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guerrilla nursing!

June 12, 2011

despite (and really, in the long run, because of) the massive doses of humility it takes to get through the morning at the health clinic, i am still loving it. i am doing things i have never gotten the opportunity to do in clinicals yet. for example, i have given more people shots in the butt than i could have dreamed of back in minneapolis ๐Ÿ™‚ which led directly to a very funny experience at school the other day, actually. i was in my spanish class, which so far have all been just me and one instructor, and we were talking about nursing in the u.s vs. here. one of the guys who works here walked by, back from an errand in town, and tossed my teacher a box of medication. she’s like, thanks! and then she looked at me and was like, wait, can you inject this for me? i said, sure, i guess, now? and she said, i’m going to teach you to be a guerrilla nurse! it was so funny, after we were done with class, we closed the classroom door, she undid her jeans, and i gave her a shot in the hip right there on the table! haaaa! and she said she barely felt it, and i was like awwww, you’re just saying that…
the clinic has offices for people with appointments, as well as a small emergency room for minor injuries. i was in the emergency room most days this week, and i got to do some pretty cool and gross things, taking out stitches, cleaning some wounds, helping a doctor rip off a man’s toenail. ouch!! the thing about the emergency room, though, is that sometimes it’s completely dead. the first day, when they told me how they don’t have a doctor for the emergency room, that the two clinic doctors have to run back and forth, i was appalled: what lack of resources! how do they do it? after this week i got to thinking that if i ran that clinic i wouldn’t staff the emergency room with a doctor, either. there’s was hardly enough work for one nurse most days this week.
like, on thursday, i spent the morning with my favorite nurse, ana, and it went like this: we cleaned a man’s wound, gave some vaccinations, folded gauze, she showed me this long series of really “romantic” messages a (married) man who works at the clinic has been sending her on her cell phone, we cleaned up some dog bites, folded some more gauze, and that was the morning. and just to illustrate the situation a little more vividly, nearly half the time there was a baby rooster walking around the emergency room. and at one point a dog walked through. that’s true!
the clinic was initially described to me as “understaffed and under-resourced,” and while my impression is that it is not so much understaffed, it is absolutely no doubt under-resourced. for example, between the admissions office, the nurses’ and doctors’ offices, and the emergency room there is 1 (that’s one) pair of scissors. so, to cut the tape while dressing a wound, one might have to stop to go down to admissions to get the scissors, or vice versa. there is one blood pressure cuff in the whole place. the gauze, cotton, etc. gets wrapped in pieces of scrap paper to be sterilized in a sterilization machine. i could go on!
anyway, that’s all i guess for today. my camera and i are in a small fight, i’ll spare you the details, but at the very least ruby and alice will be here in less than 2 weeks, and i am fully confident that they will be taking lots of photos, and hopefully the internet cooperates and we post them!
oh, and. they have spanish scrabble at school! you may know me well enough to know how truly exciting this is for me. i learned this week that just because i speak spanish like a five-year-old doesn’t mean i can’t whoop some ass at spanish scrabble! ๐Ÿ™‚
thanks for reading, really, and hope this finds you well!

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  1. Betsy,

    Could some of us help with the under-resourced part of the equation? Like send some scissors or blood pressure cuffs, or something?


  2. nancy, thanks for asking! it may be the best gift would be money, but since it’s a government-run clinic, i’m not sure exactly how it would work. i will have to look into it, and then can i let you know?

  3. Jessica Comerford permalink

    Hey guerilla nurse, your stories keep getting better! I thought the toleros was my favorite, but who knew you could guerilla nurse! I thought guerilla gardening was revolutionary. Do you think YOu might be able to guerilla dentist? Because the princess’s tooth broke off yesterday and she doesn’t have insurance. Love you and your stories!

    • haaaa! the woman i mentioned, elisa, walked by right when i was reading your message! i told her you asked about being a guerilla dentist, if you meant me that is, and she said i should tell you “no hago milagros.” but really i say, yes if i were there i would have my pliers out in no time. ๐Ÿ™‚ i love you too!

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