Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 3 - Vandulor Leprosy Colony

This is Turio. A cute boy who lives at the colony today.

I realized today that I just had a normal size breakfast consisting of a bowl of cereal. I can’t decide if my body is kind of adapting or if I was just in a hurry because we skyped longer than I thought. I was pretty hungry within a little while so I’m sticking to the “just being in a hurry”.
Yesterday I tried to wear the sandals with moleskin over my feet but ti didn’t work so I wore shoes and left the moleskin on. But when I took the moleskin off it had kind of moisten my scabs and pulled them off. It set me back a day in the healing process so I wore shoes again. I think because shoes is all I know here that I will just keep wearing them even after my feet heal. I like knowing my feet are proetected and they allow me to do anything and I don’t feel like Im buring up because its all I know. I am digging wearing these chudidars. I seriously wear a rather ugly one but it is the most comfortable thing ever and we are all about comfort here. I feel like I was made for india—no makeup, hideous and comfy clothes, hair in a ponytail, outdoors, and heat. I love it and in fact, I think Im really starting to get used to it. The trash in the street, the unbearable heat, the crazy traffic, and everything Indian just seems completely normal. The thought of leaving is unbearable.

I met Dr. Susan who is the head honcho Doctor here. She is so dedicated to the cause of leprosy and goes to the colonies everyday to change banadages and help with wound care. She is an Indian doctor that just blows my mind. I introduced myself as Laura and she replied “nice to meet you, Laura Barker”. It totally took me aback. I found out that she has memorized all of our full names. Wow, I can barely get people’s first names around here.
We are here with a group of medical students from UC Davis and they are driving us absolutely insane, especially this one boy. I prayed extra hard today that I would be able to learn to love him. The problem is that they are very condescending. Like extremely so. But the irony of it all is what kills me. Here is the deal: I have been in the hospital and had condescending doctors before and you just deal with it. But these medical student are only in their second year! For those of you not familiar with the medical eduation system, here is how it works. Nurses jump into clinicals their first semester in school. Therefore, we have been working in a real setting for about 2 years now. I’m talking dealing with doctors and patients, starting IVs, giving meds, doing assignements on patients, being in the hospital for 12 hour shifts, and doidng everything a nurse would do. On the other hand, medical students only do bookwork for their first 2 years and then spend the next 2 years in the hospital. Therefore these kids don’t know jack!!! Example: Their group did skin assessments on the boys yestererday while we did them on the girls. If a kid had a problem, you were supposed to write a referral to the clinic and have the kid come back at 4. Our group did thorough assessments and then if we found something would write on the referral “ inner right elbow, small, circular lesion, probably rash”, then sign our name and tell the child to come back at 4.
The other group wrote things like “spot on leg” and DID NOT tell the kids to come back! All of our kids showed up on time and the doctor knew exactly what and where to look for and could call the individual nurse if he had questions because we signed our name. It took 30 minutes to do our kids and was super efficient. It took 2 hours to do the boys because they didn’t know what they were looking for an dhtye had to try and go hunt all the kids down at recess on a 10 acre lot. And its much harder when you dodn’t know the kids names and who is who. Case and point is we are so much smarter than them and so much more experienced but yet they are condescending. That is the part that just drives me up a wall. We don’t’ have to have a ton of interaction with them so its not a huge deal. Its just annoying. And they were condescending to our professor, Cheryl, who is a nurse practitioner with a bunch of experience. She can prescribe and is pretty much the equivalent as a doctor. That just crossed the line for me.
I wanted to write a few randoms of indian culture. All the girls wear jasmine in their hair to make them smell good. Its their equivalent of perfume. Indian culture is a very physical one. The mothers will say that their kids are misbehaving so they have to slap them around – this child was 9 months old. Consequently, the kids are pretty physical towards each other and that’s just the norm. A man and a woman cannot hold hands in public or show any kind of PDA. But it is perfectly acceptable for 2 men to hold hands, and I witnessed that first hand today. Clipping toenails is often considered a medical procedure. People who have shoes often still walk around barefoot. They drive like wild maniacs and on the wrong side of the road. The horn is a constant sound and a necessity for survival. Because of this. All fo the volunteers and RSO are not allowed to operate any motor vehicles. I saw cows with blue horns today on the side of the road pulling a cart. The cows whose horns are painted are higher up in the caste system. There is other cool stuff, I will just have to write it when it comes to me. Also, we are not allowed to eat the fruit from the fruit stands unless it has an outer covering that we can peel off.

Today was my first day in a leprosy colony. In all honesty, I have loved being with the kids at RSO so much that I wasn’t that excited about leaving them to go to the colonies. When I got there, it all changed. I realized that everything here is so awesome and I enjoy everything I am getting to expereicne and do. I absolutely love serving more than I could have ever imagined. There is something so rewarding about humbling yourself and serving someone who is mamed and has nothing. Knowing that you can make a difference in that person’s life means more than words can describe.
We showed up in our medical vans and I was a little apprehensive. This was my first time really working and interacting with people who were missing limbs and had open, gaping ulcers. We set up shop in an open building with fans. It was pretty hot but totally doable. The other groups room was supposedly scorching hot, so I was grateful for that. We had 5 stations—blood pressure, blood glucose, taking off bandages and soaking the feet, rubbing oil on the feet, then debridement and wrapping. I started off doing the oil station. You rub oil on the bottom of the feet and on the dry, rough skin to hopefully keep it from cracking and causing another ulcer.

