Number of survivors: 8
Today was our second day of clinic. We mostly saw more patients we didn’t get to yesterday, since the clinic began filling up rapidly in the afternoon. We had porridge and fun bread (by which I mean like coffee cake) and boiled eggs for breakfast, at which meal most of our “family” was feeling improved. Over the course of the day we slowly but steadily saw what felt like the entire village of Chyangba plus some, and I have to say the majority of patients aren’t that sick. Today I inspected some of the healthiest 70 and 65 year olds I’ve ever seen, as well as some of the cutest (and healthy!) toddlers I’ve had the privilege of meeting.
The main problems we’ve seen in the patient population seem to be eyes, teeth, and chronic aches and pain. Most people’s eyes have had way too much sun exposure, manifesting in cataracts and pterygium. Unfortunately there is no nearby eye doctor, and even though the easiest way to avoid these eye problems would be to wear sunglasses, the nearest sunglasses are a 4-5 hour walk away. Also, almost everyone here seems to need a good dentist! Cavities galore. It’s tough to have a patient complaining of only tooth pain and to tell him or her that they need a good dentist to give them a filling. (So if there are any eye doctors or dentists reading this blog and looking to visit or live in Chyangba, YOUR SERVICES ARE REQUESTED!) The chronic pain is almost always from living the hard farming life and carrying lots of weight on the neck. If no one on this blog has written about it yet, the way people carry stuff around here is by taking the cloth handle of a really heavy basket and putting it on their forehead. And the weight of the basket goes on their head, neck, and back. This is also how all our porters carried our camp from Jiri to Chyangba. And kids back home complain about heavy backpacks…(including me!) It’s a little sad to me that many of these aches and pains can be alleviated by pain medication and/or proper hydration, but there’s no nearby dispenser of even something as rudimentary as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Or sunglasses.
Clinic is set up in three tents. Erin’s little desk is outside, where she takes names O2 stats and pulses. Pasang helps her translate and triage. Lisa and I share one tent, and Kim, Frank, and Alda share the larger tent that also has the one bench we use to lie patients down if they have stomach pain. The last tent is Andrew, “drug lord” of Chyangba, with lo and behold, all the drugs. There’s little to no privacy other than being in the tent, which is sometimes funny when patients and translators begin to have cross conversations about who’s feeling what, since they all know each other and (it seems) each other’s business. Each station gets a few chairs and a desk, and Kelly runs around like an attending, making sure we’re taking proper histories and doing good physical exams. The tents get really hot when the sun’s out, so I’m not too upset that it’s monsoon season and the sun only peaks out during lunchtime.
Halfway through the day we stopped clinic for a school ceremony, during which Wongchu gave all the school children new uniforms. (I want the jacket!) We also gave out the school supplies we had brought with us, including the awesome soccer balls from Soccer Balls for Kids. Unfortunately, one was already leaking. Everyone seemed happy to get the pens, from the elderly to the toddlers who were already sticking them in their mouths like candy. It was great to see that a few community members had also donated money to the school, especially the old students.
A few cool things we saw today: anoxic encephalopathy, trench foot, cute kids, scoliosis, tonsillitis, and really bad cataracts. Also, family members of our Peak Promotion staff! I examined the mother of Mingmar (our assistant cook, who always laughs at us when we tell him his food is SHINBU! Which means tasty in Sherpa) and Phula’s wife, and I think someone else had Karma’s kids (Karma is one of our guides). It’s really nice to see the family of the people who have been trekking with us for what feels like forever (and feeding us, and offering to wash our clothes, and pulling leeches off of us, and teaching us Sherpa).
Wongchu also was around today, directing the boys with nothing better to do (with “too much energy”) on helping level out the ground for the new building in the middle of being constructed, which we are also using as our makeshift kitchen and dining hall.
Our translators are doing a fantastic job so far. I’m really impressed with how dedicated they are and how hard they work at helping us, especially since they are working more or less for free, and they’re mostly Peak Promotion guides (and one English teacher and one healthcare worker). My translator has the whole “pee on this stick” schtick down.
Also, no new leech bites on any of us! And I’m pretty sure that all the old ones have scabbed over and mostly healed.
Kelly at dinner told us some doctor stories. He told a really moving one about an old doctor at Brown and a funny one from Stanford. So this burly, crazy drunk motorcyclist comes into the ER from a crash. Of course they have to cut off all his demin, leather, etc. to get to his body, and what is he wearing underneath all this badass motorcyclist gear but a pair of pink women’s panties and a bra. Ha ha ha…Kelly also has some funny ER stories about some Stanford staff, proving that anyone can do something stupid, no matter how smart.
Erin and Andrew say don’t worry, Mom, and everyone else says hello. I in particular again to Mom, Dad, family, Jamie, all Goldfields, and friends. Sorry if that’s unspecific, but if you’re reading this, I meant you! It’s already 9:05pm, which basically feels later than 4am on a weeknight for a college student. (So trust me this is really, really late). So…good night!