Two’s company, three’s a crowd

I think morning posts are going to become the norm for me because it seems that Braydan and I physically canNOT stay awake past 8:30pm for anything. Literally, we have this problem of going up to our room after dinner, go to take showers, and when we’re done, the bed just looks so comfy that we curl up for a “nap”–always with an alarm set, too!–and then wake up at about 10:30pm and just decide to go to bed. If we ever manage to stay awake past 8:30pm, then I’ll post that night, otherwise, morning posts it is.

Yesterday was different for sure. With two new interns added to our team and a third joining today, the home based care/clinic team sizes are growing. That means that the teams are going from two people to three and today Braydan and I are in a team of four. During our morning home based visit yesterday, Andrew drove us to a community we hadn’t visited before, Libuyu, where we met up with the caregiver of the area, Miriam. Miriam told us that we were the first team back in a year since there haven’t been any/very many medical volunteers/interns since summer of last year. Everyone seemed very excited to see us, and we had children running up and hugging us constantly.

Libuyu is a nicer area than Linda, Sakubita, and Natebe for sure. I would say it’s probably a little less wealthy than Maramba, but not by much. Most of the homes were larger and didn’t look as dilapidated, and the people tended to be a little better dressed. The real sign of better wealth though came from the fact that most of the patients we saw didn’t require our medical treatment. There were pulled and achy muscles, a few Bp checks, and a couple people that we gave paracetamol; the only person that we truly thought needed to see a doctor and not us was someone who broke their foot years ago and had it reset with a metal rod insert that was still causing some chronic pain. One little girl was taken to the doctor for an X-ray after falling on her arm, which is something you’d be hard pressed to see in Linda, Sakubita, or Natebe.

I’ll be real honest though, yesterday was kind of a struggle for me. While I am working on my natural inclination to fight change, having another person added to our team really interrupted the flow for me. Braydan and I had a pretty good system down for caring for the patients; however, the new team member, an outspoken and borderline overly confident 18-year-old with a lot of opinions and a loud voice, really threw me for a loop. She is definitely a nice girl, just someone that is very different in personality from Braydan or myself. It definitely felt like a crowd.

To be fair, my view of things was probably worse because it didn’t seem like there was a lot to do because the patients were pretty well off in comparison to what we normally see, so three people felt excessive. But, it looks like that will be the set up of our new team. And since we’re adding another person today, possibly permanently, I will have to move past my discomfort and just deal.

After lunch, we met up for a medical meeting to discuss the survey we had written and the questions we prepared for the guest speaker for that afternoon. The guest speaker was a retired nutritionist and former member of the ministry of health for Zambia and a world traveller working with various NGOs. Basically, he was impressive. I really appreciated all of the information he shared with us, especially about the statistics of malnutrition in Zambia and the growing double burden of over- and under-nutrition that is cropping up.

It was fascinating (although that may not be the right word for it) to me that 49% of the population is so chronically undernourished that they experience stunted growth. Lloyd, the nutritionist, built upon this statistic by explaining the outcomes that come from stunting. In his words, “half the population then has only partial/incomplete brain development, which has lasting consequences for decision making abilities and judgement capabilities…[stunting] effects their quality of thinking! And out of the nearly 50% of the population that is stunted, there will likely be many politicians produced, so poor decisions make sense of what is and is not happening.” As a neuroscience student, this made so much sense to me! No wonder there has been such a slow progression and innovation in the quality of life and healthcare here; many of the policy makers don’t have the critical thinking capacities that come from healthy brain development that starts at an early age.

Throughout Llyod’s presentation, we were encouraged to ask questions, and by the end we had asked so many questions that he wasn’t able to get through his entire powerpoint. That was okay though because I think we all got a lot more from his answers to our questions than we may have otherwise just listening to the presentation. Besides, Kath is going to send the powerpoint to us anyway, so we still have that information available to us.

Once we finished up with Nyanja lessons, the real fun began. Audrey had offered to escort a group of us to Maramba Market to buy fabric and take it to a tailor to be made into custom clothes. It was a wild time because Audrey was bobbing and weaving through the market like an old pro, and we definitely wouldn’t have been able to find the shops had she not been with us. Braydan and I settled on three different fabrics: one so we could get a matching jumpsuit and shirt set, one so Braydan could get another shirt, and the last one was for a pair of pants for me. We’re really excited, and pictures will be posted once they’re finished.

We returned from the market, ate a yummy BBQ dinner, and then in usual fashion, went upstairs to get ready for bed and totally crashed. So here we are, 10 minutes before leaving for the morning’s HBC visits. Hopefully, today won’t be as rough and we’ll be able to develop another well working system with the newbies. I guess we’ll find out! Until tomorrow, ¬°adios!

-Gabrielle Bezzant

Author: Gabrielle Bezzant

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