Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The River Trip and Beyond

Thu, Feb 26: IRR - and I! - leave Francia for our trip up the Rio Coco (Coconut River) to take clinics into villages that have never had medical care before. We leave early so as to arrive in Waspam early enough to take our boat all the way to Krin Krin, our first stop - but the boat isn´t there. By some mix-up in communication, it is actually hauling lumber on the river today. We have to wait till tomorrow for a boat. We spend the night on the open floor in the city´s community center.

Fri, Feb 27: We spend all day in our boat. Literally. We leave early and don´t get to Krin Krin till almost dark. We´re starving. We set up camp and eat a small supper. The guys set up their tents in the clinic, and we girls set up in the Pastor´s house, and on his porch, too. We´re very cramped for space.

Sat, Feb 28: We go to church in the morning and have clinic in the afternoon in the nearby school. Patients come and come and come . . . we stay open until after dark and still can´t see them all.

Sun, Mar 1: And we do clinic again in Krin Krin today, all day.

Mon, Mar 2 or Tue Mar 3 (I´m a little off on my dates): We take the boat to Krisnak, a little village up the Waspuk, a tributary of the Rio Coco. We set up camp in the old Catholic church building - by old, I mean that there´s light coming through between every board in the walls, and you can see the sheep and pigs below you through the floor. Tarantulas also come up through the cracks, and cochroaches. We hold a clinic in the afternoon.

Wed, Mar 4: Instead of starting clinic first thing this morning, we take a break first, and head up river a little ways to a waterfall. It´s a gorgeous double cascade, one after the other, with a deep pool in between that´s perfect for jumping into and bathing. There´s even a small trickle coming down that forms a perfect shower head. We´ve been bathing in the river every day (despite the threat of alligators), but this is better than anything else yet.

We run clinic in the afternoon.

Thu, Mar 5: Only a few of us head to the waterfall this morning. The group is starting to fall sick - there´s been a cold going around, and now a stomach bug has started. Even those who aren´t throwing up are tired.

We go to a village at the mouth of our tributary, named Waspuk, like the tributary. The people are so happy to see us, especially the children. They crowd around us, jumping excitedly whenever we take out our cameras. We take loads of pictures, just for the pleasure of showing them themselves. Clinic today includes a small tumor removal that I get to help with - I inject the lidocaine before the procedure. Very exciting.

Fri, Mar 6: We do clinic for a few patients in Krisnak in the morning. Except a few turns into a lot, and we don´t leave until almost noon. No matter, our boat ride back is only supposed to take 4 hours, or 6 . . . 8 hours later we finally hit Waspam. Those of us who are sick are completely miserable. I am at least not throwing up, but I am getting a sore throat.

Rusty does not meet us at the dock. We despair, assuming he got tired of waiting and left for Francia without us. We start making plans to spend the night, when the deuce rolls up. That un-naturally loud engine is the sweetest sound in the world.

Sat, Mar 7: We recover.

Sun, Mar 8: Packing day.

Mon, Mar 9: We take IRR to Puerto Cabezas and say goodbye.

Tue, Mar 10 - Thu, Mar 12: We get ready for Union´s nursing group to arrive. I spend a lot of time resting, since I now have a stomach bug on top of my sore throat.

Fri, Mar 13: The Frontier Nursing class from Union College arrives on this night.

Sat, Mar 14: We go to church in the morning, then the group hikes out to the Rio Wawa again in the afternoon. I stay home and rest.

Sun, Mar 15: We organize the supplies Union brought with them, and open the clinic for Francia in the afternoon. I assist Gina Foster, the OB/GYN nurse practitioner, with translating. I translate to Spanish, and Amelia, the local midwife, translates to Miskito for the patients. It´s awkward, but it works.

Mon, Mar 16: Union´s first clinic in Tasba Pain!

Tue, Mar 17: Clinic in Esperanza. I´m helping Gina again when a girl comes in to be seen who´s actually in labor. She´s only 15 years old, so Gina decides to take her to Francia Sirpi for the birth, because we have more resources there. I assist Gina and Amelia all afternoon with translating and helping the girl through labor. In the evening, she starts pushing, but it takes a long time, partly because it´s her first birth, partly because she´s worked up emotionally. Her mom is in another village and we have no way to contact her. The poor girl keeps crying for her mom and saying how tired she is - she doesn´t think she can do it. But she can, and she does, to a little girl, which they name . . . Katie. Seriously. It was Amelia´s idea. I´m very honored, but I kind of feel bad for the kid. Imagine growing up with a name no one in your village can pronounce.

Wed, Mar 18: The deuce goes to Kapri again! Rusty tries to take it all the way into the village again! And gets stuck again! I´m so glad I stayed home on this day. They actually did make it all the way in, but got stuck again on the way out, on the same steep hill as last time. They had to hike out to Miguel Bikan again, but this time, Jeremy was there with the second deuce to meet them. They didn´t all get back until 3am, tho.

Thu, Mar 19: Rest day.

Fri, Mar 20: Last mobile clinic in Tikamp.

Sat, Mar 21: The nursing students leave. :( Now I´m even more homesick, because I had my friends here for a while, and now they´re gone. But, only one more month and I´ll be home.

Sun, Mar 22: Dr. Rafael Lacayo, a local doc, Janet, Amelia, and Ruth´s mother, who´s a nurse, go with us on a small mobile clinic to Wisconsin. Union had planned on hitting Wisconsin, but had to miss because of the truck getting stuck.

Mon, Mar 23 and Tue, Mar 24: Rest and clean-up from the groups.

Wed, Mar 25: Come to Port - and here I am. And tired. Aren´t you proud of me for staying up so late to tell you what I´ve been doing? ;)

I love and miss you all, and I´ll be home soon! May 3, Lord willing and the crick don´t rise. Pray for our last month to be productive and happy.

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