Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 6- Stick em!

It was our turn to give vaccines to the children. In the states, we call them shots when we are with non-medical personnel and then will call them injections with medical professionals if we are trying to look professional and smart ;) But here all the kids call them injections. It’s pretty funny, especially because a lot of them don’t speak that great or proper of English. I told some of the kids that we were going to give them a shot and they looked so confused and baffled. I’m pretty sure “shot” to them means getting shot by a gun. I’m not positive but that’s my gut.
I thought vaccines would be a not so fun experience because I never like poking kids in the hospital. You know you are helping them in the long run, but in the moment you are just hurting them . They learn to hate you and are very scared of you. I had some young kids in the hospital in the US that would start screaming bloody murder the second the door handle even moved because they were so scared it was a nurse. But this was the exact opposite --it was so hilarious and fun!
First of all, I love how much autonomy we have. In the hospital, especially as a student nurse, I am beyond micromanaged. There is always someone breathing over my shoulder and telling me when, where, and what I have to do. I don’t get to put my input in on very much or figure out how things can work better. I love seeing something and then figuring out how it can be improved or run more efficiently. That is one of the reasons why I would never be satisfied just being a nurse. I want to be able to make more decisions on my own. Anyway, we are kind of in charge of everything we do here. For example, they will just tell us, “you’re job is to vaccinate 4 standards of kids today, have fun”. Then we figure out the best way to have them line up and put the vaccines together and all that jazz. This specific vaccine has to be premixed. We started off with an assembly line of vaccine making.
Sadly, I poked myself with the needle pretty good. My gloves were too big and moist from the humidity. SO when I went to pull the needle cover off, my hand jerked back and forth twice and got a good poke. Its still a little sore, but no big deal.
We originally thought we should try and shelter them from seeing the needle but soon realized that didn’t’ work very well. The kids were running all over the place and it was beyond chaotic. Our kids were old enough (age 7-10) that they knew what was coming because they had had them a few times before. We ended up just herding them into a big room and locking them by gender in 2 small connected rooms. We had 3 stations of 2 people in the big room and just busted them out.
We would go in the room and pull them out but it ended up turning into a huge game for the kids. They would run and hide and fight us, mostly because they thought it was fun, and partially because they were a little scared. We were dragging them out by their hands, wrestling them, and everything else you can think of
There were a couple kids who were way into it and hid at the top of these shelves. Ashley tried to get them to come down, but thtye wouldn’t.
I ended up climbing up the shelves to get them.
We were dying laughing the whole time. I thought I was going to wet myself a few times when I was watching the girls wrestle the kids.
Sadly, there were a few kids that were legitimately scared. We had to hold them down to keep them still. Some kids were so terrified that it took 3 of us to hold them down. That part is never fun.
But the kids were funny because they would be so scared and grimacing even after we pulled the needle out. We would look at them and be like “you’re all done” and instantaneously, this huge smile swept across their face. So I questioned a little bit, how badly it really was painful vs. how much they just love attention.
There is a group of about 8-9 year olds here that are absolute drama queens. They remind me of the movie "mean girls". You can tell they are the cool kids their age and they call the shots around here. After we gave them their shots, they looked at us like we had just tried to murder them. They grabbed their arms where we had given them their shots and walked back to class with sullen looks on their faces in a little herd. Seriously, it was too funny.
There is this one boy, Basha, that I have mentioned before. He just baffles me with how full of love he is. I gave him his shot and then I usually high five them after and say “we are all finished, super!”. (everyone says super and finish) Instead of giving me a high five, he jumped up and gave me the biggest hug. He is probably the sweetest boy I know here even though he is like 10.
We did have 2 things happen that were a bummer. One of my favorite kids, Yebenezzar, was about to get a shot. I specifically picked him out to give him his shot because I love him so much. I let my emotional part come to the front instead of my technique because I was have so much fun with him. I had him roll up his sleeve, but I didn’t even realize that he had barely rolled it up. I ended up giving him his shot in the middle of his upper arm instead of at the top of it. And I gave it to him at a bad angle. I ended up poking him and then having the needle poke out of his skin at another spot and have a few drops of the vaccine fluid come out onto the floor. He grimaced and my heart sank.
I quickly pulled it back so the needle was in his arm again and gave him the shot. He bled and I so he was excited that he got a band-aid and he didn’t know any different. But I felt horrible! Seriously so sad and bad and disappointed in myself. I had hand-pciked this kid and then tortured him. It really did get my spirits down for a little while but his big smile at the end made me feel better.
