It feels like ages ago when we first climbed out of our tents in uniform royal blue scrubs, BUT, - it was actually just this morning. Today was the very first day of clinic, the long-awaited day we had diligently been trekking towards. We woke up early in nerve-wracking anticipation to see our very first patients, to finally be able to apply the knowledge and skills we had been preparing this whole year. Paired in two’s and equipped to take down medical histories and perform physical exams, we were more than ready to embark on the journey to our very first clinic destination, Sisakhola.
Right as we were about to head out, rumbling thunders and flashing lightning threatened to roll us off the mountains, but we braved the storm and slipped and slid down the hills like troopers. Along the way, we diligently studied Nepali phrases in order to be able to comfortably communicate with our patients. Other than the introductory, “What is your name?” or “My name is _____,” we even took the opportunity to ask our guides how to say key phrases like, “Where is your pain?” “Please relax,” “Deep breaths,” and quite a few more! Who knows, by the end of the trip, we might just be pros at the language!
Upon arrival, we were welcomed by an outstanding game of rainy-day volleyball in the school courtyard. Seeing as to how everyone else was able to enthusiastically embrace the weather, we regained our energy and began to set up as well. Plus, the students of the school were so playful and adorable that we couldn’t help but feel reinvigorated by their smiles and laughs. Soon, schoolhouse tables were moved, benches were shifted, and we had ourselves a makeshift clinic. Spread out amongst 4 classrooms for triage, exams, and supplies, we readily accepted our first patients.
People trickled in slowly at first, but before we knew it, there formed an expansive line of women, children, and elderly, all looking forward to the exciting opportunity. As we got into the rhythm of taking histories, performing exams, and chasing after Dr. Murphy to do a final check, we had already reached a total of twenty patients by lunch! Speaking of which, we had an aggressive lunch during which we quickly inhaled our food within 5 minutes in order to get back into the action. Now THAT is dedication!
By the end of the day, we garnered so much interest that some patients were soon given wait list numbers to return for tomorrow! We saw a total of 56 patients, and experienced a diverse list of health issues, ranging from farmers’ joint pains, to liver diseases, and even heart murmurs. We were all completely exhausted both physically and mentally, so by the time we packed up and headed out, not one of us looked forward to the muddy, rocky uphill path that we had to overcome before returning home to enjoy the warm dinner soup.
Regardless, I can confidently speak on behalf of all of us to say that today’s happenings were absolutely magical in so many ways, and despite any hardships we may have encountered along the way, it’s an experience we would not want to trade for anything else. We may be ridiculously tired and ready to sleep by 9PM, but that won’t stop us from jumping right up to start all over again tomorrow!
- Yvonne Lee
P.S. I miss you all, Mommy, Daddy, Fionie, Gramps, Grannie, and Evander!!! <3