For this week, I've been assigned to the Faculty of Family Medicine at Maharaj hospital - not originally my first choice... but I've got to say it's growing on me.
When I arrived the first day, not too much happened, but I do have two experiences to share with you all. When I got there, I met the Dr. that I would be shadowing for most of the week, and was immediately told that we needed to go visit a patient who was too sick to come into the hospital.
After stopping at a local medical centre to pick up supplies and a nurse close to the patient's home, we got in a truck and drove off. It was probably one of the most eye opening moments for me so far, as it was just incredibly real.
As the doctor translated for me, this is how the story went. We arrived in a parking lot, and after walking behind a building through a bunch of weeds, and an especially unmaintained area, we passed through a whole in the fence and ended up in a very slum area. We had arrived at the patient's home, which was no bigger than a garden shed, and no sturdier than a couple of two by fours nailed together with some sheet metal on top.
As we went inside, I discovered that the patient was an 86 year old woman, who was suffering from complete loss of vision and hearing - the only stimuli that let her know we were here was touch; and even then I wasn't sure if she knew what was going on.
The doctor and nurse examined her as a part of a routine once in three months exam to make sure she was still healthy and alive - but it really made me think about varying qualities of life. They took her blood pressure, as I watched from across the room. They then spoke with her son, who I was informed that previous times had not been there due to alcoholism, and didn't really take care of her at all. Basically I left with a very strange feeling, and it really allowed me to look into things from a different point of view... Though I'm not sure what point of view that is yet.
The second story occured later in the afternoon when I was back at the hospital... I was observing acupuncture which is used regularly in Thai hospitals to relieve pain for patients. The depth of the needles being inserted, combined with the places of the needles being inserted (feet, between fingers, head, deep back) and the looks of uncomfort - borderline pain - on the patient's faces did not really make me feel to kindly on it, and I ended up leaving much earlier than expected... But these patients apparently come back again and again, so they've got to be doing something right.
I still am not quite sure of the mechanism of pain relief behind acupuncture, as the only thing I can think of is triggering an immune response via tissue damage... I'm definitely going to have to research that one after this.
Day Number 2
When I woke up this morning, I headed out to the hospital, and was assigned to the Thai Massage clinic in Family Medicine. After getting about an hour of a morning massage - which I can't really complain about, I was trained in how to do a medical Thai back massage, shoulder massage, and head/neck massage (my personal favourite).
Later in the afternoon I got to chill in the OPD (outpatient department) where we must have seen 30-40 patients - each for things ranging from general checkups, to specific problems like dyslipidemia, and hypertension.
One thing that really stuck with me was the visible edema you could see in CHF patient's, and hypertensive patient's legs - when you pressed in on the tibia, your finger made dents because of the dysplacement of the excess fluid... crazy.
That's it for now, because I wanted to get my blog updated, and now it's updated, and I'm starving, so I'm gonna go grab some fried rice!
Oh, Also, I'm speaking a lot of french now because there's tons of french people here... c'est fantastique.
P.S. I'll take more pictures tomorrow, promise!