Hard day:

By: Sarah Kaminer

Take two. Kelsey and I arrived at the hospicio today, introduced ourself to today’s nurse, and greeted the patients. There are two currently, both of them have AIDS. There were 3 last week but one died. One of the patients look pretty young. She cannot read so I brought my Spanish Bible and read to her. Some psalms. ecclesiastes, and the book of Ruth. She is very religious. Most people ask if you are catolico or evangelicoduring their first conversation with you. I always say evangelico but it is difficult for Kelsey to explain her beliefs. Here there are only two choices!After reading the Bible the occupational therapist came so we went to help with the other patient. We bathed him yesterday and today and changed him. He is depressed. He is unable to move his right side because of sequellae of a stroke (Brocas area mom, not Wernicke’s. So he can understand but not talk!). He spontaneously starts crying a lot. (SO do I when i work with him)The best part of the day was obviously something humorous. We were sitting there reading the Bible, me in a mask because I had a cough, Kelsey with her hands folded in her lap. The patients are slumped over, both weak from the havoc AIDS has wreaked on their bodies. The cleaning ladies are meticulously cleaning the floors and walls, and the nurse is sterilizing tongue depressors. These two patients are about as immunocompromised as it gets. If I cough on them, it could result in a respiratory infection that could kill them. ALL THE SUDDEN, it was not dramatic at all actually…..it was very lackdasical. In walks two ladies from the kitchen area, HOLDING A LIVE CHICKEN. No big deal. They were taking it outside to kill it for lunch, so they walked the fastest way- through the AIDS ward! Chickens have EVERYTHING DIRTY ON THEM. Was this serious???? My jaw dropped. I hit Kelsey until she looked up but she did not notice. Nobody said anything.The most rewarding part of our day is working with the physical therapist. Courtney Reed would love it. For example, the older man who had the stroke does not move out of his wheelchair. In fact, he is tied to it with a sheet. So by now his muscles have atrophied everywhere. It is hard to watch the PT push and pulls his arms and legs as he cries. He stands on his hands and knees as the tears fall on the cushions. You know he is crying because he has not been out of his chair in days. I just found out he has lived there for two years. And then I had a flashback of him from last year, I saw him walking! He is going downhill so fast. He has seen so many patients die around him. All we know about himis that he was a guard and has no family and the other things i saw when I snuck a look at the chart. He cannot communicate much except for by eye movements and frantic cries. He lives in a room with white walls and white curtains. Blankets with holes in them cover his bed that is always in semi-folwers position. He is not allowed outside he just sits and watches a muted TV. His sunken eyes and boney face give him the look of a 100 year old, but his full head of raven black hair reveals that he si much younger. He is on a bland diet, probably because of the meds. But as we walk into his room we see him sipping something brown from a cup he found in the trash. I still don’t know what it was. The whole room smells like urine, and when we change his sheets they are wet down to the core. Kelsey and I are afraid to ask if he gets changed once or….hopefully….twice per day.

Me climbing a volcano….