A Normal Week


This week in the clinic was just like any other week in the clinic. Starting off with a very busy Monday and ending in a very busy Friday. Throughout the week, I was sitting in the exam rooms, observing the routines of a clinic visit. What I saw was that there were many cases of Malaria. Which is a very common occurrence within the clinic. Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite. The disease generally occurs in tropical and subtropical areas where humidity and rainfall levels are high. The disease is spread to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito. With so much standing water throughout the country, the mosquitoes multiply fast. Hence why Malaria is easily contracted. A number of the patients at the clinic are there for Malaria treatment.

This week there was also a delivery of a healthy baby boy. He was born Friday around twelve in the afternoon. The delivery started out slow in the morning so Hanson went ahead and induced her. The delivery went smoothly with no complications.

I also noticed that Rose, a nurse, was giving some really great advice to new mothers. The mothers were giving the new born babies water instead of breast milk. She was telling them that the water is really bad for the baby because of everything that was in it. And that their immune systems aren’t like ours, so they will get very sick with the well/creek water. She told them that they need to breast feed because the milk has all of the nutrients that the baby needs. I thought this was really smart because the moms need to understand what is good and what is not good for their baby.

All and all it was a pretty normal week here in the clinic. Fortunately, there were no severe patients and nothing bad happened. On to next week.

Kasey (the intern)

Ouch… Ax to the Leg


Last week a patient came into the clinic with a pretty serious ax wound on his left calf. He got the wound while fixing a canoe. he was cutting the wood and the ax slipped and caught his leg. The cut was about four inches across and pretty deep so it was obvious that it needed to be sutured. Our clinic staff put fifteen staples in his leg, only with Lidocaine to numb the pain. After they were done they told him to rest for a week and then come back. A week later he came back to get the staples removed. This time there was nothing to numb the pain, just a very painful process of removing fifteen staples. After they removed them, they dressed it up and sent him on his way. And he is to come back often to change the dressings. We were all glad that the guy lived in one of the closer villages, because it was a very serious wound. Without the suturing, the wound would not have healed properly.

Kasey (the intern)

Dubbing


In Liberian culture, there are multiple ways for a village to come together to support one another. For example, helping someone build their house. Recently, we got the opportunity to do that for Sam, the lab assistant for the clinic. He invited us to join the dubbing party for his home in the nearby village of Yastar. A very common way to build a house here is by dubbing it. This is done by getting very long sticks and tying them together vertically and horizontally. Kind of like a tic tac toe board. After that, you then get mud and throw it on the structure and then spread the mud out until there are no holes left. Mud is free and plentiful in Liberia. This is way more cost efficient than using cement blocks.

When there are houses to be dubbed, it is a whole community event. You invite the whole town including your friends and family. They all show up to help with the dubbing of the house, as well as cook and just hang out. Its a real party. I was really glad I was invited to the dubbing, not only did I get to learn how to dub a house, I also learned a ton about the community. I think it is so amazing that everyone in the community pitches in to help one another. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. It meant a lot to Sam that everyone was there to help him with his house. He has been working really hard to finish it, and is really proud of all the work that was put into it. He really likes having a new house, and he is so thankful for everyone who came and helped.

Kasey (the muddy intern)

 

The Most Difficult Commute


On Saturday, I got to put myself in the shoes of some of the commuters that reach the clinic. We were going to visit a few of our staff members that lived in a village about three hours away on foot. Babaa, Esau, and James make this commute almost every day and can get it done in a fraction of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s rain or shine, they still make it to work on time. Not to mention the patients who come from that area. Most of them are sick, hurt or sometimes even in labor. We did this hike perfectly healthy, and we were still struggling. Not just patients walk all this way, people that are in those communities also make the journey. Whenever they need things that they can’t make locally, they have to carry it. I couldn’t even begin to fathom doing it every day let alone being sick, or even carrying sheets of aluminum for a roof.

The hike consists of rugged terrain, wading through deep water and monkey bridges. These bridges are made up of one or two narrow tree trunks, that are tied together. For handles, sticks are placed in the water and are spaced out on the sides of the bridge. Throughout this hike there are a number of these monkey bridges, and some of them are more difficult than others. The hardest one is over a swamp, it is the longest and some of it is in the water. Last year, most of it wasn’t even built. Sometimes you were shoulder deep in a swamp. Now that the whole bridge is built, it is still very difficult to cross. When the current is strong, you feel like you are going to slip and fall. At some points, the bridge had no sticks to hold on to, you had to balance your way across. We were all holding on to each other like a preschool safety rope. Parts of the trail were flooded, and you had no idea where you were stepping. Sometimes when you took a step you would sink in the mud a few inches. Other times there were roots trying to trip you. On the way back, it was torrential rain beating on us the whole time. Which made the water even deeper and the bridges even slicker.

This is a very difficult way of getting to where you need to go. I have gained so much more respect for the staff and for the patients that do this. I had some trouble writing about this journey. Trying to explain something that pretty much no one else can relate to or understand is very difficult. I had no idea what some of these people went through, until I actually did it. I now have a better appreciation for easy transportation and paved roads. I don’t think I will ever complain about walking somewhere again.

Kasey (intern and bush hike survivor)