The other sad thing happened to my friend Kim. We were motoring through these kids and it’s not like we are in a doctor’s office with proper places to put things or anything. Anyway, in the groups of 2, one person would physically give the shot and then other person would hand them the needle. Well Ashley handed Kim a needle and Kim poked the kid. When she went to push the stuff in, she realized there was nothing in it, meaning that this was a used needle. That is a HUGE no no because you are mixing people’s blood and that is the main way that bad and fatal diseases like HIV, hepatitis and all that stuff are passed. And on top of that, this was a kid that was absolutely terrified and was having to be held down by 3 people. She ended up having to poke the child twice. It was actually more Ashley’s fault for handing Kim the used needle and none of us blamed or were mad at either of them because it easily could have happened in these circumstances, but Kim felt beyond horrible. She broke down and started bawling. We were able to calm her down a bit and soothe her but I felt bad for her. There is something about having the responsibility a nurse carries on her shoulder. When you mess up in a normal workplace, it stinks but it's not life or death. It is very traumatizing making a mistake. These people are vulnerable and are putting their full faith and trust in you. And breaking that, just kills. I don’t think it’s something you could understand until it physically happens to you. Even something as small as what I did to Yebennezzar made me feel pretty sad. Gratefully, Kim’s kid had been at RSO for a while and had already seen a doctor a bunch and had been immunized. And we gave the shots in their fat and that tissue doesn’t really have any blood in it. So the child has a 99.9999% chance of being totally fine and so we weren’t really worried. But still, it’s just emotionally difficult and Kim was very worried.
One of the reasons the injections were so funny is because we threw everything that we have every been taught about pediatric nursing out the window. You always try and give the kids choices to make them feel like they’re in control, you don’t rush giving them shots if they are beyond terrified, and you avoid holding them down like the plague and try to coax them instead. Lastly, if a kid ever asks for a band-aid, even if they don’t need one, you ALWAYS give the child one. None of that happened here. In fact, it was beyond the exact opposite. Band-aids are a resource here and they are the equivalent of having candy. We only gave the kids who were bleeding a band-aid. This makes it sound really harsh but I promise it wasn’t -- the kids were happy and they still love us.
So in India, they say yes and no differently. In America, we either nod our head for yes, or shake it back and forth for no. In India, they let their head bobble for yes and then put their hand up (almost like they are waving) and then shake it back and forth. I immediately picked up on the no and it has become a complete habit but the bobble head is going to be the death of me. I try and I try and I just can’t pick it up. In fact, the little girls were laughing their heads off when I was trying. It hurt my self esteem a little, but I am recovering. A lot of the girls in our group have picked it up, but I don’t think I will ever get it. It’s too dance and rhythmic like and that has never been a strong point for me.
I peed on my foot again this morning. I know it’s hard to believe but I thought it was kind of cool. When I first got there and I peed on my foot, I was disgusted and horrified. Now I was like “eh, nothing a little water can’t fix”.
The Indian work ethic is insane. These people are probably the hardest working people I have ever known. And the woman do it so beautifully while they are wearing saris and lots of jewelry. Every time we ever offer to help, people always say no and laugh at us. I think they feel like “it’s my work, so it’s my duty and I’m capable.” Sometimes I wonder if they think it’s condescending that we offer. Like we are implying that they need help. I don’t think this is the case though because they always smile at us when we offer.
Grandpa Lester always talks about how blessed he is and we are. I always agreed but have kind of brushed it off after a while. Like “yeah we’re blessed, but so is everyone on our street and all of our friends.” I have been thinking about this phrase a lot and it really rings true. We are so blessed. On top of my financial blessings, I have a family who loves me. I have religious freedom. I have a roof over my head. I live in country where women are equals. I live in country that has a government that fully takes care of me (probably even too much so).I just don’t even know where to start. How did I get so lucky and blessed?
Because we stayed on the RSO campus today, we had the option to have lunch with the kids. Kim and I totally hit them up on it. I wanted to see how the kids act and just how this whole lunch thing goes down. I was super bummed because the “main course” was this sick nasty buttermilk dish. Seriously so gross and what a rip off. Anyway the food was all distributed to the house mothers and then they distribute it to their families. The families eat in a circle and all share one pitcher of water and drink straight out of it.
I think I would fit in well ;) They eat on the ground and only use their right hands. I was impressed with their techniques. I think I would weigh less if I had to work that hard to eat. The thing is that I always thought it was gross, but seeing it live was so the opposite. It wasn’t barbaric by any means. It was almost an art form and they made it look so effortless. All the kids wanted us to sit by them, especially the kids in our family. We decided we get enough time with them, and I wanted to get to know the boys. I sat by Basha and talked to him and his little friends/house brothers.
It was pretty fun and the laughed at me for using a fork and crumbling up my hardboiled egg and adding it to my rice ( I need protein desperately!). I would have used my hands but I didn’t have any of that nasty sauce stuff to hold it all together so it would have been a an epic fail.
I really want to get to know the house moms and their stories. I ended up talking to basha’s house mom and her name was Vannilamary.
