A Travellerspoint blog

Medical camp days

sunny 30 °C
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Nepalese people are a tough bunch. In the Sherthung village where we set up our first medical camp using a school property, men and women are exposed to high UV content sun light on a daily basis by working in the field or other physically demanding outdoor chores. Not to mention to heavy amount of smoke inhalation from fire and cross contamination between feces and water/food due to lack of basic health education.

As a result of these factors, some common complaints include knee pain, diarrhea with worms, difficulty breathing, burning sensation all over the body and frequent tearing in their eyes. I was assigned to the role of triage at the clinic, which I felt completely comfortable with given the fact that I work in an ER back home in Canada. We saw over 200 people on our first day. Everyone was given their own station to see patient. The set up was basic. I was given gloves, BP cuff, thermometer that usually didn't work, and my most valuable asset - my translator. We all had our share in the difficult decision making process when it came to medicine in this remote region.

One of the challenges I had to come to terms with was the lack of resources. During our stay in the village of Jharlang, we received an emergency case where a man came to us carried in a basket. Been complaining of abdominal pain for a few days with a history of alcohol abuse. Pale looking, hypotensive, tachy with a fever. After the few blood work we were able to run, hemoglobin was in the 70s. Consider this situation if I were back home working, I'd be on my way in pumping IV fluid and antibiotic, mostly likely a Pantaloc infusion, hasseling blood bank to hurry up with the cross match, taking him to CT and anticipating a scope at some point. The reality was that I was somewhere in the Himalays with not much of anything. We gave him fluid and antibiotics. One of our doctors kindly donated a unit of blood to this patient. The plan was that if he stabalized over night, he would go to a hospital in Kathmandu for an endoscopy. We had to take into consideration that the patient would survive a trip to the city, which was a few days away, being piggy backed by a somebody else - patient transfer Nepalese style. Heck, it took us a day of driving and 3 full days of trekking to get here.

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Posted by becca108 09:04 Archived in Nepal Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

Day 2 of the trek

Somdang - 10, 500 ft

snow 0 °C
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Excerpts from journal on March 31...

... Never do I imagine the next time I write is outisde in the snow in a riverine valley called Somdang. Yesterday we trekked about 8 hours up to an altitude of 10,500 ft. Really the only recollection I have was gasping for air climbing up and holding onto the trekking pole for my dear life climbing down. I kept looking up at the mountain and many more loose rocks to step over - there was no way someone whose 5' 2" with short limbs like myself could do this. We ran into a bit of unexpected weather. After lunch yesterday, it started hailing, raining and snowing. The hail hitting my face was actually a bit painful and the snow/rain made the climb lot more challenging. But it was good to see that everyone on the team was still in good spirit when we finally got to our camp site.

Let me tell you something about the Nepalese people, what I observe from our porters at least. They are about my size, no more than 5'6" tall, but incredibly strong. Each of them carry at least 50 to 100 kg on their back in a basket strapped to their head, walking in flip flops in the snow and hail - and still manage to be faster than us! Most Nepalese in the rural area make their living by farming. They're used to the altitude, sun and physical labour, which make them tough as a nail.

Looks like we'll be staying put at this site tomorrow. Anil, our ring leader, who has led this medical trek for years, and an incredibly generous man, warned us that the ledges we are about to trek through will be too unsafe given the snow. He'll be sending some people ahead to inspect the condition first. We all huddled together in the cold. And it sure feels good to be greeted my the clear sky and beautiful Himalaya ranges this morning.

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Posted by becca108 08:32 Archived in Nepal Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

Preparation

overcast -2 °C

If it rings a bell to anyone, I was listening to Bob Marley when I created this blog. No rationale for the title, I'm just being me after a tiring day, and perhaps over a drink.

Several friends have been bugging me about keeping in touch while I'm overseas. I can assure you that writing is not my forte because I write exactly the way I talk and my ideas go in circles without making a point.

Nevertheless, I've decided to start blogging because of an upcoming project I'm involved with in Nepal. It is in my intention to allow others to see and read about the good work that the organization is doing.

In about 3 weeks, I'll be flying to Nepal to participate in a medical trek with Himalayan HealthCare (HHC). The purpose of the trek is to set up a mobile clinic to provide primary care for two rural villages: Sherthung and Jharlang, located in the Ganesh Himal range of the Himalayas. Places such as these are accessed by foot. We start in the capital city Kathmandu, take a 10-hour winding drive then hike for 3 days as high as 4100m in altitude before getting to our first village. You can imagine the degree of isolation from any type of health care access. HHC runs a medical trek twice a year in this region which is valuable to the community.

If you're trying to google map where I'm going, the closest thing is to type in Ganesh Himal, Nepal and you'll find it just northwest of the capital city Kathmandu and almost at the border of Tibet.

There are gazillion things I need to do before I go but I'm getting bombarded with something called a full time job. Trek fees, airfare and visas are taken care of. Note to self: MUST.GET.ORGANIZED. I just got all the vaccines/travel medication including Dukoral and Cipro because somehow getting the gastro is my worst fear.

P.S. I'm stopping in India for a few days before Nepal. Which some people seem to think is my main destination, probably because I've been talking about it a lot since I have to plan my own itinerary there. I sure am excited to see the Taj Mahal and experience the busy/chaotic city of Delhi.

I'll write again. And I'm looking forward to getting away from the winter of Toronto.

Posted by becca108 19:21 Comments (1)

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