Today was our first clinical day at the Lewanika Hospital. We have our tentitive schedules for the upcomnig 4 weeks, and we rotate around quite a bit. This week I will be spending time in the intensive care unit. The patient I cared with today had a previous poisoning, and had to have surgery to fix her stomach from the damage. Currently the patient is receiving food through a tube directly into her intestine, as her stomach is left to heal. There was no prognosis communicated, so I plan to follow this patient and see what the doctor's plans are for the week. While re-starting an IV on the patient, I began to gain insight on how limited supplies really are here. The needles used to insert an IV are different than the ones in Canada - which retract the needle quite nicely to prevent the nurse from being poked - and of course no fancy dressings to keep the IV site clean. Instead the IV is just taped in place, and we hope that it won't get infected... Something I noticed today that really gave me a good feeling about my practice was the look of my patient after we washed and re-made the bed with clean blankets. We sat the patient up to assist with breathing and make feedings easier, and she/he looked unbelievably better when we were finished. I can't wait to follow the patient this week and see what happens, and also continue to open my eyes to the Zambian culture. I met a nurse from the US today who has been working here for 5 months, and she gave me some medical Lozi words (the local language) to help me communicate better with my patients - we will share the notebook around the house this week and hopefully will have a better grasp on Lozi soon! It's not as simple as the Zambians say.
At the end of the day a few of us also had a quick discussion about pain control. Pain medication is very limited here... my patient only had two days with pain medication post-operatively, and it is clear it is still very painful to move (there is a long abdominal incision healing still, the patient had surgery 5 days ago). Especially with having my own recent surgery this past summer, I had a hard time not having anything to give my patient as she/he grimaced in pain with even the slightest change of position. Life, and hospital work, just is not the same here as in Canada.
I love you and miss you all back home in Canada, and look forward to seeing you in 5 weeks. Until then, I will continue on with my practice and Lozi lessons! <3 Happy Valentines day to you all,
With love, Melanie