On the 16th I held support group #4 which was hands down my favorite one thus far. With each group I get to know the children and their personalities better and I must say; these are some special kids. For this group we focused on heart anatomy using a heart model, played games and then had a discussion about “masking feelings” and openly expressing what we feel. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black since I may be one of the most unemotional people I know BUT it was an extremely successful exercise. The kids were required to make masks of their “bravest self”, something they can look at whenever they get sad, scared, upset, etc and remind themselves how strong they really are and how much they have already overcome. One of my absolute favorite kids wrote my name all over his mask (and even spelled it correctly!). When I asked him why he was doing that he said, “Well because you are living in Africa helping kids like me. That’s brave.” Remember how I said I’m not emotional? Yea, that one pulled at the heart strings for sure. All of the kids asked me how long the “fun groups” would continue and it broke my heart knowing that while the groups will hopefully continue after June, I may not be apart of them.
Sunday after the support group I headed to Lira for the official launch of our project to increase cardiovascular diagnoses at the Regional Hospital. For this phase of the project we are mapping the current processes at the hospital and how patients with cardiovascular symptoms or suspected cardiovascular disease flow through the system, with the hopes of improving that system during the intervention phase with clinical algorithms. This was hands down one of the toughest project launches I have been apart of because, while we could visibly see flaws in their system and the way they treated these patients, our job was to be observers and observers only. While it was not easy, my time there definitely reassured me that we chose the correct location for this project, as I think the benefits are going to be exponential. The week was not void of laughs though as Isaac called me and goes “what category does a patient fall into if they escape from the Hospital and no one can find them?” Africa, oh Africa.
After returning from Lira, I spent 2 full weeks with Twalib in clinic. In addition to our normal patient flow and Registry follow-ups, I had the opportunity to proctor medical student Midterms at Lacor with Lisa and Twalib. 2 minutes into the exam the power went out. Every single student continued their work and didn’t even look up from their paper. Lisa and I just looked at each other and started laughing (which finally caused a few people to look up) because we were comparing how different the reaction would have been if that had occurred during one of our exams in college. I’m sure half the class would have refused to take the test without light and felt entitled to a “class room change” or postponement before finishing the test. Learning everyday to enjoy simplicity.
Since the test was 2 hours long and I needed something to occupy my time, I decided to take the Multiple-choice portion of the 3rd year medical student test. I surprisingly did fairly well and horrifyingly did better than some of the actual medical students. I only know this because I was given the task of grading all of the multiple-choice sections. I think a lot of my success (and by success I mean I failed with a 50%) comes from the fact that Twalib created a lot of the questions so it was heavy on basic cardiac knowledge. Taking the test made me realize how excited I am to go back to school, whether it’s this year or not. Yep still no news.
I think one of the most exciting things that has happened over the past 2 weeks is that I officially became a parent! My roommate Grace and I bought a dog and I couldn’t be more excited. His name is Zazu and while I might be a bit biased, I think he’s the cutest puppy in all of Uganda. I’ve wanted a dog since our last one passed away in October but didn’t like the idea of not knowing whom the dog would go to after I left. With my friend Alyssa coming in June and staying for a significant amount of time I felt comfortable with my elaborate $6 purchase. He is still only 8 weeks old but he is one spunky, personable guy.
This week I have spent time preparing for the trip with ITW next week, which also means MY MOM IS COMING TO UGANDA! While this may not be a vacation or tourism trip, I couldn’t be more excited for her to see what my life has looked like for the last 1.5 years. Dad, you’re next!