Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Nepal Medical Trek Updates

After nearly a week of traveling in rural Nepal, I am finally back in Kathmandu where I have some internet access. The medical trek part of my trip is over, and I have started my rotation in internal medicine at Patan hospital.

So much has happened in the last week, but I will do my best to hit the highlights of our medical trek. Last Monday we (a group of about 30 US and Nepali doctors, nurses, medical students, dentists, social worker, etc.) took a 6 hour bus ride north from Kathmandu. When the paved road ended, we switched to "jeeps" (which were really more like pick-up trucks with seats in the back) and continued driving for another 3 hours on a narrow and very rocky road. I had the interesting experience of riding in the back, where I think I sustained a few minor concussions from hitting my head on the bars overhead. After staying overnight in a village called Chyamche, we trekked about 5 hours to Thonche, the village where our health camp took place. The scenery is just beautiful - a blue-green river raging through the valley below, lots of waterfalls, snow-capped mountains peeking over the foothills.

On Wednesday and Thursday we conducted a health camp at the secondary school in Thonche. It is pretty nice by rural Nepal standards, but it was very different than what we are accustomed to in the US. For example there was only one room with electricity. Over the 2 days we saw around 500 patients. We performed minor procedures, gave out free medications and eyeglasses, screened for cataract surgery, and performed dental extractions. People traveled many hours, even days, from the surrounding villages to receive care. One patient in particular that really touched me was a 12 yo girl who had stepped on a nail the previous day. She walked 5 hours with her brother on a foot that was swollen and infected and I'm sure quite painful. She was the bravest little girl I had seen - she didn't even flinch when we started her IV antibiotics. I'm so glad we were able to help her and hopefully prevent dangerous complications.

On Friday we trekked up to Tilche, the village where our founder Dr. Devi States was born. The whole village came together to welcome us. The prepared us a feast (for which they slaughtered 3 sheep) and performed cultural dances. Then we all joined in and danced the night away under the stars. It was a beautiful glimpse into Nepali life and culture that I will not soon forget.

Saturday and Sunday we made our way back to the capital, and Monday I started at Patan hospital. I will post more updates soon and hopefully upload pictures (internet is not super reliable here).


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