Friday, April 11, 2014

Day 7: How Crispy Got His Groove Back

Day 7: April 10, 2014

I woke up Thursday morning feeling better all around.  Granted, my stomach wasn't perfect...far far improved, nothing like the day before.  But there was still a little "Rumbly in my tumbly", the Pooh-Bear kind, so to speak...although the irony in that statement is, BEAR POO IS NOT DELICIOUS!

So I got dressed and headed to the kitchen to enjoy the spoils of my supermarket spree the day before.  Toast with nutella FAR surpassed that of the previous days with store-bought bread and pineapple jam (which I came to find was made in Pakistan...who knew?...does cipro cover anthrax?) My stomach was pleased, and after finishing up eating while reading morning prayer we were off to work.

The only difference in the walk this morning was that puddles were everywhere!  It had rained all day and a good bit of the night, so navigating without stepping into puddles wasn't as mindless as prior days.  The creek we crossed on the day before with a miniature waterfall was roaring rather loudly, and mud replaced the previously dry dirt roads on which we trekked.

For some reason, on arriving to work and setting my things down, I felt TIRED.  I needed coffee, even though I had been given some by our hosts at the house to go with my bread and nutella.  I walked downstairs from our office to the break room ,where the clinic workers filled the room as they all took in the daily provided breakfast...this morning chapati and sausage!  Still not wanting to take food away from the workers, I stayed focused and found the instant coffee jar, picked up a clean mug, and filled it with water, powder, and sugar.  It actually tasted quite alright, and I navigated out of the feeding frenzy into the hallway and to my room to start seeing patients.

However, this morning was abbreviated, as after 1 or 2 patients Dr. Michelle found us for a lecture on treatment failure.  I welcomed the break, as I was still feeling tired even after my instant coffee. Further, any refreshers like the one the day before were karibu-sana as far as I was concerned.

After that, I struggled to find a translator consistently.  Maggie was working in the triage room, and it seemed like the person I would eventually find to translate for me for one patient was disappearing just as soon as we finished.  This lasted until about noon or so, when Maggie appeared as if from nowhere (yes, she was in triage before, but now she was at the front desk) and helped me out exclusively for the remainder of "the morning".  We got through a few patients together before breaking for lunch. My favorite, I guess, was a kiddo who had VERY viral symptoms for about a week, but mother was concerned about him and kept obsessing over minor symptoms that really appeared not concerning.  In the States, this kid would go home with supportive care.  However, as I checked the patient out to Dr. Jason, he made a good point: if mama was concerned about this kiddo enough, and we gave her nothing, she would be even more likely to go out seeking traditional or other medicines in the street.  As we had both seen a child in the hospital on Tuesday who had come in non-responsive and scary sick because of an ingestion of some street medicine, I caved.  I justified it by saying that I couldn't see the kids eardrums (which I couldn't), and wrote my first ever script for antibiotics in a kid that I knew didn't have a bacterial infection...honestly though, a little high-dose amoxicillin was really not likely to hurt him or anyone.  So yes, I saved his life...
Rule #5: Doctors should never prescribe antibiotics for a viral illness

At about 1:30, Maggie asked if we could break for lunch, and eager to not wait until the proper Tanzanian lunch at 2:30 or 3, I happily agreed.  Carmelle's interpreter had gone on lunch break, too, so we trekked into town for lunch.  Along the way, she wanted to try to change her flight at Precision Air to give herself a day for a mini-vacation on her trip home.  As the office was just a few doors down from Deluxe, we set out in that direction.

We took Simon's route into town, down a dirt (now mud) road and through a couple of fields. We pased a handful of chickens along the way, pecking through the numerous gardens scattered along the way, filled with corn and carrots.  We crossed over the shady bridge from two days before and past a car wash before we reached the area we were more familiar with.

At Precision, it seemed as if the flight change would take no time at all, and I was pleasantly surprised...however as we waited and waited, it became apparent the workers were having issues, and after about 15 minutes I decided to go pick up lunch for us while Carmelle stayed and worked with the airline.
While I waited for the food at the restaurant, I sipped on my Diet Pepsi and learned some new Swahili by googling words from the menu:
Ndizi = Banana
Nyama = meat or flesh
Maini = Liver
Ugali = stiff porridge, pap (remember that wonderful stuff Vincent had almost literally force-fed me in Gabs?)
Mshikaki = "holder", at least, this was my most literal likely meant skewers

In no time I had our food, but when I returned they all sat just the same as before in the Precision Air office, as if no time at all had passed.  Finally the airline decided to just contact her if they could make things work, and we walked back to clinic

At clinic I downed my food in the work area.  Then it was time to restart this time it was about 3, so after I finished my patient the day was done...amazingly, as the numbers on the charts showed that we had seen 100 patients that day (altogether of course)

 Pilau Nyama from Deluxe Diner...that green stuff is nasty!

