Thursday, August 06, 2009

They Call Us Doctor


Hey everyone! We all send our love to those back home.

Today has been another great day. We continued the Vision Clinic and the Medical Clinic in the morning. Then in the afternoon Tracy held a Diabetic Screening Clinic, and Suzanne held a Low Vision Clinic to help those with particular vision deficiencies to learn how to compensate for them and have a better, safer quality of life.

While the afternoon clinics were in session, Debbie and I rode around with Pastors Solomon and Doreen trying to find the ever elusive suction canister that doesn't exist in Uganda. We had shipped a suction machine over in 2007 and the suction canisters somehow disappeared. When we had the incident with trying to resucitate the stillborn baby on Monday and didn't have a working suction machine, it prompted us to go in search of the items required to make it work. Now we're at the "MacGyver stage" where we're going to have to get creative and make what we need.

It's been very interesting working in the Medical Centre this trip. We were informed this time that Tracy and I were to assess, diagnose, and treat the patients ourselves...not just in support of the facility doctor (who was sick the day we got there). That would be OK if we were doctors, but we aren't. Tracy is an RN, and I'm an LPN. We explained that we are NOT doctors, but nurses. That didn't seem to phase them at all. As far as the people here are concerned the muzungu's from the United States should know how to do everything.

They call us "doctor"...

Despite being informed that we are only nurses, the staff kept calling us "Doctor". If there are any nurses reading this who have the crazy desire to go on to medical school to become a physician, I challenge you to come to Africa first and work in a small hospital. It will either hook you for life or scare you away!

In the last four days I have assessed, diagnosed, ordered lab work on (when the tiny lab had the reagents to do the tests I've tried to order), and treated patients with malaria, syphyllis, fungal infections, complaints of ulcers, hypertension, and a myriad of aches and pains. Of those who were previously on medications for things like diabetes or high blood pressure, many do not take their medications regularly and are therefore not well regulated. It has challenged my LPN nursing skills to the max, and given me repeated excuses for a hastily prayed, "Oh, God! Help me to figure out what's wrong with this person and how to treat it!"

I have to say, I've never had a desire to go on to even RN school, let alone Med School. I'll let someone else have the headache of deciding what's wrong with someone and how to "Fix it"! One thing that I was grateful for was the fact that Tracy brought her Nursing Drug Handbook. I've spent a lot of time in it in the last few days. Which antibiotic works best for such-and-such? Can the 6-month pregnant lady have this particular medication? What's the right dose of this particular drug for a 2-year-old weighing 13kg?

In the end, I accurately diagnosed and treated a great number of people (with the diagnosis being confirmed by the few lab tests I have available to me) with serious conditions. I'm following up on a couple people whose blood pressure was elevated. I have the great choice of starting them on either nifedipine or atenolol. I'm not a doctor, hello! I'm not trained in the specifics of WHY a particular medication is prescibed and WHICH ONE to prescribe. I have gotten good at what to give for Syphyllis, skin infections, and malaria. But I'll be glad when I can go back to being Sandi Bird, LPN.

Anyway, it's late and I'm tired. I'll write about the solar dehydrator project another time...

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