Copang ‘o! (“hello” in Luo)
Today we drove an hour and a half outside of Masindi towards northern Uganda to do the first of two days at a church located near several refugee camps. My translator told me that there are over 57 languages spoken in a 10 mile radius of the clinic site. The main language of Masindi, where Rachel and I will be living, is Runyoro. A bit farther north, most people speak Luo. Swahili seems to be a common thread through all the languages I have heard. Many phrases in Luo and Runyoro retain at least one word from the Swahili phrase of the same meaning. Today, I had the opportunity to work with Amber, a PA, who was a great teacher. We saw several interesting cases and I got to do my first pelvic exam. We diagnosed a man with absence seizures, treated a small boy who had had seizures since birth, treated parasites, ear infections, STD’s, pneumonia, and tons of other things. Of course one of my main goals on this trip was to get a grasp of the local languages so that I can spend this summer learning them. Today was very exciting as I started being able to understand a lot of what our translator said when the patient spoke either Runyoro, Luo, or Swahili. I still blurt out Spanish when I don’t stop to think first. (Rachel here to finish) Mandie has astounded everyone with her language learning ability. I’m quite confident she’ll be starting on her third local language when I’ll still be struggling with the first. I’m glad I’ll be living with someone who understands the people here.
As exciting as Mandie’s day was, my day was predictable. I spent the day in triage again and I perfected the art of taking blood pressures quickly. Each of us in triage had a Ugandan nursing student with us. They are only four weeks into the program and did not know the normal heart rate or blood pressure, so I spent as much time teaching my nursing student as I did talking to the patient. It reminded me of the first week of nursing school and how overwhelming it was to try and absorb everything being taught. I’m glad I survived and can now teach someone else.
Most of the time I still feel like a student, but it has started to set in on this trip that I’m a “real nurse” when the MUSC nursing students come to me for help. Yikes, and to think Mandie and I are thinking of coming and being the primary American staff for the hospital.
Thank goodness the Lord knows what He is doing!