Long time no talk. Not too much to report from across the globe. The last two weeks have been very routine and mainly consisted of seeing patients in the clinic. We have gotten to the point where we have enrolled most of the children that have known RHD, so our registry enrollment has slowed down tremendously (for now). It will pick back up again in January and February when a lot of these children return for their 6-month follow-up visits. This has fortunately left a lot of time for me to practice my echo skills. Whenever a new pediatric patient comes in, Twalib lets me take all of the pictures (the ones I know how to do) and then comes to review them, critique them and more often than not, take better pictures. I know perfecting this skill won’t happen over night (or even by the time I leave) but I am very blessed to be able to have the opportunity to learn. I have met so many medical students throughout my time here, most of which say they have never performed an echo or even held an echo probe for that matter. The fact that I have the opportunity to learn this skill before I even enter medical school (fingers crossed) is truly amazing.
Spending time in the clinic I get to interact with a lot of patients, most of which don’t speak English. I would like to think that one of my strengths is cultural competency and the ability to interact with all different types of people, even if I can’t speak their language. With that being said…I must painfully admit that I don’t think I won any cultural awareness awards last week….last Wednesday an older patient walked through the door, tripped over a bench, and then when he went to shake Twalib’s hand was facing in the complete wrong direction. Assuming (never assume people, never) he didn’t speak English, I turned to Twalib and asked “ Is this guy blind?” The patient then turns in my direction and goes “ Yes dear, I am.” Foot in mouth Amy, foot in mouth. After I picked my jaw back up off the floor, I turned to the man and apologized for my outburst. The funny thing is that if this were to happen in the U.S, I probably would have offended someone so badly that they wouldn’t want me in the room while they were being examined. Here, this man completely laughed it off and said “ why are you apologizing, its true.” Ugandans, especially Acholi’s, are genuinely some of the most open and brutally honest people I have ever met. For example-yesterday on a boda-boda (sorry mom it was about to pour), I was only 2 minutes into my ride when I knew the full name of my driver, his HIV positive status, where to find him at the hospital on certain days of the month, and the name of the clinical trial he was participating in. Like I said, I like to meet new people. There is pretty much nothing in terms of medical care that is kept private and I can promise you there is nothing that resembles a HIPPA law here.
Tomorrow, we will be working with Samaritan’s Purse to hopefully match some of our children for surgery. They are currently looking for VSD’s, ASD’s and TOF’s, all under 5 years, which unfortunately excludes a lot of the children we have with congenital heart defects. If we can match even one child and link them to surgery then the day will be considered a success. A lot of these families simply can’t afford the transport down to Kampala ($7) to even be screened, so we are very fortunate that Samaritan’s Purse was willing to make the trek up to Gulu.
For those of you that don’t know, my plans recently changed and I will officially be heading home this weekend for medical school interviews! I am very excited to a. be one step closer to my dream and b. see my family and friends! I will only be home for 2 weeks before returning back to Uganda on November 14th. I still can’t believe that I have been here for almost 5 months this time and that it is already time to interview. I’m sure it feels like yesterday that I was complaining about having secondary applications to fill out. That’s all for now. See you soon America!
Most of our crew was out of town this weekend so us stragglers decided to throw our very own “Gulu Homecoming” celebration, in honor of Virginia Tech homecoming this past weekend (wonder whose idea that was…)
Storms have become a regular part of the day in Gulu. I got half way home yesterday when it started to pour so a lovely woman called to me and opened up the back of her small store so I could wait it out.
Thanks for the lollipops Milot’s!! The kids love them and I am officially not the “scary white lady” anymore