Today was probably my best day in the clinic thus far. When I showed up, I saw that a part of the clinic was being added on to (just the overhanging roof). This mostly consisted of welding steel together while standing on a scaffold. No yellow tape or anything to make sure patients don’t walk under it and get hot metal on them. It was off to the side, but people or cars are almost always there. The welders did have a mask that they used most of the time (most, not all), but gloves weren’t present. I’m happy to say that my time in radiology didn’t finish as poorly as I thought after yesterday. I brought a rejuvenated attitude and incorporated many of the things I’d wanted to do yesterday before stuff went down. We had many patients in the morning, so I helped some with giving patients their records and directing them with where to put their samples. For one of them, I actually gave him the cup to put the sample in, wrote his name on it, and wrote his information in the registry book. I especially struggle with names and addresses, since I don’t know what words to be listening for. I additionally wrote all the sheets that are sent to the lab to accompany the samples. It’s really just copying, but it shows that I understand the system they use. In the long run of the clinic, these are miniscule, unimportant tasks. But as far as my understanding, these felt like leaps and bounds from where I was when I started. I was very proud of my accomplishment, as small and insignificant as it was. I’m understanding the words of patients and workers better and better over these 2 weeks as well. There’s one in particular that I’m really connecting with. I’m always happy to see him, since he usually handles treatment is a great way. Today he was joking about the “cake” or “dessert” that the nurses give him every day while swallowing his pills. He also shows an immense amount of care for kids, always making sure parents know that the area around the office could have some TB contamination so their kids shouldn’t be exposed. His wife also asked me if I thought I was going to fall in love with a woman from Cuzco. Funny; it’s not just InterVarsity that does that. Another patient was quite different. He wasn’t super old, but TB was far along. He can barely move, so the issue was with how many doses should we give him at home before he comes in. They decided on 10 days, but not everyone was happy with that. His wife is under a lot of stress so she was particular about having things done her way. One reason she wasn’t still in the hospital with him was because the hospital didn’t want to deal with her constant harassment. This patient made me realize several things. First, wheelchairs are a beautiful invention. They wouldn’t work well here anyway because of the uneven ground outside and the cramped halls inside. But this patient desperately needed one. I’m shocked he made it in today, must’ve been in a taxi or something. Additionally, handicap-accessible bathrooms are a nice touch. Of course the hole in the ground is already tough for people not moving well, but stairs up to the bathroom make it impossible. This patient also needed to use the bathroom. Without these things available, he just went right outside. Right on the main ‘path’ that people in the clinic take back and forth outside. Ridiculous. It was never cleaned up, although I’m not sure if it would have mattered if it was. This shows how problems in a system compound each other. We started with an unclean bathroom, then moved to handicap inaccessibility, and now the whole clinic is more dirty. It isn’t in any way the patient’s fault, he had to use all of his strength to get up and walk the few steps to where he went. It’s a system that can’t handle a patient like that in a very helpful way. Interesting, isn’t it? The last patient was interesting, but sad. A young girl (probably low teens) was diagnosed with TB, and she cried hard about it. The clinical workers never ceased to let her forget that she needs that positive attitude or she won’t get better. Very much in the tough love department. I was very surprised by their response; they never said “I’m sorry, I know this will be hard for you” or “It’s ok if you cry for a few minutes, we’ll come back to talk about it.” Nope. “Stop crying, we’re going to cure you but you need to believe you can be cured.” I was busy doing my tasks, but overhearing her struggles was still sad. Things with Bety were fine too. She was in the office, but we got along fine. I helped her take out some bins and open the glass vials for treatment (need to break off the top of a glass vial.. seems like an excessively difficult way to provide fluid for an injection, but here we are). She called me strong for doing those things. I think things just tend to be dramatic here, but that doesn’t mean I need to view them as super significant; it’s just part of the routine.
After lunch, I headed to the main plaza to meet the ProWorld people for a walking tour. On the bus, I made a friend from Switzerland named Melanie. When you sit next to another gringo it’s hard to not talk. We exchanged info, so I think we’re going to hang out in the near future. Even if I don’t end up getting to know her very well (she´s only here another month and a half), I am hoping that I could still get to know her friends and make lasting connections that way.
Our guide for the city tour was the same guy who did the presentation earlier this week. He’s so knowledgeable about the city and all its buildings. There is so much history in the city; Incan and Spanish. Incan walls still persist, as do 500 year old Spanish Colonial structures. The mesh of these 2 together makes this city incredibly unique. Every road, every building, everything has significance. There’s no way I remembered all of it, but I immensely enjoyed his teaching and I look forward to explaining it all to friends later J
After everyone left, I decided to sit in the plaza to relax and people watch. I forgot that I was a target for all the vendors who walk around the plaza. Some I pretended to talk on the phone. Others I just said no, since I wasn’t interested. One lady sat down and started talking to me. That’s hard to resist responding at that point. Perhaps I should have responded in Spanish so we couldn’t have talked as much, but I’m in such a habit of speaking Spanish that it was automatic. Assuming everything she said was true, she spends 3 days making each piece she sells. It looks like a gourd, with patterns cut in it and lightly painted. Her mom taught her many years ago, and is still in the business at age 78. It’s possible that this was all a story, but I took a solid 15 minutes of her time so I bought one. She actually opened the thing for me right there for me with a cool little tool in her bag. It was kind of my way of making sure she actually knew what she was talking about. It was only about 10 dollars, looks cool, and I needed a place to keep my change anyway. Next time I’ll probably speak in English though :D