Day 1: Setting up 

Today was the first full day of work, which meant getting the Operating Rooms ready, sorting out what supplies go where, and beginning to see patients. I work in the clinical area since I’m not a surgeon, so I worked with the doctors to see patients who need surgery and patients who were following up after a prior surgery. 

I actually spent a fair amount of time today hunting for charts for the follow up patients. As you might imagine, there are no electronic medical records here. The IOWD keeps patient charts from prior visits in a big filing drawer system (thanks Container Store!). However, the names of the patients are sooo long and not familiar (i.e. Nyiramborigaba and Uwingabine) that I felt sure I must be dyslexic as I was hunting. In addition, Rwandan handwriting is tough to read. I posted a picture on Instagram so you can see what I mean (see the sidebar–>).

We saw some interesting patients today; I will tell you about one. She was a 22 year old who had a vaginal delivery several years ago, but lost her baby during the delivery. This probably means that she labored for a long time, the baby got stuck, and she couldn’t get help in time. She is now leaking both stool and urine. She is divorced. On her exam, there was a lot wrong–more than we could fix. And then we realized that she had been seen multiple times before, by prior missions, and had even been seen twice earlier in the same day by other IOWD doctors. My first thought was that she was trying to trick us. But then I realized that she must have a terrible life. She has no husband and no child, she smells terrible, and no one can help. She was not trying to deceive; she is desperate. 

I think exhaustion has set in. I thought I slept ok last night, but a 7 hour time change, 24 hours of traveling, a long day of work, and sleeping in not-my-own bed have left me tapped out. Be back soon.