Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 20: Just when I was starting to get into the swing of things...

Day 20: April 23, 2014

Still having issues with the spell check...

Somehow, this morning I woke up a little bit easier and earlier than the day before...yet somehow I still managed to be running just as behind by the time I left for daily Mass.  It's just one of those things I guess I do...fill the time that I'm given, and always overfill it as well.  In any case, this morning was threatening rain, so I took carried my umbrella, my poncho, and walked to the Cathedral dry as ever.  Silly weather.

I arrived at the Cathedral during the now usual "mini-homily" that apparently is given just after the Sign of the Cross but before anything else and that takes the place of the actual homily (which doesn't occur at daily Mass).  I was in the same pew before Father finished, and was all set.  Mass was essentially the same as the previous day, but with a different, shorter Sanctus (no marathon Hosannah's today) and the Agnus Dei was actually sung in Latin!  And of course, the readings were different as well.  I've really enjoyed actually being able to go to daily Mass while here, even if it did take me a couple weeks to get there....I just wish it didn't require waking up before the sun is out!

After Mass, I ran to the small "market" next door to the Cathedral and Kissa pharmacy and bought by wonderful breakfast of...snickers and Fanta!  Now, I know, that's terrible...but after the gorging of myself the previous day I needed something of some substance to eat for lunch, and that looked to be about the safest, non-straight up carb thing at the stand.  I grabbed my sugar and my sugar and headed over to start my day working as a doctor...oh, the irony.

Before clinic started, I went through a couple of lectures that visiting residents are supposed to be given or read on their own.  As it appeared that there were no more scheduled lectures in the next 2 days, I set to making sure I could tick off those boxes myself.  After about 3 sets of powerpoints slides, I couldn't take any more so I let myself work on a post or two before the first clinic patients were triaged at about 9. 

Clinic today actually went quite well.  Since I'm the only person around who doesn't speak Swahili, the two translators didn't mind me so much, especially since they could swap out when one needed to do something else (read: was tired of translating for me).  I saw a good chunk of patients in the morning, limited really by their complexity and the time that it took to check them out and get them squared away.  The patients ranged from young kids who recently started ARV (HIV treatment), to a kiddo who was supposed to start the month before but hadn't because mom was still confused about what to give when, to a teenager whose pill counts just didn't add up but was insisten that she was taking her medications "every day."  It was rather pleasant, and I was finally starting to feel like I was getting into a rhythm in clinic...right before I'm about to leave!

Hey cool, a crappy picture of me in the clinic!

After working straight through until pretty much 1:45, my translator wanted lunch (and apparently so did the other, who was nowhere to be found), and therefore so did I, I guessed.  Today, wanting not to waste too much time and to be ready when the translators returned, I ran just across the street to Vic's.  I asked for the chips maiai with nyama (eggs and potatoes with meat) to go and asked how much.  Since I had eaten there last week accompanied by one of the local clinic workers, I was sure he was overcharging me, but when it's a difference between essentially 2 or 3 dollars for lunch, then a) I don't really care and b) almost feel like I deserve to pay a bit more.  After about 10 minutes, I had my food in my carry out bag and was off back to the clinic to eat lunch in my office. 

Black-bagging it...and the place where I got the food (above)

It was upon arriving at the clinic that I realized there was no filtered water to be found in the building, and I was plum out.  I also realized that rather than the restaurant putting some meat in my eggs, they gave me the usual chips maiai and then added quite a large amount of meat on top of it....which made me think maybe I had just ordered funny and therefore asked for more than I intended.  Both of these facts my eating lunch interesting, as I downed the food without any water, and it was rather thirst-inducing food.   Somehow I managed to eat everything without fluids, which was quite an ordeal when you also consider that the meat was pretty tough and required much R lower tooth is still hurting a bit from a piece of that meat that got rather stuck (does anyone have any floss???? seriously, I would pay top dollar for some right now).

Once my food was gone, I headed back downstairs and worked in the clinic for about another hour before walking back to the front of the building to see an empty triage/to be seen tray.  That was another clinic day in the books, and it was one of the more satisfying and less frustrating of the day.  Having adjusted doses, switched up some regimens, and provided some good adherence counseling, I was happy with the work I had done.

After clinic I did a little journaling, ever trying to catch up after the delay induced by my gastric woes.  Then it was time to call home.  It was again great to see everyone, and Ali is being amazing yet again getting all the nuances of selling a home cared for...including having to exterminate a hive of bees that have recenty taken up residence in your attic!  We could have left them for the buyers and they could have just had free honey!  Heck, we could have charged extra! 

As 5 PM approached I said goodbye and packed up my things.  Though the morning had been rainy, the afternoon was rather sunny, and that meant volleyball at Mbeya Hotel.  I walked home, changed clothes quickly, and then headed back down and joined the others on the court.  It was just as much fun as a couple days prior, even though our team of five was getting owned by the four people on the other side of the net.  However, after blowing late leads in the first three games, we finally held on to win the final one.  Those of us who had played stayed and talked for a few minutes after, and then it was time to head back to the house as the sunlight was wearing out.  Before heading back, I grabbed some cash at the ATM across the street and then walked home with a wallet that couldn't fold closed (you try doing that with 50 bills in it...why they give out cash in such small increments I'll never know).

Above, the mountain viewed from the street the house is on
Below, a pretty picture of the street.

On arriving at the house, I switched on my water heater for a shower and killed some time doing a few crossword puzzles (yes, you have to decide you want your shower ahead of least 30 minutes...AT LEAST).  After about 45-50 minutes, I was sure I had waited long enough, and of course got a lukewarm shower.  For tomorrow, that sucker is getting turned on as soon as I get home from work and is not turning off until I get HOT water.

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful, finishing up my leftover cold pizza from yesterday for dinner, and then trying to decide on some souvenirs before the rush tomorrow night to pack and get ready.  I have less than 36 hours left in Mbeya, and will be on a flight out of Africa in just under 48 hours from now.  It's flown by, and I hope tomorrow is a positively memorable experience as well!

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