Week 3 continued.

By: Sarah Kaminer

I wrote this for my global health nursing class. A typical day in my life…

It is so great to be back in Santa Lucia. I am staying with the same host family that I did last summer, and they are so excited to have me! My day begins at 7am (which is like 9 am for me, so very nice to sleep late) when my mama says “va comer” and I reluctantly come to the table. I only eat with my 4 year old brother because the girls are already at school and the dad is at work. I eat panqueques, plantains, or eggs with salsa before I brush my teeth with my water bottle and head outside. The family has to buy bottled water for me, but they all use a concrete sink sort of like a well. At 7:30 I head out to meet Kelsey at the bus stop, which is half a mile up hill on a highway. The bus supposedly leaves at 755 but guatemalans are always slow, so we’ve never missed it. We hop on the bus (which is a revamped, out of commission, american school bus) and pay 2 quetzales with is about a quarter. We may share seats with 2 or 3 other people, and many times people are standing. We arrive atthe hospital and give greetings and kisses to the nurses. At first we worked in the HIV childrens section- where the nurses are basically mothers. There are 40 kids and the nurses do everything from changing diapers to helping with homework to giving advise on boy problems. The kids seem absolutely normal, and receive meds only once a day. There are no skilled nursing tasks involved. We help bathe and dress the babies, and end up playing a lot throughout the day. My favorite part is observing the physical therapist, who is WAY nicer than the nurses, as she worked with my best little friend Rosalie. Rosalie is overweight so she has to do a lot of exercise. She is 4 and not speaking yet, so I am very worried about her development. This was the most interdisciplinary thing that has happened. The doctors never come, the psychologists are not involved, and no other health care workers visit. The nurses run the house. The physical therpists are on a mandatory rotation for their schooling but you can tell the nurses do not love the help. They are very resistant to the scheduling interruptions that PT takes and you can see the therapists frustration. For example the nurses fed all the babies before the PT came, and so the babies spit up during PT. There is a lot of miscommunication. The nurses are resistant to us as well- most of them ignoring us or even talking about us in front of us. (We know more spanish than they think 🙂 Anyway, so we are hopefully changing locations next week to a local health department. Today was a little better because I got to work in the adult section, where they have progressed to SIDA or AIDS. They were very weak, sickly and malnourished. It was a terrible place. I am not surprised that the nurse said they were very depressed. White walls, dirty sheets, no music or stimulation. One lady was watching a muted TV, and then I asked her if she could read the subtitles and she said she did not know how to read. How bored she must be!!! We helped with bathing and PT as well.

We leave the hospital at noon, return to the bus stop and go into town. The town is small enough that we are the only gringas, and big enough that we can eat lunch and use inetrnet there. We usually hang out at the school fr volunteers, or go into Antigua for the afternoons. We just catch up and process and journal a lot. At 5 or 6, I go home and have cafe y pan (bread and coffee) with my family. The are so kind, and speak slowly, and include me in conversations. Then at 8 we have a small dinner and we go to bed by 9. The sleep is great. If I want to take a shower I can take one in a bucket or during the few hours that there is city water each day. My room is just a bed, chair and dresser. I am homesick, but my little travel cell phone has helped.

The best part so far has been how rapidly my spanish has improved. So ecstatic!!!!