Some of my all-time favorite books growing up were the Jungle Doctor books. Being a doctor or nurse in Africa sounded like a lot of fun! When I was a student at Cedarville I toyed with the idea....for about 5 days...of being a nurse. Then I started working evenings as a receptionist at the Campus Health Center and realized nursing wasn't the job for me!
Now, here I am...playing nurse. We live in a country where people can't even afford to spend the $1.00 to go to the dispensary because that means they might not be able to buy food for the evening meal. If it's a terrible emergency, they'll come up with the money, but not if it's a first aid treatment. Sadly, serious situations are often thought to be minor and they are out of control before they go to get medical help. And nobody has a well stocked medicine cupboard with the basics like Tylenol, bandaids, and hydrogen peroxideat home, either.
This little girl whose foot I'm treating came to me with a huge gash on the bottom of her foot. She had jumped into the resevoir and landed on something sharp on the bottom. Her foot was slashed wide open, but she didn't come to me until a day or two later. By then the gash was starting to heal and the skin was dry around the slash. I'm pretty sure she should have had stitches, and I'm no nurse, but I think it was too late by then to do stitches. I asked the mother why they hadn't taken her to the dispensary and she said, "Hannatu! We don't even have money for food!" Wow! What a reminder to be a little more gentle in my approach, like, "When something happens like this, come to us right away so we can give you money for the dispensary."
So I cleaned it good with peroxide and we kept it covered from the flies. She came every day for cleaning and it healed nicely. How do you like all my little nursing assistants?
During that time, a little boy came. His nose was all swollen up and he had a big scab on the side of it. His mother said, "The donkey stepped on his nose." I couldn't help it! I had to laugh...how does a donkey step on your nose. Was he lying in the road or what. Well, yes, he was, but not by choice. The donkey threw him, then stepped on him. I cleaned the scab good, and gave him money for the dispensary because I thought it might be broken. It wasn't broken, but I think they gave him an antibiotic.
Three of our neighbor children came down with mumps. I looked that up in my trusty Where There Is No Doctor and found out that there is no medicine for it and to just give tylenol for the fever and discomfort. And no, they hadn't had all their immunizations even though they are free from the health care system.
My neighbor lady always gets a serious case of malaria every year. I usually give her a treatment of chloroquine, but there is a lot of resistant malaria around. So I got her a treatment of Arsumax and she recovered quickly.
By the way, did you know that malaria still kills more people than AIDS in this part of Africa? An article I read recently said, "Between 700,000 and 2.7 million people die each year from malaria, more than 75 percent of them African children. " (dittosinc.com).
No, I'm not a nurse. No, I don't enjoy nursing. But, how can I not help when I have the ability to do so?