As our four weeks at Lewanika Hospital have come to an end, we now have some time to reflect on what we’ve seen and what we’ve been a part of. As I look back, I remember the many surreal moments that will forever be embedded in my mind.
-Taking a break from doing vital signs all morning in the Anti-Retroviral Therapy Clinic just to look around and realize you are in a room of 250 men, women and children, all of who are HIV positive.
-Restraining a 2year old child that is not much larger than a newborn so a much needed IV can be inserted in his neck. Being fully aware that the efforts to save the child from cerebral malaria may render useless as the child is already to weak to cry.
-Becoming so overwhelmed by another’s suffering, you’re unable to hold back tears at her bedside.
And although these moments induced some great horror and sadness, each one has also been accompanied with learning, laughter and hope.
-Almost all of those 250 people greeted us warmly and they were grateful to be there so they could receive treatment that could extend their lives for many years.
-Although that small boy was too weak to cry, he has not too weak to smile. And even during the IV insertion he managed to look up and bless us with a smirk that can never be mimicked.
-Even with the difficulties of language barriers and cultural differences, nothing shows sincere empathy like tears. And the ability to communicate that so clearly to a patient is a gift.
I am proud of the work that my fellow students and I have done here. We are making an impact on the lives of the patients and on the learning of the nurses. In return they have also blessed us with some of their knowledge and expertise.
What I am most grateful for is to have been privileged enough to hold someone’s hand as they experience the most terrifying moments of their lives. Not many people have participated in something as fulfilling and amazing as that. I will never be the same person, nor the same nurse.