She said we could call her vanilla for short. That was the best news I had heard all day! She was so unbelievably fantastic. SO sweet and full of kindness and genuine. She told me that she used to be a nanny for an American family and that made sense why she seemed so easy to talk to and just American a little. I found out her sons are Stephen and Michal. Stephen is that boy who spells out the PESOPI thing with me. He is just great and so fun. I found out that David Archuletta is his sponsor and is paying for him to go visit America when he turns 18. Stephen is so pumped about it. Vanilla came to RSO 8 months ago and her husband died 5 months ago. He was trying to get off a bus and hit is head and it killed him. I felt really sad for her and asked her how she was handling it. I try and be real with these people without crossing the line which is hard when you don’t know where the line is in another culture. She said she was sad but couldn’t show it because she needed to be strong for the kids. She then said that he was a drinking man and he was drunk when it happened. And that she came to RSO for her children’s sake and their education. OH my goodness, what an amazing woman! She left her alcoholic husband and moved to help run this orphanage. And she is so happy and sweet. I was in absolute awe of her. She likes me and said she was impressed how well I was doing with the kids' names. That made me feel really good and I loved being able to connect with this wonderful women.
The food is really starting to take its toll. I usually wake up with diarrhea in the morning now from the night before’s indian food. I feel kinda sick to my stomach every now and again. And the lack of protein kind of pulls your strength, but not that bad. The food doesn’t even sound appetizing right now. I am trying to just push through, but I think the food and I will go on a break for a couple days. Camille said the same thing happened to her and within a couple of days, the food sounded good again.

At family time tonight, the girls were enjoying playing with my hair. I took it out of its bun and asked “does anyone want to brade my hair” Immediately, like 5 girls jumped up. Always so many volunteers for anything—its actually quite cute. Anyway, I let Theresa braid my hair.
She combed it and everything and I was impressed because it had gotten pretty snarly. I was also impressed because it didn’t hurt when she was combing it or doing it. One of the the other little girls did Kim’s hair and was practically pulling her scalp off. Kim said “softer please”, and the girl responded “no, tight good”. I about died with laughter; it was so funny. Theresa asked me why I have short hair. I explained that girls in America cut their hair all the time and can have it at whatever length they wanted. She was pretty receptive but still thought it was a little weird. Here, they sometimes shave the girls’ heads when they are about 5 years old, but then after that they almost never cut it.
(The girl on the right is Tamilarasi that I love and have many pictures with on this blog. They just chopped all her hair off.)
They only do a trim on the ends every once in a while. I asked if it was religious or beauty and she said “to be pretty”. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
The most tender thing about family time was when I walked in on them about to pray. Some of them are Christian and others are Hindu. V-Davy led a prayer of like 6 girls. They filled up this little cup with water and then all put their hands on it. They invited me to join in and then say the prayer. It was very special.
Then afterwards, one of the girls handed me a book of Mormon and asked me my favorite part. I was surprised by this because the kids are not Mormon here. I flipped to 2 Nephi 22:2 and read it to them-- "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation." They intently listened and it touched my heart. They are so pure.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 5 - Let's get Physical (title courtesy of Whitney)

The other group of girls in the nursing program were going to a hospital in Chennai today and all had to wake up at 5:30. Consequently, it woke us all up and I was out of bed and going by 6 am. I was bummed that I couldn’t sleep longer but it was a blessing in disguise. I felt like I had a whole morning to myself to just get things done before I had to go for the day. It was sooo nice and helped me not feel so behind on everything and allowed me to catch up on my journaling. It takes all of my extra time. I have kind of started worrying that I am too busy recording all of my experinces instead of having them. I have lolled it over and I think I am good. I am not missing out on anything except for maybe just sitting under the night sky, which would be beautiful, and reflecting. But I think this is more important and I am making it a priority. IN fact, it is such a priority, I do it when I am exhausted and sooo hot. My friends were kind enough to take this picture of my dilligence.
When I first arrived, girls were all on facebook and would skype home everyday. In all honesty, I kind of looked down at them. I thought, we are India, so be in India! I was determined to not go on facebook and mostly just email home and skype on occasion. I got to skype my family yesterday and see all of their wonderful faces. It was great and just beyond lifted my spirits. I went on facebook just to put the link to my new blog and ended up looking around for a few mins. I was surprised, but that also felt so good. I think just having a touch of home makes you feel more comfortable in a good way. When I was skyping my family, I told them how a lot of the girls have diarrhea and I have been so grateful not too. They asked me what I had done differently and I told them nothing, that I was just a lucky one. As I was saying goodbye to them, I got this really intense urge to go to the bathroom. Like really intense! I quickly said goodbye and sprinted to the bathroom. Good news—I am now an official member of the diarrhea club.