I then moved onto the debridement and wrapping station and that was alittle out of my comfort zone. You are supposed to cut the dead skin off around the ulcer and all this junk. I would have normally been fine but I watched the alter do it to a guy before I started and he had one on his should. She started hacking off his skin and it was bleeding pretty bad while he was wincing in paoin. I soon found out that most are just on the feet and they cant feel anything, so it was okay after that.
It’s hard knowing you are helping someone but yet hurting them in the moement. I have never liked that part of being a nurse and it has always been a challenge for me. I tried extra hard to look them in the eyes and let them know that I cared instead of just looking at their feet. I said vannukum (hello) to all of them and “unga payerenna?” (whats your name). I tried to make small talk here and there but its kind of hard when we speak 2 different languages. Mostly I just smiled and let them know that I cared for them.

While I was waiting for the patients to come to my station, I started playing with the kids. I would clap one and then pat on my legs, and then on my face. Then I did that again only I did it twice, then 3 times, and so on until 10.The kids were trying so hard to copy me and they ate every second of it. This culture loves to dance and sing and play games like that.

The kids continue to win over my heart. They were my absolute favorite part of the colonies and I made an effort to know their names. I’m telling you, that goes a long way. I also got to pump water out a well/ huge spicket for the first time. That was pretty cool and it made me very grateful for running water. We are so dang lucky in America. All you have to do is turna nozzle and you have hot and cold water at your disposable and however gig of quantities.
After we were done, we went and walked in the village. My group left before me because I wasn’t quite done. When I finished, I asked micheal, miguish, and rabida if they wanted to walk around with me and I offered my hand. They immediately fought over who got to hold my hand, so I eneded up holding 2 kids hands in one of mine. It just blows my mind how open these kids hearts are, especially beacsue they are so shunned from society and have nothing. It’s just insane to try and wrap your mind around.
We got to talk to the people and hear some of their stories and tour one of their houses. It had 2 small rooms, one with a tv and they all slept on the ground. Also, one woman was making her lunch on a campfire and that was totally the norm.
This is their kitchen...

and bathroom

Another woman had leprosy and must have been no more thatn 4.5 ft tall. Both of her paretns had died and her husband was the man with the shoulder ulcer. They ahd married but they couldn’t have kids and he had taken on a second wife and she had 2 kids. I don’t know if that’s culturally acceptable or if they just have to do that to survive in the colonies. We had our driver translate for us what she was saying. Anyway, she was the first woman that seemed really sad. You think they all would be but they are so not. Everyone was so kind and so happy, and especially happy that we were there.
When we got home, Ashely was still way sick. She ahd spiked a 102.7 degree fever so I hung out with her for a while and helped her get some food adn different things and scratched her back for about half an hour. She was borderline tears when I was scratching her back because she said that was what her mom ddi when she was sick. I feel so bad for her because being so sick here is just so physically and emotionally exhausting because the conditions are not ideal adn you don't want to be missing out on everything. After that, I spent about an hour journaling. I am trying so hard to really document this experience and it takes minimium of 2 hours of my time everyday. That is pretty much all the free time that we have to just chill adn relax. So I have made it a goal to not go on facebook or look at blgos oor do anyhting else that wastes time that most tof the other girls are doing. I don't miss out on any of the actiivites that we do though. I am just trying to really be in india while I am here.
Play time with the kids was a little harder today. Since we went to the colonies, there are no bathrooms and so they told us to not to drink a ton. We were supposed to get up early adn drink a lot and then pee it out before we left. But I didn't drink a lot in the morning cuz I was doing other stuff and just. I think I was borderline dehydrated and got a headache and just felt a little weak and irritable. Its SHOCKING how fast your body can get dehydrated here because you sweat so much. I learned my lesson adn won't let it happen again. I guzzled a bottle of gatorade so that helped, but I still didn't have as much fun beacause I didn't have the patience that I normally do. I still managed to play with the kids and it was good. one kid asked me to swing him by his feet aroudn in a circle and that caught on like wildfire! I had like 8000 boys running aroudn yelling "auntie, auntie, me next, me next!" The only problem is that as the spinner person, you can only do that for so long before you get waaaaaay to dizzy. I finally like laid down in the middle of the grass hoping that would give me a break. Boy was I wrong! That just made me an easeir target. I was like a prey that they had just taken down adn the predators swarmed in, THey started jumping all over me and grabbing my hands to try adn pull me up. It was actaully pretty comical. They would get so close to pulling me up adn then I would pull them down. It turned into a game adn was a nice break for a while.
Dinner continues to be declisious. I decided taht I am going to start taking pictures of our food every night. Dinner is really the only authentice indian meal we have for the day. We ware welcome to join the kids int he cafeteria adn have indian food for all 3 meals but no one does. I might when we are aroudn for lunch but a lot of the days we are out and about in the colonies or serving somewhere off campus. Dinner is so awesome becaseu we take it up on the roof and eat it. ITs right when the sun is going down and the weather is awesome. Its probably only about 85 degress instead of 100 and it is fantastic!


We went to our houses tonight and the kids flocked us when we came in. We read stories with them but they don’t have very many books, so I read Winnie the pooh “How to plant Rabbits” garden for like the 4th time.
And my tushy started to really hurt by like 8:10. Sitting on a super hard floor with kids sprawled all over you takes a tool after like a half an hour. We started singing and dancing and it turned into a fun party.
We snag songs like old macdonald had a farm, bingo, and twinkle twinkle little star. I was shocked because the kids knew all the words. We had riled them all up and we are supposed to kind of calm them down and get ready for bed. So I told them that since all the stars are bright and far away and only come out at night, we had to sing it very quietly to not scare them away. It was pretty funny because the kids sang it so quietly and then if someone sang it too loud they would hit and shush them. Overall it was a pretty dang good day

1 comment:

  1. Laura!! I am loving all of this.. so glad you are loving it over there. :)