years old! That’s insane around here. She was fun to talk to and really struggled with the breathing exercises, but she was very sweet. The rest of the patients struggled with the usual pain and high BP.
The rest of the day was very interesting as well. All of us medical interns went and visited with a local organization that fights against early marriages (some children get married around 12), encourages water treatment in rural communities and tries to help with the HIV stigma. They were basically a panel of experts. There were some nurses, some counselors, some student nurses, and a few other people who just work for the organization. It was really good to get their perspective on the struggles Zambia has, and they were very interested in learning more about the USA. I think the biggest thing I learned is that poverty causes SO many issues. One example, is a common situation among many families here. The husband has no work and gets trapped in alcoholism. He drinks from the early morning till evening. He spends all the money he “makes” on alcohol, which leaves the family very hungry. When he gets angry, he beats the kids and his wife (or wives), because he isn’t thinking straight. Later, when his daughters are around 12 or 13, he may marry them off to try and get some money from the dowry. And so on. There are lots of other sad stories that poverty introduces, but this one left the largest impact on me.
Anyway, we watched Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail as well. It was dumb, as always, but funny to see Elle’s reaction for the first time! Anyway, till tomorrow!