I was in my room skyping and so the other girls heard me talking to my parents about not having diarrhea. When I ran back in and told them that I had just joined the club, the irony of it killed us. We were rolling in laughter.
Every morning we go to the laundry room and pick out our chudidars (top and bottom). You find ones that are more comfy, breathe easier than others, and just fit well. I found an outfit that I love and have worn it twice.
I was going to grab it again but then I realized that I can’t have the same outfit in all of my pictures. So for pure vanity sake, I am fighting my obsessive tendencies and varying my outfits. . Just another chance to grow in India. I was actually quite happy with my outfit and its comfy status. It was nice to have a change.
Our assignment for the day was to give the children 2nd- 5th standard (grade) physicals. I absolutely loved doing the physicals. It was fun to be able to use the knowledge that I have learned and hardcore apply it. We had different stations like height and weight, vital signs, and then the overall physical part. I got to do the overall physical part with the stethoscope, looking in the kids ear, and all that fun jazz. It was so fun to interact with them and let them listen to their own heart or my heart. They ate it up and it was fun to see it light up their entire face. They would look up into my eyes and say “auntie, I hear it. Thump thump.”
When the bell rang for recess and all the kids in the school came running by, it was the equivalent of putting a fresh dead carcass in front of a gazillion lions. I was borderline scared for my life. The kids saw all the equipment and were grabbing it and just going insane. I had my stethoscope pulled off my shoulder 7 times while a million kids were yelling “auntie, auntie, me next”.
It was fun but it got to the point where it was passed trying my patience. When recess ended, life was good again. We did physicals from 9:30 am to 4 pm. It was great for my nursing skills and I FINALLY feel confident with feeling lymph nodes and much improved at listening to lung sounds. I felt like a nurse practitioner and it was rad!!!
I can’t wait until I have my masters and get more education. The people that we thought were sick, we referred to the doctor at 4 at the clinic. When he showed up, he needed help. I stayed on and helped him until like 5.30. I totally felt like a nurse practitioner that had to stay late to chart.
When we were working in the clinic, there were some quotes pretty neat quotes on the whiteboard. They said “We treat, God heals”, “success= tons of discipline, hard work and prayer”, and “Humility and service are accurate measures of true greatness”.
RSO is non-denominational but this whole place is so focused on God’s hand in everything. It rally strikes home and I see the truth in these simple words. I feel like Dr. Susan is the ultimate example of this. Here she is, this Indian doctor, who lives in a boarding school for orphans in very meager conditions and spends her life serving India’s “Least of these”. She never takes credit for it, is beyond humble, and we have to force her into any sort of a picture. I am in awe of her and hope I can be like that someday.
I broke out of my shoe-wearing shell and just wore flip flops today. It was like heaven on earth! I swear I was at least 8 degrees cooler and it just made me feel more chillax. Now that I have started sandals, I am most definitely staying with them. It’s like that saying “once you go black, you never go back.” Kiss the shoes goodbye baby.
As I am sitting here writing this, the power has gone out twice. Our power is the sketchiest thing ever. It easily goes out 20 times a day, not exaggerating. It usually comes back on within a few minutes, so its not too bad. Sometimes it really stinks though because it takes the air conditioning with it and it only takes 5 minutes for a room to get blazing hot. One time I decided to have one of my coveted easy macs that I brought from home. I followed the directions, filled it up with water and stuck it in the microwave. The exact second that I pushed the “start” button, the power went out. Who knew that could be the saddest part of my day?
Family time was pretty fun tonight. I have started talking to the girls individually and getting to know them. My professor, Cheryl, made a really good point the other day. She said that we can walk around and do all of our service and everything, but the way you really get to know India and make a difference, is by talking to the people. That hit me really hard. I am here giving it 100% but until I take the time to really know the people, I am just observing India, rather than taking part. I talked to a few of the girls and really bonded with them while getting to know them.
I talked to one of my girls, Bujji, who is 12, about her family. She is probably one of the smartest kids here and she is always helping/ doing the other girls’ homework for them. I have really gotten to know her and words cannot describe how much I love her. She is just so pure and sweet. We were talking and she told me that her grandma has leprosy and lives in a colony but her parents live in Chennai. Her dad is a truck driver and her mom cleans clothes. She has a brother but he goes to a different school. I asked her why he doesn’t go to RSO with her. She looked up at me, smiled, and sheepishly said “we have no money”. It had a profound effect on me. In fact, I’m tearing up writing about it. Here is this sweeter than sweet girl who has absolutely nothing but is happy. How blessed am I and I find times and beyond stupid things to be sad about. She is raw and pure and she only sees the goodness of life. At that moment, my soul was overwhelmed with love for this sweet daughter of god. I threw my arms around her and started to savor the moments I have with these precious children.
I was grateful that I could be here to give her my love. I am supposed to be the one helping these children, but they are the ones helping and teaching me.