Sometimes in a situation like this, you can’t help but get angry at the world. Angry at how unfair life can be over here. Angry at how guilty you feel for all that you have. Angry you can’t do more to help. This past week was definitely a challenging week and continued to open my eyes to the hardships that the people here face. To add to all of the extremely sick patients we saw last week, I was talking with a family and asked the mother where her other children were. She responded saying that her 7-year-old girl was at another clinic getting her ARV’s. For those of you that don’t know, ARV’s are anti-retrovirals and are prescribed to those with HIV. Unfortunately HIV is extremely common in Uganda. Even if it is “a part of life” here, it is still hard to stomach the fact that a 7-year old will be on medication for the rest of her life when she did nothing wrong. I met a doctor from the UK a couple weeks back named Sophie (who is absolutely great) and she lets me go around with her whenever I have free time. On Friday she was explaining to me that one day she noticed that someone had switched her epileptic patient’s seizure medication for an extremely strong anti-psychotic. When she asked the other doctors why they had done this they responded with “ if we don’t use it all then the government will stop supplying it.” Basically the doctors had been prescribing this anti-psychotic to random patients, without them knowing, so that it would be used up. Prescribing this type of drug to someone who doesn’t need it can be detrimental to his or her mental health. Just another prime example of the challenges people face when it comes to healthcare.
I spent most of Friday working on organizing the data from the last three weeks, as well as putting it into the database. This ended up being an all-day affair but I felt so much better once it was done. Although I mentally knew how far along we were with the project, seeing the numbers in the computer is always reassuring. AND after going through everything, I do have to say that the nurses did an excellent job while we were away. Now that we are back however, they seem to be making the same errors they did before I left which is a bit frustrating.
On Friday night I ended up going to the Indian restaurant with Sarah and Sophie. After Kampala I vowed to not eat Indian for at least a month but what can I say-its just too good. We all had a pretty long week and decided to call it a night after dinner, especially knowing we had exciting plans the next day.
On Saturday a group of 7 of us headed out to Chobe lodge, which is in Murchison Falls National Park. It’s about 2 hours away from Gulu and it was absolutely gorgeous. The lodge is located on the Nile and is part of the safari park, so there were wild animals everywhere. We saw at least 20 giraffes on our way into the park and an elephant bathing right next to the lodge (so cool!). To spend the day at the lodge and use the pool was $20 and I have to say, it was totally worth it. While in the pool you could look directly at the Nile and see hippos and crocodiles. In addition to the lovely scenery, the group we had was such a blast. Besides Sophie and Sarah whom I already knew, I met 2 other doctors (Matt (UK) and Sinead (Ireland)), Frankie (Matt’s girlfriend from the UK) and Lea, a Danish student working on the same project as Sarah. Most of them are here until June/July but I can definitely see myself hanging out with them a lot more before I leave (and not only because I’m obsessed with their accents).
I spent most of my Sunday morning at the Iron Donkey working on a personal narrative that an online journal in DC asked me to write (don’t worry I’ll let you know when there is a finished product). In the afternoon I headed to the gym at Bomah with Sarah, which was much needed. After begging the owners to turn on the generator so that we could use the treadmills, I finally got a long run in and boy have I missed that! I do however have to keep reminding myself that I am not running 6 minute miles and that the distance is in kilometers…..a girl can dream. The power seems to be going out a lot more than usual and I am not really sure why. I have heard that during rainy season it goes out all the time but trust me; there is no rain here.
This morning I went to St. Mauritz to finalize our list of controls for the week. The whole process took about 2 and a half hours but I think it is going to be worth it. Some of the children’s parents even came in to talk to us about the project and their response seemed really positive. I am trying to mentally prepare for the chaos that will probably ensue if all 10 families we invited show up tomorrow BUT the more the merrier, right? Right.
I am currently planning a trip to Kidepo National Park this weekend with Sarah, Sinead, Sophie and Sarah’s friend Stuy. It is 6hours north of here right on the border of Sudan. Apparently the wildlife is absolutely amazing, so it’s definitely something to help get me through this week! Happy Monday everyone!
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