If you ask my friends, they will tell you that one of my biggest fears is the possibility of never getting married (doesn’t have to be anytime soon…but it needs to happen). After spending the afternoon with one of my favorite nurses, Rose, I realized how different the concept of marriage is here and how miniscule this fear would probably seem to her. Rose’s guardian died when she was in 8th grade, leaving her poor and without any remaining family members. She moved to Lacor, the local missionary hospital, where she lived in extreme poverty for 2 years. During her time there, she met a man who offered to pay for her to go back to school if she married him in return. And just like that, she was married. I’ve seen it time and time again here but when it is someone that you are really close to, it definitely hits home. The concept of the loving relationship that we have engrained in our westernized heads is essentially non-existent. Many marriages are business arrangements and nothing more. Knowing you may not have enough food to eat tomorrow or knowing you can never get a good job because you cannot afford to go to school-real fears. Never getting married?- unfortunate and the butt of every Scheel family joke, but nothing to lose sleep over.
I have also come to find that the range of emotions that it is possible to go through in one day here is simply indescribable. I started my Tuesday morning waiting outside the clinic when I felt a small hand clasp mine from behind. Now normally when a small Ugandan child sees me, they are speechless and continue to stare at the amazing spectacle that is a white person. That or they immediately start screaming and crying and hide behind their mother. Hint: its usually the latter. The fact that this boy just came out of nowhere, grabbed my hand, and simply wanted to play put me in such a great mood that I honestly thought nothing could bring me down. Unfortunately, my mood did a 180 as I was getting ready to leave the hospital for the day. As I was walking out the main gate, a young girl (probably no older than 15) ran up to me saying “Doctor, Doctor” and handed me the forms in her hand. Unfortunately she didn’t speak any English (besides her broken “Doctor, Doctor”) so my attempts to tell her that I actually wasn’t a physician were unsuccessful. I then examined her forms hoping that I could direct her to the correct department. After a closer look I realized that she not only had medical forms but an attached police report detailing her sexual assault-she was there for a Rape Kit. Its moments like these that you are just mad at the world. My heart is honestly still breaking for this young girl, who was obviously terrified. I know that sexual abuse is extremely common in Uganda but seeing a victim firsthand really made all the statistics a reality for me. As horrible as that situation was/is, it provided me a small glimmer of hope that the police department was actually going to take action.
Moving away from depressing topics, in terms of work this week, everything has been going great thus far. The cardiac clinic officially started up today and surprisingly there was not an overwhelming number of patients. Don’t get me wrong- it was definitely more than normal, however considering that today was the dreaded June 31st , I had expected it to be a lot worse. We were able to officially launch the Registry by enrolling 2 patients! This may not seem like a lot, because in the grand scheme of things it isn’t, but it was the perfect number for the nurses to perform their first consents without too much added pressure. Overall, I think they did a really great job and we are definitely moving away from memorizing the intake forms to understanding the forms. If I have learned anything during my time here, it is that patience is a virtue. Next week is the RHD penicillin clinic so I am hopeful that we will be able to recruit multiple patients on that day. Other than helping with the Registry, I have been acting as a scribe for Twalib when he performs patient echos. I really enjoy this part because I love getting to know the patients on a personal level by hearing their stories through their medical histories. Usually once they get started and realize that someone is actually listening, they give me every.single.detail. Off to see more patients tomorrow!
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