Friday, July 9, 2010

Third Week in Bolivia

Rather late update, I know, but I figure I shall update for the third week when I went in the mobile medical units. The first day I went up to a school where we did general health exams on the classes of kids - most were under 10 years old. They all had horrible teeth, some were malnourished and had herpes skin outbreaks, a few had upper respiratory problems, and we were checking their fingernails since parasites in fingernails is a big way they enter food. We dispensed two de-worming pills per student, and returned the next day to extract broken teeth beyond hope of repair. I even have pictures this time! Since I had been watching the examinations closely the previous day, I volunteered to help conduct the exams the next day, so I got to do essentially half of the kids. I hope they understood my accent well enough.

Another point about their teeth - a lot of them had teeth so bad that they also had abscesses...poor kids. A few less typical cases include...tonsillitis and bronchitis. All in all, it was a very interesting experience and gave me a chance to get some hands on experience. I listened to the kids with stethoscopes and was able to discern bronchitis (and we were just listening through clothing definitely let a lot of things slide when you're on the go in a third world country).

The next day in the ambulances was our last day doing hospital stuff and I went in the mobile unit that parks at various street locations and takes walk-ins for treatment. Most of them were all alcoholics or pregnant ladies, and the guys would stay and talk for 10-30 minutes at a time about their really boring, and I could understand what they were saying too. The stories just all sound the same after a while, and so we did very little actual medicine that day. The only good thing that came out of it was a female patient came by who had a mitral valve defect - mitral regurgitation - and we were able to hear the valve defect in the flesh so to speak. It was definitely more pronounced than the audio clips we had been given to listen to during our last examination.

That's about it for medical stuff in Bolivia - the next day we went to Lake Titicaca until Saturday, then I just hung around until Wednesday, when I got to leave for the Galapagos Islands with my family! I was so happy to return to the US when I finally got back - after being in Bolivia for 3 weeks, seeing familiar food, familiar settings, stores, etc. felt great. Anyhow, I shall soon begin posting on the various medical conditions I saw or heard about in Bolivia. Until then, off I go.

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