View out the office window from my blogging computer

After this it was, of course, time to call home.  Everyone looked great, and Mary-Teresa was a brand new child!  It was like she hadn't ever been sick. Jude and Ali were all dressed and ready for the day as well, but John-Paul was deciding to be a sour-puss and would only tell me "I'm mad." I broke his stern-looking face by telling him "John-Paul, that's not funny....haha-haha-hahahahahaha!"  If you've ever seen me do that with him before, you get it.  He broke a little smile and hid his face under Ali's arm, so I knew he was actually alright.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon at Baylor journaling and catching up on emails.  It wasn't until one of the workers at the clinic came by to tell me that we were closing that I realized that it was 6 PM and the lights were being turned off.  I quickly thanked him for not locking me in, packed up my things, and headed down the dim hallways and out the door.

 Turn out the lights, the party's over...

BIPAI Mbeya, Tanzania

St. Anthony Cathedral just down the road from clinic & across from Mbeya Referral Hospital

Earlier that afternoon, Jason and Liane had mentioned that some volunteer workers for the annual camp were in town for a couple days for planning and that they were meeting them at Mbeya hotel for dinner.  They had invited me to join, so I headed in that direction.  Along the way, I noticed my first rainbow since arriving in Tanzania...which is rather surprising considering it's rainy season.  It was rather well-defined, and a more faint cousin was just off to the south of it.... A DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!  I stopped more than a few times to take some pictures, both for myself and for my co-resident here in Mbeya who had mentioned on multiple occasions how she still hadn't seen a rainbow (and was rather frustrated by it).

Clear across the sky!!! (Well, not really...)

Finally I reached the road that ran up the hill to the house, with Mbeya Hotel on one side and the National Bank on the other.  I finally, FINALLY, was able to use my ATM to withdraw cash...and boy did I.  The 200,000 TZS came out in 5000 I soon had a wad of cash that I couldn't even fold up properly in my wallet! I didn't care, though, as I finally had my own financial means in week in.

Ka-ching!  But now my wallet made me lopsided and wouldn't fold

I crossed the street to Mbeya Hotel with a bit more spring in my step, feeling much better than 48 hours and even 24 hours previous.  I had taken hold of things with cipro, my own ATM card, and was ready to celebrate.

Mbeya hotel

I joined Jason and Liane along with the volunteers, Allie and Julie.  We ordered our food and then took drinks (a Kilinmanjaro, personally) out to the patio while we waited...and boy did we.  We talked about our international experiences, the camp's goals and different sites, and other random things.  The rain came, the rain stopped, the sun went down, and one hour later our food was finally ready.  I scarfed down my appetizer meal of samosas as I had gone from mildly to moderately hungry in the time it took for our food to be ready.  We had a nice meal together inside the restaurant talking while an American movie (that I couldn't identify) with Swahili dubbing and French subtitles played on the TV in the corner. Eventually we finished up and about 8:15 I walked home.

Arriving home, I put down my things, relaxed on the couch, and did a crossword on my phone whilst the others did their own things.  After I finished, Amelia and I played the two longest games of Bananagrams I have ever experienced (it is SOOOO long when you only have two people...I had run out of room on the table as my letters were starting to fall off of the edge) while Josh watched and laughed at us as we scoffed at drawing Q's and Z's.  I won the first game, but was done in by my last three letters being H, J, and R at the very end.  We let the series stand at a draw for the night, and it was time for bed.

I straightened some things in the room, then took my shower (with no curtain...with no curtain, so keep that outside-facing arm straight down at your side and aim the showerhead at an angle toward the wall!) and settled in realizing it had been all day with only one trip to the ETEC room.  I didn't even have to stare at the sign on the stall in the bathroom at the clinic, which I assume translated roughly to:


I felt great, optimistic that I had gotten into the swing of things.


  1. Not to minimize the other parts of the writing, but I really like hearing the John-Paul anecdotes.