Monday, January 12, 2009

The Sugar and The Pressure

Events of Monday, January 5, 2009

Location: Jamaica

This is not a vacation trip - this is a work trip. So, no sleeping in for us. Up at 6:00 am, breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Walk to the clinic at 8:00 a.m.

The Falmouth Clinic is only open when mission teams come to town. It averages about 22 weeks a year of being open. The visit to the clinic costs a Jamaican $300 (One U.S. dollar = 80 Jamaican dollars). Medications are free. The most common complains are diabetes (known as "The Sugar" in Jamaica) and high blood pressure ("The Pressure"). We will see an average of 55 or so patients per day - working from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with a half hour each day for lunch.

Due to the limited amount of patients we see each day, people are lined up in a long line before we even arrive. They want to get their spot early, hoping to be one of the first 55 patients each day. They will often wait hours before we could get to them. They would sit on the porch outside, singing gospel songs while waiting. Pretty amazing.

We did "porch education" with the patients - sitting and talking with patients waiting in line about diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and "Papaya" treatment for worms. (Take the seeds from a papaya - grind them - mix with orange juice - take one treatment a week for 2 weeks).

I spent this first day assisting the pharmacists in the pharmacy. I got to cut pills, count pills, bag pills, and then label them. It was fast-paced, hectic, and very educational for a "non-medical" person such as myself.

The day goes very fast - one patient after another goes through the clinic for treatment. Eventually, it is 5:00 p.m. and time to walk back to the dorm for dinner of delicious fresh red snapper, prepared by our own chef, Jerry. Someone has made brownies and charitably offers me the spoon to lick - there is a God.

My feelings of this first day of work in Jamaica are mixed. Although I feel we are helping people, I sometimes feel we are putting band-aids on gaping wounds. Some of these people obviously need more care than we can provide; I can't help feeling frustrated that we can't be doing more for them.

Bed time doesn't come any time too soon for me. Because I have not slept very much now for several days, I take 50 mg of Benadryl (hey, I'm practically a pharmacist now, right??!). I pray for sleep.

Be sure to do YOUR part today to save the world, one action at a time, one day at a time.

Irie. (which is Jamaican for, "Everything's good...everything's cool.)

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