I then switched rooms and went with another doctor who was doing the samething. She had to do some blood work and asked if I wanted to help. Eager to do something, I popped on some gloves and prepared to learn or do something. The girl came in and sat down on the patient table. She was totally content through the physical examination and immediately when the doctor put on gloves, she went into hysterics. At such a young age, she already had so many blood tests that she knew what was coming. I tried to settle her down, but we continued onward anyway. Then something took me by surprise. I am used to blood draws consisting of a needle going into a vein and a small narrow tube connecting to a larger collection tube. Oh no, not here. The doctor inserted the needle and well.... that was it. Blood started to pour out of the needle and she held the collection tube underneath the free flowing drip. In shock, she told me to open the next tube and hold it next to the one that was collecting blood. Upon the tube filling, she quickly removed her hand and I had to continue to shift my tube into the blood flow. No way in hell this was going to be clean. Praying to God she doesn’t go into some arm throwing hysterics, I kept a steady hand. Some blood spilt on the floor and on my hands (with gloves) but I figured this was ok. When we had filled three tubes she told me to decant some of the blood into some smaller tubes. Like trying to pour a gallon of milk through a straw, some more blood was obviously spilt. After I was done, I had HIV positive bloody tubes, HIV positive blood on my gloves and a screaming baby. Job well done. No really, it was a decent job.
Wednesday (April 7th) we went back into the paediatric resuscitation unit and were expecting to do rounds with the doctor. Hailey and I got there around 8 and waited to for 15 minutes. Nobody had a clue where the doctor was or where the interns were. We left and went to the computer lab for a little bit and came back around 8:45. Still, no doctor and no interns. We would do this until about 10 AM and finally asked, “do you know where we can find anybody?” None of the nurses knew where anybody was or when they would return. This has been a recurring theme in SA, time is absolutely non-essential. The doctor never really came and rounds were never done until later on the day when Hailey and I gave up. We peaced out in search of some authentic KwaZulu Natal cuisine- Bunny Chow. Before you animal lovers have a cow (so clever), this is not cute bunnies that are served for lunch. Bunny chow is an Indian/African dish where a loaf of bread is hollowed out and filled with chicken/beef/mutton curry. It was a very nice meal but damn it was spicy. With a spicy meal, one would usually drink milk or water. I asked for some basic tap water and out came the most absurd answer I have heard since my arrival here “We don’t have water, just coke”. WHAT!? This was not a joke as I asked like 4 more times. Small problem sista, I don’t drink coke. Hailey and I suffered for some quite time until some other employee came out and we explained our dilemma. 33 Celsius (91 F) + insane humidity + hot ass curry+ no AC+ no H20= crisis. Magically, water was made its appearance and was greeted with great applause. Let’s just say it’ll be BYOW next time.
I got home still reeling from that experience and just had to take a chill pill and relax. Eventually, I made my way outside to the kitchen where the family was about to make some fresh juice. They had bought all this fruit that was about to go bad and now they were going to liquefy it into a juice. We combined mangoes (which rival Costa Rica’s, sorry Mom), bananas, plums, oranges, and pineapples into this awesome juice cocktail. Since then, I’ve been drinking it non-stop. The boys and I played another 3 hours of Sorry, this time gambling the candy I had received before I left.
Thursday (April 8th) was another attempt in pediatrics. This time with a successful encounter with the doctor. We rounded with him and the interns. Ironically, this was the best doctor I had encountered. He was so helpful and even took the time to tell us some things. Finally, I busted out that stethoscope that had been collecting dust in my pocket. Now I had played with stethoscopes before… real ones. But I always had a hard time trying to recognize heartbeats and breathing patterns. I flat out told him that I really have no idea where/how to listen to a steth. He took the time and showed me and it looked pretty basic. I put my steth up to the boy’s chest and listened for his heart. Nothing. I tried again and listened carefully. I then tried on the boy’s sides and even on his back for his lungs. Nothing. Double checking the poor boy wasn’t dead, I was trying for quite some time it felt like. I don’t know what it is, am I deaf? Am I on the wrong spot? Is my brand new Littman stethoscope dysfunctional? I felt like even the baby was looking at me like I had no idea what I was doing. Defeated, I just said I heard the murmur and moved on. The rest of the day was filled with the usual sick children, HIV, malnutrition, and dehydration. I did learn a lot though.
Hailey and I ran up to the computer lab before we had our weekly meeting with Dr. Khan (he is our medical director for the Durban portion. He has like 4 or 5 clinics). We made a push for trying to find a car to rent that’s automatic. (I’m obviously not confident in myself or in South Africa that I can drive a stick). Luckily, we found something at the last minute and we finally have a car! Now we have to find reservations somewhere by tomorrow. We are thinking of going to St. Lucia, a town 3 hours north of here. They have a national park that has the Big 5 (rhino, lion, cheetah, hippo, and elephant), beaches, and other sweet things. Hopefully I don’t get swallowed alive by a hippo and have a good time.