Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lots of Updates, but most important: Aggregate Complete!

I started off Wednesday morning at the Nursing Home with Meg, Chelsea and Dr. Belknap. I was not looking forward to this trip just because I was not a fan of being there the last time, but it turned out better than I expected. We started off giving hand massages to the women and because there were four of us present, we were done in about fifteen minutes. After that we just kind of sat around until Dr. Belknap suggested we do some exercises with the women because they were all just sitting and watching the TV. This is when my knowledge of all those annoying Girl Scout and Camp songs became very useful for once! We sang “head, shoulders, knees and toes”, “skinamarink”, “this little light of mine” and a couple others. One of the women got up and turned off the TV then motioned for us to do it in front of the entire group! So we did many more and even did just some plain songs such as Amazing Grace and songs from Godspell that we could remember. (Dr. Belknap really likes Godspell!) The women who were more with it really enjoyed it and it kind of reminded me of all the times when I would go caroling at the Nursing Homes at Christmas time. I guess when I was younger I didn’t quite understand why we were there cause most of the people don’t pay attention but after seeing that these people have little to zero physical, emotional and spiritual contact  on a daily basis it makes sense. These women just loved someone paying them a little attention even if it was only for a couple hours. They will most likely forget us but they will remember how they felt.

In the afternoon, Maria did her teaching project on menstruation to the women of Vaso de Leche. She made period tracker bracelets with the women, so that they can keep track of when they are ovulating, are fertile and when their period is coming next. The women really enjoyed it and asked her lots of questions and she did a great job!

After dinner, we had a fiesta for all the July birthdays! It was my first real fiesta here! Three of the missionaries who have been here for two weeks set up the whole party with balloons, cake, desserts, music and even confetti! After singing happy birthday and the birthday people received their gifts, we pretty much just danced for the next hour and a half! I got to pull out some of my salsa moves and had a great time learning some more from the staff workers.

Thursday morning started off at the hospice. At lot had changed since the last time I was at the hospice. One of the patients was able to leave and now only comes back for a treatment to help release fluid in his abdomen. Another patient, the little old woman we first did wound care on, was better and able to go home to stay with her family! With two leaving, one patient was admitted. She is a woman in her early 30s who has leg cancer. We were told that she had been to Lima for treatment but that it hadn’t worked, hence why she was now here. We don’t know what they did in Lima but all I know is that it looks like they tried to take out the cancer and then just decided to leave the wound open. So we of course now had to add this intense wound care to our list of daily tasks. The worse part and biggest difference between this new patient and Oswaldo’s wounds is that she can feel immense pain all the time. She pretends to sleep, thinking that it will stop us from having to change and clean her wounds. She reluctantly rolls over and lets us do our job, but she watches the ENTIRE time. I can stomach looking at the wound from a nurse perspective but I don’t think I could watch someone clean something that gruesome on my own leg. Another difficult part about this wound is that it bleeds a lot and we have to try to stop the bleeding as much as we can before we apply new dressings. She also has two tumors in her groin area that are still intact and we are trying to keep them that way. I can handle the blood, smell and look of the wound but the thing that gets me is that they won’t tell her that she is dying. Being someone who is interested in palliative and hospice care I am an advocate for talking with the patient and family about what is possibly going to happen so they can be prepared when it happens. Another challenge with this new patient is that I wanted to talk to her to get to know her and it is not possible with the language barrier. I really take pride in the therapeutic relationships I build with my patients in the U.S and strive every time I am with a patient to make sure they feel that someone cares about them and is taking care of them. I can’t do that for her and it has really affected me. I realized that this is one of my biggest challenges here and there isn’t much I can do besides just being there for the patient and doing what I can to comfort them in my little Spanish.

We also had two girls, about to be seniors in high school, from the new group of missionaries come with us to the hospice. They had both said they were either interested in nursing or medical school so we figured we would bring them along and show them a little of what we had done here. We had warned the girls that this was some heavy stuff they were about to see and that it was ok if they needed to step out of the room or could not handle it. Little did I know that I was about to test my nursing instincts. After we had taken off Oswaldo’s old dressings, I caught out of the corner of my eye that the girls stepped outside. Two minutes later one of the girls poked her head in and said the other one had fainted. I left the room but was thinking to myself, “What the heck do I do? I have never had someone faint on me before!”. Obviously the little nurse inside me took over because I wasn’t able to contemplate what I needed to do, I just did it. It was such a strange and weird feeling but for some reason I wasn’t panicked or anxious. The girl ended up being fine, she didn’t hit her head and she informed me that this happens a lot when she is overwhelmed.

Friday morning I was at the hospice again and did the same routine except it was just me and Maria. The one girl who did not faint, Miriam, asked us at breakfast if she could follow us again. I was happy to have her come along because she actually came back after the fainting episode and helped hand us supplies for the rest of the dressing change. She was a huge help because Maria and I had our work cut out for us and we were going on only a couple hours of sleep. She was our little assistant and helped us with handing us our tools and supplies which was such a great help. We did teach her a lot about what she was seeing and what we were doing; she was amazing and handled everything so well. I can’t imagine my 17 year old self being able to handle everything that she saw in those three hours.

We went and had lunch with a group of elderly that meet together once a month. I wasn’t all that excited to go because I had a rough morning, was nervous about our presentation, sleep deprived and it was really hot out. After everyone ate, they told us to grab a partner and come out to the dance floor cause we were going to do the chicken dance and Macarena. I grabbed my soon to be buddy, Luis, who was one of the sweetest and funniest people I have met here and could definitely bust a move at his elderly age J. The afternoon turned out being a lot of fun and we were back in enough time to have an hour and a half to practice our presentation. 

At 4pm on Friday we gave our presentation about the women of Vaso de Leche that we have been working on the past two weeks. Many of the women came to hear what we said and they loved it. Many of them were crying at the end when saying goodbye because they were so thankful for us to come all this way and spend time with them. It was so great to see all of them and it made all the work and long hours worth it. Here we are with the women after the presentation!
After mass we went out to San Jacinto to have dinner with some kids from the village. After cleaning up the mess all the kids left we played a soccer game: Americans vs. Peruvian staff. Sadly we lost 2-1 (even though I think one of my goal should have counted) but I had so much fun getting to run around and play soccer again. Of course we were only playing the men on the staff and they know how to play soccer so I definitely had to pull out some of my skills and hip checks. ;) It was the perfect way to end a long yet stressful day!

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